I like making french toast. I like making quiche. Both great for Sunday brunch. A week or two ago, Matt Lattimer and I were brainstorming ways to bring our little 22-person household community together, and more often than not that conversation comes down to food.
So planning for an epic family brunch began. We hope it will be a catalyst for weekly community brunches, and if not weekly at least semi-regularly. Matt and I began by dreaming through recipes and compiling a list of everything even remotely breakfast-related that made our mouths water. We dreamt of veggie feta quiches, Challah french toast, pesto breakfast pizzas, a yogurt bar and mimosas.
Living in a household filled with meat eaters, vegetarians, vegans and people who are gluten free, we thought it important to be all-inclusive. Having two vegan housemates with ciliac gave us the opportunity to experiment with both vegan/gluten free french toast AND breakfast pizza. The almost-vegan french toast ended up being my favorite! (side note: it’s very difficult not to cross-contaminate gluten things with non-gluten things, so that’ll be an ongoing evolution of providing safe options for everyone in the house).
Matt and I submitted our list to housemate Nikkia, who is one of the coordinators for our bulk food buying. She determined what could and could not fit into the house budget, and Matt and I contributed the few extra items – Challah bread and real maple syrup, most importantly. (Andrew Malkin later donated a bottle of extra special maple syrup to step up our brunch game even further).
The night before the big morning, Nikkia and I embarked on an epic Whole Foods endeavor by bike – extra perks for having a housemate who works at Whole Foods! Go Nikkia 🙂 She and I raided the shelves and carried everything home in two panniers and one backpack on our bikes – that includes four bottles of champagne, three 18-egg cartons, two loaves of challah, three bunches of bananas… and more. I felt like we had stolen Mary Poppin’s purse, with a never-ending bottom that enables you to carry any and everything in the world at the same time.
Anyway, Matt and I congregated at 8:30 this morning, thinking we’d get all the food items ready for preparation then have some time to relax before an 11:30 brunch. Hah – yeah right. Four hours later (around 12:30 pm), brunch was finally ready and served.
The way the whole morning unfolded was beautiful, and only possible, I believe, in a community such as ours of 20 or so hands available at wonderfully random (or not so random since we all wake up there) moments. As each person stirred for the morning, he or she joined in the food preparation by either asking what needed to be done, offering suggestions in friendly and supportive ways, and/or taking the initiative to create a dish-addition to make the base parts of the breakfast meal even better.
Konstantin, our fruit-delivery-by-bike buddy who delivers our pounds upon pounds of fruit every week, made a farmer’s market run to Civic Center in perfect time to broaden the possibilities for our yogurt bar and french toast with fresh strawberries, blueberries, cherries, raspberries, and grapes. Nikkia saw bananas and an opportunity, so the next thing I knew we had caramelized bananas as yet another topping. Someone, I’m not even sure who, pulled together some homemade whipped cream to add to the dessert-direction of the French Toast. I’m also unsure whose magic hands whipped together the peach puree that brightened up our mimosas. The list goes on and on!
I’m not sure how many helpers were coming in and out because the process flowed so smoothly, and one of our two community kitchens was almost entirely clean before we even sat down to eat. (It’s also really nice to have the space to facilitate events like this, by the way. Two kitchens and a well-designed backyard = great success!) So, in the end, with 10-20 people working away diligently and cohesively, a brunch emerged that completely outshone anything I could put together on my own. And what a brilliantly pleasant and sunny morning to enjoy good food with this community that will only continue to grow.
It was a different kind of organic. 🙂
For more photos, check out my Flickr album from the brunch or Nikkia’s Flickr photostream, which includes a continuous stream of photos from our various Le Chateau McAlamo food endeavors.
To learn more about Le Chateau McAlamo, check out our Vinyasa Homes Project.