On the first day we moved into our house a few years ago, a lady knocked on our door carrying a basket. She looked weirdly suspicious what with her perfectly coiffed hair and matchy matchy pink velour tracksuit so I didn't open the door. Later we learned she was our neighbor, coming to drop off muffins to welcome us to the neighborhood. Turns out living in big city apartments had made me a tad bit paranoid. And in case you were wondering whether people who aren't living in movies actually bring muffins by, why yes, in suburbia they do.
I'm still having a bit of a hard time with the whole transition to suburbia thing. And it's been a few years already! The truth is, it's hard to get years of city living out of your system. You get used to ignoring your neighbors, staring at your phone in the elevator, and basically, being a Scrooge to everyone around you. Heck, you even start liking it after a while. And then, all of a sudden, you find yourself in a bit of a Leave it to Beaver rerun and it's a shock. I'm doing my best to wave at neighbors, make random small talk at neighborhood watch meetings, and pet people's dogs on our weekend walks but every time I run into someone, my natural inclination is to glower at them suspiciously or better yet, to ignore them altogether as I unload my groceries or water my flowers. The Hubster calls me Mr. Wilson, you know the cranky old man neighbor in the Dennis the Menace cartoons. It's true, I don't like kids on my lawn.
The Hubster, on the other hand, has eased into suburbia like he was made for neighborhood watch meetings and community BBQs. The man somehow knows that our neighbors on the left are contemplating planting fruit trees, the folks across the way bought a new lawnmower, oh and Billy down the block was suspended last week because he stuck his gum in someone's hair. When he and Little Man go to the neighborhood park, it's hilarious to see kids and parents alike scream, "It's Little Man and his baba, the Hubster!" And then the Hubster goes on a bit of a Regis Philbin tour, shaking hands and kissing babies, while Little Man runs to the slide. I hang back, wondering if I can run home and hang out in my quiet backyard. Yup, Mr. Wilson indeed.
Except at the last neighborhood watch meeting, the Hubster got us invited to couple's bunco night. Yeah that expression on your face is spot on. I didn't know anyone besides the Real Housewives played bunco either. So apparently, this bunco night is a big deal. It involves a carefully orchestrated spreadsheet rotating hosts, listing players, and most importantly, snack contributions. And while I may be Mr. Wilson about all things neighborhood, I love me a party with good snacks.
The perfect snack, particularly where a game night is involved, is crucial. You don't want to be the fool that brings the Costco-sized bag of chips and salsa when everyone has clearly put real effort into their contribution. Oh, and you definitely don't want to bring soup. How the heck is anyone supposed to play a game when both their hands are occupied with a scalding bowl or mug?
No, the perfect snack contribution has to be easily accessible with one hand, substantial enough in case everyone else brings things like popcorn, and has to showcase some effort. Enter, the Curried White Bean made with creamy cannellini beans, caramelized onions, and fragrant curry powder. Bring it with some fancy seeded crackers and crudites to your next neighborhood gathering and I promise you'll be invited back. Assuming that's what you're after. Or heck, don't bring the dip. Just sit on your rocking chair on your porch, waving your fist, and yelling at kids to get off your lawn. Your call.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go and Google bunco.
2 15-ounce cans of cannellini beans
1 onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. curry powder
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
Salt and Pepper
Heat oil in heavy-bottomed saucepan. When oil is hot, add onions and cook on low and slow heat until onions are caramelized. You will need to stir every now and then to ensure the onions don't burn but rather, take on a golden color. When onions are almost caramelized, add the minced garlic and stir. Ensure garlic is cooked but does not burn.
While onions are caramelizing, rinse cannellini beans under water. Add beans, caramelized onion mixture, and curry powder to food processor. Drizzle in oil slowly (about 1-2 tablespoons) and blitz until smooth. Chop cilantro finely, and add chopped cilantro and lemon juice to dip and mix thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve with seeded crackers, veggies, or my personal favorite, Ruffles!