I am going to be honest and say we have been having a lot of mini dates this month as we just got back from Washington D.C. a few days back and my husband prepares for another business trip. Most of our dates have been visiting local restaurants that we haven’t eaten at before, which has been both delicious and fun! But this date night takes the cake! It was a totally different experience to work together to prepare our meal.

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The Culinary Date
Here is a quick run down of the Culinary Date….
If you are both foodies, you likely won’t need much prompting to give the Culinary Date a shot. If, however, one of you is a stranger to the kitchen, you may be a little reluctant. In that case, whoever is more experienced may need to serve  as a mentor of sorts to the other. As long as that mentoring is given and received with a good attitude, you shouldn’t have a problem. You’ll find that cooking together involves no small amount of cooperation and teamwork. The Culinary Date should give you a pretty good idea of how well the two of you work together. (“Set The Scene” excerpt from 52 Uncommon Dates by Randy Southern, pg. 113)

Before your Culinary Date, spend some time in prayer together. Thank God for the abundance of His blessings. Thank Him for supplying your needs every day and ask Him to help you maintain a spirit of gratitude for what you’ve been given, ask Him to bless and watch over those who don’t know where their next meal is coming from, and that He bless your efforts to work as a team – during the Culinary Date and beyond. (“Take It To God” excerpt from 52 Uncommon Dates by Randy Southern, pg. 116)

You can take your Culinary Date in one of a couple different directions. The first option is to prepare and enjoy a meal together. Obviously, the meal should require a little more effort than opening a jar of tomato sauce and a box of angel hair pasta. Beyond that, though, you can decide how complicated or time intensive you want your meal preparation to be. After you’ve decided on a menu lineup – appetizers, main dish, side dishes, and dessert – come up with a plan of attack. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Do the shopping together – there are no solo ventures where this meal is concerned. Every step along the way should be taken together.

2. Work as a team until the job is done. This is not a place for the more kitchen-savvy of the two of you to do all the substantial work while the other person is relegated to table-setting duty.

3. Do the cleanup work together. Remember, the date doesn’t end when the food is consumed. Cleanup time is a great time for conversation. If you are married, how would your household change if you started doing daily tasks together? Other questions you can discuss might be: What qualities did God see in us when He decided that we would make a good team? What are some of the challenges we face when it comes to working together?

Option two is to enroll in a one-day cooking class together.  The Get Your Kitchen in Shape healthier cooking class hosted by the Nutrition and Food Science Program at McNeese State University is offered two classes this month (July 11 and 18 from 5:30-8:30 pm). But keep an eye out for more classes coming up here.
(“Make It Happen” excerpt from 52 Uncommon Dates by Randy Southern, pg. 114-115)

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Our first stop was the grocery store. A tip I highly suggest, is bringing your recipe along with you so you make sure you do not miss anything. We decided to cook vegan lasagna, which is something I have cooked before for our family but I have never had my husband help me.  Even though I have cooked this recipe a few times before, I needed the recipe along with me to make sure I didn’t overlook simple ingredients that we were just out of (which has happened too many times to count!)

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We started off preheating the oven, prepping the ingredients for the lasagna and making the salad. One of the reasons I chose this dish is, although I have cooked it many times before, it is quite a process – especially when I make it with fresh ingredients instead of frozen. (I am a mom of two little ones, so I have figured out  how to shorten the cooking time of our meals!) Our game plan was to assign jobs according to our strengths. My husband makes salad for us every other day, so he made us a beautiful (and delicious) salad. I got the veggies cut and started assembling the ingredients in their appropriate layers. Then, a special treat – my husband steamed the veggies, which is something I never take the time to do but really made a difference in the finished product! Another star of our meal was the Abita Root Beer. When we were in Washington D.C. last week we tried a homemade root beer from a local restaurant there (Capitol City Brewing Company – delish!), and when my husband saw this Louisiana made version at our local grocery store he had to give it a go!

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The meat and potatoes…if you will. As I mentioned, this date was definitely a fun experience for us! We rarely cook together, and even more rarely are we cooking as a team. It is nice to have an opportunity to work together and produce a delicious finished product. To be honest, this was the most delicious vegan lasagna made in our house hold to date and I think that has a lot to do with the fun experience we had. One of the definite bonuses of cooking with my husband was he made sure all of the dishes were washed as we were cooking. It is such a relief to eat your meal and look at an empty sink when you finish! It is always nice for my husband to see how much work goes into cooking a detailed meal like this one. Both of these things, help us appreciate one another so much more and this time we got to spend working together.

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So my dad loved to cook. He loved to watch cooking shows and experimenting in the kitchen on his days off. One of the number one things my dad taught me about cooking was to follow the recipe 100% the first time you cook a dish (how else will you know what you like and what you don’t??) After that you can can tweak the recipe and change it to suit your own tastes. That is exactly what I have done with this vegan lasagna recipe. Over the two years or so of me cooking it, I have tweaked it to suit my families taste. So for this post, I will share both the original recipe and our personal tweaks!

[kindred-recipe id=”1496″ title=”Raise-the-Roof Sweet Potato-Vegetable Lasagna”]

If you tried the Culinary Date (or would you like to) let us know what you ended up making and how it turned out! Does this recipe look like something you would like to try and make for yourself, or your family? We look forward to reading your comments and checking out your favorite recipes!

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