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         Food and Friends

Continuing Connections through Food and Friendship - 
by Karin Hoskin, WildSage Cohousing Boulder, CO 

As we are ending the harvest season and I am spending more time with many different cohousing communities, I notice that there are common threads in my and friends.

Many of us that have studied cohousing know that there are successes that may have come a little easier to those communities that share meals together. What sharing meals together looks like can vary greatly. From communities that have scheduled meals four or five times a week, to those that have a regular monthly potluck. Just like you can ask five different people to make lasagne and they can all be uniquely different and amazing, you can look at five different communities meal plans and see differences yet all with accomplishments. Please read Common Meals in Cohousing Communities Part 1 and Part 2 by Joani Blank if you have not already done so, she shares some great information. But I would like to take some time to share some of the other ways to continue connections through food.

Once again my thoughts go to harvest time. If you had a good year in the garden, you might end up with a ridiculous amount of basil, making pesto can be a bit time consuming, but if you have many hands helping picking, washing, chopping, mixing all the other ingredients, then you could have months worth of pesto to enjoy at community meals.

Or maybe your fruits trees did exceptionally well and as you stir and stir and stir, you chat about how your grandmother used to make apple jelly.  You might trade recipes with each other or trade jars of the results. Many communities share resources and these things can be shared in community as not everyone needs their own pressure cooker that they only use once a year!      

Some people get together to do batch cooking. Not only can this be a cost savings and help make those crazy-busy life days a little easier to be able to come home, put a fresh frozen meal into the freezer and enjoy yumminess a little while later, but the cooks enjoyed an afternoon with their community friends creating food.             

Shopping with community can be enjoyable. Does your town have a Farmer's Market or a specialty cheese shop? Plan an outing with some community neighbors and create a meal around what you find.


And then there is always happy hour. Often not a traditional meal in that there is not a cook team and clean up team, rather people bring nibblies to share along with drinks. But the concept is similar. People love food, they love friends...why not continue these connections and enjoy both!

Conferences & Events

Regional Conference in Spring of 2018 Colorado
Regional Conference in Fall of 2018 Massachusetts

National Conference in Spring of 2019 Portland, OR

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Cohousing Blogs - Cooking in the Common House
Stocking Kitchen Appliances & Stuff 
(from the 9/1/15   archives) by Sharon Villines

Off my usual topic of governance but this was a response to a question from a new community that I thought might be helpful to all new communities, and some settled ones. What should we buy of the kitchen?

On small appliances: At 14 years we still have donations and have just started buying more things. People donate when they upgrade at home or contribute things that they can use in the CH instead of at home. Things they rarely use but want to have available. A new community will have lots of donations, particularly if they put out the call for things as people anticipate downsizing. People who haven't moved in many years will have lots of extra stuff that they would normally take to a thrift shop.
I would focus on the largest sizes of rice cookers, food processors, etc. Or have two sizes. We often have the need for a small food processor for onions or part of the ingredients for a larger dish. Part of a sauce or something. The blenders we have are donated and regular size, but a Vitamix would be nice and would last a long time. I just donated my blender in favor of a tiny one for home.

Find a restaurant supply. They often have used products from restaurants that have failed with almost new equipment. A wide variety of kitchen implements like large stainless cooking spoons and trays. Large trays, heavy weight, are important and have lot of uses. In the kitchen and out.
There may not be a large kitchen supply near you but they are worth looking for. In NYC, for example, there are great places. Call first to see if they stock the kinds of things you are looking for. When my children were small - 40 years ago - I bought a dozen restaurant quality glasses and they still have them in their own kitchens.

( read full blog)
Common Sense Approaches to Common Houses
(from the 1/1/08 archives) by Laura Fitch

What are the most important considerations when designing the kitchen and dining room in a common house?

The kitchen and "great room" are the two most important spaces in a common house, they should feel like a natural extension of each individual home. Your community can begin to create this homey environment during the design process by allowing everyone to have a say and ownership in the decisions. The design itself, balancing functional requirements with coziness, is equally important.

A common house should provide a comfortable environment for a variety of activities from relaxing in front of an open fire to completing nightly homework.

We usually refer to the dining room as the "great room," not because we see it as big or pretentious, but because people use it for many community functions, not just dining. Optimizing the space is an exciting design challenge. Ideally, the great room should work as well for big functions with large crowds as it does for typical community dinners or even intimate gatherings and quiet meals. You'll want to create a space that provides an inviting, homey ambiance for daily comfort and can be "dressed up" for special events such as weddings, Bar Mitzvahs or birthday bashes.

Regarding size, one rule of thumb works for most communities. Dining rooms designed to accommodate two-thirds of the entire community population (adults and children) often function well. Nobody minds a tight squeeze for a fun celebration, but it's nice to have some elbowroom for your regular meals. Make sure that your architect shows table and chair layouts on schematic and design development drawings and that you'll have ample room to circulate in the dining room near the kitchen. You'll also want to serve yourselves food and return dishes without interrupting the dining atmosphere.

The kitchen's size and its connection to the dining room can vary a lot according to community size. Small kitchens (220 square feet) can function for small communities, while larger communities usually want enough space for a commercial dishwashing setup (300-350 square feet). Most small communities want a homey, efficient kitchen that opens to the dining space. Larger communities may prefer a kitchen that they can close off when they need the space for overlapping uses, such as conducting a committee meeting while a cooking team prepares dinner. One simple solution is to install a set of large, folding shutters that remain open except when noise is an issue.

The design challenge is to optimize for both efficiency and hominess, but you don't necessarily need to choose one over the other. A central butcher-block island, for example, feels like home and allows several cooks to chat while preparing meals together.   (read full blog)

Living (and Cooking) in Community
Moroccan Chicken ~ Liz

Serves 25 adults
~54 pieces of chicken (we used thighs and drumsticks)
1 head garlic
8 Tbsp thyme
4 Tbsp cumin
5 tsp ground ginger
4 tsp salt
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cups olive oil
1 small jar green peppercorns packed in water, drained
4 cups pitted kalamata olives
5 cups dried apricots, coarsely chopped
4 cups black seedless table grapes
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups Madeira
Zest of 6 lemons

The day before, combine the chicken, garlic, spices, vinegar, oil, peppercorns, olives and fruit in a large bowl. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
About 2 hours before serving, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Arrange chicken in a single layer in two large shallow baking pans with sides high enough to hold all the juices (not cookie sheets). Spoon marinade over the chicken. Sprinkle with brown sugar and pour Madeira between the pieces.
Cover the pans with aluminum foil. Using convection heat, if you have it, bake for one hour. Remove foil and bake another 15 to 30 minutes. If you don't have convection in your oven, it will take a little longer. Cooking time depends on how crowded the pans are. Check to make sure the chicken is done by cutting into a piece.
Before serving, drizzle with pan juices and sprinkle with lemon zest.

Pasta Rustica ~ Lynne
Serves 15
4 Tbsp. oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds sausage (bulk or remove casing)
2 tsp. basil
2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 28oz. cans diced tomatoes
2 lbs. penne pasta cooked al dente
30 oz. ricotta or cottage cheese
4 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese

Heat oil and saute onion for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add sausage and cook until it is no longer pink. Add spices and tomatoes and simmer 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Oil a baking dish. Toss the pasta, the sauce and the first two cheeses together. Top with Parmesan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes, then serve piping hot.

Sesame Noodles ~ Mary

Serves 10
2 lbs. grilled chicken or tofu, chopped into bite-size pieces
2 lbs. of spaghetti, cooked and drained
3 big heads of lettuce, torn into pieces
For the sauce, mix together:
1/2 cup sesame seeds
3/4 cup soy sauce
2/3 cup tahini
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup dry white wine or 1/3 cup salt-free broth
                                                      4 cloves garlic, pressed or crushed

To serve, start with some lettuce, pile on some of the spaghetti noodles, add a couple of spoonfuls of the diced chicken or tofu, and spoon a little sauce over it all. Go easy on the sauce - a little goes a long way!

Let's See Some New Recipes!

Please collect your favorite two (or more) recipes from your community and submit them to

Coho/US Notes
Over the last several years I have served on the Cohousing Association of the US Board of Directors and it's been an absolute delight! My term will be ending the end of this year.
The board meets monthly by phone and with a well-crafted meeting by our executive director, Karin Hoskin, we move expediently through business on behalf of the communities within the National Cohousing Association. It's been a delight to work with  my fellow co-housers representing regions around the nation. more here...

This fall a few board members are ending their terms and the board is reviewing possible candidates to serve. Seeking diversity in age, culture, region we are interested i n finding people who care about cohousing and the bigger picture.
If you think you might consider a position on the board, please complete the application found here and tell us something about yourself. It's just a first step and might lead us both into a fun
relationship working on the future of cohousing!

It's Budget Season!
Supporting Coho/US through annual contributions is a terrific way to ensure our association continues as a connector and clearinghouse to help our communities thrive.
Sample language (created by Alice Alexander) for budget line item found here and you can easily donate right here, right now!                                          Thank you!

Established Communities = 166
---Completed = 149
---Building = 17

Forming** = 142
**Thirty five forming groups have acquired land they plan to develop
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