Posts Tagged 'food'

Where To Put All the Food??

AKA “We’re Having a Party, Part 3″

img_9961

img_9963 Food preparation was going to take 4 days – Saturday through Tuesday. I do have two refrigerators, and the new one is HUGE, but even so – I had a LOT of food to store both before preparation and after. Where does all that food fit?

Some food wasn’t showing up until the day of the party. My brother-in-law was baking his famous, fantastic pretzels and also his salt sticks. He’d bring them on Tuesday. The bagels would be purchased on Tuesday. The punch and mulled cider couldn’t be assembled until Tuesday. My basement is fairly cool so vegetables that did not need refrigeration could be stored down there. I use my deck as a walk-in freezer for winter parties, but it was getting quite warm that weekend. That meant I could only use the deck for refrigerated (not frozen) items. Using the deck for food (as opposed to beverages) also means I need to come up with some way to keep out the various roaming animals. img_9965I wasn’t too worried about the falcon returning nor the roving gangs of deer, but we also have raccoons (known for their dexterity with locked receptacles), ground hogs, squirrels, skunks and cats. It would take a little thought and prevention to use the deck.

I started the baking and food prep on Saturday night, getting cookie dough ready. I got cookie baking done Sunday morning, as well as preparing the quiche dough. I headed out grocery shopping with my sister on Sunday late morning, and then came home and began creating all the various marinades and dressings that we’d need for the entrees. Sunday was also the day to put the turkey in to marinate. I’d seen an appealing marinade on another blog, Cooking Without Limits, and keeping with my “everything different” theme, I suggested to my husband that we use that. img_9969He took a look at the Spicy Turkey Breast in Beer Sauce recipe and agreed that, with a few modifications (no bacon for one), it sounded delicious and right for our party.

I’d selected so many of my dishes on the premise that I wanted “finger food” – food that people could pick up and eat while they wandered and talked. I didn’t want a lot of food that required people to sit down and use 2 hands to eat. I had the turkey, the quiche and the bagels/lox/cream cheese for “real” eating. I wanted everything else to be eat-as-you-go and “I’ll just have one more little nosh”. It’s a great idea but getting all that food onto skewers and into little cups takes a LOT OF TIME. img_9967 It looks so EASY but it is incredibly time consuming. This is where my sister was beyond compare. She sat there at my dining room table slicing and arranging all the crudite. She took home the skewers, the cheese, the basil, the dressing, and the tomatoes and skewered food all through the football game (had her team WON, I’d be putting in a mention of that. But alas, neither of us had winning bowl games this year. 😦 ). Not only did she do all of that labor-intensive work on Monday, she came early Tuesday to help assemble the asian salad cups and other dishes.

img_9962Monday was the night I had to utilize the deck for more cold storage. We’d cooked the turkey on Monday so that we could slice it on Tuesday. The wonton cups were made. The cookies I was baking were made (salted tahini chocolate chip cookies). The fruit skewers were done. The crudite cups were assembled. I got out one of my plastic storage bins from the renovation – used to pack up our lives for 6 months 🙂 – and began creating layers within the bin. I made sure to lash down and protect the bin from raccoons once I put it outside.

We prepped for hours. I think I only snapped once. 🙂 My sister and husband might disagree with that. But we hit our deadlines!! My sister was able to get home and see her football game and get out to her New Year’s Eve party. My husband and I made it to our New Year’s dinner OUT – where someone waited on me, and all the food prep was done by someone else out of sight and I didn’t have to do any cleanup beyond using my napkin.img_9966 I did come home and did a bit more preparation – baking the shortbread cookies and rolling out the quiche dough. I was still awake at midnight to hear the fireworks across the river. The sky was completely overcast so all I could see were the clouds lit by the explosions. Somewhere around 1 am I made it to bed although I make no claims about actually falling asleep. 🙂 My brain was still churning and my bad leg joints had begun to complain. Ah yes, running full throttle!

We’re Having a Party!

I love socializing. I love feeding people. I love my friends. I love throwing a good party. There are several parties/food events I do every year, some of them more elaborate than others. I used to throw a New Year’s Eve party. We had what I used to call “The Gang of Eight” – 4 couples that got together frequently during the year. After my son was born I called us the Gang of 8.5. 🙂 One of our standard get-togethers was on New Year’s Eve. menuAlong with a few other folk, we’d get together at my house for dinner and watch the ball drop. Then a few years ago some of us began murmuring about being too tired to stay up til midnight. I remember one year where I think 3 of the females were actually asleep on couches and chairs after dinner – we had to wake them before midnight. *grin* NOT ME. But you knew that. A few years ago I made an “executive decision” – I moved our get-together to New Year’s Day, called it Brunch/Lunch and invited a few more people. It was still a relatively small crowd and we did still have New Year’s Eve with a small handful of folk (who could stay awake, or at least attempted to make it to midnight).

This year, between the college football playoff games and my new kitchen, I decided a more drastic change was required. I decided that we would FINALLY have our “come see our gorgeous new kitchen” open house along with our New Year’s Day luncheon. coffe labelsOnce I drew up the invitation list, I saw I had around 60 people on the list. I’ve posted pictures of the inside of my house and you should know that it would be an extremely tight squeeze to fit 60 people on my first floor without removing furniture – even WITH removing furniture. I think the only time I’ve hosted that many simultaneously was for my son’s bris, when I think we had between 60-70 people there (and yes – we took most of the furniture out of the living room and put in folding chairs). We got lucky that day because it was in March and we had some springtime temperatures and people flowed out onto the deck as well. But I wasn’t worried. I knew that on my list there were some who wouldn’t come (just because they don’t come), some who would be away for the holiday, and some who had prior commitments. New Year’s Day is NOT an original date for a get-together. 🙂

How do you throw a party for 60 people? I start by looking at the folk I expect to show up, and noting all of their dietary preferences. *grin* My mother used to stress-out totally about entertaining. She was an ogre on the days leading up to the entertaining, and the day-of she would practically have palpitations. spiked punchAnd that would be just for having the bridge club over to play bridge (12 people there for a specific purpose eating only munchies, coffee & dessert), long before this day and age when everyone has some food preference and/or allergy. So I make my list: gluten-free, diabetic, kosher, vegetarian, no alcohol, following the keto diet, on a lose-weight diet. Apparently I also have someone who does not eat nightshade but I didn’t know that until she was there and checking ingredients. Once I have the food restrictions, I begin on my menu. There must be enough food that all of those people will have a CHOICE of something to eat. I don’t want to have a pile of carrot sticks to hand out and say “here – you can eat this”. 🙂 (Do carrots have nightshade??? Something new to learn and consider.)

When I have my basic idea of food groups – appetizers, main course, side-dishes, desserts, drinks, snacks – I being selecting recipes. I have certain staples that work for large groups – roasting a turkey, large rectangular pan of quiche, bagels/lox/cream cheese – plus the standard drinks. gluten free Paring the menu down to the selected dishes is the next step. The dish has to fit the mood, fit my loose kashrut standards (no pork, no shellfish, no mixing meat & dairy in one dish) and be tasty. For this party I decided that other than my main courses (turkey, quiche, bagels/lox/cream cheese), all the other dishes had to be new and different – NOT like my other party menus. 🙂 And that meant – turn to the internet and browse!!!

Happy New Year

IMG_9978That title is both a wish and a description. I wish you and yours a happy healthy new year to come. And I am overcome with emotion from my wonderfully happy new year’s day brunch yesterday. I don’t even know where to start to tell you about it – it is such a whirlwind of activity and emotion hosting an open house for family and friends. I do know one thing for sure, however, that I have to tell you – and will say repeatedly – I could never have done it without my sister’s help. She and her husband and my husband worked and prepped and cooked and baked and cleaned through the 4 days it took to match this party to my hopes and expectations. 🙂 But of the 3 of them it was my sister who put in hours doing a lot of the manual labor and tedious tasks while I bustled about on more glamorous endeavors. My sister was my rock. Best Sister Ever.

For me, throwing a party is about family, food, friends, and, for certain parties, football 🙂 The football was a bit disappointing for this brunch but I have the best friends and family. IMG_9982Food is important but if you don’t have great friends who like to come out and meet and greet each other, you aren’t going to have a good time. I have to say that I am extremely fortunate in my friends. Everyone socializes and talks to folks they might not have met before. There was a lot of laughing and conversation and hugging and handshaking. My friends come with their happiness on high and share it around. I loved getting to see everyone and chat and to see them all having fun together. This party was billed as both a new year’s day party and a ‘come see the new kitchen’ party. *grin* More on that another day.

We were also fortunate in the weather – nearly 60 degrees and sunny in the afternoon. I always use my deck as my “walk in refrigerator” for my winter parties. I confess I was a little concerned about how WARM it was – if my desserts and drinks would stay fresh. IMG_9986 *grin* The upside of the warm weather was being able to set up the deck so folks could be outside and enjoying the sun!

The party lasted from bright warm sunshine into the dark hours, but the fun never diminished. Okay, for the cats the fun ceased completely once I brought out the vacuum cleaner that morning. 🙂 GC and BC disappeared back upstairs until the last guest left. WC attempted to hold her own in the sun room, refusing to budge so that I could clean the couch but she finally retreated upstairs when the first guests arrived. The 3 of them were quite relieved once I shut the front door for good. But as for ME – I’m still feeling the ‘afterglow’.

A Last Hurrah

kitchen stove dining room doorLast night we threw our last party with our old kitchen. It was Memorial Day weekend, always a great time to throw a BBQ. We had several reasons, however, to throw a party. Our wonderful next-door neighbors are moving down (back) to Florida. They will be gone by mid-June. All of us in the neighborhood are heart-broken that they are leaving. We love them, we’ve had such good times together, it was a wonderful, wonderful relationship. I decided that we needed to do a good, fun send-off to remind them how much they like us all and that they would need to come back and visit. (I already have a promise of a return for our Passover seder. 🙂 ) When I first proposed the Bye-bye BBQ I thought that we’d have already lost our kitchen – that we’d be doing this kitchen-free. I’m very happy that we still had a kitchen to do food preparation.

Kitchen sink door to basementThat was the second “last hurrah” – bye-bye to the kitchen. For 34 years we’ve been entertaining, throwing parties, feeding people all from this kitchen and breakfast room. Okay – I’m exaggerating. The breakfast room and deck are only 28 years old. Putting that addition on the house was a true life changer. When we do BBQs, drinks and appetizers are out on the deck and the dinner selections are in the breakfast room. I probably should have taken some pictures of that last night – we had a MOUNTAIN of ribs. 🙂 And LOTS of non-meat sides because we have a fair number of vegetarians in our gathering.

view from breakfast room to front hallYet another reason for the BBQ was my brother-in-law’s birthday. He, like our guests of honor neighbors, is carnivorous so we decided on beef ribs. My sister has a membership in a fantastic warehouse called “Restaurant Depot”. It has every and anything a restaurant/food vendor would want/need. My brother-in-law and I went there on Friday to get the ribs. It’s probably not a good idea to let the 2 of us do this sort of adventure without a chaperone because we both believe that more food is better. No – more than more. We came home with about 30 pounds of beef ribs. But that’s fine, because in 3 days, we’re not going to have a kitchen, no stove, and we’re going to still need to eat. Leftovers!!!! I know some people HATE leftovers but I love them. Leftovers mean I don’t have to cook or prepare something. My husband is the real chef in the family (I bake) and he did a great dry rub on the ribs. For good measure we tossed in some chicken dogs and veggie burgers. view from breakfast room doorwayWe had sugar free cheesecake and sugar free pound cake with fresh fruit and whipped cream for those needing SF, and we had sugar full cheesecake and sugar full ice cream cake for those wanting that good old sugar hit. The appetizers were delicious also. I’ll also give a little mention to the fact that I nearly lost my husband last night. As in permanently. One of my guests brought a home-made keto dessert (she’s very big on all sorts of healthy diets) and I’m not really sure what these things were, but they were sugar free. So she gave 2 to my husband who, of course, ate them. I only found out after the fact when I heard her describing the ingredients which included macadamia nuts. I said – don’t give any to him because he is highly allergic to macadamia nuts. Which is when I heard he’d already eaten them. Everyone joked about it and teased him and her, but the truth is – he was somewhat sick from them last night. 2 little tiny doses but enough for him to have a reaction. :/

I originally planned to do this party today, but as I write this post, rain is thundering down outside, and our phones periodically beep with emergency alert notices about flash flooding. The weather forecasters got all of that right because that was the forecast they were giving a week ago, which is when I said better move the party to Saturday night.

breakfast room table pots and pans closetEighteen of us on the deck – chairs and space enough for everyone, although I will admit there was a tight squeeze in one corner. I had the chance to show everyone the plans for the renovation, and got to show off the now-famous upstairs hall door (you remember – an essential piece for The Great Incarceration). We’ve decided on the faucet for the kitchen sink (somewhat steampunky) and I got to show pictures of that as well. Plus the really amazing steampunk faucet we are NOT getting. 🙂 It’s going to be a huge change.

I’m going to miss my kitchen. I know that many people look at my kitchen and go “ugh”. It’s small, old, kitschy, loud. But I do love it. I love the pink and yellow and bright and the art work and the decorations. I no longer love the floor (28 years ago) or the stove (15 years ago) and I hate that the cabinets and drawers don’t work properly. I’m not loving the current ant invasion, either. Despite all its flaws, when it’s clean and bright, it makes me smile. It makes me happy. I’ve been worried about getting a new, modern, soulless kitchen. I think we’ve made some good choices so that although we will have a new modern kitchen, it shouldn’t be soulless. Time will tell.

breakfast room cat treeToday, however, is designated as “pack up the kitchen and breakfast room day”. Tomorrow is probably the same thing. We are working out a plan for how/when to move cat paraphernalia upstairs in preparation for The Great Incarceration. We are trying to determine in advance where we will put all the boxed up kitchen ‘stuff’. We have a lot of stuff. Where did all this stuff come from? Do we NEED all this stuff????

Tick tock, tick tock….. Less than 48 hours til the wrecking crew arrives…..

Life Truth #26

broken cookieIt’s more fun to eat a whole cookie than a broken cookie.  😦

When Worlds Collide

Way back in the beginning, when I was trying to convince my manager that there was a future in virtual worlds, he challenged me. He said (approximately): All these people you “know” in SL – show me how any of it translates to “real” gain. He didn’t want to hear about people making money IN virtual worlds – making money by renting land in SL or selling SL goods didn’t count. He meant – show me how physical reality changes. Now whether that was a fair or reasonable challenge is moot. I thought a moment (because he wasn’t really giving me time to come up with examples) and did the best I could. I said “My good friend’s husband is thinking of building a wall in their backyard. It would be a retaining wall. My husband has offered to help with the plans. If my husband were licensed in that state, he could charge for this work. As it is, he’s not licensed in that particular state and we don’t charge our friends for such help. But if he were and we did, he could be getting work from acquaintances across the country, from people we’d never have contacted or dealt with without this interaction. ” My manager thought about it and conceded that he could see that potential.

Well. That was all very well and good. But if you want to know how SL REALLY pays off in RL, I’ll tell you. Peanut butter balls. Yum, yum. *grin* Oura sent me peanut butter balls. I probably should have taken the photo of the FULL container. It was full once. Now it’s my tummy (and my son’s tummy) that’s full. *grin*

When worlds collide, you get peanut butter balls. nom nom nom


Stat Counter

wordpress analytics