Saturday, February 29, 2020

DINING IN

I normally try to eat as many meals out as possible. And, I must say that I pretty much have succeeded in this department. Case in point: I ate dinner out maybe 3 times this week so far and I’ve probably eaten lunch out at least 4. This is probably a pretty normal schedule. I have lots of friends, so seeing just one or several, whether for fine dining or just grabbing a bite to eat, works out for all of us. Especially since they probably hate cooking as much as I do. Although for me… it’s not so much cooking that I don’t like. It’s the cleaning up afterwards that I hate.

Which is why it was so unusual a few weeks back that within a 10 day period, I hosted 3 dinner parties here at home. The last time that happened within such a short time period must have been when I was around 38 years old, I’ll bet. Back then, I could easily have whipped up dinner for 10 within a mere 24 hour notice. Nowadays?? Oh man. I’d totally need a 14 day time table. What was so easy for me when I was young could easily become overwhelming for me now that I’m old. Hence the stretched out preparation timeline. Anyway…

The first dinner party I had those weeks ago was for 10 friends. My planning basically follows the same pattern: Figure out my guest list and then do the inviting, 2 weeks ahead of time. Figure out my menu 10 days ahead of time. Set the table 5 days ahead of time. Grocery shop 4 days ahead of time. And then do the early food prep a day ahead of time. All in the  hopes of being able to breeze through the day of the evening of dinner. After of course, first waking up the morning of the big day in a mild panic mode. Bear in mind however, given the 3 dinners in 10 days, things were a hell of alot tougher getting all lined up at my favored slower pace. Plus... the table decor and place settings totally became less and less remarkable by the last evening. Which only means: Sorry Third-Round Dinner Guests... you sort of got cheated out of major impressive tablescaping, but so be it. 

Now, I will admit that for the first dinner, I did have kitchen help which puts a whole new light on things, for when I hire help… I’m the happiest of campers! Not only does having help make a big difference in serving, but more importantly… THEY do the cleaning, not me. What a deal. It was when I was in my late 20s that a good friend of mine taught me: HIRE IS NOT A FOUR LETTER WORD. Talk about words of wisdom! Whether it be kitchen help, house help or personal help... bingo. I'm committed. 

The next two dinner parties were for a lesser amount of guests, but to be sure… not necessarily easier in the cooking department. Case in point, for the second dinner, I made baked salmon stuffed with fresh cooked spinach mixed first in cream cheese and parmesan cheese. Man. Talk about delicious. I probably served salad and some sort of roasted potatoes, too. Excellent meal, if I say so myself. In the meantime...

By the time of the third dinner deal?? I so went easy for THAT meal, alright. The first two I really wanted to make delicious and special. The last one however? I was just thrilled to be able to throw something on the table and say: HERE. EAT. Well… wait. Okay, maybe not that crude, but almost. THIS time around I was pretty much into the Effortless Route. As in: I called Publix, asked them to whip up about 16 fresh pieces of fried chicken tenders (outstanding, btw) bought some frozen corn, a huge can of baked beans and then finally, some coleslaw . Boom. 1, 2, 3… done. I may have gone big on dessert as in: hot fudge sundaes. Whatever it was though, it was plenty easy.

Luckily, all three parties were excellent. Also lucky was the fact the last set of guests never knew what I served the first two guests for they would, rightly so, feel way scammed. On the other hand, they too, loved their meal and as the saying goes: a belly full is a belly full.

So since then?? NO DINNERS GUESTS AT ALL. Whew. I’ve let either them or a restaurant cook for ME. And btw... tonight? COUSINS LOBSTER TRUCK! Am soooo psyched! For lobster IS by far, my most favorite food. This will be my second visit to this truck, which comes to town every so often and bingo. I'm right there in line with the hordes of others. Yay food!   

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