What to do when company’s coming and there wasn’t time to prepare that special meal to wow the crowd?
How many of us have faced this dilemma? I certainly have. On one such occasion it dawned on me that one could order out any special meal and save cooking. But serving a carry out dinner? Sure, as long as it doesn’t look like one. The trick is to have the meal delivered BEFORE the guests arrive.
I set the table as I would have for the dinner, added some extra decorative touches, managed to find enough things in the refrigerator to pull together a few starters, made an impromptu center piece and suddenly carry out didn’t look like carry out but like a carefully planned and executed dinner. The bonus was that I didn’t have to spend any time in the kitchen other than putting the entrees into my own serving dishes.
Here’s an easy starter recipe:
Melt some salted butter in a deep frying pan, add some curry powder, a bit of honey and when all thoroughly combined, add unsalted mixed nuts. Mix until the nuts are thoroughly coated.
The quantities of the ingredients depend on the quantity of nuts but rule of thumb, 1 TBS of butter, 1 TBS of honey per cup of nuts.
ENTERTAINING FOR FUN
What can be more fun than entertaining friends and family? What can be fraught with more challenges?
Here again are some of my tried and tested tips for successful, enjoyable entertaining:
- Do consider your own style and comfort level. Do you enjoy intimate dinners, Sunday brunches, parties for many, theme events?
- Do consider the mix of people. Do they know each other, if not; will they make a good mix based on age/life style/philosophy? Do they like each other, if not the event will not be successful.
- Do prepare as much of the food ahead of time as possible. You want to enjoy your guests and not spend the first half of your event in the kitchen.
- Do check with guests about food allergies/dislikes.
- Do determine whether or not you want/will accept contributions to the meal. Knowing what to expect will spare hurt feelings.
- Do invite guests to take left overs, if they so desire, share recipes freely, accept compliments graciously.
- Do extend the invitation with sufficient time for guests to be able to attend.
- DO NOT feel offended if some can’t make it.
- Don’t entertain out of a sense of obligation (unless entertaining is part of your business). Do it because you enjoy doing it, enjoy sharing meals with people, enjoy sharing ideas, jokes, anecdotes, etc.
- Don’t keep track of who returns your invitation, how many times you entertained and how many times you were invited by your guests. The joy is in simply doing it for the fun of it.
- Don’t try out a new recipe on your guests. You may luck out and have it turn out fine but what if it becomes a disaster? Even experienced cooks can make mistakes.
Go ahead, plan your next entertainment and above all else, HAVE FUN.
Please feel free to give me your feedback, I love hearing from you.
ENTERTAINING LONG TERM GUESTS
When guest are with you for extended periods of time, making it a pleasant experience for both host and guest presents special challenges. My family has had long term guests for the past 25 years, some for a week, some for a month, some for an entire summer, so we’re quite expert at this.
Here are some suggestions:
- Be aware of the reason why you’re doing this. Is it voluntary, is it family necessity? Let’s assume that it is voluntary.
- Expect your routine to be disrupted, so decide how flexible you can comfortably be;
- Review your house rules and communicate them clearly to your guests; meal times, cleaning, bathing, laundry, locking up, inviting guests, smoking, house temperature, etc.
- Do you welcome your guests’ offering to cook you meals, make desserts? Do you expect them to contribute money to household expenses? Two young ladies who stayed with us recently, were eager to cook for us. They made a dish that was somewhat less than perfect but we cheerfully ate it, thanking them for their effort.
- Do you want to include your guest in family/social events?
Understanding Culture is Key to Hospitality
It’s really important to remember that if your guests come from different cultures, they may have customs very different from yours. Learn what these differences are as they affect your daily living, don’t judge, don’t expect your guests to change all their customs for you but do make suggestions when their customs interfere with your life in a serious manner. We had one guest who didn’t believe in washing clothes until they walked down to the laundry by themselves, making his room smell less than inviting. We did have to tell him that it was our custom to launder our clothes more frequently. Another guest couldn’t figure out why we had a bottom sheet and a top sheet under the comforter. She just ignored the bottom sheet, slept on top of the top sheet and then couldn’t understand why we had to strip both sheets off the bed at laundry time.
Bottom line, do it because you want to, be prepared, be flexible and have fun. Your hospitality may be returned as it was for me several times when one of our guests invited us to stay with him in his home city.