I have never been skilled or comfortable as a hostess – only partly because of the horrific house conditions and also because of my general lack of basic hostessing/homemaking skills. However, my kitchen crew, some painting – much done by David and Teresa, and Benjamin's amazing sorting, eliminating and organizing have radically changed the house (although much more needs to be done). And I HAD to do something to thank these people! A dinner from the new improved kitchen seemed like the appropriate thing.
But life is life. There was Benjamin's Eagle project (check out my blog for most of October 2010) the holidays, and extra people living in the house. Well, life finally settled down as much as it probably ever will and it was getting to be an embarrassingly long time since the good deed was done. It was time to go for it.
One of my guests is on a very strict heart healthy diet. I have been at many functions where food was present where I have heard him sigh that there was nothing he could eat. Another guest is one of the most awesome women ever – now all these people are truly wonderful and amazing – but this woman is unbelievable. One time, to console me and convince me of her imperfections and humanness, she told me comfortingly that she doesn't type very well. Oh, can you imagine how that relieved my inferiority – especially over her amazing homemaking skills?! One of her children once said in Testimony Meeting that she felt sorry for everyone who didn't have her for a mother. No one could possibly disagree.
So, here I am inviting these incredible and much closer to perfect people into my house – which much as they and we have improved it is a very long ways from Better Homes and Gardens! And cooking for them! This is scary stuff.
My daughter Debi was wonderfully helpful in helping me get going and plan a dinner menu – even though actually, I don't think I cooked anything she suggested. Without her sounding board, however, I don't know if I would have ever figured out what I wanted to do or even picked a date.
I finally decided on roast chicken. Scratch that. After considering price and logistics, I opted for Costco rotisserie chicken. (I also kept bugging poor Daneece about what her husband, our Bishop and my kitchen instigator and electrician, could eat) Anyway, chicken from Costco, wild rice (or actually Bistro blend from Winco which personally my boys and I decided is not really worth $3/pound and not as tasty as brown rice, although prettier), asparagus, green salad, and last day addition, Waldorf salad (which was quite a hit). And the grand finale, Triple Citrus Cupcakes (emphasis orange) from Debi's Sweet Petites. Bishop was able to enjoy everything except the cupcakes.
Saturday was a trip to Costco and Bel Air in the morning for fresh ingredients and everything else we needed except the chicken, early food prep, cleaning (not as much as I hoped and intended of course) (and hiding small loose clutter like bills I need to pay today – now, where did I put them?) and setting up. Benjamin, my wizard organizer, did almost all the set up. Dinner was to be in the family room in which the overhead lighting completely does not work. He set up the tables and put bedsheet table cloths on. A couple of tall tapered candles (real) and a scattering of battery tea light candles. Some fake flowers from the 99 Cent Store. It actually looked pretty good. Debi brought over matching unchipped dishes and glasses and Ruth brought over her nice silver. I had to dash over to Costco to pick up my pre-ordered chickens – the longest part of the trip was standing in line at check-out of course - and then hurry home to cook the rice (another nervous thing. Debi cooks hers for 2 hours. The on-line instructions were for 3 times the water and little less than an hour. Thursday's practice told me that was much more water than we need so opted for little more than the 2 to 1 ratio for regular rice and that about an hour would do) and cook the asparagus. How soon to start the asparagus? Don't want it over cooked! And don't want it to get cold. Although, I like cold asparagus.
At one point as we frantically prepared, Benjamin leaned close and said, “Let's not do this again!” I wholeheartedly agreed.
Somehow, miracle of miracles everything was ready right on time. The guests arrived promptly and close together. They were, of course, gracious, delightful, and appreciative.
As I welcomed them and started to say my little thank-you, naturally, I started to break down. They enjoyed that. It shortened any little speech I might have made.
Dinner was a total success. No shortage of pleasant conversation and everyone seemed to enjoy the food.
Still, I was glad Sunday to see all my guests still alive and well at church – not off dying of food poisoning!