Years ago, I was strolling the aisles of our local Ollie's store and I came upon a small paper back book titled "Guests Without Grief". The title caught my eye since that was becoming my policy in having people over. I purchased the book for a few dollars and I've learned some fun things from it. Today, I will share a few of the pointers and facts that I have found useful over the years.
To begin with, I liked this quote found in it's pages, "It's not so much what's on the table that matters as what's on the chairs." ~W.S. Gilbert
The section on "Customize It" and the section titled "Elevate The Ordinary", I found the ideas are clever and think they add the needed touch to simple foods;
~"Serve take-out chili from a bowl nestled in a napkin-lined basket. Surround it with earthenware bowls of chopped avocado, lettuce, onion, tomatoes, chili peppers, sour cream, and shredded cheese."(this is a great idea for serving chili and works if you use a basket with a big flat surface. You can carry it all over to the table with one trip.)
~"Remove frozen lasagna from its disposable aluminum pan and place it it an attractive, ovenproof glass or ceramic dish before baking. Top it with a few slices of tomatos the last five minutes of baking, so they barely melt into the cheese. Crown it with a healthy sprig of basil or oregano just before serving."
~"Buy jumbo packs of frozen meatballs from a warehouse market and bake them in a homemade or home-d0ctored sauce." ( I make a sauce of sour cream mixed with dry beef bouillion)
~"Personalize a French restaurant's boeuf bourguignon(or I use beef stew), with a cookie cutter cutout of frozen puff pastry. The author of this book, Paula Jhung, said that her favorite restaurant tops theirs with a cow cutout. She uses hearts, stars, or closest holiday symbol."
~"Impart a delicate sheen on a loaf of frozen bread dough by brushing it with equal parts of white vinegar and water before baking."
~"Slice roasted deli chicken into a salad, soup, or sandwiches. Give a prepared chicken salad an international flavor by adding defrosted but uncooked petite peas, a sprinkling of toasted almonds(and I add craisins or chopped grapes)."
~"Add texture and color to a take-out potato salad with diced celery, snipped fresh parsley, and chopped hard-cooked egg."
~"Doctor a sweet bottled dressing with a pinch of poppy seeds and some finely diced fruit. Fresh mango or peaches are especially good."
~"Pour a little orange or pineapple juice over cut fruit to keep it from browning."(my mother always adds orange juice to her lucious big bowls of fresh fruit that she serves).
~"Mound and serve fruit in a scooped-out seedless watermelon, cantaloupe, or honeydew melon."
Now my friends, if you happen to be one that makes each and every dish you serve to others, that is just fine. I would love to be invited to your home for a meal. I am not that person. Often my time allotment does not allow me to do that, so instead of ruling out having others over because I can't make everything from scratch, these few ideas worked for me.
Thanks for stopping by today. I leave you with one more quote from the above mentioned book; "To sit down with family and friends to a good meal is nourishing, not only to the body but to the spirit." ~Laurie Colwin, MORE HOME COOKING
Don't we all need our spirits lifted? Happy Monday!