Monday, January 24, 2011

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!


Kathleen said...

That's a whole new tagline for your blog: "Elevating the Ordinary". You do that so well.

Love all these tips. And I'll just bet you put each & every one to good use.


Christine said...

What a great find and I love the title. Your quote from Gilbert hangs in my kitchen. Love it!

Great ideas.

Melinda said...

Great tips--I live by the thought of "Semi-Homemade."
Time somtimes is a precious commidity at our house and I'm into "doctoring."

Have a great Tuesday.


corners of my life said...

All great ideas - thanks for posting them.

debi said...

Your blog fills me up ! I will have to look for that book, what fun ideas.

Hope you are adjusting to one less at home :-)


Happy@Home said...

So many good tips here. I had never heard of Ollie's before reading your blog and since that time we now have one nearby. I am once again reminded that I need to stop in and check it out.
I love the title of the book and the quote too. Thanks for sharing all of these good ideas. I need to pick one and go with it.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Hi Judy
It's so true that store bought prepared foods, or take out, always looks better when transferred into a pretty serving dish, and that a few last minute touches can make it look home made. It's such a time saver on a busy day!

Happy@Home said...

Hi Judy,
I just had to pop in again to share a happy coincidence with you. This afternoon I stopped by a thrift shop and glanced at the vast array of paperback books for sale. The first one my eye went to was "Guests Without Grief". I couldn't believe it after just reading your post. Of course, I had to buy it. It was meant to be and now I have no excuses for not inviting guests over. LOL.

Miss Debbie said...

After years of exhausting myself, I finally learned...that simple is GOOD!! Thanks for the ideas!

Lovella ♥ said...

Oh wonderful hints. It's all about opening our homes to those that need a bit of love and a place to relax after a hectic day.

Pam Traskos said...

Hi Judy, I visited your blog for the first time and I am so happy I did! I love all of these tips and they are so easy.I'll be looking for the book too! Thanks for sharing! Have to go...time to cook! :)


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