I've been longing for Friday (Fri-YAY!) all week. Some weeks are like that, aren't they? I just wanted to let you all know that I got a massive spam attack last night on this blog, so I'm back to limiting my comment situation for the moment and may have to lock down all commenting again which I hate, because I really do enjoy reading what y'all have to say! (Sometimes the maintenance on that kind of garbage seems ridiculous!) Anyway... I'm back today, to wrap up my thoughts & share the food details of "Uncomplicated hosting." If you missed the previous post, you can find it here.
*Find adaptable foods that are easy to make and fall back on them again and again:
I love this magic condiment that doubles as a dip or a topping, and have put it into my food arsenal. (You do have a food arsenal, don't you? It makes hosting events way less stressful in my opinion. We all know that the more stressed out the hostess is, the more tense the gathering is so you want to steer clear of being stressed when you host!) I don't even measure, I just make it to taste. It works out to need about a cup of guacamole (or avocado) + about a cup of ranch, a handful of cilantro, a few squeezes of lime and a couple teaspoons of honey. Blitz in a mini food processor or blender and serve in a squeeze bottle or dip bowl with tortilla chips. It won't last. (You can make this a few hours before your guests arrive, but making it fresh is nice, and I always think it puts people at ease when you're still doing easy prep.)
*Make it stretch:
I also love making a few chicken breasts in the crock pot the day of or day before, for shredding. You can use the meat to serve on salads, tacos or in enchiladas. What I like, is that a few chicken pieces go a long way so if you're like me and hosting isn't really in the budget, you can use this trick to make it stretch. What I do- put about four large chicken breasts into a crock pot, then toss in some gluten free taco seasoning, about a half cup or more of honey, salt, pepper and more lime juice (about two or three limes total) a little water, and cook all day. Then shred and toss back into the liquid, with some freshly chopped cilantro. It's amazing and feeds a decent crowd.
Once you've got the meal nailed down.... switch gears and think of dessert. Don't forget it, even if it's a bar of chocolate that you bring to the table and share. There is something so sweet (ha!) about sharing a little bite of something at the end of the meal. For the family event we just hosted, I wanted it to look pretty, but I didn't have much time to spend on it. Then it came to me... chocolate dipped strawberries! (They look like you spent a ton of time on it... but you didn't.)
See how some look all perfecty and others look hilarious? They were all delicious, so it matters not how they looked. Don't let the idea that when you host, things have to look or be a certain way, stop you from trying. If it's a fail, laugh with it and move beyond. I think this applies to all of life, and all of event hosting. It's the imperfection and fail-moments that make the memories and make us who we are. For example, (from first hand experience) those cakes that looked awful but tasted amazing... you're more prone to plunk it into the center of the table and pass out spoons, which makes the moment light-hearted and laughable, rather than proper and stilted. Go with it, and enjoy it.
*Have the moment
This goes beyond the food but I think it's important to end on this. As a hostess, it's easy to get caught up in the timing of the food, the presentation, the lighting of the candles, the miscellaneous. Make sure that you have the moment too. Relax, look around, enjoy. Sip your drink, tell stories, listen. Laugh, taste the food that you spent all your time making. Assign help, ask for it. Push cleanup aside. Be all there. You may not always have these people, and these moments.
I am making a point to snap more photos of friends and family lately since my father's illness. I want to make sure my kids have something to look back on and remember from all of our gatherings. The people and the moments. Though they won't appear on my blog often, they are going to go into yearly photo albums and some day my little family will be so glad that we not only hosted... but took the time to document those precious moments.
I hope these posts have helped you in your efforts to host friend and family. It's so important in a world where we chat via texts over phone, and tend to have less face to face contact... we can't let the art of opening our homes go by the wayside.
Happy hosting dear ones!