Posts Tagged ‘hostess’

My Dinner Party (or, What Martha Stewart Never Talked About)

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

At last! After nearly a decade of living with my ugly ‘80’s kitchen, I was able to finance a remodel. Sure, it was three months of doing dishes in the bathroom sink while construction was underway, but finally I had my gorgeous kitchen and was in the mood to celebrate! What better way than to throw a dinner party for friends from my women’s group? It would be SO “Better Homes and Gardens”! And to be honest—amid all my whining during the building phase, I had somehow let it slip that I would have them over when it was done. My big mouth, getting me in trouble again…

Determined and delusional, I committed myself to the event. Never mind the fact that other than cooking meals for me, my boyfriend, and my daughter, and throwing Easter Egg Hunts and pizza parties for my kids’ birthdays each year, I had never singlehandedly made an entire meal for multiple guests in my home. Besides that, I hate cooking!

But any moron can follow a recipe, right? Little did I know that I would later compare my well-intentioned soiree to “giving birth.” Should any of you be toying with the dinner party idea, I beg you— read my helpful hints before proceeding:

  1.  When making dinner for a group, choose dishes that can be prepared ahead of time. This way, unlike me, you won’t be stuck at the stove while your guests stand around, watching you cook. For my main entrée, I chose Sundried Tomato Chicken Spaghetti. After all, according to the food stylist’s website (“food stylist”? That should have clued me in right there), this was an “easy” chicken recipe. The problem was, the sauce had to be prepared right alongside the boiling of the spaghetti. No cooking ahead on this one! I was torn between talking to my friends and cubing heirloom tomatoes. Trust me, both the sauce and my conversation were sub-par.
  2. Read the recipe carefully beforehand. Somehow, I missed the instruction about grilling the chicken breast using a “grilling pan,” even though this was set out clearly in Step 1. What the heck was a grilling pan, anyway? I rummaged through my pans and grabbed what I now know to be a roasting pan, laid it across two stove-top burners, and found a leftover grill from an old toaster oven. Presto, a grilling pan! Not really. I managed to grill the chicken, but also the pan, amid clouds of smoke and the smell of burnt fat and metal. I knew it was bad when my bichon, Oscar, who is normally obsessed with food and immovable from the kitchen during any type of cooking, crept out of the room with his tail down.
  3. Wear an apron! I used to think aprons were unnecessary and somewhat dorky. Wrong again! My plan had been to touch up my hair and makeup, and change to a nicer outfit right before my guests arrived. But once the cooking got underway, I was glued to the kitchen for fear of blowing up the meal! So, in addition to being completely frazzled, I had steam-flattened hair, an oily glow to my skin, smelled like grilled chicken, and was wearing portions of the menu…

A few more lessons…don’t lend your boyfriend your mixer and not get it back. I wound up whipping the cream by hand for my dessert, and after the slog of getting the main course on the table, used up what few molecules of vitality I had left. Forget coffee with dessert—I was too busy whipping cream to make it! Another thing, if you have a guest or guests with very specific dietary restrictions, don’t go overboard trying to tailor the meal to these individuals. I was concerned about my friend who has food-allergy-related migraines and eats only “whole, raw foods,” but she wound up being a no-show anyway because—you guessed it, she was in bed all day with a migraine.

As the dust (and cooking grease) settles, I realize my last, and probably most important lesson from having a dinner party: when entertaining, don’t undervalue the huge merit of caterers, take-out, and potluck! Note to self on that. Bon appétit!