Thursday, August 16, 2007

Contemplating Entertaining

As noted in this post, we don't do a lot of entertaining over here. We're just not super social, and yet, paradoxically, I do really long for a human connection with nice, down to earth people; thus our annual "Jim and Renee" dinner and my much anticipated visits with good friends.
But this year we're breaking our trend and actually having two dinner parties. There are two new teachers (a married couple) joining Ken's department at school and he thought it would be nice to have them over, along with Jim and Renee (also math/science teachers) just as a welcome and getting to know you kind of thing. I'm happy about that, but a little antsy too.

Here's what I've been thinking: is there really any need to be artificially fancy here? I'm enthusiastic about welcoming new friends and being gracious and sitting down to a simple meal with nice people. I'm not interested in stressing everyone in the family about some superficial need to have things be a certain way. What stresses me about having people over is cooking at the last minute, timing a main dish and side dishes to come out at the same time, or fretting over weather meat is cooked properly, that sort of thing. Why not, instead, have a nice, simple soup night? It can be two soups, salad, and homemade bread (or breads) and something nice for dessert. That way, everything can be done ahead: the soups simmering on the stove, bread baked and cooled earlier in the day, salad tossed, dessert ready in the fridge. Actually, Nigella talks a lot about this very issue--the whole stressed out dinner thing, where the hostess can be heard weeping in the kitchen. That's not what we want here.

So, in my pre-planning, I'm trying a new bread recipe Faith pointed out to me in the May issue of Vogue. Sorry I can't find a link, but it's a recipe, that apparently has swept the food world, in which the home baker, using no special equipment or ingredients, can make a delicious crusty authentic bakery-style loaf. The key is a very long rise and a small amount of yeast. I mixed it up just now and now it is starting its 18 hour rise. I'll let you know how it goes--and how the dinner party turns out (it's Saturday).


Jessica said...

This is just what I was thinking - we need to invite someone over for dinner. We used to do this more often before we moved a year ago. I hope you have an enjoyable time meeting new friends!

Mary Beth said...

Thanks, Jessica.