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  • The Dinner Party

    July 10, 2006

    Antique Daddy and I belong to a supper club with three other couples. We meet every other month alternating between someone’s home and a restaurant. We’ve been doing this for the past year and it has done the elder Antique’s a world of good to get out and mingle with people who don’t routinely wipe butts other than their own.

    Since our friends are old our age, their children are grown and out of the house, so we look forward to going to their homes where there are nice things like plates that break and cups without lids. It jogs our memory and reminds us of the days when we had functioning brains. We also get to talk about things that don’t involve digestive fluids — except for my friend Dee who has a 12-year-old boy living inside of her head and therefore always has a good poop story. Being a high school English teacher for so many years will do that to you.

    Last Saturday night it was finally our turn to host the gathering at our house and I have to confess, I was a little nervous about it. I am the hostess formerly known as Martha, but the last three years have left me out of shape when it comes to entertaining grown ups. I found that as I prepared for this dinner party that my standards had slipped changed somewhat.

    Before Sean came along, I would have spent several weeks on-line and going through my cookbooks researching recipes. This time I just went to the grocery store and wandered around hoping an idea would fall from the shelves and into my grocery cart. As luck would have it I ran into a gay guy at Tom Thumb. While there, I came to the realization that gay guys do not shop at Wal-Mart for groceries — crafts maybe, but not groceries. As I was perusing the condiments aisle Chad stopped and chatted me up about the joy of Fischer’s Chipotle Raspberry sauce. This never happens in Wal-Mart, I guess due to the lack of gay guys and gourmet items. In fact, no one ever talks to me in Wal-Mart and I consider that a good thing.

    Anyway, I confessed to Chad that I was having a dinner party and was at a loss as to what to serve. And I guess he sensed the panic in my voice and took pity on me. Since we had bonded over our common love of gourmet condiments, he offered me his Coconut Panko Salmon recipe (which is at the end this post because as I have received recipes freely I will extend them freely. And? Because I love y’all just that much.). And it was in fact, very good. So thank you Chad!

    In my previous life, after having settled on an entrée, that would have just left having the house professionally cleaned, the lawn manicured, creating a list of engaging table topics, setting the table with china, silver and crystal, having my toes painted to match my outfit, wrapping the handmade party favors (perhaps homemade truffles or peach chutney or maybe a small book of pithy quotes), making calligraphy place cards, selecting the music, purchasing fresh flowers and arranging them and finally, finding a suitable pineapple to set afire.

    GiGi, who is currently the nicest woman on the face of the earth (she rotates with my sister-in-law Terrye) came and took Sean off my hands for a few hours so that I could put placemats on the table and they would stay there and so that I could serve my guests without a child hanging on my leg like a Koala.

    I didn’t get the house professionally cleaned, so I kept the lights down low. I did not have the yard manicured, so I closed the blinds. There were no hand calligraphied place cards, but there were placemats and real napkins. The plates were breakable and the cups did not have lids – nothing called sippy or had a Nemo motif was used. I did not have my toes painted to match my outfit. I didn’t even wear shoes. I wore an old blouse that needed ironed. I did manage to throw a few flowers into a vase for the table. I did manage to send everyone home with some Walnut/Cilantro pesto that I had made, but it was not in an antique Depression glass container with a matching bow as it would have been a few years ago. There was no flaming pineapple. But the wine flowed freely and everyone had a good time nonetheless.

    The lesson in all of this is this: When it comes to entertaining, or most things in life really, good enough is good enough. And sometimes good enough is even better.

    ***
    Chad’s Coconut/Panko Salmon with Carribbean Salsa
    (Panko is Japanese bread crumbs. They are usually located with the other Oriental food)

    Place a salmon filet skin side down on a cedar plank or foil lined baking sheet
    Remove any bones
    Lightly rub with olive oil
    Squirt a little lemon juice over the filet
    Cover with Coconut/Panko mixture (1 C Panko + ½ Cup Shredded Coconut)
    Drizzle with a little butter or spray with olive oil to slightly moisten topping
    Bake at 425 for 15-18 minutes
    Serve with Carribbean Salsa

    Carribbean Salsa
    Dice and mix all of the following:
    1 mango
    1 cucumber
    1 bunch of cilantro
    1 small red onion
    1 can of drained mandarin oranges
    1 red pepper

    10 Comments »

    1. Susan says:

      The recipe sounds wonderful, thanks for sharing. I love the thought that sometimes good enough is even better. Very true and a lesson I need to remember.

      Gigi is special, isn’t she? We miss her!

      July 11th, 2006 at 9:28 am

    2. Amy says:

      this was great. i know the feeling. i always took pride in being the BEST host of a dinner party. making all kinds of fun appetizers, having the table set so neatly. everything was homemade.

      now that i have an 8 1/2 month old…my oh my, how things have changed. no time or energy anymore. i miss that me but i LOVE this new mommy me. :) i’m a little more careless now and it sometimes feels really good.

      July 11th, 2006 at 9:57 am

    3. Kailani says:

      Sounds like a great dinner party! Martha couldn’t have done better!

      July 11th, 2006 at 1:58 pm

    4. Tammy says:

      I am one who always feels like I must clean every nook and corner before people can come over. Which, as you know, when you have children under 8 messing up while you clean, makes it a little hard.
      Thanks for reminder that perfection isn’t the key here…hospitality is! :)
      Blessings,
      ~Tammy

      July 11th, 2006 at 2:29 pm

    5. chelle says:

      Although I was never one to host a dinner party, I totally get where you are coming form. Having a child in your life changes so much. Good and well a little disappointing!

      July 11th, 2006 at 5:03 pm

    6. Stacey says:

      You can tell a story and make me just crack up laughing. Sounds like you had a wonderful time at dinner. I bet everyone still thinks you’re the greatest host ever!!

      July 12th, 2006 at 1:32 am

    7. Jenny Ryan says:

      Your “good enough” is something that I still aspire to…..LOL. I enjoy your blog very much.
      Jenny

      July 12th, 2006 at 4:46 am

    8. Shayne says:

      You’re kidding right? You actually made that recipe? Well honey, cooking definitely is not my forte. So I employ a gourmet chef. His name is Boyardee…ever heard of him?

      Seriously though, when I go to visit my friends, I’m not going for the food. I’m going for the friends. So exorcise yourself of the demon formerly known as Martha and be proud. You did good.

      July 12th, 2006 at 8:06 am

    9. Kvetch says:

      I’ve gone through the same thing, although post-mortem of ex, not post kids. I just don’t entertain like I used to – but if I did – I’d want to do it like I used to. I have to remember that good enough would be good enough. And the recipe? It looks wonderful and I’m going to save it with my stash!

      July 13th, 2006 at 7:29 am

    10. Kim says:

      I’ve always been a wannabe perfect hostess. My mother-in-law is like your old self. My attempts always result in Lucy like follies. I’ve learned that people still enjoy our casual entertaining style, lots and lots of wine is the key. Still, what I would give to pull off handmade party favors, placecards, beautiful floral arrangements, and flaming pineapple just once.

      July 13th, 2006 at 12:12 pm

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