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  • A Smashing Dinner Party

    April 25, 2011

    I love to have people over for dinner.  I think hosting small dinner parties of four to six, is about the funnest thing you can do.  But, in all honestly, since Sean was born, I have not done as much of that sort of thing as I like to do.  I am out of dinner party shape.  But now that Sean is getting older, it’s a lot easier and so I have been trying to get back in the swing of entertaining.

    If you did not know, I am a bit of a foodie.  I like to feed people.  I love to buy food, I love to talk about food, I love to learn about food.  I read cookbooks for entertainment and about the only television I watch is the Food Network.  So it was weird that as I was planning my little dinner party menu, I was stumped.  I could not think of one thing to fix.  Even foodies get in a food rut from to time.

    Someone suggested that I make Lazy Chicken. Frankly that didn’t sound all that great for some reason, and I think it was just that the name evoked unpleasant imagery.  As does yogurt.  I don’t really care for yogurt and I think it is because the word yogurt is an ugly and unappetizing word.  Yogurt just doesn’t sound like something you oughta eat.  They should call it buttery creamy caramel toasted stuff. Then I would like it.

    Anyway, I looked around on the internet and this Lazy Chicken had a pretty good reputation, except for you know, being lazy.  So I went with it and followed the recipe without deviation.  But I had a not-so-good feeling about this dish all along.

    If you are interested, here’s the recipe:  Take a bunch of spices and coat the chicken, either frozen or fresh, and then bake it at 350.  So that’s what I did.  But when I pulled it out of the oven and tested a piece, my not-so-good feeling was confirmed: this chicken was not-so-good.  I just couldn’t serve it.  So I rinsed off all the spices, smothered it in salsa and covered the pan with heavy foil and set it aside to rest, to take a little power nap.

    I then said a little prayer that through a baptism of salsa, the not-so-good chicken might experience a trans-substantiation of sorts and turn into something not-so-bad. Salsa can cover a myriad of culinary sins.  And with the guests set to arrive in 10 minutes, there was nothing more that could be done.  I had to move on.

    And if the chicken wasn’t so great, then at least I had prepared other things.  Lining the counter and ready to go was some hummus I had made for an appetizer, a spring salad, creamy au gratin potatoes, clover leaf rolls and pretty little homemade cobbler topped with a dusting of sugar which sparkled in the glow of the under-cabinet fluorescent lights.  Pretty much, my entire meal was setting out on the counter waiting to be served.  All that was left to do was make the tea so I boiled some water in the microwave.

    When the microwave beeped, I popped open the door and retrieved a small pitcher of bubbling hot water.  But as I did, the pitcher caught on the heavy12-inch glass platter that rotates inside the microwave. And out it fell.  It first crashed onto the granite counter top and busted into a zillion pieces and then the rest of it crashed to the porcelain tile floor and busted into ten zillion pieces.  Granite and porcelain tile are not forgiving surfaces.  Keep this in mind should you be thinking of remodeling your kitchen.  One unfortunate incident and your grandmother’s china is history. As well as any food you may have prepared.

    When I opened my eyes there was glass everywhere. Every. Where.  For weeks after, I found bits of glass all the way into the breakfast room and even the den.  There was shards of glass in every dish I had prepared — everything that is except the stupid lazy good for nuthin’ chicken which was covered tightly with foil.  And my guests were set to arrive any minute.

    I wanted to cry big fat sloppy unappetizing snotty tears.  And I also wanted to bust something else and stomp my feet and maybe even shake my fist.

    But I didn’t do any of those things. I screamed for Sean to go get his father to help me clean up the mess.  My plan was to first clean up the glass and then figure out how to prepare another meal in six minutes.

    While AD swept up and wiped up and vacuumed up glass, I dumped all the food into the trash, dish by dish, making up new curse words in my head with every scrape.

    Then on to Plan B.  I always have a couple of blocks of cream cheese and crackers on hand, so I think I poured Somethingoranother over the cream cheese and put out some crackers and called it an appetizer.  Then I made a pot of minute rice and seasoned it with a leftover packet of Somethingoranother that I found in the freezer.  Then I opened a couple of cans of green beans, also seasoned with Somethingoranother and for dessert I pulled a Sara Lee Somethingoranother cake out of the freezer.  If you don’t stock Somethingoranother and salsa in your pantry, you really should.

    As luck would have it, our guests got caught in traffic and were a few minutes late and I magically pulled a meal together in time.

    When the guests I arrived I tried to forget about the fact that I had glass dust floating in the air, and just relax and enjoy their company, which wasn’t hard to do as they were a fun couple, good conversationalists with entertaining stories.  When they complimented me on the chicken I didn’t quite believe them because, in my opinion, it was really not very good. But they did clean their plates, so maybe they were sincere.

    I guess as is often said, all’s well that ends well and no sense crying over shattered glass in your entire meal and if it ain’t broke, then Antique Mommy hasn’t touched it. Whatever.

    So then, for a truly smashing dinner party, stock up on Somethingoranother and have Plan B. And maybe a dustpan handy.

    28 Comments »

    1. Karen Lewis says:

      I would have eaten your somethingoranother without complaints. Any meal cooked by someone other than ME is a meal to be enjoyed! 🙂

      April 25th, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    2. Damsel says:

      Oh, dear. Grace under fire!!!

      I think I cook with Somethingoranother about every night of the week. I think you could be my long-lost Somethingorantother.

      April 25th, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    3. Julie at Elisharose says:

      It’s true. Food always tastes better when someone else cooks it. It’s a well documented fact.

      April 25th, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    4. Julie says:

      Garlic also covers a multitude of culinary sins. 😉

      April 25th, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    5. Kay says:

      We were invited to dinner a while back by a sweet couple. She made brisket and it was delicious. She told me it was easy to make although I’m not sure I believe her. But I did like it. Maybe you should try something like that next time. If it makes you feel better, I made a strawberry pie that I had never made before and we had to drink it with a straw. (darn those new recipes!)

      April 25th, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    6. rrmama says:

      Does HEB carry Somethingoranother??

      April 25th, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    7. Howdy says:

      Just goes to prove – it’s all about the folks and not about the food!

      April 25th, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    8. skip says:

      Julia Childs once cooked a Thanksgiving turkey. As she carried it on a platter, it slipped and fell on the floor.

      After a moment, she picked up and put it back on the platter with the comment: “They’ll never know.”

      Guess you can’t do that with glass shards.

      Give the Moose a bump for me.

      * * *
      Yes, nothing ruins your reputation as a hostess faster than serving glass shards.

      April 25th, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    9. Roxanne says:

      Is THIS the blog where once someone told the story of their mother accidentally dropping the Easter ham into a sink full of dirty dishwater? She rinsed it off, looked at the kid in the kitchen with her and said, “That’s the Secret Sauce.”

      I think instant something or other and baptized Salsa chicken with excellent conversation sounds perfect.

      April 25th, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    10. edj says:

      It makes a good story, and that’s the main thing! I’ve had a few of those somethingorother moments myself, and while they do add to my grey hairs, at least the guests don’t always know about them 🙂

      April 25th, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    11. Rebecca says:

      You must be one confident cook. I don’t…ever…make a recipe for the first time when serving to company.

      April 25th, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    12. Grace says:

      What great advice. I shall indeed stock up on somethingorother, as it surely worked for you! Thanks for your delightful blog.

      April 25th, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    13. Catch the Kids says:

      I think I would have fainted! Good on you for being so quick-witted.

      April 26th, 2011 at 2:53 am

    14. Sarah at themommylogues says:

      I recently gave up on thinking I had to prepare an amazing meal to have friends over for dinner (I’m not much of a foodie). We’ve been having friends over for frozen pizza. But you know what? It’s been amazing! I don’t begrudge someone wanting to make a nice meal, but for many, many years I let that stand in the way of having people over. I just never had people at my house because I thought I HAD to make a fantastic meal. I’m so thrilled to learn that a dinner of appetizers or frozen pizza or somethingorother in the crockpot is enough.

      April 26th, 2011 at 9:06 am

    15. Cathie says:

      I had a similar glass experience a few weeks ago, but since I haven’t cooked much lately, no food was harmed.
      I ALWAYS have a difficult time choosing a meal to serve-I believe it stems from my evil perfectionist disease. My own AD, however, is a pro with the somethingorother. He can make food out of nothing! I love when he cooks. I never know WHAT I’m eating, but it’s always good.

      April 26th, 2011 at 9:15 am

    16. Kathy says:

      Great save. I always hesitate to try something new on guests. Your tale reminds me of the time we were having dinner with friends. She was Italian and have slaved over a beautiful bubbling hot homemade lasange. As she was carrying it into the eating area, she dropped it cheesy side down. She was devasted, but we looked at each other and decided we weren’t going to let that stop us from enjoying it anyway. We salvaged what we could and ate that yummy lasange.

      April 26th, 2011 at 10:12 am

    17. Antique Mommy says:

      I don’t mind trying out a new recipe on guests. That’s just sort of the chance you take when you come to my house to eat! 🙂 And this recipe was so simple, one click above pouring cereal in a bowl AND it was highly recommend so I didn’t worry much about trying out for the first time — so all the more surprising that it was a chicken wreck. Either I had some bad karma that day or the chicken did.

      April 26th, 2011 at 10:21 am

    18. RoseArePink2 says:

      I specialize in kitchen disasters! Oh, wait. . .they’re not confined to the kitchen! Usually what I do is very, very good or very, very, very bad! My inclination seems firmly placed toward the latter! Enjoyed your take at imitating me!

      April 26th, 2011 at 10:50 am

    19. heidig says:

      Reminds me of the time I moved my main dish from the oven and placed it in the microwave to keep it warm and out of the way. Once we (and the company) had finished the appetizers, I reached into the microwave to pull out the 9×13 glass casserole dish and promptly dropped the entire thing onto the cook top. The casserole dish shattered, the cook top shattered and the casserole fell into every nook and cranny of the contents that rest below a lovely glass cook top. I served the salad I had made along with a pizza that was delivered shortly thereafter! We all had a good laugh.

      * * *
      Oh man, you busted your ceramic cooktop? That was one expensive dinner.

      April 26th, 2011 at 11:52 am

    20. momof8 says:

      Oh man, I felt your pain. I am so proud of you for not saying bad words. I’m pretty sure I would have. 🙂

      April 26th, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    21. Iota says:

      When is your birthday? I’m going to buy you an electric kettle for your birthday.

      April 26th, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    22. Krista says:

      Oh no! I would have been making up curse words too!
      When I was little we had a family over from church. Secretly I think my mom looked up to this lady because she had 3 boys who always seemed perfectly well behaved.
      Anyway, they had already arrived and my mother brought out the roast on a platter… and then it promptly slid off the platter on to the floor right at the lady’s feet!
      They picked it up and rinsed it off and dinner was served. But neither of them has forgotten that event over 20 years later!

      April 27th, 2011 at 12:10 am

    23. Debbie Owensby Moore says:

      I sat down at the computer to find a recipe for leftover ham from Easter. Now I know just what I need. Glad I checked your blog first. Thanks for a good laugh. Did you tell your guests what happened?

      April 27th, 2011 at 9:13 am

    24. Amy says:

      I once had a dish randomly explode in my oven just as I was about to pull it out and serve my guests. The entire oven was filled with exploded bits of food and broken glass. My guess was that the dish had a hairline crack and the heat of the oven finally caused the thing to break apart.

      I wonder if they sell smethingoranother in Tennessee. I think I need to keep some on hand, just in case.

      April 27th, 2011 at 10:36 am

    25. Lisa says:

      Chicken, crockpot, salsa on top. Turn on high right after breakfast, turn off when you get home from work. Chunk 1 block of cream cheese over the top, put lid back on and let it melt while making green salad. This chicken recipe is TO DIE FOR. Just sayin’.

      April 29th, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    26. Brigitte says:

      A “smashing” dinner party? AHHAhahaaa!

      I find that serving plenty of wine and beer also covers a multitude of sins (and I also enjoy using low-lighting and candlelight so nobody can see the dustbunnies and such).

      May 2nd, 2011 at 6:40 am

    27. Quirky is a Compliment says:

      Ooooooh, two words: Pizza Delivery. Shovel out of cardboard box and onto plate (preferably paper). If feeling really fancy, pull off paper towels individually instead of just putting roll in the middle of the table. Poptart for dessert.

      * * *
      Poptart for dessert – of course! I love your style!

      May 2nd, 2011 at 10:48 am

    28. Lucia says:

      Thanks for your vulnerability and humor! You didn’t let that dictate how your evening would go and you were being selfless by focusing on a solution!

      I can sympathize with you. My first attempt at using a brand new oven ended in shattered glass because the thermometer set by the gas company was set almost twice as high as it should’ve been. So while I thought I was baking my chicken on 350 degrees, it was actually closer to 600 degrees. I opened the oven to put some liquid in it and it exploded into hundreds of pieces of glass whith my toddlers only a few feet from the stove. Thank God no one was hurt!

      May 16th, 2011 at 11:50 pm

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