Week Three How to ENJOY Entertaining
Day 15 A well Stocked Pantry
I am a firm believer that the reason most of us don't enjoy entertaining is because we don't enjoy the "pressure" to entertain. For me, the moment I sense "pressure" to perform, is the moment I'd rather quit. If I don't love the process, the people and what it produces, I don't want any part of it. So, having my all or nothing attitude could result in me being quite the hermit. However, I love people too much so I learned as much as I could from people who loved to entertain, I took notes and put my own touches on it.
The result has been very rewarding. A community rich in creativity, in care, in love and in authentic relationships.
My version requires a little bit of pre-organization and lowering expectations.
I believe that the expression is picked up in the small details, so I try to pay attention to a few of them at each opportunity be it a shower, a casual lunch, a kids party or a family holiday function. It shows up in just having a nice table set, napkins or place-cards, take home favours, a special activity or even my current study on "how to give a proper toast". There's always something new we can learn to make our home life reflect what's going on in our "heart life".
My Greek heritage as well as my late chef-father passed on a deep respect for the role of food in entertaining. My dad always liked to have a well stocked pantry, he loved to feed a number of people and there always had to be more than enough. He loved to keep the menu seasonal, and he loved to have everyone around enjoying life together.
He taught me that a well stocked pantry saves time, money and fuss.
When you don't have to worry about ingredients not being available, you are always ready to create a menu or meal that will nourish and entertain. You will always have your tools ready to "create" something uniquely satisfying and personal and you won't ever have to waste time worrying or rushing about. Also you can entertain unexpected guests, or last minute plans. I like to be able to entertain strangers in need - in case they are angels...
When you buy things on sale and stock up, you can make simple recipes for as many people as you like without having to pay convenience store prices. You won't have to skip recipes because you don't have certain ingredients and you can host a crowd without breaking the bank, anytime.
My mom was amazing in the kitchen as well, and she was the best at instilling, more hands make less work. That people "connect" better when they are all involved in part of the meal prep, maybe just throwing the salad greens in, cutting the bread or helping plate or-d'oeuvres.
I found this article at the Food Network.ca - it pretty much was exactly what my dad told me to always have on hand. (my comments are in italics)
You'll want to have these items close-by to whip up comforting, seasonal meals and drinks.
- Canned soups (dad always told me to make a big pot of soup up on the weekend and serve it through the week, but we still had canned ones on hand too)
- Canned broths and stocks
- Instant hot chocolate
- Instant oatmeal (I always have large flaked oats as well as steel cut oats too)
- Tea bags (including herbal teas - especially Chai and holiday blends)
- Apple cider
- Baking powder and soda
- Dried fruit
- All-purpose and/or pastry flour
- Brown sugar, White sugar, Icing Sugar
- ketchup, mustard (regular & Dijon)
- pickles (sweet, dill & relish)
- salsa, sliced pimientos
- soy sauce, Teriyaki sauce, Worcestershire sauce
Keep an eye on your weekly flyers and when these all-year-round essential items go on sale make sure you're the first in line to buy in bulk.
- Dried pasta or rice
- Pancake mix or general batter mix
- Maple syrup
- Canned beans
- Canned tuna fish
- Box drinks
- Peanut butter
- Jam or jelly (have a few specialty ones too, that you can serve over brie or on crackers - like ice wine or hot pepper jelly - even better if you can your own)
- Parmesan cheese
- Red wine vinegar (apple cider vinegar & balsamic too)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Microwave popcorn (or regular popcorn)
- Tomato Sauce (or canned tomatoes - I grow and can my own)
- Canned vegetables (esp. irregular ones that aren't usually frozen like artichoke hearts and beets)
- Canned Fruits like orange segments, cherries and pineapple
Think-Ahead Holiday Essentials
Be ready for impromptu guests this holiday season and keep these items ready to go for entertaining.
- Canned cranberry sauce
- Canned pumpkin or pie filling
- Pie crusts
- Salad dressing, mayo or miracle whip
- Evaporated and/or sweetened condensed milk
- Graham crackers
- Instant puddings
- Powdered gelatine mixes
- Instant stuffing
- Baking chocolate
- dried raisins, currants,dates
- variety of "plain" cookies you can dress up like shortbread or tea cookies
anise seeds, basil leaves, bay leaves, caraway seeds, cayenne pepper, chili powder, cilantro, coriander, cumin (ground & seeds), curry powder, dillweed. fennel seeds, Herbes de Provence, marjoram, oregano, paprika, red peppers, rosemary, peppercorns (black & white), poppy seeds, sage, salt (regular & coarse), saffron, sesame seeds, Tabasco or hot sauce, tarragon, thyme, turmeric
cinnamon (ground & whole sticks), cloves (ground & whole), ground allspice, ground cardamon, ground ginger, ground mace, ground nutmeg
almond extract, pure vanilla extract, vanilla beans
marsala wine, port wine, red wine, white wine
artichoke hearts, capers, curry paste, pesto, roasted peppers
shrimp & crab boil, smoked oysters
fresh herbs (various), lemons & limes (a must for juice), garlic bulbs, onions (red & white)
Refrigerator or Freezer Staples
butter, cream (heavy or whipping), eggs, parmesan cheese (not grated but a chunk)
sour cream, various cheeses, various nuts