Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Independence ...

(Right. Forgot to publish this yesterday. Pretend it's still the 4th of July.)

Flippin' off the British, we are!

Today's high temperature was 78 degrees. Ohmygosh, it was *perfect* weather. Sunny, not a cloud in the sky this afternoon, a bit of breeze. My sister-in-law actually needed to borrow a sweater. Usually, the weather options for the 4th of July are 95 and humid or thunderstorms. But today was sensational. I couldn't have paid for weather that good.

As much as I bitch about how exhausted I am leading up to a big party, I really, really love throwing them. Maybe what I love is the chance to exercise my obsessive attention to detail. But no, I love helping people have a good time. Oh. That sounds kind of lewd!

Doreen arrived a bit early, which was helpful in the end, as she artfully arranged all the veggies as part of the appetizers. "God's crayons" she called them, which I thought was cute, even if I'm agnostic. English Teacher Dave and his wife Gail arrived next, and Doreen, who likes to live her life in acronyms, dubbed him STD. "It's ETD," I said. "English Teacher Dave." But she likes STD better. As does he. He informed her that he'll be claiming that as his own. School Teacher Dave doesn't have the right ring to it, but STD is funny.

People started arriving in a steady stream, and most all of them were kind enough to offer to help, but my kitchen is not laid out for multiple people, and really, unless you're intimately acquainted with someone's kitchen and can take matters into your own hands, it's just easier for the host to do things herself. I kept consulting my list, taped inside a cabinet door. (What's it called, Doreen? A BEO?) And then, when I went to consult it again, it was gone. "Where's my list?!" I said to no one in particular. STD, he of the quasi-Bono glasses, grinned and reached around to peel it off of the side of the cabinet. He'd hidden it to see my reaction when I found it missing. Har de har har. He's funny, you know, like an STD.

But it really was kinda funny. But I was also glad to have my list back.

I'm half Serbian, which means that it's practically a mortal sin to run out of food, which means we (my mom and me) always cook *way* more than is humanly possible to eat without recreating the scene from Monty Python's "The Meaning of Life" in which the obese guy explodes.

My mother and father arrived with arms full of food. She was in charge of a few things on the menu, including the brats because she owns a grill and I don't. (On purpose. I need grilled food one day a year. I don't grill meat. And I'm not gonna own a grill to grill veggies.) My mother is a purebred Serb. I don't have to tell you how much she brought. We'd agreed on 18 brats. And we'd agreed on two pans of lasagne. (Yes, lasagne. I figured, by the end of a long holiday weekend, people would have had their fill of hot dogs and hamburgers and fried chicken was served at my niece's birthday, two days before, so since my Serbian mother makes the world's best lasagne, lasagne it was.) And baked beans. My Serbian mother also makes the world's best baked beans. To feed a crowd, she picked up one of those warehouse-club sized cans. I was with her. I looked askance. She added another can to the cart that day. Today, she arrived with three serving dishes of baked beans.

The counters and the stove were disappearing under the serving pieces. There was a lot of food. My sister-in-law's sister-in-law Michelle arrived with her husband and daughters. Arriel, the older of the two at 4, is the cutest thing on two feet and as I scooped her up to give her a hug, she surveyed the laden counters and asked in her cute little voice, "Whatcha makin'?"

So everyone started piling up their plates and the three dishes of baked beans? We ate half of one. But everyone loves them, so most everyone took some home. Along with potato salad.

I didn't use a whole 10-pound bag of potatoes, but it was close. There was a lot of potato salad. And as I sat down on the ottoman in the living room, joining Doreen who was comfy on the loveseat, and dug into my plate of salads, I said, "This potato salad rocks!" I don't usually compliment my own cooking, but really, I'd outdone myself. Usually, food tastes better when someone else prepares it (my mother also makes the world's greatest sandwiches, for example), but that potato salad deserved a pat on the back.

For John, who likes it when I write about food, the menu was thus: Ham and cheese roll-ups (Krakus Polish ham spread with cream cheese and, duh, rolled up; my nephew, as a little guy, dubbed them "meat and cheese on a stick" because of the frilly toothpicks mom stuck in them; the name stands today, unofficially), shrimp and cocktail sauce, veggies and blue cheese dip for starters. Lasagne, garlic bread, salad, brats (with both diced raw and caramelized onion), potato salad, grilled and chilled veggies (thanks to STD), baked beans, Sibley Boulevards (a sandwich named for the street on which the deli sat, made with roast beef, turkey, Munchee cheese, shredded lettuce, thinly sliced onion and Thousand Island dressing, on French bread), and chips. Michelle brought grapes. Her mom brought corn on the cob. Like I said, you couldn't see the counters.

The parade was about to get underway, so everyone filed outside to take their seats. I watched about 10 minutes total. The rest of the time I was inside, putting lunch away and getting dessert set out. Dessert, for those keeping score, was brownies (they're kinda legendary), apple slices (like apple pie, but in a half sheet pan), Rice Krispie Treats (with sprinkles, because I like them), and watermelon.

I'd made little handle bags for the kids to use to collect their candy and other swag from the parade folk. "Designer bags," my neighbor called them. I told her I clearly didn't make enough crafts as a child and was making up for it now. I love doing stuff like that. This year's bag featured a firecracker. I made a template to cut out the firecracker shape (with rounded ends, to create a 3-D effect) and used notary seals as the lit end of the wick. They were awfully cute, if I do say so. And I do.

By the time the last person left, I'd had guests for six hours. Part of me wanted to collapse on the couch. Part of me wanted to put my house back in order. The countersful of food were now countersful of dishes. And there were many other chores to be done. So I did them. And I stopped about 9.

And now I'm on the couch, my lovely couch. And I have to do actual work tomorrow. I kinda miss having a party to plan. Hmm. Maybe that's one of my callings. Uh oh! Not another one!

But in keeping with the theme of the blog, I'll mention that Brian, my engineer, for lack of a better word, called yesterday, and I have tentative studio time scheduled next week Thursday! The selections, as of today, are "Gotta Be This or That" and "Pick Yourself Up" from the "Good Night, and Good Luck" soundtrack, and maybe one other (not sure how much time we'll have), which I'll keep quiet about for now, cuz if I do it, and if I like it, someone who reads this blog will eventually get to hear it, and if I know him as well as I think I do, he's gonna flip out.

As for the rest of you, well, I have no idea how to post audio files. I use a Mac. If anyone has any tips, let me know.


Anonymous Ethan said...

"As for the rest of you, well, I have no idea how to post audio files. I use a Mac. If anyone has any tips, let me know."

Essentially, you don't. Blogger doesn't offer server space to store audio files. If you can upload the file to a server somewhere, then it is just a matter of linking to it like a web page. Ideally, warn people that the link goes directly to an audio file so they can opt out as needed.

9:39 PM  
Anonymous Doreen said...

B.E.O. is correct, short for banquet event order :)

9:07 AM  

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