I am so excited! I received confirmation that my cousin and family are coming back for Thanksgiving again this year. We had been in touch over the last few years quite regularly; I had spoken with her husband and two kids often, but before the Summer of 2010, I had not met them in person nor had I seen my cousin since we were quite young, actually, Thanksgiving of 1976(!) I got them to agree to come up two states for last Thanksgiving and it looks like we have started anew tradition!
Now, to work on the menu. What can I make to ‘show off’, yet can be mostly made ahead of time so I can enjoy their company and not make them uncomfortable by working too hard while they are here? I also must take my cousin-in-law’s food allergies into consideration, but that will be easy.
In an earlier post I told the story of how I over-did the first baby shower I threw. I will often stress how one has to take into account a guest’s special needs, but not to the point of making them uncomfortable.
Right after we burned our bridges and moved here for an old acquaintance’s business, the woman died. An old friend of hers stayed in town after the funeral for a short time to help keep the business going.
The late boss’s husband, who was the new boss, went out-of-town and left this boss in our care…this boss who was on a strict no-fat diet…none…zilch…nada, which was new to me. I had to quickly ‘wing’ this with very little notice and with what I had on hand.
I modified a chicken recipe that my sons loved. .I made pasta which I made slightly under-cooked. ‘Al dente’ is an over-used phrase, but in this case, it fits. ( I made a chunky-type; today, I would have made it tri-colored, vegetable pasta). I kept the pasta slightly wet, since I could not add oil or butter, nor could I use a nice meatless sauce, as the man could not deal with tomatoes. I made a sliced vegetable plate instead of a salad, with olives and pickles, since I had no fat-free dressing. I had Ranch dressing on the side for the boys to dip their vegetables in. I had a purchased angel food cake, (on top of it all, the oven in our apartment was broken). I pureed raspberries with a little honey which I poured over each individual cake slice at serving time,(any earlier and the sauce would have made the cake soggy). It was a meal that all of us, even the nine and ten year old boys, enjoyed. The man, who had no idea what to expect, was so happy that he wrote for years at Christmas and always mentioned the meal. However…
I had made coffee and he asked if we had skim milk. At the time, no one in the family used it. He left that evening and was to return the next morning for breakfast. I had fruit and crispy-rice cereal which I knew the man liked to eat, (as you can imagine, the dinner conversation was about food), but I ran out that evening and bought skim milk.
The next morning, the man came and was chagrined that I had skim milk for him. He had a dinner invitation with others for that evening and refused to come to breakfast the next morning as we “had gone to too much trouble”. I had made him uncomfortable; that was not being a ‘good host’. [Topic for another time: How to be a gracious guest. After all, we had already gone to the trouble; he should have accepted the care.]
Last year I chose and modified a few of the dished I served to make sure that my cousin’s husband could eat as many of the offerings as possible. I did not, however, make anything ‘special’ just for him. The few things that included foods that he could not eat, I warned him about, but for the most part, I simply chose foods that we could all enjoy…and see, they are coming back for more!
And I hope you do, too…Autumnal recipes coming in new posts soon!
1 Tablespoon butter (for the regular recipe; omit for ‘fat-free’)
1 lb. chicken tenders or breast cut into strips
3+ 1 Tbs. Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tbs. water
Melt the butter. Add the 3 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce and water. Add the chicken, salt and sauté’ until just cooked through. Remove the chicken; increase the heat, add the additional Worcestershire sauce and cook until thick. Add the chicken and brown quickly on both sides. Remove and keep warm.
This also makes great chicken for sandwiches on a crispy bun or bread with mayonnaise mixed with Worcestershire sauce, a white cheese, (Havarti, Provolone, etc) and lettuce, or for in a Chef’s salad with cheese chunks and vegetables of your choice.