Tag Archives: food allergies

Worcestershire Chicken/Hosting/No-fat

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!

Worcestershire Chicken

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
Salt

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.

Meeting Hosting Challenges

Lent?

Or- Johnny’s New Girlfriend Doesn’t Eat Red Meat

Your father had a heart attack and Mom is at a loss as to how to cut cholesterol;

Janie comes home from camp and announces that she is now a vegetarian. What do you

do? (After arguing, which only strengthens her resolve).

Or maybe Jerome brings a Bangladeshi friend home with him from school. Your visiting cousin says that his wife has celiac disease.

DON’T PANIC.
You probably have enough on the pantry shelves and in the refrigerator/freezer for at

least one meal, a snack and breakfast before you feel the need to run to the store.

Don’t know if the vegetarian will eat eggs and dairy? Aren’t sure if a guest eats beef? First,

Play it safe. Offer something not possibly offensive. This is where knowledge of

meatless protein comes in handy. And then, Ask! Say, (in your sweetest, but most

unpatronizing tone),

“Do you have any dietary restrictions?”

Not your style? Practice it. This is always a good idea, as there are many people

with health related food requirements. What ever you do, avoid asking, “Is there

anything special that we can make for you?” That will only make your guest extremely
uncomfortable. They will not want to “put you out”. Being a good host means always making your guests comfortable and never seeming to be ‘put out”. If possible, enlist the aid of the person who brought them in. Try to tailor the family’s meals to suit your guest as much as possible.
No, Janie is not allowed to dictate that the family will now avoid all animal products, but if you have a Jewish or Muslim guest, please do not serve pork, or beef if your guest is a Hindu. It is only common decency respect other people’s religious sensitivities. That is being a good person and a good host. And believe me, there is nothing more frustrating than putting on a good show, only to have the guest pick at only a few things because they cannot eat the rest. All your hard work will have been in vain, and you find out only after tearing your hair that you possibly could have gotten off easier by meeting their needs. Even when I was young, people’s conversations with me seemed to gravitate toward food. When I was about twelve a teacher, whom I had all to myself , lamented over the previous evening. Her husband’s position had required them to entertain VIP’s from some exotic locale. She had looked into their dietary do’s and don’ts , pulled out all the stops, spending a great deal of time and money creating fine canapés and sweets pleasing to their eyes and she was sure, palates. They came in, she showed off, and they thanked her very kindly, but you see, they were sorry, but they were fasting as an observance of their religion. They wouldn’t touch a morsel. And she was stuck with platters of fancy foreign finger food, frustrated.
Right after we were married, a young man who was a friend of my husband’s family came to visit.
He was a tall, strongly built, active man, whom my husband warned me was a big
eater. He was in town, staying with his brother, and was going to visit us, starting

very early the next day. I made a huge breakfast of waffles, eggs, sausage, fruit and

more, but he had had breakfast. (Husband never thought to actually invited him for

breakfast, but that is an argument already fought). Anyway, he did eat, and lunched

well, and talked about his active life , all of the sports in which he was involved. He

came back through town a couple of years later. He was going to drop in to eat a

quick lunch with us and he was leaving from our place to

drive across the country. Husband asked me to fix a large bag dinner for him to take

on the road. As I was getting dessert, (something gooey), Husband brought sports up to

him. “Oh, no, not any more. I hurt my back, and I’ve had to radically change my life!

No more sports. Only whole grain foods, no more sweets, lots of fresh

vegetables…..” I panicked for only a second… that was all the time I had. I sent them

into the living room, as I sliced fruit, grabbed a jar of dry roasted nuts, pulled raisins

and dried fruit out of the cabinet to make a platter. “This is exactly how I should eat!”

he proclaimed. I had to change some of what I’d already prepared for his road bag,

but I made it, and he was happy. Husband was happy. And I was darned

pleased with myself.
Once I just plain lucked out. The story that I will tell another time about the family of nine who dropped in from out-of-state for dinner has one part missing. Having to quickly serve 13 people, I made large pitchers of fruited iced tea mix. Unknown to me, the father of the family was allergic to corn in any form, even corn sweeteners. The mix was, fortunately, sugar sweetened.
You can’t always rely on luck, ( however, as there are no atheists in fox holes or hospital waiting rooms, I might add that I have heard more than one muttered prayer or quick sign of the cross from many otherwise unreligious cook or chef when facing a culinary crisis), you can learn to rely on yourself and your shelf. You cannot possibly be prepared to set up housekeeping for every unusual contingency, but with a little knowledge and forethought, you can keep your head when faced with unexpected dietary needs of family and friends. You can come shining through.
Next time, we will talk about fish and meatless protein combinations and what you should have in your pantry cabinets at all times.