Monday, December 28, 2009

A Crash Course in Hospitality, pt. 2

This is the rest of the story about my first time hosting a full dinner for my in-laws this past Sunday to celebrate Christmas a little early. You can read the first part here.

A little after 3pm, about 3 hours until serving

We pulled out the old, old cookbook on hosting dinner parties that my husband had picked up somewhere along the way long before he picked up me. There, in the middle of the brunch section, was what I wanted as the crowing centerpiece of my appetizer tray: a pineapple tower. It looks just like a regular pineapple, just with toothpicks sticking out. You pull a pick and a bite sized piece pops out for you to enjoy. Cute, right?

The problem is, the cookbook showed a beautiful picture, but no instructions. So, my brave husband handed me the paring knife and backed away, no-so-quietly whispering prayers that I wouldn't cut my hand off.

I think I figured out why they didn't have directions: The whole process is ridculously complicated. We ended up coring the pineapple and cutting wedges through, sticking in our toothpicks. But then, the pineapple was "structurely unsound" and kept falling over, so we constructed a scaffold of sorts inside using more toothpicks. When we'd done half of it and realized there was no way it would stand if we continued, so we stopped where we were and hoped that everyone would only want a few bites. I built a shelf out of MORE toothpicks and replaced the top (just like a pumpkin) so that it looked complete. It was a juicy mess, but it looked just like the picture! I don't think Shaune will let me try again, although I do have some ideas for making it better next time...

5 pm, 1 hour until serving

It started to snow. My mother-in-law called to tell us that they were on their way, but the roads were getting slippery and it might take them a little longer than expected. Dinner was to be pushed off half an hour. No big deal -- my meat thermometer told me that the ham still had a LONG way to go. I took a break and sat down on the sofa with a cup of tea. Shaune looked at me and said, "Everything ok?" We spent the next 20 minutes laughing about me, my tendency to get in over my head, and life in general. The whole situation was really funny.

6:30 pm, everyone had arrived and was having a good time

It all turned out OK in the end. I think my in-laws are still trying to figure me out: Who, really, spends an hour on a snowy Sunday afternoon trying to cut a pineapple? Or molding brie into the shape of a heart? (Cookie cutters do more than cut cookies.) This was my first attempt at hosting a bunch of people at my house for a formal meal. I don't think it will be the last!!


Gillian said...

I'm so glad it all turned out well, Jenny! I think you did awfully well for the first time :-) And I love the idea of a pineapple tower, even if it didn't work out so well in practise!

Emily G. said...

I enjoyed your story and I'm glad to hear it all came out right. Cutting the ham to fit the crock pot was especially hilarious to me-it was so something I'd do.