Sunday night dinners are sacred in many families. In our home, these events have often been rushed with the over-riding anxiety of all of the Sunday evening commitments that needed to be completed before leaving for the office early on Monday morning. No more. Now I am able to plan and to enjoy the fun of anticipating, planning and hosting Sunday dinners that are events to be relished by all.
Sunday past was a great example. Having the company of our son and his girlfriend provided the opportunity to plan and serve a meal that would be pleasurable for everyone. It began with a casual invitation and agreement on the time. Knowing the food preferences of a young couple that is health conscious but interested in excellent cuisine allowed menu choices that were easy yet provided some degree of challenge.
It was easy to go to an early Sunday yoga class and then do a quick shop at a market that specializes in organic foods. Postworksavvy likes to leave some of the menu to chance so purchase of some wild salmon and organic spinach plus a whole wheat baguette provided the basics of the meal. The only preparation involved soaking a cedar plank on which the salmon fillet would be barbequed.
After a mid-afternoon nap in the backyard it was time to prepare a glaze for the salmon (hello lemon juice, olive oil and dijon mustard), make a bowl of tabbouli using fresh herbs from the garden, prepare the basmati rice and stem the spinach. No fuss but a wonderful meal when paired with some great Sonoma valley wine and good conversation. The nicest part of the whole event was not having to be pre-occupied with all of the ‘need to do before tomorrow’ activities that used to run through my mind when entertaining on weekends! How sad that I missed so many memorable times because of these preoccupations!
What did I learn from this?
- Keep it simple. Using easy foods that are locally grown and quick to prepare makes for a fresh and honest meal.
- Keep it casual. There’s no need to fuss over the meal set-up. Dining rooms are lovely for special festive occasions but family and friends love my kitchen and that is where the best conversations happen. The patio table is a great choice in the summer as it provides the added joy of eating al fresco and enjoying either shade or sun — depending on the individual and the day.
- Enjoy the preparation as much as the event. Preparation time involves a certain amount of chopping and mixing. This gives time for anticipation of how the food will be received and enjoyed. Such anticipation is part of the enjoyment of the event.
- Allow enough time to prepare in advance. Taking the time to chop, mix, refrigerate, and arrange gives time to enjoy the company of guests when they arrive.
- Share the work. My husband is not a great cook but he is a willing sous-chef. Learning to accept his help and coaching him is part of the fun. Guests frequently offer help which may be a mixed blessing — you decide.
- Accept surprises. What if extra people show up? Roll with it — pour more wine and add more food to each pot. Most households have enough extra food to accommodate extra people and grocery stores are usually close enough for an emergency run.
- Enjoy. Postworksavvy says that it is as much about your own enjoyment as the enjoyment of your guests. Who likes to be at a party with an uptight hostess? The emotional tone you set influences your own enjoyment but also the enjoyment of everyone else.
These are the basics and the information here is not new to anyone. In striving to host the perfect dinner, the fun of the event is often lost. How unfortunate! Postworksavvy says that we can’t lose these opportunities. Every day– every dinner — every moment of the post work journey must be savoured and appreciated. It is your life and you won’t get a second chance at today!