We hosted our latest Mi Casa-Su Casa meal last weekend, a lunch for a group of eight people… four adults and four kids! It was a departure from our usual routine of 10 grown ups having dinner at our place, but we were really excited to try something new. Plus, we love kids and had a blast coming up with a kid-friendly menu that would also tempt the adults at the table.
The menu for the lunch was:
Nibbles and cocktail on arrival:
Joan’s Newport Cheese Puffs and a White Wine and Pineapple Punch (without wine for the kids)
Corn and Cheddar Chowder and Bread
Andy’s Famous BBQ’d Pork Ribs, Sweet Potato Wedges with Creamy Ketchup, Classic Coleslaw
Apple Fried Pies with Cinnamon Whipped Cream
Sounds good, right? I was especially pumped about Andy’s ribs (he’s discovered a new variation on his classic recipe and his BBQ’d pork ribs are now better than ever!) and the fried pies, which were my brother’s favourite snack when we were little.
But, despite all the positivity about the menu and how much we were looking forward to hosting such a fun and adventurous group, the whole meal almost fell apart… more than once. If something could go wrong on Sunday, it did.
We woke up to a bright and beautiful Sunday morning, which was lucky because I was planning to serve the nibbles and cocktails on arrival outside in the park directly next to our building.
But, before we’d even gotten out of bed, I realised that the apartment was eerily quiet. No whir of the fan or hum of the fridge. Because we had no power. Eight people coming for lunch. No electricity. There went my plans to provide homemade bread for the starter course (I needed to do the bread in our bread maker because the oven was going to be full of sweet potatoes and cheese puffs.) No worries though, we’d just pop down to the grocery store and serve a store-bought baguette. Crisis averted.
Then, around 2.5 hours later, our power came back on and I started prepping in earnest. I got the sweet potato wedges (which had to be baked in two batches) all ready for the oven… which had suddenly decided not to work. I thought I’d been pre-heating the oven, but all I’d really done was give the knobs a futile turn, because the oven wasn’t working. I’ll admit to a minor freak out at this point. I flounced off to the couch and let Andy fiddle with the oven while I muttered to myself about plans to make sweet potato mash instead of wedges. Then, suddenly, Andy shouted in triumph! He’d fixed the oven! (I still don’t know what went wrong… I’d rather not know.)
The rest of the morning went smoothly. We got the ribs out of the marinade and ready for the grill. The fried pies were assembled and fried with no dramas. We were at a great point to stop, rest and eat our own lunch before our lovely guests arrived. No sooner had I sat down with a bowl of brown rice and tuna when… there was a knock on our door. Andy and I stared at each other in total silence. I whispered “I swear, that’s not them. I swear, I said 1pm. I swear….”, trailing off as I realised that I probably didn’t say 1pm. I probably said 12pm.
Andy stood up and looked out the peep hole and said, “Well, it IS them.” He was so calm. I, of course, was a flaming wreck. No makeup. Not properly dressed. Nothing to feed the guests yet. And, the worst bit of all, knowing full-well that it was entirely my own fault. I’m going to go ahead and blame this one on Pregnancy-Brain. Lately I’ve been saying things, then totally forgetting whether I’d actually said them. This was, to date, my biggest Pregnancy-Brain screw up. So, while Andy greeted our guests I was in our bedroom, frantically putting on mascara and eyebrow pencil whilst shouting apologies out to the living room and thinking “This is it… no one will ever come to my house for a meal again. Ever.” It wasn’t my finest moment as a host.
Luckily for me our guests for the day were over-the-top delightful and understanding. They simply headed out to the park a few minutes early and allowed me the time to try to compose myself. I immediately switched gears and got the cheese puffs in the oven, brought their cocktails out right away and generally tried not to look as rattled and flustered as I was. I’m sure I failed on that count, but they let me off the hook.
Things seemed to go better after that. We got the soup ready to go, put the ribs on the BBQ to heat up and brought everyone inside for the meal. It was a joy to cook for such well-behaved children, although I was nervous as one of the small guests informed me that she’d be giving me marks! I think I passed…
The starter went out. I began getting the components of the main course organised in the kitchen. Smooth sailing. Until Andy walked in from the balcony to inform me “The barbie ran out of gas.” Half way through the second batch of ribs, we’d run out of gas. At this point, I really really really wished I was allowed to have a glass of wine. Really. But it was actually ok. The ribs were already cooked, we were just warming them up and getting a bit of a char on them. So we simply left the lid of the BBQ closed to conserve the heat and hoped for the best. The ribs turned out beautifully and there wasn’t a single one left at the end of the meal!
The main course went out. The desserts, which, thank Christ, were already cooked and ready, went out. We got the kitchen cleaned and then joined our lovely guests for a chat to relax and get to know them. We were SO lucky to have such laid-back diners for this meal.
When the guests left I felt both exhilarated (We’d done it! Despite all the odds, we’d put out a fun and delicious meal!) and exhausted (Whhhhhyyy???) Nothing that couldn’t be fixed with a nap, which I promptly took.
Really, most of the disasters last Sunday were out of our hands. Ok, I shouldn’t have forgotten what time I said that the meal would begin, but otherwise there wasn’t much I could do about the events of the day. These things happen. We’ve opened our home to people to come and enjoy food and friends… things are bound to go wrong once in a while. And, as I said to Andy after the BBQ conked out, “For God’s sake… the blog post practically writes itself!”