Thursday, October 12, 2017

Effortless Entertaining: Afternoon Tea edition

When your kids want birthday cake, but your family is done with birthdays until spring?

Have a birthday party for your eldest son's hobby horse Christmas Horse III (known to his friends as simply Horse). Horse joined our family the weekend of our small town's Oktoberfest, and as such his birthday is observed as a moveable feast, the first Saturday in October. We celebrate his birthday with afternoon tea, which is both an easy and economical way to entertain. I estimate I spent about $20 on groceries- not bad for a gathering of thirty people. Since nothing save the tea is served warm, this meal lends itself well to being made ahead. If you have an older child, the two vegetable items could easily be made by them.

Cucumber Slices with cream cheese and tomato
Celery Sticks with Pimento
Deviled Eggs
Curry Chicken Salad Sandwiches
(Imitation) Crab Rolls
Scones (by Neighbor 1) with Apple Butter
Cookies (by Neighbor 2)
Never fail chocolate cake with ganache (also excellent made with coffee or red wine in place of beer)
Rooibos tea
I meant to put out a bottle of sherry, but forgot and no one seemed to find anything lacking.


This year we had 10 adults and 8 eating children in attendance. I made a dozen each of the sandwiches (2 lb chicken breasts and 2 packages imitation crab), 1 dozen deviled eggs, and 2 dozen of the cucumber slices. No one went hungry, but there were not many leftovers, either. I had one large slow cooker full of chai (could have used more) and made two pots of the rooibos tea over the course of the afternoon. The adults used bone china, but since the kids had theirs al fresco, they used tin cups from the picnic basket.

A horse is a horse, of course, of course....

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Effortless Entertaining Series

We here at PSOCL recognize the role that neighborhood gatherings play in building up the domestic church. From large baptism receptions to wedding cakes to chili or spaghetti suppers and afternoon teas, your friendly neighborhood church ladies have found ways to entertain easily and economically. Going forward, we will share the "Effortless Entertaining" series: some behind the scenes looks at family friendly social gatherings with tips about how to host your own.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Universal tomato base

When your farmers' market offerings look this:
(it was really more like 12-13 pounds...)

But your canning mojo has up and went and your canning pot is only big enough for pints and you simply can't face all that blanching...

Allow me to present: Universal Tomato Base (UTB).

By roasting the (unpeeled) tomatoes with onions and couple hot or bell peppers if desired, you end up with a freezable puree that can be the base of many easy and delicious meals that taste of the height of summer all winter long. Use as is for pasta sauce, or

Combine 3 cups UTB with:
*2 cups stock, for amazing tomato soup
*1 can evaporated milk and a pinch of Italian herbs, for even more amazing cream of tomato soup or pink sauce
*1 T each bloomed curry powder and garam masala and 1 can coconut milk for curry
*Include more hot peppers in the initial preparation for a hearty dip perfect for tortilla chips

10 pounds tomatoes, rinsed, cored, and cut in 6-8 pieces
2 pounds red onions, cut into eighths
Colored bell peppers, if you have them
3-5 jalapenos, if desired
Kosher salt, to taste (I used 2 T for each large roasting pan)
Olive oil (greasing pan plus about 1/4 cup per pan)

Preheat oven to 350. Divide produce among greased baking dishes. The tomatoes will cook down a lot, but you want them to brown a bit at the end, not steam. Season with salt and oil. Roast 2-3 hours, until tomatoes are juicy and have some spots of char. Scoop the vegetables with pan juices into the blender and puree smooth. Three cup batches fit nicely in quart bags. Cool to room temperature, then chill overnight in fridge before freezing. Ten pounds of tomatoes cooked down to 4 batches (about 12 cups)