Friday, December 30, 2011

The well seasoned Dinner Party

I can throw an amazing dinner party.

A house that is remotely picked up
A beautifully created pastry masterpiece being showcased under glass on the buffet table
A decently set table- china choice depending on the formality of said party
A well planned and executed meal
Plenty of sweet tea to offer
Sometimes I even throw in some pleasant conversation

I rock at throwing dinner parties.

Just had to remind myself of that tiny fact because my dinner party throwing ego is suffering from last night's less than satisfactory effort.

It's not`that anything truly dramatic happened. Nobody died from food poisoning...nobody lost a tooth on rock-hard-overcooked food, nobody choked on an eggshell accidentally added in, I didn't set off any smoke detectors or evacuate the house due to a burning stench.

This story really needs to start yesterday morning when I looked around my house covered in three inches of stuff and remembered that the entire family was coming over to my house for dinner in twelve hours and in that time I also had to take Addison to a doctor's appointment and feed/take care of two needy children AND prepare/cook all of the food...

I wanted to use my new Shark steam mop but realized that I couldn't even SEE my floors...sigh.

Truly, I haven't been able to catch up with my housekeeping since the Michigan trip...shameful, I know. The practicality of taking care of two babies on top of all of the events of late have just been all that I can handle, let alone cleaning my house and folding laundry.

Yesterday was spent of a flurry of cleaning, Signing Time DVD watching for Addison, playmat alone play for Carter.

In between cleaning phases (and feeding/changing children), I made dough for the rolls, topping for the salad; marinated the meat for the main dish; desperately tried to pull myself together and out of this neglectful house/entertaining slump.

And I thought I had succeeded...even when I was trying to finish the meal and all of Aaron's family was in the kitchen breathing over my shoulder

"What are you doing now????"
"um....boiling water"
"And now???"
"cooking the noodles"
"And now???"
"Beating the next person who asks a question over the the head with a ladle"

OK, I didn't say that last one. But it was hard to focus with all those extra bodies in my kitchen observing cooking techniques. (I don't cook well under that kind of pressure)

And it wasn't until everyone was suspiciously silent while eating the meal and then the forced "THIS IS WONDERFUL"s started rolling forth that I knew something was wrong.

(I know that I threatened them before the meal that they had to pretend to like it even if they didn't...but I didn't realize what a disaster it was when I said that...the sympathy compliments were almost too much to take...note to self: stop threatening guests.)

I didn't think through the fact that doubling the recipe that many times would make the soy sauce to dish balance be off causing the entire dish to be VERY SALTY. (confession...I've made the recipe so many times that I no longer use a recipe and there's a slight chance that doubling it so many times caused there to be WAY TOO MUCH soy sauce. ahem.)


It was one of our favorite dishes, so to see it desecrated in such a way was almost blasphemous. I couldn't look at it...couldn't eat stomach was in knots for what I had done to our beautiful, wonderful favorite dish.

Looking around at the forced smiles combined with nose plugging while shoveling in and constant tea drinking...I knew that I would never hear the end of this. (when someone requested a camel back, I knew I was in trouble...fine they didn't but I know they wanted to.)


I tried to pin down my mother-in-law

"Did you like it?"
"Oh yes, I LOVED it. I think I'll try that recipe."
"Really? You didn't think it was too salty?"
"Oh, it was very salty"
"So you didn't like it?"
"No I loved it. I just imagined it with less salt."


I think I might have to take down my Queen of the Kitchen sign.

I asked my husband if it was too terrible (looking for a comforting "it was're imagining that extra salt" comment)

He stared at me intently and then walked away.

I HATE MAKING MISTAKES. (especially in front of family. What is it about normal things that we do every day for friends and our spouse all of a sudden we seem incapable of doing as soon as there are large family gatherings....this is NOT the first family gathering cooking mistake that I have made...yet that seems to be the only place I make these mistakes. Why is that???)

I admit, I might be a bit of a perfectionist and this is driving me crazy.

The positive thing is, a couple of days from now when anyone mentions this, I can say "Oh yes, but that was last year. I would never do that now"  distancing myself from the entire incident by a whole year.

well, at least the house was clean...

I know none of you will read this because you are all busy throwing your own, highly successful end-of-the-year family dinner parties. I envy your success and wish that there was a salt free DO OVER button in life.

(on that note...anyone want to come over for lunch? I have a ton of leftovers...)

I know I said I would announce this yesterday, but I didn't truly sit down at my computer all day! So here you go:
*Winner of the $50 Target gift card is Julie V! Congratulations Julie. Email me @


  1. would it make you feel any better if I told you that I made a cherry pie for Christmas ( a much requested cherry almond pie that I am famous for) and it turned out so badly that NOBODY said a single word about it! I discovered that I had overworked and overcooked and waaaaay over sugared it. I accidently used sweet instead of sour cherries and it was just plain bad! I'm just praying that the cinnamon rolls I passed out to all my husband's family didn't have a similar mistake in them...I haven't heard anything...

  2. that's why you should have a married a chef

  3. this is the horrible mother-in-law thrashing you with a wet noodle. I liked the main dish, the salad was to die for and the rolls were absolutely excellent. I even liked the apples that your husband won't touch. What more can you ask for in a dinner party? I think you need to rewrite this post!!!!! :)

  4. I also had a "FAIL" moment this week, although my cooking wasn't involved. And it DID involve my mother-in-law....and an ill-timed, slightly over sarcastic comment that sounded perfectly hilarious in my head. Even my husband (who is on the same wavelength as I am when it comes to sarcasm) couldn't hear the humor in my comment and politely asked me to apologize to his mother!

    Combined with some overactive pregnancy hormones and you had one weepy lady for the rest of the evening!

    I totally get the perfectionist thing...especially when family is around (and the family belongs to your husband!)

  5. That's why our family get togethers contain only snack foods & desserts!

  6. LOL...Ahhh this was great! Makes me want to come over to your house for dinner...I can stand guard in the kitchen with the ladle to make sure no one dares question what you are doing :D...hahah, best post ever Deanna, laughed my butt off!

  7. My infamous Turtle Brownies were horrendous the last time I made them. I probably should have known they were not going to turn out well when I dumped the freshly mixed flour concoction all over myself and the kitchen....but no. I persevered and simply remixed. Note to self. Putting a double batch into a single pan is NOT a good idea. I ended up with brownies black and crusty on top and raw batter in the middle. I consoled myself by deciding that no body REALLY needed chocolate anyway. ;)

  8. Completely hilarious...and not. So sorry, and it would be the mother-in-law. Next time...You'll get em next time!

  9. Ah, my dear Deanna! I'm afraid you're a chip off the ole block. Remember my taco salad story for my inlaws? I'm still mortified and it's now 30 years later. One good thing - we rarely make the same disaster mistake twice. And besides, it makes for good illustrations for devotionals or blogs in your case! I'm sure there's a point somehow and something to learn! I love you and am very proud of you!

  10. take heart deanna. love that both your mil and mom posted their support.

    i too struggle with being a perfectionist and not doing well under watchful eyes and hectic times. i applaud you for hosting in this, oh sooooo, busy time of your life. be gracious to yourself.


    ps once my mom was interrupted while prepping her yummy rhubarb pie. she baked and served it only to then to find out she had omitted the SUGAR. gulp - that pie didn't get eaten. i think it happens to all cooks and as your mom said, it makes for good illustrations. =)

  11. I hear you! Once upon a time, I made my own rolls, etc. Now, it is only an occasional thing. Oh, and my turkey for Thanksgiving was sooo dry...and it was for my husband's family!

    You have two very small children and a schedule that the president wouldn't envy! Give yourself a break, sweetie!

  12. What a sweet mother in law you have to publicly post how delicious your meal was.:)A few years back we were raising meat rabbits.I had made a meal using rabbit that we all really we decided to invite the inlaws over for dinner(a rare occasion).Unfortunetely,our young rabbits quickly caught up to their mama in size and we ended up eating a very tough rabbit that was not supposed to be eaten.It was the end of our raising rabbit experiences and one we often look back on and (kind of )laugh.It was sad at the time.Thankfully my inlaws never gave me a hard time even though the meal was was too tough to chew.So embarrassing!!

  13. Cooking disasters happen only at big family gatherings. :)

    I made apple crumble last fall and completely forgot to add the flour to the topping. And that was our favorite recipe, too. Oh, well. :)


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