July 4 was nearing and la Spouse and I had discussed having a few friends for a meal one night on the weekend. We’d been discussing it for a few weeks. (We have a long list of friends we’d like to spend more time with). However, we’ve both been a bit over-busy at work and, as the time came to issue invitations with reasonable notice, we weren’t sure we were up to the task.So, we were looking forward to a long weekend with no obligations - a chance to catch up on gardening and some sleep.
Around Wednesday, however, the social bug bit again -- Wouldn’t it be lovely, I thought, to have a few friends over on Sunday the 5th for lunch. The weather was predicted to be good and we could eat on the patio. We could invite just a few friends over, have an easy, casual lunch outside, and escape some of the preparation & showmanship pressure that often accompanies a dinner.
“Whaddya think? Whaddya think?” I asked la Spouse.
“Are you sure it won’t be too much work?” came the question back.
“No problemo” came my fateful answer.
The invitations went out via email on Wednesday - to a few more people than we planned for. We were sure that most people would be away for the long weekend; we wanted to have enough people to make for a delightful day; and we figured 3 days notice was little enough - we didn’t want to issue invitations in two waves so close to the day. It would be simple food, a casual day, outdoors with friends -- easy breezy.
All day Wednesday, the responses came .... Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, uh oh .... then Thursday, no thank you, yes, yes, yes.
Suddenly, our easy, rustic lunch for 8 or so had become a sit-down feast for SIXTEEN people. (Sixteen!? I don’t have that many chairs). We had some work to do.
I won’t drag you through all our efforts, but with a trip to Ikea for a few odds and ends and to several markets to fill out our food supplies, we had everything we needed. We did a bit of weeding, pulled out extra table cloths, made the lemon shortbread and started peeling the tomatoes the day before -- and it looked like things would work.
And they did ... mostly. Cooking at that scale requires a bit of experience - and I didn’t plan the timing for the preparation quite properly. While we had hummus and olives for people to nibble beforehand (thank God!), we didn’t sit down to the meal proper until an hour later than initially planned - around 2:30.
The day was lovely, though, and friends from different parts of our lives mingled with ease. Many helping hands sliced bread and set the table and we all enjoyed a delightful afternoon.
On the menu:
hummus and crostini, olives, almonds
prosecco, white wine, and lemonade
Casserole of chicken thighs, new potatoes & cherry tomatoes with onions, garlic, fresh oregano and olive oil.
Grilled zucchini and asparagus