Post Party Report

We had seven for game night which is a perfect number to play, eat, get to know people. We played “Boxers and Briefs” as an ice breaker then moved on to “MadGab” which had us fall-down laughing.

Raw vegetables and hummus — the platter was picked clean by the end of the evening.

Earlier in the day Sug and I with some help from Charlie (who mostly sampled food) prepared a really easy menu.

Autumn leaves and white roses.

I took a tour through the yard to get some foliage to jazz up white roses I bought at Trader Joe’s earlier n the week.  I think they’re 20 roses for $9.99.

Just leaves in a Asian vase adorn the mantel.

The most colorful and well-preserved leaves remaining were Japanese red maples in tones of orange and maroon.

One of the first tasks is getting the table ready with a festive table cloth, flowers, and space for dishes.

Having a party or get-together is not difficult.  However, especially at this time of year, people are busy and pre-scheduled so I often have too ask way more people than I’d actually like to host to make a party. We asked 15 people to get the four that we free to participate.  Some were invited at the last minute and turned out to be the life of the party. Party guests are really the key to a successful party.

Food for game night was carefully selected not to be messy so the game could continue.

Party on!!!

Are you a party goer or giver?

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Slight Change in the Menu

Subtitle:  Before Eating Turkey Gets Old

I planned a menu for tonight’s upcoming game night which featured chicken salad sliders.

I receive a frozen turkey every year just before Thanksgiving.

Two days ago, however, I received my free frozen turkey from work.

A turkey dinner

I asked Charlie if he had his heart set on a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving (just 5 days away).

Maryland Crab Cake

He said, “Not necessarily.”  After all, last night we went to our first turkey dinner of the holiday week.  And, if there’s no turkey on Thanksgiving, I’m willing to settle for crab cakes or steamed shrimp.

I put the turkey in a low roasting plan on a rack.

This morning I put the mostly frozen turkey into the oven to roast at 350 degrees on the “convection bake” setting.  This is the first time I’ve tried this setting for turkey.

When cooking a frozen turkey don’t forget to remove the giblet packet.

I wrangled the giblet bag from the bird’s cavity with a pair of tongs after about an hour of cooking.

The turkey was returned to the oven. Before pronouncing it “done” I checked in multiple spots with a quick-read thermometer making sure all areas had a minimum temperature of 165 degrees.

Today Sug and I are preparing the entire menu for tonight’s party which now will include homemade cranberry sauce.

This is a fairly innocent game that gets people talking and reveals some unexpected information.

Hope we’re not too exhausted to play games tonight.

Games of luck or games of skill?

What’s Happening?

Last night when I returned home from class, our dead end street was blocked by about 5 pieces of very large heavy machinery.

A hydrant at the end of the street broke on Thursday evening.

A water main had broken. They moved some of the trucks to let us get down the street to the house but shut off the water to make the repair.

Our trees are red (dogwood), yellow (tulip poplar), and orange (sugar maple).

The Cottage is beautifully arrayed in fall colors in mid-November.  The trees have lost about half their leaves.

Roses are always welcome.

We always have fresh flowers at work  and I found a lovely bouquet on my computer station at work on Monday morning. So cheery.

I’m the one with my back toward the camera.

I’m planning to use a choir-themed card for our holiday correspondence.

I’m just crazy for polar bears.

But I’m NOT going to have a polar bear on the lawn even though he’s very cute.

Do you have a favorite tree in its fall colors?

Sweet and Spicy Hot

I am planning easy-to-eat snacks for game night.

One bag is about 2.5 cups.

I bought a bag of roasted unsalted almonds and decided to give them a quick treatment with ingredients I had on hand.

The ingredients are simple.

Ingredients:

  • 2-1/2 cups whole almonds
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (I used pretzel salt.)
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
Trader Joe’s unsalted and dry-roasted almonds.

Toast nuts on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven. (About 10 minutes)

Sugar, salt, and cayenne

Mix sugar, salt, and pepper together in a bowl.

Use a pan large enough to hold all the almonds.

Heat water, honey, and oil in large frying pan until it bubbles.

Hot almonds are coated with oil, water, and honey.

Add almonds and coat with mixture.

Sugared with a little heat.

Pour almonds into sugar mixture and stir until covered.  Return to baking sheet to cool. Store in airtight container.

Is your favorite snack salty/crunchy or sweet/gooey?

Meringuing Again

Last year I made meringue tarts as the base for Pavlovas to serve at a tea party.

Half cup of eggs whites -- whites of 4 eggs -- previously frozen brought to room temperature.
Half cup of eggs whites — whites of 4 eggs — previously frozen brought to room temperature.

Again I found myself with frozen egg whites.  This time I tried a slightly different technique.

I combined 4 egg whites, 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar, and 1 cup of granulated sugar in the top of a double boiler and whisked it over simmering water until the sugar was totally dissolved.

Egg whites and cream of tartar in the mixer.
The warm egg white mixture is poured into an electric mixer with a whisk attachment.

The egg whites were mixed on high until they formed stiff peaks.

The egg whites go from foamy to glossy as the sugar is incorporated.
The egg whites go from foamy to glossy as air is incorporated.

I filled a pastry bag fitted with a #21 Wilton star tip with the sticky mixture. I piped approximately 2-inch diameter meringue kisses onto parchment paper.

Two trays fit into the oven at the same time.

They dried in a 225 degree oven for 1.5 hours then another half hour in the turned-off oven without opening the door.

This meringue is very tasty.

I had one more pastry-bag-full which I’m storing in the refrigerator wrapped in plastic.

I managed about 20 kisses per tray.

Hoping these last until game night.

Do you have a favorite snack?

Craft Party Inspiration

I have decided to invite the choir over on a Saturday afternoon to make Advent wreaths.

This pretty wreath incorporates a center candle to light on Christmas.

The Advent wreath is an old German tradition of evergreens with four candles that represent the four weeks preceding Christmas.

Any greenery can be used to fill the frame.

Three of the candles are purple, reminding us of the penitential nature of the season. A rose or pink candle is lit for the Third Sunday of Advent, also known as Gaudete (rejoice) Sunday.

Sometimes the candles are all blue or all purple.

We are planning to use simple wreath frames with built-in candle holders onto which we’ll wire greens, ribbons, and other symbols of the season.

I hope we have both traditional and avant garde model from our travail.

I’m hoping these photos will give us inspiration for making our own.

Do you have holiday traditions?

Recycling in Our County

Our county in Maryland has a recycling program.

My new under-counter bin.

Recently the county sent out an informational postcard  saying we could take a short quiz online and then get a coupon for an indoor under-counter recycling bin.

The blue recycling can is a gift from the county and stays with the house when the owner moves.

We have been recycling in our house for quite a long time.

Good reasons why we should recycle our debris.

However I think everyone at work is confused about how and what to recycle.

This recycling container at the county office of recycling gives a good look at what can be included.

We can mix recyclables in the same container but certain items are forbidden.  I’m going to have to print the list and post it at work as well as explain the process to my fellow employees.

Do you recycle?