“The RoseBouquet”

About and FOR friends of Ruthe’s Secret Roses

“The RoseBouquet”

Sunday Supper Guests

I had Sunday supper guests this past Sunday. I don’t entertain very often as I’m focused on my work projects, but that doesn’t mean it never comes to mind. I think about it fairly often. I had planned to have people over for New Year’s Eve or New Year’s day and that didn’t happen, so when it got heavy enough on my mind last week to give me a bit of a guilt trip, I decided to name a date and start inviting a few friends.

Now you have to remember that my house is only 610 sq. feet in total, and the largest room serves as several rooms at once. My office desks form a large U near the front door; there is another large desk which is a work center for my volunteer, Linda, when she comes to help with the history book; there is a small table for 2 (or 4 in a pinch) by the kitchen door at the other end of the room. Along the wall opposite the desks are two comfortable chairs and two doors, one to the basement and one into the bathroom. If you have good balance you can walk between the furniture from the front door to the kitchen door without bumping any furniture. But if your knees wobble just a bit, you are bound to bump into something. I’m used to it and perfectly comfortable in this room.

But what if I invite five other people over – for a supper, no less? On a hot summer evening!

I can assure you it worked out. We just had to be polite and accommodating of each other.

When I was caring for Mom and Dad, I got used to cooking for three or more quite regularly. Sometimes, when the family came home for a holiday weekend, it would be for any number up to 14. But that house was more than 1900 sq. feet with plenty of room for wheelchairs too. So Sunday after I got home from church and had a quick lunch of stir-fry rice with additions, I got started on the supper menu, and it was a bit of a stretch for me.

I browned the short ribs, then put them in the crockpot and mixed up the sweet and sour sauce, and added half a jar of my Christmas relish (with 3 colours of peppers in it), and a can of pineapple chunks. I washed and poked up some potatoes for baking in another crockpot. Next I cleaned and parboiled some carrots (cut-up) and set them aside to brown later with butter and brown sugar, for candied carrots.

The weekend paper, which comes as a wrapper around a wad of flyers, had a recipe for a rhubarb cake that looked interesting. I had some tubs of frozen rhubarb in the freezer that needed using up. It was slow going because it called for steps I’d never done before, like carmelizing the rhubarb in a large frying pan with butter and sugar first. The recipe assumed I was using fresh rhubarb, so I paused and slide mine in to the oven to defrost first. Which made them rather soupy. I didn’t have a spring-form pan, so I had to adapt with my large rectangular stainless steel baking plan, lined with buttered parchment paper.

Then that had to wait while I whipped up the batter in the mixer using whole wheat flour and buttermilk folded into creamed butter/sugar. I spread that onto the rhubarb mix in the pan and put it into the oven to bake.

Oh yes, I should mention that I have a windowbox air-conditioner in the kitchen window, so I was able to keep comfortable in the midst of all this hot work.

Lastly, I got a large pitcher of mint tea, made with dried mint from my flowerbeds – first hot, then cooled down with 2 trays of ice cubes.

It was 3:45 and I realized that I should have been wearing my Voxx socks all this time! My feet were beginning to hurt. So I changed into socks and my house slippers, just in time. For I had invited Allen, who is often interested in talking about genealogy to come at 4 pm so we could look him up in my GRANDMA database of over 1 million names in Mennonite lines.

We sat down at my laptop and the minutes flew by as we discovered that we are related in six different ways!

Just before 5 pm Wayne arrived. He has been a Board member at the mission too, and is well-known for going to Mexico for mission trips each year, sometimes for 3 weeks and sometimes for 2 or 3 months. I looked forward to seeing his photos of his trip last fall. But shortly after that Lynn arrived with two women that he often gives rides to church. One, Gaynor, I know quite well already, but I had only met Patricia once before.

I went into the kitchen to candy the carrots and set the food on the small kitchen table, so each one could come by and load up their plates. We three women ended up at my small dining table, two men sat at the desks, and Lynn sat in the soft blue chair and ate from a TV tray on a stand, which was the right level for him there.

Everyone enjoyed the food. Since I don’t drink coffee the beverage choices were orange juice or my iced mint tea. The later was declared very refreshing! The rhubarb cake with my creamed mango/banana in yogurt topping went over very well! Patricia insisted on taking photos of the newspaper recipe with her cellphone.

Then we sat and visited, talking about many topics, until about 9 pm.

Incidentally, I told them about my past flops at entertaining, even forgetting to offer a Dutch couple coffee – (that was years ago)! They love coffee, but I didn’t realize my mistake until the next day.

This time I had prepared a whole lovely meal, but guess what I discovered yesterday, that I had forgotten? I had spent time last week preparing some potted plants, (marigolds and a petunia), and I had great intentions of offering my very tall Zealancia Sanseveria (snake) plants to anyone who would take them. All that had completely slipped my mind!

Why? Well, I’m trying to make room on my limited windowsill spaces to grow larger aloe vera plants.

(Sigh!) Okay, aside from forgetting to give away the plants, I am content. I hosted a Sunday supper for as many guests as I can seat at one time, and they all had a delicious and great time. That feels good!

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