10 July 2014

No. 46: Have a dinner party

No. 46: Have a dinner party  (Rethought.)

My original concept of No. 46 was a lovely dinner party with six to eight erudite friends gathered around my graciously set dining room table, crystal sparkling, silver shining and me charmingly serving a tasty and beautifully prepared meal to a symphony of oohs and ahhs.

The reality of my dining room these days is this:

Not exactly the place setting I had in my mind when I chose all the wedding china a gazillion years ago.

I have a centerpiece cat.

This is Max. He's a manx. (No tail. Never had one, never was supposed to have one.)

Max back in the day. 
Wasn't he adorably awkward? 

He is 20 years old. His back legs are wobbly. Carlos would like to play with him which just makes Max anxious, so he has been given safe haven on the dining room table. Sadly, he lives there 24-7. I say sadly because I would prefer he not be the first thing you see when you walk into our house. I don't think Max is sad about it at all. Max feels safe up high on his own private island.

I had bunko last night at my house. Dinner for 12 women along with drinks and dice throwing and more drinks and laughing and then yelling. Then dessert, prizes and water to rehydrate everyone.

Does that count as a dinner party? I'm not sure.

Certainly I fed 12 people. The crystal and silver were used. My friends are definitely educated and well informed.

The crystal was placed by the wine with care...
And let me just mention how much I HATE that tile backsplash. 

The centerpiece cat and his island table were moved into the office, the door closed and a substitute table was thrown into service. That cat table won't be eaten off of again until it has been refinished.  The table was my grandmother's. Sorry, Nanny. It does deserve a better life.

But I've also been thinking about a little dinner I had before I left Colorado.

My neighbor and new friend, Sue, was over and mentioned she had some tamales she needed to eat. She was trying to clear out her fridge before she headed back to Texas. Turns out, so was I.  My fridge had avocados. And beer. There were chips in the pantry.

That sounded like dinner.

So I told her to bring her tamales over. I made up a chili sauce for them and some guacamole.
We had some beers on the front porch, then moved indoors for tamales and guac. We laughed. We drank. We ate.

I think we used the enameled tin plates that I inherited from my sweet friend Liddy's mom, Verlyn. (Read about her, here.) "Gimme" Koozies encircled our beer cans.   Carlos did the dishes. (Ok, maybe just the pre-wash.)

Enameled tin plates. Love them. Have some old, some new. 
But the red rimmed white ones have the most sentimental value.

Does that count as a dinner party? Again, I'm not sure.

But you know what?
I'm saying YES.
These were dinner parties.

I think more than anything my time away from my real life has made me realize that things are not as concrete as I once believed. There are possibilities. I can make things happen. The limitations that I perceive are just that: perceptions.  

It also got me thinking about what we need in our lives.      
I have so much stuff.
Or does that stuff have me?
So I'm doing a little informal surveying regarding the "stuff" that we "need".
That post next week.


And if you need an easy recipe that expands to feed 12, here it is, courtesy of my mother and the Houston Chronicle.

Romantic Shrimp Fettuccine

1 ½ sticks butter (this is what it calls for- I use about half that much)
4 stalks celery, chopped
½ green bell pepper and ½ red bell pepper, chopped (or all one color, doesn’t                                                                                         matter)
1 bunch green onions, chopped  (I always forget these, no one has complained yet)
2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup flour
½ cup water
2 lbs. peeled, deveined shrimp (frozen works)
4 Tbs parsley flakes
1 lb. Velveeta Mexican cheese
1 pint half and half
1 lb fettuccini noodles, cooked
Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9x13 in. casserole dish

In a large skillet, melt butter and sauté celery and bell pepper until tender. Add green onions and garlic and sauté 5 minutes. Sprinkle in flour and mix well. Cook 5 minutes on very low heat.
Add water- mixture will become very thick. Add shrimp and parsley- mix well. Cook another 5minutes. Add Velveeta and when melted, add half and half. Put noodles in prepared dish. Pour shrimp mixture over noodles. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. 

Prepared as is this feeds 8-10. To stretch it to twelve I add another pound of shrimp, throw in a little extra fettuccine noodles and use a larger casserole dish. And still I have leftovers. 

I could not find the Mexican Velveeta yesterday so I just used regular and I think it turned out too “cheesy”.  I think the next time I would try the Velveeta Queso Blanco. Or possibly half of each. 

Bunny even suggested I make it with chicken next time. She isn't a fan of shrimp. Silly girl. 
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