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What World Do They Live In???

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Anybody else see the cooking challange on the Today show this morning?

 

I know that things cost more in places like New York and LA. But that challange went beyound the ridiculous. I mean, do these people live in the same world as the rest of us?

 

The deal was, two familes (friends and neighbors) had to prepare festive holiday dinners for eight. To do this they were each given $150 and the services of a professional party planner. The host was all but swooning over the difficulty of achieving this.

 

Surely they jest? I mean a yard and a half to make dinner for eight? Where's the difficulty in that.

 

As it turns out, both families came in way under budget. And the host was dutifully impressed (more like overwhelmed) that they pulled it off. But in each case the dinner did not even include a major protein: one of them served chili, the other a "deconstructed lasagna," whatever that means.

 

Is it just me? Does anybody else think $150 is a particularly tight budget for a family dinner for eight?

 

By the same token, if you were offered this challange, what sort of meal might you serve? Don't have to specifically cost it out, but your menu must include (as each of their's did) a soup, a main meal, and dessert, for eight, and cost less than $150.

 

Actually, the NBC challange included decorating the table. I didn't see anything that would have cost more than, maybe, 25 bucks. So let's deduct that. Our festive table challange is to prepare a holiday dinner for eight for $125.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #2 of 16

I spent maybe $70 at Thanksgiving for 7. And had enough leftover to feed us for days. As to a menu at $125, I'll have to think a bit.

post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 

Precisely my point, Phil. It's like that regular feature they have of making dinner for four for 40 bucks or less; as if that's a great accomplishment.

 

Either that, or New York prices must really be more out of line than I thought. This first menu was designed with no thought to costs; just a meal I thought would be enjoyable. I wanted to skip turkey and ham, as being too mundane.

 

Leek, Potato & Cabbage Soup with Wild Mushroom Raviolo

 (approx: $9)

 

Mustard Crusted Pork Loin                                                       

Deep Fried Brussels Sprouts

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

(approx: $27)

 

Malasian Mango Jellies with Fruit Garnish                              

 (approx: $6.50)

 

So, we’ve looking at an estimated $42.50 in food costs. Let’s add 10% to be safe. Total for this meal: $46.75. Obviously, I can really splurge on the wine, cuz food costs are well below budget:

 

That out of the way, I tried to design a more expensive meal, but one I'd be pleased to serve:

 

Cream of Asparagus Soup with Shallot Chips

(approx: $7.00)

 

Crab-Stuffed Shrimp in Light Barbecue Sauce

Roasted Pumpkin & Grits Cakes

Peas & Pearls

(approx: $48.00)

 

Poached Pears with Chocolate-Raspberry Sauce

(approx: $12.00)

 

Again, adding 10%, our more expensive festive meal works out at about $66. Little more than half the budget.

 

My conclusion: Short of going hog-wild, and using lobster or filet as the major protein, $125 doesn’t begin to look like a tight budget. But, by the same token, cutting back to things like chilies, lasagna, and so forth, in order to save money, can be a false savings.  

 

 

                                                                                          

 

 

 

 

 

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #4 of 16

I'm still baffled at the idea of deconstructed lasagna. My biggest question is...why?

 

Anyway, for $125, you could create a pretty lavish meal. Per my usual, I would gravitate towards seafood, which can get pricey. Here's the rundown.

 

Soup:  seafood gumbo

Price:  $20

 

Main course:  whole roasted red snapper, spicy boiled new potatoes, grilled asparagus

Price:  $40

 

Dessert:  Bourbon pecan pie

Price:  $15

 

All those costs are rough guesses, but assuming I'm in the ball park, we're still only talking $75 on a nice menu. For $125, I'd be working in some truffles or Iberico ham. thumb.gif

"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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post #5 of 16

I missed the show but my father and I were just chatting on this subject over the weekend.  We were marveling at how my grandmother could always have an entire meal for 13 - 18 on the table from seemingly nothing and in no time flat.  Even further back than my years go, my father remembers that they would have a whole hog on a counter in a building in back of the house that they would pour salt all over.  The hog would just lie there in the salt and my grandmother would go out and cut off whatever she needed for meals until the hog was gone. 

 

Since I've never cooked for 8, I'm going to list the foods that my grandmother would have had on the table if she were still here to cook.  As she would have been depressed if only 8 people showed up for Christmas dinner, this will represent the amount she'd have cooked for around 15 people and I'll figure the 8 count at the end.

 

She would have made a German soup that was a staple for our family that we simply called 'The Soup'.  It's a Sauerkraut tomato soup made with a couple pounds of sauerkraut rinsed and drained, about eight medium peeled and stewed tomatoes (the liquid is part of the soup), around 3 potatoes cubed, 4-5 cups of water, around 4 oz of chipped beef, a little sugar, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  I estimate the cost at $12.

 

For a main meal she would have had two proteins, namely baked steak (cube steak) and a whole ham with sides which would have included mashed potatoes, green beans, pinto beans, rolls and light bread (regular white bread for the pintos), potato salad and deviled eggs.  I price all this at around $68.

 

For dessert she would have had available several homemade pies, namely chocolate, peanut butter and egg custard as well as sliced peaches (canned) and ribbon salad.  I price the three pies, fruit and ribbon salad at around $13. 

 

I'm also considering her pie crusts and rolls were from scratch, green beans would have been made from fresh beans, etc. (I did factor in the store prices of things like the fresh green beans, potatoes, tomatoes and eggs - although hers would have been from the garden and the chicken house).

 

That brings the grand total to $93 for 15 people.  That's about $6 per person, which would be around $48 for 8 people.  I'm going by today's prices as best I can remember and determine. 

 

It certainly isn't anything fancy, but you'd never know that by how much we all miss it. 

I don't like food, I love it.  If I don't love it, I don't swallow.
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I don't like food, I love it.  If I don't love it, I don't swallow.
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post #6 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChefBazookas View Post

We were marveling at how my grandmother could always have an entire meal for 13 - 18 on the table from seemingly nothing and in no time flat.


I remember many times coming home from school, opening the refrigerator and thinking there was nothing to eat. Then my mom would make dinner from what was in the fridge and all I could do was wonder where it all came from. I sure didn't see it when I looked in there. Mothers are magical.

post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 

Why, Phil, didn't you know? While the rest of us are about our lawful occasions, mothers attend a secret school where they learn all that good stuff. thumb.gif

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 

My biggest question is...why?

 

My biggest question is...what? If I could figure out what a deconstructed lasagna is, I might have a shot and understanding the why.

 

Another question I have: Is this is typical of what party planners do? If so, I hope they have the grace to back-up to the pay table. Surely they can't face the paymaster without being embarassed at the least

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #9 of 16

For $150 I can make enough lasagna to feed 20-30, serve with garlic bread and a salad of some sort. And my lasagna is very heavy on the cheese which isn't cheap.

post #10 of 16

Deconstructed Lasagna:

Also known as Banquet Lasagna with Meat Sauce was on sale at Wal-Mart the other day for 88 cents. Get 8 of those and the cost is $7.04 which mean I have $117.96 to spare.

Way under budget.. I am, too, impressed.

 

Deconstructed Lasagna

img source: http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQ03oNnPfzlIjH7CCorhyFx2HqtH2QZvYuQF9md5jPIy03tpkf-

post #11 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by KYHeirloomer View Post

My biggest question is...why?

 

My biggest question is...what? If I could figure out what a deconstructed lasagna is, I might have a shot and understanding the why.

 

Even if I knew what the "what" was, I don't think I could understand the "why". Is there something wrong with lasagna? How much more "elegant" could a deconstructed lasagna be?

"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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post #12 of 16

with a 26lb turkey (way more then enough for 8) coming in at roughly 33.00 dollars (Raley's online price, off sale) and I have to buy s&p,oil, spices,flour, milk, yams,vege and pie makings, I'll go big and say it's another 50 bucks. I still have enough money left over for a couple bottles of decent wine and soda for the kids. It's got to be a New York price issue, I have heard of 6$ hot dogs from street vendors so it has to be a factor.

"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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post #13 of 16

A peer of mine made what he called de-constructed lasagna.

He boiled the noodles then patted them dry and laid them out flat on a towel.

He spread the meat sauce and cheese in layers then rolled the whole thing up jelly roll style and placed them side by side in a casserole dish.

EH!!

 

Many of us can cook a dinner for 8 people and keep it below $150.00. Don't know where they're coming from.

 

I don't know about you, but chili and lasagna are not festive holiday dishes.

 

post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefross View Post

 

I don't know about you, but chili and lasagna are not festive holiday dishes.

 



I'm going to have to disagree with you on this one. The most important dishes to my family around Thanksgiving and Christmas are seafood gumbo, duck gumbo, seafood casserole (we call it Blend of the Bayou), and cornbread dressing. Only one of those dishes would be considered "festive", but that's what my family eats, and that's what is traditional to us. If a family has a tradition of lasagna or chili, then more power to them. Holidays should be about enjoying what you like to eat, not eating what everyone else says is "festive".

"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 

what he called de-constructed lasagna

 

Merely proving, once again, that people can jump on "in" terms, and use them any way they want. Makes them sound more knowledgeable than perhaps they are.

 

Lasagna roll-ups have a long, cherished history in many families and even some restaurants. There is nothing about them than fits the deconstruced rubric; not even the most common misconception of the technique (which is to lay out the ingredients on separate parts of the plate).

 

At base, lasagna consists of layers of pasta, sauce, and other ingredients (usually meat). Whether you arrange the layers flat, or form them into a pinwheel, there's no substative difference.

 

That aside, lasagna roll-ups are a great way of serving that dish. I often use them as a first course.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #16 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by tylerm713 View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefross View Post

 

I don't know about you, but chili and lasagna are not festive holiday dishes.

 



I'm going to have to disagree with you on this one. The most important dishes to my family around Thanksgiving and Christmas are seafood gumbo, duck gumbo, seafood casserole (we call it Blend of the Bayou), and cornbread dressing. Only one of those dishes would be considered "festive", but that's what my family eats, and that's what is traditional to us. If a family has a tradition of lasagna or chili, then more power to them. Holidays should be about enjoying what you like to eat, not eating what everyone else says is "festive".


I agree with your statement that tradition dictates tastes. My ex had what I considered a pretty plain traditional Christmas dinner. It was fried ocean perch, mashed potatoes, corn, mushroom gravy, fried Peirogies, and a Polish dish made from sauerkraut mixed with yellow split peas. It was interesting the first few years but after it became quite gross.......to me.

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