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How do YOU do holiday meals?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

 

Just curious as to how the holiday meals go for others here. This, of course, applies mainly to family meals done in home kitchens, and is at least a little bit tongue-in-cheek. :)
 
 
When it comes to holiday meals, would you rather:
 
A) Cook them yourself in your own kitchen?
B) Eat at someone else's house and let them cook?
C) Go with the whole family to a restaurant and let someone else deal with your picky relatives?
D) Stay home by yourself with a good bottle or two?
 
 
If you are cooking the meal in your own kitchen do you:
 
A) Allow guests to help and/or bring side dishes?
B) Tell them not to bring anything, cook everything yourself, and wish people would just get out of your kitchen and stop getting in your way?
C) Decree that until the meal is done and on the table, the kitchen is off-limits to everyone else?
 
If you are at someone else's house for the holiday meal do you:
 
A) Kick back, have a good time, and let them do all the work?
B) Offer to help, but feel relieved when they shoo you away?
C) Offer to help, and be glad when they let you?
D) Just pretty much take over and chase them out of their own kitchen?
 
If you allow guests to bring side dishes are you:
 
A) Happy they were so thoughtful and helpful?
B) Happy if people gobble them up and wish for more?
C) Happy to gloat that people barely touched the things other people brought?
 
While you are cooking, do you:
 
A) Clean up as you go, rinsing and reusing pots and other utensils, and end up with a kitchen that is pretty much clean when you are done?
B) Follow the "no pan left behind" method, and have a huge mountain of stuff to wash at the end?
C) Not really care, because since you do the cooking, it is someone else's job to clean up?
 
While you are cooking, are you:
 
A) Calm, collected, and entirely in control?
B) Harried, on edge, and grumpy because you always feel as though something is about to go wrong?
C) Harried, on edge, and grumpy because anyone would be that way if they had to deal with your relatives, even if no cooking were involved?
 
And finally, do you:
 
 A) Enjoy the holiday meals? 
 B) Find yourself sometimes thinking the whole thing is a hassle, but then sigh wistfully and know you can deal with it?
 C) Find the holidays to be a good reminder of why you don't all get together more often?
post #2 of 19

"E,"  All of the above.

 

BDL

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What were we talking about?
 
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post #3 of 19

I don't like to go to other people's houses for holidays.  I like to cook my own dinner for others.

I don;t like people to bring things except wine, because I don't know anything about wine and am indifferent to it.  (I really like it, though, if they bring an interesting beer)

I cook with food flying and pots piling up around the kitchen, and occasionally run a dishwasher - I have a ton of pots and pans for that reason.

The kitchen is a joyful chaos. 

I can (and do, once a year) cook for three days straight, early morning to late night.  It's like my meditation, my long-distance running, my work of art. I can get stressed but it's a happy stress and of my own creation.  

My kitchen is my dining room - i WANT my guests in there watching and keeping me company. 

I don't really want them to help because i do it better and faster myself, unless someone wants to peel potatoes or wash dishes or set the table. 

While i'm cooking I'm listening to choral music and singing along, happy as a clam. 

I eat a bit of everything, tasting as i go. 

I finally sit and really thoroughly enjoy the meal i made,.with sore feet and a sore back and a blissful smile.

 

Here's a small sample from my desert table (probably posted it already)

 

cookies, cake.JPG


Edited by siduri - 11/12/11 at 1:18pm
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #4 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

"E,"  All of the above.

 

BDL


 

Yes, thank you very much.I actually read (most of) your blog, and I like it a lot.Please forgive me if my humor is not sophisticated enough for you, or, alternately, if I did not "get" yours.

post #5 of 19

I usually avoid the holidays completely, some years I just disappear for a couple months. This year I am cooking for friends at their house and staying for dinner. Doing a spiral cut ham with a glaze that will need to be heated up as they come cooked and several other dishes including mashed potatoes with ham gravy, broccoli and cheese, probably stuffing but no turkey. Someone else is doing sweet potatoes and maybe another dish. I will be making pumpkin cheesecake the day before and more than likely pumpkin creme brulee for dessert and maybe another dessert. I should have the final plan in a day or two. I don't mind someone bringing or doing something while I am cooking just keep out of my area as I am anal about keeping the area clean. When I cook I clean as I go. I can have a few items going at the same time watching them and cleaning, most friends have piles of dishes when they are done and when I am done only the plates and serving dishes need to be done. I am usually very in control as I plan when I cook and most times I prep the day before or several hours before it is time to cook. As for enjoying the holidays I think they are highly over rated and cook often with friends so holidays are just another day to me. 

post #6 of 19

I love holiday dinners any way they come.  I mostly enjoy hosting at my own house and put a lot of thought to my menu and preparation.  I'm the queen of making lists.  I have lists that I make weeks in advance about items I need to purchase for the house.  Then I have lists of possible menu items.  Then in the days before the event I have a final menu plan which then makes it possible to make a list of grocery items.  Then I make a list of household chores I need my husband to complete as well as chores I need to complete.  I also have a cooking plan that helps me manage my time so I can do things simultaneously or well in advance. 

 

I also like to include my guests in the menu and I'm not afraid to ask for help when necessary.  When someone asks if they can bring something I ask them to bring a specific dish that they make well.  Others I just ask them to bring wine or dessert.  Whatever I ask for though is usually pretty easy so I'm not imposing work on anyone and I always make sure that if they don't get around to it it's no biggie.  I like to make everyone feel included in the meal. 

 

I'm a little touchy about my kitchen space.  My cooking plan is laid out precisely on how long it takes ME to do things so if someone helps me but is particularly slow at peeling potatoes or not thorough at washing a pot I get a little irate.  I'm a drill sargent to myself but don't know how to include others in it so that's my downfall.  I should probably make a list of things that I'm willing to let people help me with and post it on the fridge lol!  One thing I never ever do is ask anyone to wash my dishes.  I refuse to have a guest do nitty gritty work on a holiday.  I don't even do dishes that day, I let it pile up and deal with it in the morning.  Doing dishes during a party is a pet peeve.

 

When I go to other people's houses for holiday I rarely do much to help besides bring a dish.  I may help clear the table or pour myself a drink but that's as far as it goes.  I like to keep out of people's way and the way I see it everybody knows how hard I work to put on a production at my home with little or no help so I deserve to sit back and enjoy myself when I'm at someone's home. 

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #7 of 19

Posted by Cornelius View Post

Yes, thank you very much.I actually read (most of) your blog, and I like it a lot.Please forgive me if my humor is not sophisticated enough for you, or, alternately, if I did not "get" yours.


I think we get and appreciate one another most of the time.  We have some disagreements around the edges, but I like you and hope you like me.  A joke explained is no joke at all; but let's just say that almost every one of your proposed answers resonates, or has resonated at one time or another. 

 

I used to have a small catering company called "Predominantly French" which specialized in "intimate catering," for groups smaller than 100.  A family and friends buffet is only extra time, not anxiety.  Just like then, I stick with things I can do well; do enough planning and prep to make the cooking go smoothly; let or force (depending) people help me; and have enough done ahead so I can enjoy the party without too much sweat flying or dishes piling up.  And, after all, food is love.

 

In the late nineties I lost most of my friends who either moved away or died.  For the last decade, my family situation also became very uncomfortable, which made holiday season entertaining awkward and uncomfortable.  But the family/friend thing is working pretty darn well (knock wood) now, so the wheel has turned back to where it should be.  La plus ca change, right?     

 

For most of my adult live I regarded doing "bid deal" holiday dinners as pure pleasure, didn't for awhile, and do again. 

 

So, "E."  All of the above.

 

BDL

 

 

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What were we talking about?
 
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post #8 of 19

Every year is different depending on circumstance. When I was younger it was home with family.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #9 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koukouvagia View Post


I'm a little touchy about my kitchen space. 



It must be quite lonely being the only person on the planet that feels that way.

 

mjb.

 

 

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koukouvagia View Post

  I'm a drill sargent to myself but don't know how to include others in it so that's my downfall. 



Yeah, I'm the same way, and I have never gotten the hang of telling people they need to do something faster, or better, (and actually getting them to comply) without either hurting their feelings or making them angry. Some people can look at a relative who is a slowpoke helper and shout "Move, move move!" and they chuckle and try to do better. When I try it, as often as not, they throw everything on the counter and storm out. Or they burst into tears and run off, and then their husband/wife/girlfriend/mother/father/whatever is in my kitchen demanding to know why I was so "mean" to so and so. :P.

 

Although this is somewhat of an exaggeration, (but often not by much) this is the major reason I would rather do it all myself. A couple of years ago a relative of mine who is a good baker, and who talked a pretty good game regarding cooking offered to help. I slid him all the ingredients for a side dish, asked him to assemble it, and went on about my business. I don't recall what the dish was, but I do remember that to my mind it was about as complex as a tossed green salad, and I had no doubt whatsoever that he could handle it easily. After a couple of minutes I became aware of a marked lack of motion in his side of the kitchen. I looked over, and saw him staring at the ingredients with a puzzled look on his face. "Problem?" I asked.  "Er, how do you do this?" he replied. I "showed" him, which of course meant I made the dish. (it took like 30 seconds) He wandered off and that was the last I saw of him until it came time to carve the bird. Which meant that at least he wasn't in my way. :)

 

To answer my own quiz:

 

 

A
A/B
C/D
B
A
A
A/B
 
The ones I waffled on, of course, depend on the situation.

 

 

 

 

post #11 of 19

Cornelius and KK: I can't even begin relating to that attitude.

 

Where I grew up, the kitchen was the heart of the house. It still is, in my home---and in the homes of most of my friends. That's where I hang out when visiting others, and where my guests mostly hang out when they're here.

 

And, I guess, I'm more or less a teacher by inclination. If people want to help, they're certainly welcome to. And if they aren't up to a particular task, I'm happy to take a few minutes to show them how. I find it hard to believe that if somebody can't peel spuds as fast as you that it will throw your whole schedule off.

 

And, OMG, driving somebody to tears cuz they can't do something precisely the way you expect it? Come on! A party, any party, is supposed to be a time of joy, not a time to add stress to anyone's life. If they want to help cook, I welcome them. If they want to kick-back in front of the TV, that's good too. And somebody has to uncork the wine, but it certainly doesn't have to be me.

 

The one exception to this is my sister. Nobody with the brains God gave a turnip would let that girl anywhere near a knife! But she's welcome to wash as many dishes as she cares to.

 

 

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 #12 of 19

Beautifully said.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by KYHeirloomer View Post

Cornelius and KK: I can't even begin relating to that attitude.

 

Where I grew up, the kitchen was the heart of the house. It still is, in my home---and in the homes of most of my friends. That's where I hang out when visiting others, and where my guests mostly hang out when they're here.

 

And, I guess, I'm more or less a teacher by inclination. If people want to help, they're certainly welcome to. And if they aren't up to a particular task, I'm happy to take a few minutes to show them how. I find it hard to believe that if somebody can't peel spuds as fast as you that it will throw your whole schedule off.

 

And, OMG, driving somebody to tears cuz they can't do something precisely the way you expect it? Come on! A party, any party, is supposed to be a time of joy, not a time to add stress to anyone's life. If they want to help cook, I welcome them. If they want to kick-back in front of the TV, that's good too. And somebody has to uncork the wine, but it certainly doesn't have to be me.

 

The one exception to this is my sister. Nobody with the brains God gave a turnip would let that girl anywhere near a knife! But she's welcome to wash as many dishes as she cares to.

 

 



 

"The satisfactions of making a good plate of food are surprisingly varied, and only one, and the least important of them, involves eating what you've made" - Bill Buford, Heat

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"The satisfactions of making a good plate of food are surprisingly varied, and only one, and the least important of them, involves eating what you've made" - Bill Buford, Heat

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post #13 of 19

I'm feeling like a third leg on a chicken here....I prefer being cooked for.  Cooking for the family all year long I deserve a break, and usually where we end up, generally a relative's house, the cooking is good and you can sit down and burp to your hearts content (it's a compliment in many countries - that's my excuse)/   I'll offer to help just the once in the kitchen, and if it's a no, just sit back down and chat.  But every host/ess I know likes help with the tidy up after...

 

I detest going to a restaurant for Christmas dinners and such, as every square cm is crowded with extra tables and the food tends to be pretty average.  This year about 20 of us (just immediate family) are going for a Chine banquet, which makes a lie of what I jjust said.  But banquets are usually a buzz at the right place and this is a good one.

 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by KYHeirloomer View Post

Cornelius and KK: I can't even begin relating to that attitude.

 

Where I grew up, the kitchen was the heart of the house. It still is, in my home---and in the homes of most of my friends. That's where I hang out when visiting others, and where my guests mostly hang out when they're here.

 

And, I guess, I'm more or less a teacher by inclination. If people want to help, they're certainly welcome to. And if they aren't up to a particular task, I'm happy to take a few minutes to show them how. I find it hard to believe that if somebody can't peel spuds as fast as you that it will throw your whole schedule off.

 

And, OMG, driving somebody to tears cuz they can't do something precisely the way you expect it? Come on! A party, any party, is supposed to be a time of joy, not a time to add stress to anyone's life. If they want to help cook, I welcome them. If they want to kick-back in front of the TV, that's good too. And somebody has to uncork the wine, but it certainly doesn't have to be me.

 

The one exception to this is my sister. Nobody with the brains God gave a turnip would let that girl anywhere near a knife! But she's welcome to wash as many dishes as she cares to.

 

 

 

I'll give you an example.  Recently I allowed my husband to help and even conceptualize our dinner.  We were making linguini a vongole.  The procedure as you know is quick and time management is key.  Here is my regular procedure:

 

1. Set water to boil

2. Finish rinsing clams

3. Slice garlic and a shallot

4. Throw linguini in the boiling water

5. sweat the onion and garlic in olive oil with red pepper flakes

6. Add vermouth, bring to a simmer

7. In go the little necks, close the lid.

8. Remove clams as they open.

9. pat of butter in the sauce

10. Transfer linguini with tongs from pasta pot directly into sauce

11. Chop some fresh parsley as that marries

12. Turn off stove, throw in parsley, toss and serve with clams in the shells on top.

 

So hubby says "hey I also bought some gigantic clams, let throw those in there too and then we can chop those up directly into the sauce."  Me says ".......ok....?"  So then giganto-clams take forever to open, are too hot to handle and chop so I burn myself, meanwhile the pasta is overcooking in the water and we end up with mushy noodles.  Thanks for your help honey.

 

We all have different personalities.  When it comes to my kitchen I work better alone.  I'm neither inhospitable nor am I rude, but help from others usually leads to disaster, not sure why.

 

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #15 of 19

That's where we differ, KK.

 

Using a dish that's pretty much prepared a la minute isn't the best example. But even with that, there's room for help, IMO. Do you, personally, actually have to clean the clams? And put the water up to boil? How would that hurt if somebody handled those chores while you worked on something else?

 

As to the gigantic clams, we differ there, too. You're the cook, and should have known they would not cook in the same time as the smaller ones. So, it isn't his desire to help that was at fault, but, rather, your going along to get along that caused the problem.

 

On the other hand, when a dish requires a lot of prep work, extra hands are a blessing. Example: For tomorrow's feast, I'm making a pass along dish based on my recipe for stuffed sweet potatoes. The sweets have to be baked and mashed. Among other things it includes chopped apples cooked in cider, nutmeg, and cinnamon. When they're tender the heat is turned off, and currants mixed in.

 

I'm very happy to have Friend Wife mash the sweet potatoes while I peel and chop the apples. And, if she wants to assemble the other ingredients while I work on the apple mixture, how would that possibly interfere with my getting the job done?

 

As you know, I'm very big on appetizers and small plate presentations. Most of that sort of thing involves a lot of prep time and assembly time, but very little actual cooking time. Here, again, more hands make lighter work. If I take a few minutes showing somebody how I want the plating done it more than made up by the time saved doing the assembly.

 

Etc., etc., and so forth.

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 19

You'd be surprised how wrong things can go by asking hubby to boil water god bless him. 

 

Anyway, hope you all have have a wonderful thanksgiving.  I'm only responsible for a couple of dishes so I'm leisurely enjoying my morning coffee.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #17 of 19

I'm only responsibe for one this year, the pass-along sweet potato dish. But decided, what the heck, and am making a couple of epi breads as well. Call it showing off. biggrin.gif

 

Y'all have a happy feast.

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 #18 of 19

The holidays are the only time I don't cook, I'll let everyone else take the pressure, because If I would cook it would be different every time. My wifes family are not adventurous eaters so I let them do it all, and If I feel like making something I'll make it. 

post #19 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koukouvagia View Post

You'd be surprised how wrong things can go by asking hubby to boil water god bless him.

 

So you married the village idiot? lol.gif

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