Last year was the first time JR and I spent Thanksgiving away from our families. We were living in DC and we both had to work that Friday, so we just decided to stay in town. Our friends Michelle and Ian invited us to spend the holiday with their friends who were hosting a dinner. We had a wonderful meal and a great time. But what impressed me most was that our hosts had place settings for everyone at dinner – I think at least 15 people. I started to panic realizing we only had 8 place settings. How would I ever host a big dinner like that? What if people had to eat on non-matching plates? Perhaps MOST importantly, WHY hadn’t I registered for water goblets? They really completed the look of her table.
Naturally, JR does not understand the need for water goblets. And truthfully, I have trouble explaining why the three different sizes of regular glasses that we already own cannot substitute for water goblets. I need them so my table looks pretty. I just do, logic be damned. Nearly a year later and I still don’t have them, and I take responsibility because I stopped pushing for them (also partially because JR said it would be best for our marriage if he never heard me say water goblets again).
Stacey and I decided to host a brunch for the other spouses here. We haven’t really had people over to our place yet, and I was excited because we’ve worked hard to make it look nice. But my excitement was short lived when I realized I’d be hosting a meal and I still don’t have water goblets. It really set me back and made me want to delay the brunch until I could order them and have them here. I talked over my crazy with my mom and JR and determined that the best course of action was to carry on despite the tragedy.
Next, Stacey and I talked about our menu options. She offered to make eggs, bacon, sausage and biscuits (real treats because those last three things aren’t readily available here). I planned to make pancakes, banana bread, a potato dish, and serve fruit. I bought a whole watermelon for the first time ever (for only 1 Euro!). Once I got it home, I really had no idea what to do with it. When Stacey came over yesterday, the first thing we did was watch a YouTube video on how to cut a watermelon. Thank goodness for YouTube.
A few other notes about cooking and hosting here. The recipe for my Cheddar, Pepper & Potato Bake called for a can of cream of mushroom or cream of potato soup. You can’t get either of those, or any “cream of” soup here. I looked up ways to substitute that, and found a recipe to make a cream soup base. The recipe called for chicken broth. Guess what else you can’t really find here? Chicken broth. So then I’m googling “how to make chicken broth” and I thought, this has gone too far. Luckily Amy just happened to have a can of cream of mushroom soup she was willing to part with, so I could make the recipe! Normally when I make my cheesy potatoes, I just buy a frozen bag of Ore Ida hashbrowns. Here, I had to wash, peel, dice, and boil the potatoes first, which was quite a few more steps than usual. But I’m getting the hang of things, and slowly getting more confident using substitutions when I can’t find exactly what I need. Progress!
We were a bit frantic as we finished preparing the food yesterday, but we made it all work. We also had mimomsas (with a non-alcoholic option for those who had to return to work :)) and Stacey’s signature bloody mary’s (which we may have started drinking before guests arrived). We wound up having about 14 people plus a few kids. It turned out really well, and we had a great time.