Short Cuts

Here’s how the whole thing played out.  Our house is located in such a place that we were pretty sure that our back yard would provide a front row seat to the annual Christmas boat parade.  So, we invited my brother and sister-in-law to come over and join us on the patio to watch.  Then, on Friday night, we asked a few of our neighbors as well.  You see, I really wanted this party to happen.  It just seemed so local, so fun and so Christmas-y.

But, here’s the reality that slapped me in the face Saturday morning.  I did not have time to pull together a big dinner party.  We had been out late the night before and had a commitment that would take several hours in the morning.  People were coming at 5:30 because the parade was scheduled to start at 6, which gave us about 3 hours to get ourselves, and the house, ready.  We had a mix of meat-eaters and vegetarians coming, so I needed a menu that would suit all the different dietary preferences.  So, rather than panic, I did the only other thing I could think of.  I resorted to shortcuts.

We bought lasagnas at Costco.  I baked them in our pans* to improve the presentation a bit (but admitted that it wasn’t homemade when people complimented me on them).  I made our romaine, pear and pecan salad, but I substituted the Sahalie Snack Maple Pecan mix for my normal homemade candied pecans.  And while I desperately wanted to make some sort of homemade dessert, I had to be realistic and realize it wasn’t going to happen.  So, I piled a variety of chocolates on a plate and called it good.  I lit a lot of candles and we opened several bottles of wine.

Turns out that this was one of those nights we’ll remember for a long time.  We started with gin martinis and Pomegranate martinis by the fire pit as the boats paraded by.  Then we moved inside to dinner and wine.  The conversation was easy and fun and funny.  We felt so connected to our neighborhood and to the season.  It really seemed to define what this season is all about: Friendships and family and being together with people that make your life richer.  I am so happy that I allowed myself a few shortcuts and focused on what was really important.  So what if I didn’t wow anyone with my homemade meal.  There are other, greater, memories we’ll take away from the evening.  There will be other opportunities to spend all day in the kitchen and attempt to impress our guests with my attempted culinary skills.  But to not have done this party would have been a missed opportunity that we’d never get back.

*If you ever find yourself in a place where you want to do this with frozen lasagna, all I did was take the frozen bricks and laid them side-by-side in my pans (one for the meat lasagna and one for the veggie) and covered them with foil.  They didn’t fit down into the pans initially, so after they baked for about 30 minutes I took a spatula and just kind of smooshed the pasta down into the pans.  I baked them uncovered for about another 30 minutes.  It all just sort of baked together and looked like one big pasta (well, two, given that I had two pans of it).

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