Sunday, February 15, 2009

Be Our Valentines?

Valentine's Day Table Setting

Yesterday my parents arrived to spend a week, half with us and half with my sister down in Charlotte. Since they were going to be here for Valentine's Day, we decided to invite Matt's parents as well and have a dinner party. Hey, an excuse to use some of the wedding presents we'd received a year and a half ago for the first time ever! Nothing more exciting than taking the tags off new napkin rings, right? My parents were bringing down a beef tenderloin, so to go along with it I decided to do roasted potatos, asparagus, a spinach salad and then chocolated covered strawberries and Moravian cookies for dessert. For my first schmancy dinner party, I had to call upon two of my favorite hostessing experts. Nope - not Martha and Paula D, but my Aunt Jennifer and Aunt-in-law Paige. Both of these ladies are from North Carolina - Jennifer from Gastonia and Paige from Lincolnton - and these Southern ladies know how to throw a par-tay. My Aunt Jennifer is famous for her theme parties, including a Tequila-themed wedding shower she hosted for me in DC, where everything matched down to the cactus-shaped napkin rings and the invitations that arrived snuggled around an airplane bottle of Jose. Paige hosts Christmas dinners where each dish is literally something straight off the Food Network. The meat might be Emeril, the potatos Giada, the vegetables Bobby Flay... and everything is smack-yo-momma delish.

The Menu from my Tequila Dinner Party Shower. Yum!

So, I called up Jennifer and got her tips on how to cook the asapargus while the tenderloin would be monopolizing my oven and got a spinach salad recipe that Paige had used last Christmas, that featured pomegrante vinagrette and little pieces of granny smith apples and toasted walnuts. With these two ladies reinforcing my game plan, I felt good to go. The hardest part of throwing a food-related party for me has always been the timing - the meat will take longer than you expect, or the potatos are done too soon, or something unexpected always seens to happen. This was almost the case, as my dad took out the beef declaring it done while my potatos were still a little too al dente to get by as edible.

In the kitchen with daddy

However, I took a look at his determination of "done" and realized that with the exception of he and I, the carnivores extreme, no one else would appreciate the still moo-ing meat. So back in it went to my melt-your-mascara hot oven, and the taters and cow finished at exactly the same time. Whew. Timing is everything.


Dinner was delicious, the conversation lively, and the evening relaxed and enjoyed by all. Matt and I are both thankful that not only do we genuinely enjoy time spent with both of our respective parents, but they seem to enjoy each other's company as well. If Valentine's Day is meant to be shared with your loved one, it was even better shared with five of my loved ones. Especially because that means ten extra hands to wash and dry dishes. (What, they're family. I can put them to work after a dinner party, right?) Matt's family headed home after dessert, and my parents left this morning for Charlotte to spend the day with my sister, capping off our short but lovely holiday weekend.

Ready to eat!


Jennifer said...

I feel like a celebrity. Jon wants me to make sure you know, HE is the one who tought me to cook! Well, maybe so, but, but my party planning talent is mine alone! Thanks for the kudos. I would have eaten it moo'n too.
Love you-Miss you.

Meg said...

Duly noted, Jon! You are both top notch cooks, that is for sure. But yes, you get sole credit for the party planning skill - it is a gift you have! (And don't worry, Dad kept a moo'ing piece out for the both of us.)