Have you seen the Nasdaq lately, SBUX has been down, and I think they are trying to make a comeback by contining to implement daylight savings time. Who else could be behind this terrible thing that happens to respectable people twice a year? They know if they can get moms and dads sleep deprived because their children are getting up between 5:45-6:30am, that we'll have no choice but to wander into their establishments in the afternoons just to get through to 4pm, when we are all having dinner nowdays because we're starving and ready for bed. I'd rather you send me a coupon in the mail for a free coffee, let me come in and reexperience the smell of pumpkin latte and the sound of Harry Connick, Jr playing, and i'll get readdicted. Please, for the sake of my family and my sanity, just send me a coupon.
While I'm waiting on my coupon for free coffee, and since I've been up for 3 hours today i've come up with one good thing about DST, and that is more candlelight dinners. That is one thing that is truly enjoyable about the shorter days. It is really fun to set a beautiful table and have a nice dinner with your family. My favorite recipe to prepare in the cold months is Rachel Ray's Broken Spaghetti and Mini-Meatball stoup, with crusty hot bread on the side. Here are some pictures of one of our candlelight dinners last winter. I will also give some ideas on making dinners really special...you should be able to click on the picture to make it bigger.
1. Set the table with a charger, then place a large dinner plate on the charger. Serve the salad as a first course, instead of including it on the side of the main course. Watch for chargers to go on clearance after Christmas. I got these for 25 cents each at Walmart the day after Christmas. Table linens also go way on sale after Christmas. If you don't have a charger, no worries, just put a dinner plate at every setting and serve salad plates on that plate. Another nice addition is to chill the salad plates before serving.
2. Plate the food before putting on the table, just as you would receive it if you were at a restaurant. This cuts down on table clutter.
3. Pay attention to little details. If you like lemon, slice one and put it on a little saucer on the table. Put dressings, parmesan or any other condiments into a nice bowl or plate so people can help themselves. This dinner I took dressing orders before we ate, and served their salad how they wanted it.
4. Think about all 5 senses. When having dinner guests over you want to make them feel special and pampered. Music is key for a great dinner. Frank Sinatra, Jazz, piano, anything that makes you happy and keeps the mood upbeat and relaxed. My friend Emily taught me something years ago that I love to do. Pray for God to give your house a restful, peaceful atmosphere.
There are lots of things you can do to make dinners special, these are just a few. Since "now is the time for soup, and the time for meat will come later" even serving soup can be extra special if you add a few touches. Turn the soup dinner into 2 or 3 courses (salad, soup, desert), light the candles, turn on the music, and don't be afraid to pop in a movie for the kiddies when they start yelling, so you can enjoy the food/company! Also, Barefoot Contessa Family Style Dinners is a great cookbook with entertaining ideas. You can check it out from the library!