Guest Gifts

On Sunday, I had a dinner party with a couple of old friends, ex-coworkers, and the beau's newest coworker. Whenever I host a dinner party, I'm pretty lax with requests of my guests--I love cooking new things to please and impress friends, and I don't know how to cook reasonable quantities, so I don't ask people to bring food (although they are always more than welcome to bring beverages).

But it's hard for people coming into someone else's home without bringing anything--people like to contribute. So, old friends and new alike had similar ideas and brought libations, and a few brought a little something extra: plants for the host.

My ex-coworker/friend, who has shown up to support me at both DC State Fairs (and was a first-round pie judge in the first year), knows I love both cooking and gardening--a kit for potted cilantro is right up my alley!

When the beau's coworker showed up with this awesome Phalaenopsis, my ex-coworker/friend joked "You know when you come to one of Ken's parties, you don't bring food, you bring plants." Apparently, the beau's new coworker got the memo when he saw me trying to take home half of the orchids from their annual gala in New York City last month. He and his girlfriend were the last to leave--and I couldn't stop myself from hopping up on the couch to grab an offset of my Aechmea fasciata from its shelf for them to take home. I'm not sure whether they actually wanted it, but at the time, I really felt like they needed it. It was one of the few plants that stayed here in the states when I moved to Saudi Arabia--it's a legacy plant from my first indoor garden.

My ex-coworker/friend who brought the cilantro for me also Instagrammed much of the meal. I started with various cheese and crackers, of course, but I didn't make those myself. So I had to bake off the caramelized onion, roasted apple, and blue cheese empanadas and the roasted beet and blue cheese empanadas to whet people's appetites for the main course: tossed Greek salad (olives on the side for those who don't like them) and butternut squash risotto. Dessert was some homemade chocolate babka and yet more empanadas, this time butternut squash "pie" empanadas, in addition to a Lemon Chess Pie from Whisked!, the owner/ex-boss/friend of which was also in attendance.

It was a fun evening, and I'm getting better at entertaining large groups--I had eight people over on Sunday night, including myself and the beau. My first dinner party was only five people (myself included), and I didn't have any time to interact with my guests while I was cooking. Now, I'm preparing things a day or so ahead of time and just baking things off as needed or deciding on meals that don't require as much constant attention. I can't wait for all the habaneros and tomatoes this summer--I'm going to be making more enchiladas than the beau can handle! And that cilantro I got over the weekend will be used heavily in all the salsa canning I'll be doing.

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