Tips for Entertaining by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl, authors of Beautiful Creatures
Entertaining can be easy—or it can be like trying to build a raft with scotch tape. It’s all in the preparation. Gatlin, our town in Beautiful Creatures, is full of women who know their way around the kitchen (and more than a few who only think they do).
So what’s the formula for easy entertaining, Gatlin-style?
Amma, the best cook in Gatlin, would say: a whole lotta sugar, a good helpin’ a casserole, and some good old-fashioned Southern hospitality.
Here are our tips for stress-free entertaining, Amma’s way:
1. Invite people you like. We know this isn’t always practical. So if you have to invite a few nitpicky ladies from your _______________ (Fill in the blank: family, book club, church, PTA, or volunteer organization), be sure to keep them busy. Give them jobs. These ladies love to be in charge. Ask them to bring or do something that doesn’t require cooking (unless they can actually cook). Some harmless, but helpful choices are:
• Bringing drinks, paper goods, or flowers. If you’re picky, be specific. And it’s always a good idea to stay away from white paper napkins. They usually look like you “borrowed” them from your local KFC or Bojangles.
• Handling the RSVP list. Let someone else send out hundreds of e-mails to confirm if ten people or twelve are showing up at your house.
• If one of these ladies is famous (not infamous) for a particular recipe, ask her to bring it. You can ask her to bring two portions and freeze one for yourself (just don’t let her see you packing it up for your freezer).
2. Choose simple, crowd-pleasing recipes you can make ahead. There’s nothing worse than trying to make a table full of elaborate recipes right before your guests arrive. And here’s a secret: Everyone loves comfort food. Don’t bother with the latest recipe in Gourmet Magazine. Paula Dean will do just fine.
Here are a few dishes that never fail:
• Fruit salad (use fresh fruit & toss with a little orange juice or sparkling cider).
• Casseroles: ham ’n’ apple, green bean, and mac & cheese are favorites. You can also get yourself a copy of Bake until Bubbly: The Ultimate Casserole Cookbook by Clifford A. Wright, and you’ll never run out of options.
• Pies, pies, pies! Everyone loves pie. (At least, we think they do.) If you like to bake, try Amma’s Toll House Cookie Pie recipe. Buttermilk, pecan, and apple are always good Southern choices. Although it isn’t technically pie, a cobbler is easier to make and a perfect stand-in if you aren’t ready to take on a pie.
• If you want to be the talk of the town, try making Bread Pudding. You can get the recipe, and watch a video of Kami making it here: http://castergirls.com/kooking-with-kami-bread-pudding/
3. Buy attractive paper products, unless you are hosting a formal event or holiday dinner. It will make you life so much easier. On the same note, you can also use disposable aluminum baking dishes to make casseroles = easy clean up!
4. Last, but not least… if anything goes wrong, act like it was part of the plan. If you don’t freak out when things go wrong, your guests won’t either. And they probably won’t know the difference, as long as there is pie!
Book babes, haven’t gotten your copy of BEAUTIFUL CREATURES yet? Um, WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU? Kidding. (Sort of.) Grab a copy by clicking on the link in the sidebar or at your favorite bookseller.
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