Wednesday, July 9

Ortho Staff Lunch

SO, Daniel just joined Dr. Goldie's orthodontic practice this summer. Things are going well. He is really enjoying his job! Praise the LORD! What a blessing!
I thought it would be cool to have the whole staff (we are talking 12 people) to our house for lunch. I wanted to get to know them all. And I thought this would be a great way to do it! I thought to myself, "Hey, I am really going to try and make this nice. No ordering pizza this time! I am going to actually make something and have a nice lunch!" So I called people I knew could help me out: my mom and Naphtali. Both of these women are the "Hostess with the Mostess." (Now that I think of it I should have called Nanny, Jan, Judy and Maurine too!) Now, keep in mind that I love to have people over...for CASUAL meals. My cooking usually includes a crock pot, cream of mushroom soup, disposable dishes (not all the time), and a more help yourself mentality. So this "in a house that's nicer than Tanglewood/Mtn Lodge and need to act like it when I entertain" thing is new to me. Actually QUITE unfamiliar. I have so much to learn.
Sometimes I wonder if my mom is thinking, "Mel, were you paying attention at all when I raised you??" Mom gave me all kinds of great tips: sweep off your front porch and walk, light candles and set the table (to give the impression you are ready), do whatever you can ahead of time (so you don't get stressed out), make meals/recipes you are familiar with (to be sure they are good AND you know how to make it), use a tablecloth (to make it nice) or place mats (to show where people can sit), etc. Honestly, some of those things would have never crossed my mind. Great things to know.
THEN I talked to Naph...she is a SUPER cook and loves to be in the kitchen. QUITE my antithesis honestly. She is amazing and I love the things she makes. She cooks with fresh herbs, funky cheeses, orzo, eye of newt (ok not really) and so on. And we are so glad cause we get to eat it! She made the cookies at Daisy's bday, the cake at Dan's graduation party and many more things for us. Anywho...I called her to help me with the menu (mistake number one on my part...what was I thinking she was going to tell me to cook? Hamburger Helper? I think not....but it is yummy.) She suggested this Orzo veggie salad. It is pretty good. It feeds a lot of people. Naph's famous quote is, "It's so easy!" I have learned NOT to believe her. Once one of her recipes called for 4 tsp of I tossed in 4 bouillon cubes (that equal 1 cup bullion each I think). Dan's face was twitching as he ate the Chicken Marsala I prepared cause it was so salty!! And I just kept thinking, "But I followed the recipe exactly." Ugh. Ok, so that was not Naph's fault...but see how things are not that "easy" for me? It's little pieces of info like "what bullion is" that keeps my success in the kitchen...non existent. I digress again! So I get adventurous and decide to tackle this veggie orzo deal (mistake #2). She gives me step by step instructions...too many if you ask me. :) I called her 10 times to clarify things: can I roast the pine nuts the night before? can I mix the veggies the night before or will the flavors "marry" as you mentioned? when you say "chopped" are we talking tiny or inch or what? What exactly is orzo and where is it in the grocery store? Does Publix sell pine nuts? Is the inside of an eggplant brownish with seeds?? She was so kind to field all the questions. (Mom got those calls too and was so kind.) Let me just say it was MY decision to attempt this...I do not fault Naph at all. :)
I was getting a little nervous the day before. This was the menu:

Orzo Veggie Salad
Chicken Salad Sandwiches (with grapes and sugar!) in Croissants
Fruit Salad
Stacy's pita chips with Hummus
Fruit pizza cookies
Brownie Bites
Sweet tea, Lemonade, Water (with lemons floating in I fancy or what?)

Sounds easy? But it was lots of work..compared to my usual style in the kitchen. I spent the morning on Tuesday lugging the kids around and buying all I needed. Cost Co, Publix (out of croissants..are you kiddin' me?!) and Home Goods. (Mom said, "Do you have a table cloth?" No. "Place mats?" I have lived in roach infested rental for 7 years...those never seemed to fit the place or occasion! So Home Goods saved the day on table clothes, cute napkins, and a serving dish.) The kids were great while we were out...a small miracle. God is good.

That afternoon and evening I was in the kitchen. Cooking cookies, cutting up veggies, roasting pine nuts, cutting fruit, pulling chicken off of the bone of the rotisserie chicken, mixing up the Chicken salad, cutting grapes, crushing pecans, and so on. In the middle of all this I started to kinda freak. I call mom.
- Mel: Mom! I have never been so intimidated by a salad in my life.
- Mom: Mel, I told you stick to what you know...just abort this mission and make a good ol' pasta salad.
- Mel: MOM, I can't! I am up to my eyeballs in eggplant, toasted pine nuts and fresh basil and feta. I am too committed. I have to keep going!
- Mom: Ok fine. You can do it. Don't worry. It will be great. (She opted to encourage me thru my silly decision...sweet Mama.)

So I pulled myself together and got it done (bought croissants (CHECK), iced/placed fruit on/displayed cookies (CHECK), stuffed croissants (CHECK), ...! By 11:15 I was dressed, house was clean, kids were fed/dressed, stuff was set out and ready to go. WHEW. Sort of. They still had to come and like it. :)

Gloria (Dr Goldie's wife) came over early and was a tremendous help with the kids and food. She was a life saver!

At about 12:30 they all arrived in their matching scrubs and name tags (thank goodness!). They were all so gracious and kind. I think they enjoyed the food. I did see some getting seconds...that's always a good sign. :) It was great to put faces with names. Getting to know them a little bit was what I had hoped to do. Hopefully there will be more opportunity in the future. But next time I think I will order pizza. :)

After it was all over I felt so relieved. It was not that I was afraid of meeting them...just more that I was afraid I was feeding new friends something I had totally messed up. And even though I think I sort of burned the pine nuts, over roasted the veggies, added too much orzo, but not enough one seemed to mind. :)

SPECIAL THANKS to mom and Naph. I am so thankful for you both. I could have NEVER done it with out you. :)

set up before the party
fruit pizza cookies
Orzo Veggie Salad
(Dan mentioned how good the kitchen smelled while I was cooking this salad...I said, "Take a good whiff cause I am never making this again!"
The lunch
Everyone eating! Dr Goldie is holding Isaac. :)


Anonymous said...

You sweet girl- you did a great job! The presentation was lovely, I'm sure it was tasty but more than that, people love being cared for and served ~ the blessing of hospitality. I know it was wonderful! And I laughed out loud reading the blog - but not as hard as I did watching 'WipeOut' last night!!

Love, MOM

emily said...

wow, you are so brave. this sounds like a post i would write... if i ever got the nerve to do what you did. :) i usually end up calling my mom from the grocery with questions, and then later at home once i'm cooking. what would we do without our moms!? congrats on pulling off what looks like a delicious lunch!

David & Eryn said...

I love how the fruit pizza cookies all have a different design of strawberries and blueberries-- cute.

And I think I want that recipe from Naphtalie! If you would care to relive the experience and email it to me:)


Jessica said...

This is funny. I recall many phone calls from my mom asking me for food advice for dinner parties, luncheons, etc. hahaha! But then again, my mom never was interested cooking. She was too busy working, so I ended up making dinner! Your post makes me laugh! You go girl with all your Martha looks like it was a great lunch! Lana made orzo pasta the other night for dinner and it was yummy! It is much harder to entertain with two kids in tow though isn't it? Glad it turned out how you wanted it to!

Rachel said...

I am so proud of you! Orzo salad??....I can't make it bc I don't even know what orzo is!!! :) I'm impressed by Naph's knowledge:) Everything looked great! That was quite a feat you took on. NICE JOB!!

Ann said...

I am an old friend of your Aunt Jan's (from the Charleston Navy days) and I think your spread looked absolutely beautiful. Jan would certainly approve. ;-) Congrats on a brave and wonderful way to introduce your family to the practice. We have never regetted doing things like this though they are exhausting. It is the best way to know neighbors, church members, etc. Christian hospitality is a very powerful ministry of each family.

Sorry to post out of the blue. I've always been afraid to comment since I found your blog while looking for one by Jan's family. I have been cheering your family on silently for a year or so now. We now live in Marietta, GA and attend the East Cobb Church of Christ. Hope you don't mind my cheers. ;-) Feel free to visit my blog anytime.

Bellamarin said...

Melanie! It looked beautiful and what a nice thing to do for Dan and his office. You are a great wife. I too have no idea what orzo is nor have any skills in the kitchen but you definitely pulled it off. They've gotta love you! ALso my mom is in dentistry and worked for a Dr. Goldey in Daytona. Funny huh? Oh and I couldn't sleep the other night and DVRed Wipeout. I think I woke up Mike and Bella because I was laughing so hard. I found a MOPS here too! YAy!

sonyagraykey said...

Aw, Mel-a-Mel, it all looked grand. And wow at the pricey pine nut deal. Girl, I would be freakin', too! :) It looks great...and I'm sure sometimes even professional cooks order in. Don't worry about pizza. I'm sure your winning charm helped everything pull together through the blur of the afternoon. You always seem "cool" in times of stress.

torinem said...

Yay, Melanie! It all looks like it was wonderful!

Sarah said...

Why didn't you call me for some recipes? I still have the ones that you gave me when you all put together that recipe book for my birthday.....remember Mel-Mel's Kool-Aid and your "homemade" cookies(a roll of cookie dough). In all seriousness, it looked like it turned out great. And the more experiences I have with this kind of stuff, I realize like your mom said that it really doesn't matter what the food tastes like, it's the hospitality that you are displaying that matters. Although, I will not lie that I still stress over the menu every time I have people over and still question why I decided to try that new dish (but it always looks so pretty in the picture).

Michael and Hannah said...

Wow! I'm impressed! You are sure to be the next hostess with the mostess.

E-mail me about Spiritual Growth Workshop. Would be best for me to meet up sometime Friday. lemme know.