Saturday, September 24, 2005

Red Beans and Rice

I love having company. For me entertaining is a whole package. Atmosphere, Cocktails, Ambiance, Music, Food, Wine, and a clean house! Tomorrow I am having my church dinner group over for dinner. Unlike most people (and most dinner groups) I try and set a theme when dinner group is at my house. I also try and “educate” my guests. Now don’t groan … it’s not painful; I don’t lecture, pass out literature, or test my guests before departure. My goal is to expose them to something they may never have encountered or experienced before. But before I can get to the cooking, setting the stage, or entertaining, I must also make sure my house is spic and span. I assure you this is not because I’m a neat freak and my house is always picked up. In fact, my house usually looks like a small tornado went through it. There are several cooking magazines piled on the couch; the dinning-room table is covered with the debris from my car and mailbox. Generally my kitchen is clean, unless it’s “one of those days”. My bedroom? Occasionally I will go on streaks where my bed is made before I leave for work and everything is picked up. Unfortunately these streaks never seem to last long enough. So it’s scattered jewelry on the dresser; clothes piled on the dehumidifier – 'cause they’re not dirty enough to wash but I’m too tired to hang or fold them and put way; “urgent” piles of papers, cards, and bills stacked on my desk waiting patiently for resolution; a bed piled high with books, magazines, dictionaries, and bibles on the “other side”; a chair with “dried” , but not hung washing; and a guest room strewn with suitcases, iron and ironing board, and things that need to go upstairs to the attic. I dated someone who described me as being in a “high hover” during my entertaining preparations. Today the “hover” was indeed HIGH. As I confessed in my “100-things”, I find other things to do when I’m avoiding a task that needs to be done. Since I’ve been home from Louisiana I’ve found many other things to do besides clean my house and take care of my personal business. Today found me up at 6:00 am, unable to sleep any longer. After the Saturday paper and coffee I sat down and drew up my “to-do” list. It was 21 items long! By 11 o’clock I was amazed at how far I’d progressed. 7 things done, 14 to go! At 12:30 I stopped to cook lunch, and then completed another 5 items. Four o’clock found me sitting and “resting” after having knocked another 2 things off the list. At six-thirty it was time to start dinner, but I really didn’t begin until seven. At eight-thirty I was done with dinner and the dishes were washed (once again). Am I done? Nooooooo…. Am I close? I think so. Will I be lopping things off my list tomorrow afternoon and on the brink of madness by five o’clock tomorrow? In all cases I’m guessing that’s a strong possibility. What’s the theme and educational lesson for tomorrow? Louisiana food and New Orleans music! What am I cooking? Yum, yum, Red Beans and Rice. What makes mine so special? I think it’s the chipotle pepper and adobo sauce I add to the mixture. What else is on the menu? For an appetizer I’m making Shrimp Picayune and cocktails will be mint juleps. (In light of Katrina and Rita it just seems wrong to serve hurricanes.) My guests will be providing the first course, side dish (Ratatouille I’ve been told) and dessert. What else am I going to do to enhance the experience? I have 3 great CD’s picked out: The Sub-Dudes, “Annunciation Street”, “Red Light/Blue Light” by Harry Connick Jr., and “Walking in Memphis”, by Marc Cohen. I think I’ll accessorize my dinner table by wrapping the napkins in Mardi Gras beads I’ve brought home from Natchez, Mississippi. That’s the plan … beans are soaking, a bottle of wine is gone, so off to bed I go.

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