Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Zone of Effortless Entertaining

I finished my second muslin for the skirt sew-along and am ready to cut into my pretty fabric. But I don't feel like taking pictures. And I promised this would be more than a sewing blog.

So how about some of that "information about entertaining" I promised when I launched this blog?

A little background for those of you here reading who aren't related to me and don't know me in Real Life (and hey, thanks for being here!) Eric and I both enjoy cooking as a hobby and pre-Rylee we threw Parties. Note the capital P. We had a summer BBQ, a Christmas cocktail party and occasionally went all out with multi-course (read that 10-12) tasting menus for 8-10 people. People were gracious enough to tell us they really enjoyed these shindigs and some women even bought new outfits for the cocktail party. I guess we were doing something right.

I say all this not to brag but to establish why anyone might even consider taking my advice on cooking, hostessing and entertaining. Who the heck am I, right? So with that caveat here's a lovely little picture since this is how my geek brain processes information best.


Lynn's Geeky Descriptions of Various Types of Party Throwing

I numbered the quadrants The Math Way since that's most familiar to me and then labeled them for those of you who aren't complete and total nerds.

Zone I contains things like souffle, elaborate orchid centerpieces harvested from your hot houses, handmade chocolates and calligraphy place cards. That is, things that require a lot of time, effort and/or skill but are seriously impressive when they hit the table. 

Zone II contains things like raising, slaughtering and plucking your own chickens to make fried chicken, making your own puff pastry and homemade fondant. Anything insanely difficult that doesn't really show in the finished product of your party. Professional bakers don't even make their own fondant for Pete's sake. Oh, and for me you can put sunny-side-up-eggs-without-broken-yolks here.

Zone III contains things like ordering out for pizza, potluck and PBJ sandwiches. Perfectly reasonable, still hospitable, but not very impressive. Things you would serve when you're hanging out with buds in other words.

Which brings us to Zone IV. Lovely Zone IV, the secret of so many successful parties. And what types of things are in Zone IV? Well, one of the secrets (shhh....don't tell) is that it's different for everyone. You have to find those things that you find easy but that are most appreciated by your guests. For me crème brulée, brioche, meringues and most things baked live here. The trick is to build up a list of these items that you can then mix with Zone III and Zone I to throw bashes that will have everyone begging for invitations to your next get together.

There. Groundwork laid. I'm already sick of writing this post and hope it's not as tedious as it feels to me. I'll use it as a base for future posts (and maybe even tutorials?) on planning menus, using themes to plan a party, building your "Effortless Entertaining Zone List", moving things from Zone I --> Zone IV with practice and modification... Oh, just so many great things! By the time I'm done all our former guests will be way less impressed with our parties. But your future guests will be more impressed with yours. Hurrah!

1 comment:

jmb-d said...

As one of the (privileged to have been) guests at your Parties, I have to say that they were always enjoyable whether it was a formal one like the Christmas Cocktail Party, informal like the Summer BBQ or just hanging out.

You and Eric throw Parties the way that we'd like to.

Thanks for including us!