Monday, September 17, 2007

One small step

This weekend I had a big party. It was a barbecue/picnic in Golden Gate Park, and it was a beautiful success. I saw people hanging out together who had never met but who had more than knowing me and my husband in common (and don't give me any of your Geek Fallacies -- connection might as well start with who you both know!), people hanging out who knew each other from working together ten years ago, people who said they had no use for kids babysitting a 2-year-old while his single-"parent" guardian got to socialize with some adults for a change. People playing croquet, frisbee, me playing catch with the toddler and the former softball player, the toddler and his new previously-child-disliking friend playing with other little kids and their parents. Lifelong residents giving tips on living here to the guy who had just moved to town -- no bitterness about newcomers or tourists, just advice from a local. People cooking for each other, making four burgers, not just one that was for them and then leaving the grilling to someone else. In the late afternoon sun, everyone lying together on a blanket, with one woman knitting, the toddler at his bottle, my husband taking a well-deserved nap, and me hearing plans being made all around me about "let's get together for ..." from people who had only met that day.

Now, that's what I call a successful party!

There was also a lot of food. I mean a lot. I spent $250 on food and I had told the guests to bring whatever they wanted to grill. People brought lots of meat, veggie burgers, buns (oh, the buns), but they also brought sides, desserts, drinks (oh, the beer). Not many of them took home what they brought, especially since plenty of them biked, walked, or took public transit.

A couple of friends of ours who stayed around till cleanup did take some food home; but we ended up with the bulk of it.

My mission is to use up ALL that food.

I have a bad habit about throwing food out that looks old or just inappetizing. This time I'm not going to do that ... for one thing, my friends have great taste in food and nothing looks like something I wouldn't eat. For another thing, I bought a bunch of high-quality food too, and I'd hate to throw it out.

The first order of business is salad. I bought a ton of salad greens. I don't usually eat that much salad, but we're going to finish it all. We benefit from not throwing out food we spent money on, and we benefit because of the vitamins and nutrients!

Then there's meat. There were 2 lbs. of ground beef that didn't get used. I made burgers yesterday for lunch; today I'm going to cook the rest into ragu sauce, freeze some, and eat some for dinner.

And there's fish. Tuna was put into a salad yesterday (with mixed results; but at least I tried), and trout is frozen for use soon. And there's veggie burgers and plenty of buns. Those are in the freezer and will get used in the fullness of time.

And there's hot dog buns. I don't really eat hot dogs. But I do eat chicken-apple sausages, and those can go on hot dog buns for a little starch. If I end up throwing out or not using all of something up, it's going to be those hot dog buns, and that's OK.

And there's beer. Oh, the beer. We aren't huge beer drinkers and I still have some Christmas ale in my fridge from LAST Christmas. What I want to do is start cooking more with beer, in addition to taking it to parties and stuff. I'm going to start looking for recipes with beer marinade, I know they're out there because I went through another phase where I cooked with beer all the time. I don't fry stuff much but I can beer-batter some fish. But mostly I'll re-gift it to BYOB parties.

And there's cake and pie and cupcakes. I expect these to not be a problem in the next ... oh, three days.

So, that's the one small step. Use what I have left, what friends generously gave to the party that didn't get eaten, what I bought expressly for the party that wasn't eaten. It honors the guests and the gathering.

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