Friday, February 27, 2009

Grape picking this weekend


A few blog entries back I wrote about Action Man, and how he has been monitoring the vineyard and the grapes to decide the best time to pick. Well, earlier this week, AM decreed that Saturday would be the day.
This will be our third grape picking, our vines being just over 5 years old. We make grape picking/crushing day a bit of a social event. We invite friends and relatives over to help pick the grapes in the morning, and then we have a long lunch as a way of thanking them for their labours. Without their help, grape picking day would be long and tedious.So, tomorrow I have 12 adults and a couple of kids for lunch.
When I first started catering for groups of friends and family, I would always have difficulty estimating just how much to cook. Overcatering is not so bad, as leftovers rarely go to waste around here. Like my Italian mother, though, I have a horror of undercatering. To our mind, undercatering implies stinginess, and a lack of generosity and hospitality. While I can think of lots of worse things, being a guest undercatered event is deflating. A couple of years ago, I went to a fortieth birthday party that was wildly undercatered. It was a barbecue, and by the time I was served there was scarcely any food left, and I was by no means the last to eat. I think I ate a gristly knob of meat and a half a dry bread roll (I split it with AM). Worse, we had the kids with us. They were much younger then, and we had to shush them when they started to complain “I’m really hungry!” at the tops of their voices, knowing that there was no food to be had. Yes, we’ll always remember that party, and not in a good way…
A couple of years ago, I started to keep records of what and how much I would cook when entertaining. I note down the names of the guests, the menu, and then record how much meat and vegetables were bought and cooked. Then, I make notes after the event saying things like “heaps of potato salad left”, “could have cooked more sausages”, “only needed 1 dozen bread rolls”.
I’ve read that this was a normal practice in the good old days of housekeeping, but the issue was more one of avoiding serving the same meal twice to the same person. Even though I don’t think of myself as a super housekeeper, this simple action saves me the effort of trying to remember what I cooked for whom and how much. It also saves me money.
So tomorrow, having consulted the records and knowing roughly how much of each dish to make, we are having Italian sausages and blade steaks on the barbie, cannelini bean salad, pesto rice salad, ratatouille served cold, a green salad and bread. Then we will have a fruit platter, and the pictuired Caramel Nut Crunch Cake from Belinda Jeffery’s book Mix and Bake with coffee.
The entertaining doesn’t stop tomorrow though. On Sunday, an old school friend who I haven’t seen for years will be coming for lunch with her family. We will have a barbie again, with salads and this time I’ll make a pavlova.
My next post will be of photos from the grape picking, if I can figure out how to post multiple photos. I had trouble with this some time ago, and haven’t tried since resurrecting this blog. Hopefully, I’ll figure out what the issue is…

1 comment:

Keltie said...

that sounds like a wonderful weekend! homemade wine...how absolutely fabulous. your tales in the garden made me want to buy the block next door (not that it's for sale, nor could we afford it anyway!) and extend my veggie patch by adding fruit. i would really love that...