We’re coming down the homestretch on the 10 Rules for Meal Planning Success. The rule for this week is #6: “Gather Equipment & Ingredients, Clear Space Before Starting,” otherwise known as “Be Organized.” Whether you can follow this rule consistently has more to do with your organizational DNA than with your cooking skills or knowledge. Whatever your genetic predisposition or organizational skills, this is a rule worth following as best you can. It’s a rule that I honor more in the breach than I should. I’m especially bad about clearing the counter before starting to cook. Of course, my counter and my desktop are a matched set. I do try, but in any event - do as I say, not as I sometimes do. Now that I’m done with my “True Confessions”, let’s get down to business.
I was taught that good guests never arrive empty-handed. At holiday time, I’m always looking for new homemade presents to bring instead of wine or flowers. This year I discovered a fabulous host/hostess gift – homemade chocolate bark candy with dried fruit and nuts.
There’s a lot to love about this chocolate bark. It’s super easy to make, no-bake, and quick too. It’s not messy to clean up afterwards, there are endless variations, and it looks fabulous presented in a gift box or bag, surrounded by nice tissue paper. It’s addictive too – sweet, but not cloying; unusual, but appealing to the less adventuresome eaters too. And at less than $5 for an 8 ounce gift box or bag ($6 or $6.50 if you count the fancy box or bag), it's an inexpensive present.
My friend Nancy did and you can too. It’s not about starting out to create a tradition or fussing over the details. It’s about entertaining in whatever way works for you and your friends and deciding that it’s nice to do it again the following year, and then maybe the next ….
Twenty years ago, Nancy threw a birthday tea party for her mom. It was so much fun, she decided to do a holiday tea for her own friends. Ever since then, each year on a Sunday afternoon in December, Nancy has invited her women friends to a tea. It's a 3-hour open house-type event. She began with 30 invitations the first year and now sends invites to 70+ women from all parts of her life, including childhood friends, women she got to know as parents of her kids’ friends, work friends and a few assorted friends like me.