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Things are never perfect

Tightwad occasionally entertains … it was her idea to start an annual family BBQ every August, which happened last weekend. She's house-proud so that entails some give and take; because she realizes that everything can't be perfect, it's impossible. So I ignore the chipped paint on our back stairs, the drooping and sad little plants in my plant beds, the mismatched patio furniture and the fact that the back yard is littered with fallen apples and overrun with kid's toys. Martha Stewart I'm not, but I like to think that people enjoyed themselves all the same. This is despite the fact that just as the time came for people to start arriving, my charming children wound themselves in the curtains of the guest bedroom and pulled both them and all of the accompanying hardware off the wall. Hey, what's a party without your husband asking you where the power drill is in a flurry of last minute home repairs? Tightwad thinks that the trick to pulling off a decent summer BBQ lies in having enough ice to keep the beers cold, and the preparation (and occasion delegation, but we'll get to that). With this in mind I decided to crank out the salads; the kind that can be assembled the day before.

Le menu:
Appetizers: Mom's in charge (See? Delegation) fresh guacamole and blue corn chips, general nibbles.
Main: Spit roasted baron of beef, BBQ back ribs brought by friends, mixed bean salad with cilantro and red onion, potato salad with lemon and chives, tomato feta balsamic salad, roasted red peppers and roasted beet and fennel salad.
Dessert: Sister in Law (again with the delegation) came through with a shiny gold star on this one: Kashmir Cream (I know, I know, what the hell is that?) Believe me, it was DELICIOUS. It was whipped cream based, with a peach concoction that was fantastic. Recipe is forthcoming, apparently.
In terms of preparation, the day before Hubs marinated the beef and I made the bean salad, boiled the spuds, roasted the beets and red peppers. All I had to do on the day of the party was re-toss the bean salad, add some ingredients to the potato salad and mix the beets with some white wine vinegar, olive oil and fennel. And put things in pretty bowls. The tomato salad was last minute because just as everyone was going to dig in my hubs mused that he thought there wasn't enough food. And you know what? He was right – everything was eaten down to the last bean and last rib.
Kiddos sat and ate on a blanket; adults sat around the table and tucked in. Then we had some entertainment (kids dancing to cheesy pop music) and everyone enjoyed some coffee.
In the end, I got over the fact that the plants on the table that served as centrepieces looked dry and had dead leaves on them, or that I was pretty sure that everyone had noticed that my only serving tray was so tarnished it was hard to tell that it was actually silver. Our family was together and everyone seemed happy and full. So, another one for the books; it's hard to believe that a chill is in the air and school is around the corner. Guess it's time to start planning the family Thanksgiving.
This article was previously published in The Reluctant Entertainer, August 18, 2010.


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