How to Cook for a Family Reunion: Part 1 – Get Ready, Get Set…

Flipping pancakes shoulder-to-shoulder with my brother; laughing to tears at the four-year-old’s water fight; playing board games until well past midnight; a stream of dirty -yet happy- children’s faces; and choruses of “Thank you, Auntie Aimée!” – these are but a few of my favorite memories from our recent family reunion.

You may recall I was keeping very busy last month making pancake mix, granola and other do-ahead breakfast food in preparation to host our family reunion. Now it’s come and gone, leaving behind some, oh, 10,000 photos, heaps of great memories, many stray articles of clothing, and a few lessons learned.

Be they large or small, planning a successful family reunion takes plenty of coordination to ensure everyone is comfortable, well-looked after and well-fed!

In this two-part series on hosting a family reunion from the kitchen, we will look at:

  1. Get Ready, Get Set…: Essential planning and preparation.
  2. Lessons learned from the Kitchen: How to feed everyone – simpler.

Here’s how to get started on planning your event and a few things to consider before everyone arrives. [Read more…]

Keeping Cool with Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee and Tea

Aside from a tall glass of water, cold-brewed iced tea and coffee may be the most simple beverages you can make this summer. Literally, “just add water” is all the effort required and the results speak for themselves. I’m never without at least one of these drinks in the fridge from June to September, and more often than not, they are both on hand, just waiting for company to drop over or to fuel a hectic day.

What exactly is ‘cold-brewed’?

‘Cold-brewed’ is tea or coffee that is steeped in cold water for about 12 hours. Why boil water (which requires energy) to make tea or coffee, only to cool it down again over ice, (which takes more energy to make)? Instead try a cold-brewed method by combining your favorite tea or ground coffee with cold water, allowing it to infuse overnight, then simply straining and savoring!

Much more energy-conscious, don’t you think?

Because of the lengthy brew time, cold-brew requires some planning ahead, but that seems to be the only downside. Connoisseurs agree that cold-brewed coffee is less bitter and acidic, with very ‘clean’ flavors overall. It is excellent black or ‘white’; my preference is to add a generous pour of whole milk and a teaspoon of agave syrup.

A word of warning: cold-brewed coffee and tea is believed to contain more caffeine than regular coffee and tea, so watch out for that super-buzz! [Read more…]

How to Have Peace, Serenity AND Breakfast in Bed on Mother’s Day (Recipe)

Most mornings, I make breakfast, but there’s one day of the year I like to have it served to me, in bed preferably.  That would be on Mother’s Day.

This gesture of love is too sweet for words, with adorable little waiters tripping over themselves to help and watching me eat each bite with pride on their faces.

Let’s be honest, though; there IS a downside to this Mother’s Day tradition, and I’m not the only woman to perceive it. In recent lurking on popular women’s forums, I picked up on underlying grievances at having to exchange a short period of relaxing and pampering for cold eggs and a messy kitchen to face after having dressed. (Not to mention hollering instructions down the hall to the kitchen. Raise your hand if you’ve done that.)

How can we make this much-deserved experience more enjoyable? [Read more…]

The Entertaining Aftermath: 8 Steps to a Quick Cleanup

Happy Easter! I’m hosting a brunch today and I’m sure many of you are preparing to welcome friends and family around the table too. Cooking and baking are definitely my favorite parts of entertaining. My least preferred? That’s right, dishes.

Do you love opening your home to guests, but don’t love the kitchen cleanup quite as much?

The post-party mess can be daunting to face especially when all you really want to do after the guests leave is retire to the sofa with another slice of cake.

Still, since no bald, muscular Mr.Clean is going to show up and scour the counter tops for you, here are a few simple steps I’ve developed to break down the cleanup into manageable tasks and get the job done quickly. [Read more…]

Planning a Party: 10 Questions that Help Define Your Menu

Easter is fast approaching and will be followed soon after by May with it’s wedding showers and graduation celebrations. Spring brings green leaves and new life and with the changing of the seasons comes plenty of opportunities for entertaining.

Will you be opening your home to guests in the near future? Do you ever deliberate over what to serve and wonder which direction a menu should go?

Each celebration is unique, just as each home is distinct, and there is no Party Template 101 that can be downloaded and executed for events across the board. Instead,  I’ve compiled these 10 questions to help you outline your party and define a menu that is perfectly suited to your guests, event, home, and budget.

Even a simple gathering can benefit from a little forethought and organization, and you may even discover along the way that planning is half the fun!

[Read more…]