Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Thankfulness and hosting an Erntedank Dinner Party


Over the last years my love for the table has grown immensely. And when I talk about the table I don't mean tablescapes. I don't mean candles and cutlery and plates and serveware. Although they are important they are merely a framework for the shared community, the conversations, the encouragement, the life and the friendship which happens when people gather around a table.
If you have been a long time reader of this blog you know this and you might have seen the previous years of hosting my Erntedank Dinner Party (German Thanksgiving) here, here and here. This year was special though because for the first time I was actually able to comfortably seat everybody at one big table. When I set the table I just stood there and looked at it thinking to myself how very blessed I am with this table, this apartment, this life and mostly these friends. I put a lot of effort and work into this dinner party as for me it is saying thank you to my friends. In a world where studies show that less and less people care and spend less and less time with each other because everybody is getting more self absorbed. In a world where we are so concerned with Facebook Friends and Instagram likes gathering people around a table just for the sake of community is not only completely counter cultural it is also in my opinion a necessity. And as it says in John 13 we should love one another and people will see Jesus by seeing our love. So I am making it my duty to gather people, to do what Jesus did, to love one another and make a difference.

Recently I was thinking about friendship and the question for me was who do I want to be sitting at my table. For you it might be something else, but for me it was the people with who I can just be myself with. I don't spend a whole lot of time with each of them and yet I call them my closest friends because I can be myself. I know when we do spend time it is always precious and always fruitful and life giving and I still feel like we are ever going deeper in our friendship. So can I just say thank you? Thank you for being the people you are. Thank you for being yourself with me and allowing me to be me. Thank you for the many years of friendship and learning to accept each other as we are. Thank you for the ups and downs, the tears and laughter. It is in an honor for me to share life with you and make a difference in this world together.

Although the tablescapes, music and food are the framework to what is actually happening at the table they are still very important to me because when throwing a dinner party to bless people there should be a certain degree of excellence and effort.
So I do want to break it down for you and make it applicable to your situation if you are planning a dinner party There are 3 things which in my opinion are important for a successful dinner party:
1. Food
The food you make should kind of be the center of attention as the title dinner party already suggests. I will share my menu with you at the end of this post, but I don't believe you have to be a star cook to throw a great dinner party (I'm certainly not one). What is something you are really good at making? Is it spaghetti, is it a casserole? Make that and make it great. Serve it in your nicest bowls, make a simple salad with it and you're good to go. I personally believe in the importance of appetizers because it gives your guests something to eat and do while they all arrive and makes everybody feel a little bit more comfortable. Keep it simple by serving some roasted nuts in a bowl or set out some charcuterie.
2. Timing
I personally cannot stand last minute running around trying to fix things or getting ready in a hurry. I rather plan ahead and take my time, bust some dance moves in the kitchen, sit down in between, study the recipe again, etc... plus I'm a total planner and that might not be your personality. Yet I still urge you to make a timeline of things you want to finish and a timeline of your food. Believe me when I say you will be much more relaxed and able to actually sit at the table with your friends and that's the whole point, right?
3. Atmosphere
Ok, so this point is very important to me and includes, lighting, music, scent and decorations so basically all your other senses. I am a very strong believer that the way a room is set up changes the atmosphere which has a huge influence on how comfortable people will feel. Like with everything else it needn't be the prettiest flower or the most extravagant thing in the world. I hosted this dinner party for years in our tiny apartment with little room to host the guest and it was always cozy and nice. The key is lighting some candles, turning off some bright lights and putting on some music. This year for example I simply foraged some flowers from the fields I pass by everyday and added some eucalyptus.

Ultimately it is all about you gathering some friends. Let the food nourish the bodies and the conversations nourish the soul and spirit.



PS: I will be sharing a playlist with you soon with some great tunes for cooking.

Bacon Wrapped Dates with Blue Cheese
Amuse-Gueule de Roquefort
To pass:
Salad with apples, goat cheese and walnuts
Buttermilk honey bread served with sage butter and homemade butter
To share
Caramelized beetroot tarte tatin with Crème Fraiche
From field and garden:
Roast beef and red wine gravy with potatoes and haricot beans
Gingerbread sorghum cake and cream cheese mascarpone frosting
All natural red velvet cake with goat cheese thyme icing

Monday, November 16, 2015

Movie Monday

Since I haven't been watching too many movies lately or at least not ones to share (read: Pitch Perfect 2) here it has been a while. But today I am going to share a wonderful piece, a true story of World War 2 and art: Woman in Gold
I think most people actually know the famous painting by Gustav Klimt called "Frau in Gold". The movie is centered around the story of how this picture was returned to its lawful owner.
Helen Mirren is exceptional per usual and overall this movie takes snapshots out of history just the right way. Also really well done is the way language is portrayed.
I strongly suggest you go ahead and watch it.



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