Thursday, 5 July 2012

Pretty Supper

Here we are only barely into the first few days of July and we're already on our second official heatwave. And that doesn't take into account all of the unofficial hot, humid days we've had that didn't make heatwave grade. The kids have only been out of school for a few days and they're already fighting with each other and bored. Thank God mine are grown and out of the house now, but that doesn't make the memories any less vivid at all. Summer vacation seemed like it lasted for a few years instead of a few months. Often, the ladygirls would be smacking the gob off one another fighting over a dolly by 7:30 in the morning. Buying two identical toys or dolls somehow never was effective because the one other sibling was playing with was the object of desire. It was going to be a long, long day. And to make matters worse, we lived in Arizona at the time and playing outdoors was not an option. It was just too damn hot.
So I became an expert at diversionary tactics. And I became shameless with my bribery techniques too. Desperate times call for desperate measures. We had a Safeway two hundred yards from our house, but I chose to drive across town to Smitty's during summer vacation. And why? Because they had one of those horsey rides that you put a quarter in to get a ride in the lobby of the store. And the rule was that whoever was the very best girl that they could be got the first ride. :) So you had the one grinning like a Cheshire cat taking the ride, and the other one clearly plotting revenge on how to get even later when we got home and all hellfire could break loose again! Long days indeed! And that's how Bailey and Kelly became the Ladygirls. They would be fighting and I would raise my voice just enough to put the fear of God into them, but not enough to show I had a loss of control, and I would just say "Ladygirls!" And they soon learned that if they didn't step back in line immediately, a loss of control would soon ensue. Hahah the name stuck and now it's a term of pure endearment!
And you could not possibly cook anything during an Arizona summer where the average temperature exceeded 110 degrees. The rubber would literally melt off the sole of your flip flops if you were to stand at the barbeque for any length of time. And back then, 25 years ago, hydro cost a fortune and then some. One day I took out my big platter and just made a cold plate with some fresh buns for dinner. The platter was just so I would have only the one dish to wash, but it clearly made an impression because I asked the girls a few weeks later what they wanted for dinner and Bailey immediately piped up "Pretty Supper!" I had no idea what she was talking about. She said "that one where you put all the pretty things on the plate." It was so very, very cute that I decided to take that cold platter Top Drawer that night. We ate cold platter off my very best dishes with linen napkins and they had their milk in my good wine glasses. And it is a tradition that we have carried on for twenty five years now. The hot, humid days of summer will always seem happier if you have Pretty Supper for dinner.
So take out your very best platter that you save just for company and line it with the lettuce of your choice. Buy a variety of cold meats that you like, and I always buy one I've never tried before just for the fun of it. Roll them up and arrange them in the middle of the platter. Buy a couple of nice cheeses. Remember we're really just making sandwiches here, so use something suitable for that. Arrange them alongside the meats on the outer edges of the platter. Slice a tomato and spread it around on either side of the cheese. Basically add whatever you like. I make some carrot sticks and celery sticks, sliced cucumber and arrange them around. And also some sliced hard boiled eggs. Sprinkle a few black olives around if you like them. Just think of it as the platter is your canvas and decorate it however you like including wonderful things to put on a sandwich and a few cold vegetables to nibble on. The trick is to make it pretty! I do a plate of fresh sliced fruit too because who doesn't love that? Buy some wonderfully fresh buns or artisan bread and serve it in a basket lined with a linen napkin. Use pretty little bowls to put your condiments in. We like mayonnaise and different mustards. And a bowl of ranch or blue cheese dressing to dip your veggies in. It would really take away from the beauty of it all if you were to slam a plastic mustard bottle on the table and a bottle of Hellmans. So take the time to make it feel like high tea at the Savoy! And set your table with your best linens and a vase of fresh flowers. Everybody gets to make their own customized sandwich with the things they like on it. It's light and fun and delicious! And one thing I've noticed over the years - EVERYBODY puts their best manners on when you bring out the good china! Enjoy your pretty supper experience and try to stay cool!

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