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How to Make a Rich Broth for French Onion Soup, and What Keeps the Cheese Up?

Meatless French Onion Soup

Simply use Vegemite or Marmite for the broth; it's so concentrated and delicious...made from brewer's yeast, it is so easy to use! Here's my own recipe:

1. one large soup pot and a large onion per serving (I usually do 6)
2. peel, slice, sauté in butter to a rich brown (or a combo of butter and oil)
3. cover with stock or plain water (save potato water in the freezer to use)
4. add thyme to flavour (a whole stalk of fresh is best)
5. add fresh ground pepper
6. add Marmite or Vegemite to taste (about 3 teaspoons for 6 servings)
7. simmer for about 30 minutes on low
8. serve in bowls with croutons and cheese (bake in the oven if you wish)

Feb 10, 2014
Per_se in Features

Host Gifts; What Is The Etiquette?

Great point!! I stock-pile post-cards whenever I'm somewhere interesting/intriguing with breathtaking pictures. They require just a few words of thanks and the rest is all about the beautiful photo. So out of the ordinary to receive something in the mail!!! Love it -- thanks.

Sep 15, 2012
Per_se in Not About Food

Host Gifts; What Is The Etiquette?

I had to laugh because chocolates, wine, and flowers would not be good things to bring someone with allergies and other health/lifestyle choices.

I've gone into getting high quality reading material and I do not read it first!!!

You usually know a little bit about the person you're visiting for dinner so it's a good exercise to find something of interest. For example: a guy we visited was quiet and liked reading about the past. So I found a History magazine and he loved it. Imported newspapers are good also.

Sep 15, 2012
Per_se in Not About Food

The perpetual empty handed guest

Almost 4 yrs later, I'm reading this...and I'm guessing it's still a problem for some.

What I'd do if I had this problem?? I'd announce to all my friends that the next dinner will be a potluck and for everyone to bring "something" -- everyone will understand why..it could be pre-arranged or a surprise and that the main dish will be provided by the host...and this could start a trend...the next dinner, potluck from now on, the guests could pick something else to bring, whatever they want.

This way the friend who never brings anything will be forced either to bring something or not to come at all.

My pot-lucks are always like this. I make the main dish and as many guests who attend bring various unplanned things, usually salads or desserts. After all, it's only fair to your friends who do bring things because they are probably aware that this friend sponges...does not share...it's best for all concerned to feel righted about this lop-sidedness.

Some edible things people bring: cheese & crackers; veggies & dip; garden-fresh tomatoes; chips; deli-meats; candies; chocolates; ice-cream; fudge; sponge-toffee (home-made); jams & jellies; fresh fruit - grapes, berries, cherries, watermelon, other fruit in season. Make a list of these types of things and post them on your kitchen wall for your guests to see and be inspired for their next dinner at your place.

Sep 15, 2012
Per_se in Not About Food

Dissapointing Dinner at Friends House

There's no way to deal with a disappointment with food other than to remind yourself that everyone is different. They probably love you so much and this is the best they could come up with at that point in time. Maybe it'll be better with practice or maybe not. Best thing is to adore them and the fact that they cared enough to set aside time to have you over.

As you age you care less about the food and more about the time friends take for you. Perhaps you have more experiences with creating gourmet-type meals. Perhaps your upbringing focussed on an excellent table.

When I moved to a remote northern town my first dinner out as a newlywed was at my husband's co-worker's place. Basic and almost inedible: garden-grown green beans but all overcooked and wild game bagged by my host but also overcooked. Burned baked potatoes with no go-withs. The house was in a half-constructed state and there was no bathroom facility.

When we invited our new friends I was sure I'd do so much better!! Probably did but it doesn't really matter. Can't remember anything about it now except that they were one of the nicest people we met and miss them after moving away, about 23 years ago!

Sep 15, 2012
Per_se in Not About Food

Do your friends invite you to dinner?

My late husband (my second marriage) would never go to a condo-hosted bbq as he was vegan so all our condo neighbours thought he was a snob for never showing up. Consequently it wasn't until after his death that I attended and socialized. I explained how that he couldn't abide the bbq smell. It turned out that a separate bbq was set up for veggies and non-meat cooking. The neighbours were needlessly offended for all those years and so was he...we could have dispelled a lot of bad feelings if only we had asked!

As a result I met many good people with whom I was able to share many happy meals, attending a monthly restaurant dinner party with upwards of 20 guests.

Sep 15, 2012
Per_se in Not About Food

When the host is late serving the meal - also rude? Is it ok for guests to leave?

For one New Year's Eve pot-luck party I hosted the guests knew the food wasn't being served until late. The party started at 9:30 so it wasn't a dinner party but a late night buffet. It was candle-lit and fireplace-lit, which was a good thing as we had a region-wide power outage at about 10 p.m. which lasted until well after midnight. It was a challenge as many of our guest's foods had been brought to our place needing reheating. One of my guests brought an uncooked casserole. Somehow we managed. With the help of our basement woodstove (it was -20ish outside so the woodstove was fully fired up) we managed to serve hot food by 11 p.m. The trick with this type of party: everyone knows in advance what time they'll be eating and what time they're meant to go home...I invited them for 9:30 pm to 2 am. I clearly emphasized the time the food would be served. We played parlour games and laughed for hours. No electricity was great. Many people stayed later as we were huddled around the fireplace telling ghost-stories...and I think some passed out on various sofas...and spent the night. Fine with me. Point is, the food was meant to be eaten late and anyone coming knew all about the plans. We had kids and people of all ages, about 50 guests. Great!

Sep 15, 2012
Per_se in Not About Food

When the host is late serving the meal - also rude? Is it ok for guests to leave?

What if it were the reverse, which did happen to me: the host/ess announced at our arrival -- on time --that they had to be finished in roughly an hour's time as they were meeting other friends for drinks at 8:30??!! These people were our neighbours so we couldn 't run the risk of offending them with a reply like "don't call us we'll call you".

Instead we made the best of it. They offered a simple bowl of something, no alcohol (our gift of wine was no where in sight...they did say they knew the label), and a frozen ice cream bar, I think, for dessert. Yawn. At the end of our allotted time, we were glad it was only an hour or so!!!

And when we invited them to our place, it was a neighbourhood bbq, so we didn't have to say much but "hey".

Sep 15, 2012
Per_se in Not About Food

Cleaning up after dinner.

I'm open. And so is our floorplan.

Whatever works for me is what I do.

Mostly I do the actual washing after all have gone home. Big things just soak but first I've rinsed well and I add detergent to cut the grease to soak overnight.

I've learned that my kitchen counters have to be near-bare before a big party because they fill up quickly. Especially important: have an empty dishwasher before people arrive so it can be quickly filled with plates, cutlery, etc. between courses. But never turn it on until they've all gone home.
Whatever can't fit quickly into the dw I stack off to the side on the counter and cover over with a clean tea-towel. I try not to run the water too much because this attracts others to come help.

I do not want to hang out in the kitchen and wash (if I do I might never leave).

This is the curse of the open floorplan in new-ish homes. Everyone wants to hang out there and I am eyeing the sofa and armchairs...to finally sit and relax and VISIT!!

The dishes are all high-end so I'm happier to do them myself. Some people don't realize that drying dishes OVER the floor is how things get broken. If I hand-dry dishes/crystal I always let it air-dry first then wipe over a dish rack to stop anything/avoid breakages. But many don't know this and CRASH if they've been drinking...ooops. Sorry. But that doesn't press the rewind button. So it's better to leave it all til either later after all are gone or the morning...

In fact, there's a kind of beauty in seeing all the special plates and tablewares come out and see the light of day and maybe hang around for a day or so...it brings back lovely memories of my youth when my parents had enormous parties around the holidays and especially New Year's when the dining table was covered with all the exotic tableware and as children we'd see Mum put things away in their little wrappers made of cloth then arranged just so...

Sep 15, 2012
Per_se in Not About Food

Cleaning up after dinner.

My priority is to get the table cleared and the left-overs put away... the rest follows...

Sep 15, 2012
Per_se in Not About Food

The perpetual guest -- are you one? Why?

As a young woman I'd be invited out to many dinner parties hosted by older couples from our religious circle.
They all had confidence in holding large parties because they were regular hosts, which was something our religion advocates -- being hospitable.
Later we as a couple did the same. We'd learned how to do this organically -- by example we learned over time to be confident.
Kudos to all those who teach by example!!
And incidentally I was scared stiff at the beginning. My place was never clean or big or perfect enough. But people love that you think enough of them, even in your vulnerable domestic state, and no matter how imperfect it is, they'll love being there!!!

Sep 15, 2012
Per_se in Not About Food

guests not offering to do dishes, is it rude?

So many different people and so many different expectations.
For me, I am a housewife from a different planet. There, we each take our task seriously because it is our career.
I would never interfere with the control of another's task in the course of her/his career without being asked and s/he would not with me.
Respect each other and perform what is one's own role in the theatre of life. One takes enormous pride and pleasure in performing each task.
If we require assistance we will not hesitate in asking.
But always, it must be understood, it is at the discretion of the one in control of the situation.

Rudeness is when one shows disrespect. If a guest does not respect the host/ess's role as benefactor but instead attempts to usurp control of the host/ess's role this could be taken to be disrespectful.

All these hurt feelings are unnecessary when what is expected can be clearly articulated by the host/ess. Guests should also feel at liberty to ask if they are not sure what is expected of them.
Therefore, I cannot call guests rude if they do not offer to do dishes.
But I do call them rude if I gently say "thank you, no" but they go ahead and do it anyway. Essentially they cannot accept my management/control of the dinner party. It would appear that they need to gain control of the situation -- boost their ego, perhaps -- by assisting. But clearly if I had wanted assistance I would have asked.
This is the key in understanding the role of the host/ess and the role of the guest. A guest is meant to accept the place of one who receives. Imagine if you were in a restaurant by invitation and, after the meal, you got up from the table, went into the kitchen, and told the dishwasher you were ready to help. Not unless your host/ess did not pay the bill!! Not on my planet anyhow!!

Sep 15, 2012
Per_se in Not About Food