Sunday, July 23, 2006

Ode to a Jelly Belly (TM) Giver

On Friday I retrieved my mail
From our mailbox down the street
And when I put my hand in the box
I found something real neat.

A padded manila envelope
That was addressed to me
I saw the name of the sender
And smiled with childish glee

I squeezed that padded package
Trying to guess what might be inside
I managed to get inside my house
Before tearing the envelope open wide

My first guess had been correct
It was candies galore
But in fact not simple candies
Rather, enough Jelly Bellies (tm) to open a store!

A two-pound bag of that sweet delight
Had come to me from the West Coast
From a fabulous and fun gal pal of mine
Who is also quite a talented blog host.

She had held a contest on a post --
Her readers had to find the movie source for a quote
"I'll send the winner a bag of Jelly Bellies"
Is what that California gal wrote.

I knew which movie, I could picture the speaker
But as for the title I could not remember its name
So I had to do the next best thing
And use Google to help stake my claim.

But I'd forgotten about the contest
I thought this gift referred to a different post
But it really makes no difference
'Cause this package was the most...

Sweetest treat she could send me
All the official flavors, so fun to explore
Enough for me and the hubby
And for the kids, JBs galore.

So I thank you, Jelly Belly (tm) giver
It was really a sweet prize
But what made it extra-special
Was that it was a wonderful surprise.

You told me not to share them
But my family I can't deny
As for friends? Well, they're another story
So don't any of you even try...

To ask me for an offering
Of a Jelly Belly (tm) or two
I'll hide the pack behind my back
And this is what I'll say to you:

"Yes, I'm all for sharing
But I'm sorry, you've got to get your own
I know JBs are expensive
So I'm offering you a loan.

To track them down and buy some
Then you can be like me
And indulge yourself in that package of flavors
And not share with anyone, see?"

You know I'm just being silly
Of course I'll share my JBs with you all
But note that's for just this once
Next time it'll be like talking to a wall.

So you'd better hurry and ask me
If you want these delectable delights
'Cause sooner than later the bag will be empty
You'll be disappointed with that truly sad sight.

Are You Being Served?

Ahh...Shabbos. Ahh...Yom Tov. A time for eating, and eating, and eating; a time to be with family and friends.

Now, my husband and I don't do anything in a small way -- we are generous with others. We treat company like kings and queens, preparing a royal banquet for guests, whether they be family or friends.

Perhaps the deterrent by us is often that: 1} I try new recipes out on guests; thus, they become my guinea pigs, so to speak, and 2} I am a poor judge of quantity.

I've never been a good judge of proportions, so I always say to my husband when he or I plan menus: "Do you think that will be enough? Maybe we should make more!" He always looks at me like I'm crazy, and says that the quantity we've planned for is more than enough and if we make even more, we'll be dealing with leftovers galore.

You know what? Usually he's always.

Let me tell you how we do things for a typical Shabbos lunch meal when there are guests...just because most of you will probably never have the privilege of having a meal at our table, although you ARE invited to do so.

Let me say, though, that we're not preparing gourmet-type dishes that need a lot of "patchke-ing"; we are preparing simple dishes, but a variety.

First there's fish -- one or two kinds; there's eggplant and chumus; pickles and olives and maybe marinated peppers; there is a standard Caesar salad we make that's a big hit, and maybe two other salads; there's rice or potatoes or kugel, or sometimes two or all three; there's a chicken dish or two, a meat dish, perhaps meatballs or roast beef; there's maybe a veggie side dish. Dessert is usually a fresh fruit platter, a cake, smaller nosh, and tea/coffee.

A lot of work, yes, but seeing guests enjoy the meal and having them feel relaxed as guests of ours is the reward. We know that we are not doing anything special in order to impress guests; we are just being ourselves.

Part of the food preparation is the presentation -- something I LOVE to do. I pull out several of the glass and serving dishes and trays and serving utensils I received for hostess or shower or engagement gifts; I arrange the food in a lovely way; I dress up the table with the simplest white napkins (paper) and cobalt-blue glasses and our plates that pick up those colors. It is simple, but elegant. Certainly nothing for the pages of Epicure or Gourmet magazines.

Yes, I love to host, and I also enjoy going as a guest to other homes -- it's interesting to observe how people do things in their homes. Some exceed what we do, both in quantity and presentation; others come nowhere close to us, and could stand to take classes in Culinary Class 101. The spectrum is wide and varied.

Based on observation, I learn things too -- what to do, what not to do. I get ideas for recipes, I get ideas for display, I get ideas for what conversation topics work well and don't work well at a table.

Of course we're not all cut from the same cloth -- or in culinary terms, perhaps I should say, we don't all wear the same style apron -- so it can make a meal memorable for a good reason or for a bad one. But I have learned at least one important thing:

"A meal always tastes better in the company of family and friends" IS A FALLACY!