Who's Coming to Dinner?
by Mary Emma Allen
Mary Emma Allen
Whenever there's a library book sale, I head for the cookbook table. At a recent sale, I discovered a journal in this section of books. Only a few pages had been written, and I wondered if someone had placed it here by mistake.
However, as I glanced through, I realized this was a dining or dinner diary. Here a hostess had begun chronicling the occasions when she had guests for dinner.
"What a fun idea!" I thought, as I glanced through. Then I began to think about developing one of my own, perhaps called, "Who's coming to dinner?".
This would be different from the cooking journal I described in a previous column. It could be sort of an expanded guest book with a listing and even description and recipes of the foods served.
What's in a Dinner Diary?
For instance at one dinner party, this diary writer mentioned the people attending her meal. Then she gave the menu - tomato/cuke/melon salad, herb bread, stuffed roast pork, and apple sauce.
Another menu was more elegant - spinach/basil salad, baguettes, wild rice, sweet potato and carrot puree, pickled asparagus, cheesecake and cherries, amaranth coffee.
What would you place in your dinner diary? Wouldn't it be fun to read this in future years, remembering the occasions, trying some of the recipes again?
Family cookbooks, food journals, and dinner diaries can play a role in a family's food heritage. Even the usual diaries may make references to food cooked and served during the course of a family's daily life. As I browse my grandmother's and mother's diaries, I find it interesting that they so often referred to the family foods.
Scrapbooking Dinner Diaries
The dinner diary I found at the book sale was a simple lined notebook with attractive black cover bound in red. The title handwritten across the first page was, "Dinner at the ..............." Then brief notations were given of those attending and the menu.
However, you can add sketches or scrapbooking designs to the pages and create an attractive presentation. These may be items of your own design or the stickers and borders available for scrapbooking.
The dinner diary may become a memorable family collectible. This also can be a project to use with the children in your family as they develop family food journals and collages.
Dinner Diary Recipes
APPLESAUCE was served with the stuffed roast pork in the dinner diary I found. This might have been the canned variety with spices added. Or the hostess could have served the homemade type by cooking the apples and adding sugar and spices as needed.
She also served HERB BREAD. This can be of several varieties. Some cooks make it in the breadmaker, others "from scratch." You also can make breads in a slow cooker, especially if you have one with the special metal insert.
You also can take bakery bread, slice it, then spread with herbed butter and heat.
For HERBED BUTTER, chop 1/4 cup fresh parsley, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs such as basil, tarragon, or dill. Stir in 1 cup softened butter or margarine. (Some people like to use unsalted butter.) Spread on fresh bread; also can be used on bread you're going to heat in the oven or under the broiler before serving.
QUICK HERBED BISCUITS - Using canned biscuits, roll or dip them into melted butter. Place on greased cookie sheets. Sprinkle with your desired herb or mixture of herbs. Bake according to directions on the package.
(c)2003 Mary Emma Allen
(Mary Emma Allen writes about and teaches classes on journal keeping and scrapbooking. Visit her web site:
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