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Happily Ever After: Wedding Advice and Accessories
By Sue Zelickson (ARA) - First comes love, then comes marriage and then comes the couple with the baby carriage. Well a few things happen in between, or at least in most sequences we find the families involved making detailed plans for setting the date and choosing the place for the ceremony and the reception. Plus the hotel for the out of town guests and the millions and trillions of minute details that often make the entire love match become a dueling match between many of the participants.
If everything goes according to the wedding planner books, then you will find the happy couple enjoying what can and should be the most delicious time of their lives. To avoid altercations between the couple and family members, perhaps a few words to the wise might be engraved and initialed even before the first trip to the printer for invitations. Those wonderful new books by Richard Carlson, Ph. D. could prove to be the first wedding guide you all read, especially the one entitled "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff with Your Family." Then pick up a few detailed wedding planner books and even consult a wedding planner or go to a bridal shop and get all the information you can get your hands on. Libraries and the Internet are also fabulous sources for all the intricate details that you will be encountering after the question of matrimony has been popped.
My favorite portion of the wedding plans naturally involves food. Therefore the showers, the bridal dinner, the wedding dinner and the brunches that usually follow the next day get my undivided attention as a planner and as a guest.
Let's take a look at the multitude of options that are available for each wedding couple to choose from. Beginning with the showers, it is up to the bride to decide exactly how many and what kind of showers she and/or her husband will accept from their friends and family. Keep in mind that too many showers which invite the same people is not the way to win friends and keep them. Divide your lists according to compatible groups and try not to overlap guests as one shower per person is plenty, except for your mother, mother in law and perhaps close sisters and sister in laws. Couple showers are also fun and get the groom involved and a chance to meet more of the family and friends before the wedding. The food at these showers can be elaborate or plain. Often guests at a recipe shower will bring the recipe for the gift and prepare it for the shower as a pot luck; this usually turns out to be a nice, fun theme that is easy on the hostesses as well.
"No Hostess" showers are often done when one person doesn't want to spend a lot to give a shower alone or if too many friends all want to entertain. A letter or call goes out from a core committee to see who wants to pay twenty or twenty five dollars for gifts and the cost of the luncheon and decor. Then the core committee takes the group money and buys and wraps the gifts, plans the luncheon, and when everyone comes, the entire group becomes the party and gift giver. The couple showers are fun, as the gifts and the food are more work related than bridal. Instead of salads and tea sandwiches, the shower can consist of ribs, a steak fry, or poorboy sandwiches. Common gifts include tools, appliances for the yard and fun "gag" gifts from close friends.
Now let's talk about the bridal dinner, which is usually the night before the wedding and is held in a party room or restaurant or even someone's home. The invitations are sent out to those coming in from out of town, the bridal party and close relatives. The food is usually a well-planned dinner with wine for toasts, appetizers, and either a fancy or casual meal with time for talks and stories and almost a roast of the couple.
One bride recently booked the back room of a family style Italian restaurant that served food just like her future husband's grandmother did at home. It was an old fashioned, fun-filled evening with lots of nostalgia and melting together of ethnic backgrounds.
The wedding dinners take on the wishes of the bride and groom if their parents listen carefully. If they love chocolate or carrot cake, who is to say that the wedding cake has to be white? No rules allowed in the kitchen. Just make the food plentiful and beautiful and delicious and the entire evening will be perfection. Martha Stewart has written the bible on weddings and to look through any of her party or wedding books or magazine issues (available at your favorite library) you will get bushels of ideas for decor, menu, presentation, flower arrangements and more on each and every page. The minute you start planning the wedding keep a notebook to jot down ideas you see at parties or other weddings. Just walking into a gift shop or glancing in a department store window, or going to a kitchen store will give you ideas beyond your wildest imagination.
Make your wedding something special, just for you, be it with music, flowers, table decor, gifts for the guests, lighting, color of the bridal party and table settings, (which can be rented if the place you choose for your dinner doesn't have exactly what you desire). One last word of caution: make sure there is plenty of space for you guests. It's crucial to have enough room to move around and places to sit down, especially if you don't have assigned tables. Nothing makes a wedding fall flat more than guests with plates full of food and no place to sit to eat and enjoy it. And remember to greet as many of the guests as you can personally, to show your appreciation that they took time out of their busy lives to share your special time. This will help you get off to a great start of living happily ever after.
Here are a few perfect recipes that can be included in a shower, a bridal dinner or the wedding itself. And don't forget eggs benedict and mimosas for the brunch the following morning.
To begin with, here are some old-fashioned tea sandwiches from a cookbook called "Heirlooms in the Kitchen: Treasured Recipes from the Turn of the Century," by Joan Hutson.
Wash watercress and chop coarsely. Season with salt, pepper and a few drops of vinegar. Blend with cream cheese or cottage cheese and spread between two thin slices of white or whole wheat bread. Trim off the crusts and cut into triangles or one-inch strips.
-1 green pepper
-1 bunch green onions
Peel and take out the seeds of the cucumber. Use of the onion tops along with the green onions. Grind cucumbers, green pepper and onions together. Drain off juice through a cheesecloth bag. Mix ingredients with mayonnaise, salt and a little sugar to taste. Spread between slices of white or whole wheat bread. Trim off crusts and cut into triangles or one-inch strips.
CHEESE AND OLIVE SANDWICHES
Beat one small package or cream cheese until smooth. Add one small jar of olives, finely chopped. Moisten with mayonnaise and season with salt and cayenne pepper. Spread on top of circles of white or whole wheat bread.
Here are a few sweets for the teas or for the showers or even the wedding sweet table. These come from Jack Bishop's cookbook, "Something Sweet" (Simon & Shuster) where he claims that "Life is short, so eat dessert first!"
CHOCOLATE COCONUT MACAROONS
- 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
- 2/3 cups sweetened condensed milk
- 3 cups sweetened flaked coconut
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg white
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two large baking sheets. Place chocolate and condensed milk in a large saucepan set over low heat. Stir until chocolate has melted. Remove from heat and stir in coconut, vanilla extract and salt. Mix well by hand. Beat egg white until stiff but not dry. Fold gently into batter/ Drop batter by rounded tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets. Use fingers to shape batter into rough balls. Bake cookies until bottoms and edges are set, about 10 minutes. (The tops will appear moist and shiny.) Cool macaroons on a rack. Makes 24 cookies in about 25 minutes.
CARAMEL OATMEAL LACE COOKIES
- 12 tablespoons (l and 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1 and 1/2 cups old-fashioned (not instant) rolled oats
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg lightly beaten Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in oats, sugar, flour, salt and vanilla extract. Mix well with a spoon and stir in egg. Drop batter by the tablespoon onto the parchment lined baking sheets, leaving at least 2 inches between cookies. Bake cookies until edges become golden brown, about 13 minutes. Carefully slide parchment from pan to a rack and give cookies 2 to 3 minutes to harden before transferring them directly to the rack. Repeat with remaining batter. Makes 24 large or 48 small flat cookies in 35 minutes.
LEMON POPPY SEED SHORTBREAD
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup confectioners; sugar, plus more for dusting, optional
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- 1 cup flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan. Cream butter and sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add remaining ingredients and mix until just combined. Press dough into prepared pan with fingers. Bake until shortbread is pale gold in color, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool pan on a rack for 5 minutes and cut shortbread into bars. If desired, lightly dust with confectioners' sugar just before serving. Makes 16 small bars in 40 minutes.
For that couples shower here is an easy delicious recipe from
"Someone's in the Kitchen with Dinah" by
- 4 pound spareribs
- 5 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons catsup
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup hot chicken broth or bouillon
Mix the ingredients and soak the ribs in this mixture for two hours. Then bake in oven at 300 degrees for two to three hours. Baste every now and then with the sauce. If the ribs are fatty, drop them in boiling water for about five minutes before marinating. Then proceed as directed above. Six servings is typical.
Also from Dinah's cookbook is an easy recipe for a salad to serve during any shower or wedding celebration.
CURRIED CHICKEN SALAD
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- 1 cup bleached raisins, cooked
- 1 cup chopped peanuts
- 1 cup diced bananas
- 1 cup diced apples
- 1 cup diced celery
- 2 cups diced cooked chicken
- 2 tablespoons curry powder
- 1 cup chutney
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- Salt to taste
- Add the mayonnaise to the above ingredients and seasons to taste
Sue Zelickson is the Food Editor for WCCO Radio in Minneapolis/St.Paul.
Courtesy of Article Resource Association, http://www.aracopy.com, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
See also Mindconnection's free recipe pages.