By Jan Kinzel
Sticks and stones. We all know the last half of that chant is wrong. Words do hurt. In the downsizing world a little sensitivity can go a long way when gathering information as to why someone has downsized. While it is exciting to enter into a new life chapter, there is also a sense of loss and displacement. It’s especially nice when friends come over and love our new place and share thoughts that they are having about wanting a simpler lifestyle. Sometimes they call us role models or even trailblazers! Cool.
In thinking about a smaller space, my thoughts often go back to when we had more space. One of the largest events of my ‘hospitality career’ happened a few years ago when our church was celebrating the completion of a building campaign. I was to head up a dinner of some sort for about seven hundred people! Whew – where to start? It was in early September, so the décor was easy – fall colors. But, how to feed 700 people? Since weather in the Bay Area is pretty dependable and lovely in September, we decided to hold it outside. In front of the church entrance is a circular driveway with wide sidewalks, so we set up about 50 feet of banquet tables.
What about the menu? Except for cornbread and two huge roaster pans full of chili (with all the trimmin’s) everything was served on skewer sticks. To make it easy for the people to handle their food, Asian style food containers and napkins of various fall colors were placed at the start of the line. Folks walked by the tables and collected skewers of food to put into their container, making it easy to carry and easy to eat. How fun to adapt for home entertaining in a smaller space – a new twist on a plain ordinary buffet!
Skewer Menu Ideas
Think of classic but updated combinations to place on skewers, and fun ways to present them. Include basic food groups such as fruit, veggies, grains, proteins and sweets. Asian style food containers of different sizes are available at places like Smart & Final.
Melon Alternate cubes of cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon. Put a juicy fat blueberry between each cube of melon. Garnish with a mint leaf on the end of the stick.
Tropical Alternate cored large bright red strawberries, cubes of rich golden pineapple and chunks of bright green kiwi and tangy orange mango. Finish with a lime wedge.
Veggie Alternate marinated artichoke hearts, extra‐large black olives, cherry tomatoes and cubes of feta cheese interspersed with basil leaves. Drizzle with garlic flavored olive oil. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Bread Thread cubes of garlic bread, focaccia, sun‐dried tomato bread and black‐olive bread to make a colorful skewer with a variety of flavors. Drizzle with a tiny bit of garlic flavored olive oil.
Roasted shrimp To roast shrimp, place peeled (except for tails) deveined shrimp on a baking sheet. Drizzle with garlic flavored olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Bake at 400 degrees, turning once, just until pink and cooked through. Be careful not to overcook. Thread six shrimp per skewer interspersed with little chunks of fresh lemons.
Teriyaki glazed beef or turkey meatballs with red and green bell pepper slices, onion ribs and cubes of pineapple . In a readymade teriyaki sauce, coat the vegetables and pineapple first and place on a baking sheet. Bake in 400 degree oven until slightly soft. To glaze meatballs toss them in the teriyaki sauce until well coated. Place on a separate baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees until browned. Construct skewers by alternating onions, peppers, pineapple with the meatballs.
Filet mignon with lightly sautéed whole baby portabella mushrooms. Season and grill steak in a grill pan until medium. Let the steak rest for 20 minute then cut into one inch cubes. Alternate with mushrooms on the skewer. Use a blue cheese dressing for the dipping sauce.
Cheesecake Place a cube each of 3 different flavors of cheesecake on the skewers. Chill until very firm. Serve with bowls of strawberry jam and chocolate sauce for dipping.
Tip: Delight and encourage your friends with good conversation and loving hospitality.
Pleasant words are like a honeycomb…sweetness to the soul and health to the bones. Proverbs 16:24