Commandment #9: Learning & Unique Ideas

Learning - always be willing to try new things. Use the Internet or library, along with your favorite cookbooks, for recipes and unique ideas. Try new recipes with your family first!

When it comes to entertaining, I consider that "learning" is having your normal outlook broadened with the way other people do things. Watch what they do. Take bits and pieces from dinner parties and repeat those ideas, but in your own style and on your own budget! Or, how about if we re-spark our ideas a bit, when it comes to hospitality or entertaining? Maybe we need a new twist, or new ideas to get us excited about the whole concept!

Besides using cookbooks or magazines (my messy cookbook cupboard to the left), I have also learned to use the Internet or watch cooking shows on TV for new ideas! Some of our favorite family entertainment has been watching, "Good Eats," with Alton Brown, on the Food Network channel. Our friends up in Portland have a TV attached to the wall above their bathtub, where they love bathing and watching cooking shows at the same time!

Or, look in your refrigerator or freezer and see what needs to be eaten up. Then pop those ingredients into the computer and see what kind of new recipes you can come up with. Last night my 14 yr. old son, Elliot, cooked up the best corned beef hash. He took leftover potatoes, carrots and corned beef, I found a recipe in a magazine, and he went to town cooking it. DELICIOUS!

I got all excited when an email came through last night from my friend, Faye. Faye is a retired Kindergarten teacher who has a love for people. She and her husband Roger are so very hospitable! Here was their story last night:

“Our friends moved into their new home just before Christmas. The guys were playing poker there Saturday night, so we took a simple carry in supper an hour beforehand. Two of us brought green salads, one lady made cookies, brownies, and fudge, Roger got the pizza from Costco (did you know that you can call ahead and order?), and we had such fun! I took all paper and plastic plates, cups, forks, and napkins, and we put all the trash in tie garbage bags, which we took home with us, so there was no mess in their brand new home. (Nobody spilled either!)”

What a great idea! It’s the whole “Take and Bake” concept, but you’re literally taking it into someone else’s home! And it sounds like they had a lot of fun.

A different approach to hospitality is taking meals to your neighbors or friends when in need. I ran a “meals ministry” at church for 2 years. I had a list of ladies who wanted to use their gifts in helping others, by bringing meals to shut-ins. We brought meals to homes with new babies, people who experienced sickness or death in their family, or whatever unique situation warranted a meal. I learned rather quickly what I could prepare for others, since my time was limited.

I would buy a roasted chicken, fresh bread and salad ingredients at the store. I’d whip up a salad; layer it in a large zip-lock bag and seal. My kids would help by making a pan of brownies. Maybe 20 minutes tops to pull it all together and bless another family.

I challenge myself to branch out and keep learning!

What are some of the ways you sharpen your learning skills with cooking and entertaining?

(Picture at very top: one of my favorite books, “Food Lover’s Companion”)

I couldn't help but add a picture of Paul and Abby going to the "Daddy Daughter Dance" on Friday night. If you want to read more about what Paul had to say about this night, go here!


Rachelle said...

Adorable picture of Paul & Abby!

You always have such great ideas for food and entertaining! Lately our family has been busier than usual, so I joined "What About Dinner," where I go and prepare in advance 12 meals for the family and just keep them in the freezer until I need them. They're wonderful--healthy, fresh, and easy. Plus it's adding lots of variety to our family's menu. I'm in the meals ministry, too. It's great to use these pre-made meals for that, too.

Barb said...

Loved Mr Paul's article! Learning I can do--applying it is harder! I'm old! But this is a good reminder to pull out of the ruts I get into sometimes, even if they aren't necessarily "bad." :o)

Melissa R. Garrett said...

And I thought I had an extensive (and messy!) cookbook collection!

I do a lot of improvising when I cook, especially when I am trying to clear out the fridge before a trip to the grocery store. We had the most amazing vegetable soup last night with a loaf of crusty bread. What a lovely (and simple) dinner on such a cold day, and shared with the people I love the most!

PS - A TV in the bathroom? I fear I would never come out!

And - GREAT pictures!

Melissa R. Garrett said...

PS (again!) I just read Paul's article . . .


linda t said...

Wow! Great ideas Sandy!
I love hearing how others do it... especially when I can get in that 'same ole' mode. It's inspiring me to experiment and step out of that mode, or that 'comfort zone' that I am currently stuck in! Really, I am so stuck right now... sick of making the same things, BUT I am feeling motivated! So thank you Sandy... and I am sure my family will thank you too!

Jennifer said...

O.K., I am constantly trying to teach myself new things regarding food - I actually read cookbooks like they are novel, LOL. Oh, and Alton Brown's Good Eats is one of the best shows ever (not just cooking shows)! But, I am most excited about a meal, when I come up with the recipe myself often based on random food on hand. Over time, you just figure out what food combinations work and what don't.

Elizabeth said...

I almost bought that book -- The Food Lover's Companion -- for my food-lovin' hubby whose birthday is next week! (Instead, I got "The Oxford Companion to Food," which is larger and more unwieldy than I'd imagined when I ordered it.)