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Monday, April 25, 2011

Come brunch with us

We love this time of year.  Spring is here and we just spent the past few days celebrating Easter with our friends and family.  Is there anything better than spending a long weekend eating, drinking and being merry?  Regardless of whether you just celebrated Passover, Easter,  your favorite hockey team's win during the playoffs or a sunny afternoon, there is just something about this time of year that is happy.

So, with all of this happy visiting and being visited, we started to think about entertaining, and how much we love it.  For us,  preparing a meal for people we care about is a real pleasure.  It also tends to come with a pretty hefty price tag.  A dinner party for 8 - 10 adults (typical for these Tightwads) has been known to cost...well...a lot.  Now, although we certainly don't have large parties every week, it is not uncommon for us to entertain a large crown every couple of months.  So, how can a couple of social butterflies (note: Frugal Freddie objects to being referred to as a butterfly of any sort) continue to do what they love without spending so much money.  Well, here are a few things we've thought about:

1. Potluck.  We know that many people love potlucks, and we do other people's homes.  But part of the reason we love having people over is that we like to plan everything out...from the china and napkins, to the seating, to the menu.  Potlucks just relinquish too much control.

2. Entertain less often.  Well, yes...that could work...but the whole point of this experiment of frugal living is to continue to live well....and for us, living well includes entertaining our family and friends.  So, this is really not an option.

3. Entertain smaller.  Certainly, feeding 2 extra mouths is cheaper than feeding 8 extra mouths and we often have smaller company over.  This is great fun, but entertaining a large crowd is a different experience - and one we enjoy too much to give up.

4. Entertain cheaply.  This is definitely do-able.  Economia Nia is convinced (pretty convinced, at least)  that we could serve a group of 10 adults a three course dinner, including hors d'oeuvres and a glass of wine each, for less than 75$ (eeeekk).  It's going to require some careful planning and imagination... but definitely do-able. Hmmm....come to think of it...this just might become a Tightwad experiment.

5. Set the alarm and wake up early.  Last summer Economia Nia picked up a beautiful, antique, hand-painted breakfast set (at a great price!).  Of course, the next logical thing to do was to have a brunch party to use the newly acquired china.  So we invited five early risers one Sunday morning and served breakfast.  Baked french toast, a crust-less quiche, hash browns, breakfast potatoes, bacon, sausage, a couple of fruit platters, a selection of cheeses, freshly baked muffins, toast, homemade jam, juice and of course, lots and lots of coffee.

The weather was particularly beautiful that day so we sat on the patio and lounged over breakfast for hours.  It was such a lovely, relaxed morning that at some point during the meal we each proclaimed that "we should do this every weekend!".  Well, of course, we have not done this every weekend, but we have hosted several breakfast / brunch parties since (we have the dishes after all).  It is great to be able to prepare a delicious, wholesome breakfast for people who would, like us, normally only have a bowl of cereal in the morning.

There are so many reasons why you too should consider entertaining in the am:  Oh look, we've listed them for you :)

a) Breakfast food is incredibly inexpensive.  No other meal will give you as much bang for your buck.  You could easily provide a feast for ten people for about 20$ (even with organic eggs and fancy coffee).  That's 2$ a person !

b) Breakfast food can be incredibly easy.  Depending on what you choose to make, you could prepare most items the day before.  Baked french toast for example is assembled the night before, kept in the refrigerator over night and simply popped into the oven the next morning. 

c) Breakfast allows you to spend time with busy family and friends.  Between children's activities, work, studying, and other people's dinner parties, it can sometimes be hard to find the time to see the people you want to see...but our experience is that most people start to get busy in the afternoon.

d) Breakfast is a great meal for kids.  If you are entertaining families with children (or if you have kids of your own), breakfast can be your best friend.  Most kids like breakfast fare and breakfast is early enough to ensure that there is enough time between the meal and their first meltdown of the day.

In case we've convinced you to give a breakfast party a try, here's a super easy recipe to get you started.

Spinach and cheese crust-less quiche (serves 8)

8 large organic eggs
1 cup grated cheese (any kind - maybe something on sale?)
1 1/2 cups chopped spinach
3/4 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees C

Beat eggs with a fork in a large bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients to the eggs and when well mixed pour into an 8 inch pie plate.
Bake for about 30 - 40 minutes.  The quiche will be set in the center and will have puffed up.
Let cool, cut into wedges and serve.

The Tightwads

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