When it comes to the things that make me happy, I would say my list is reasonably succinct: I love diving into a good book, binge watching TV shows, and going to the movies. I also enjoy a big cup of tea with steamed milk, ice cream, cheese, and wine. I like going for walks – preferably at night. I also love cooking, but probably prefer baking just a tiny bit more, and nothing makes me happier than placing something I’ve made by hand before a table full of people I like and feeding them a meal I know they’ll enjoy.
It’s no secret that I’m passionate about gathering with people over good food, and I truly believe that there are few things in life that are as enjoyable as eating with the people you care about, which is why we do it so often. In fact, it’s such a frequent occurrence in our house that I keep a journal of our many get-togethers.
At first I thought the purpose of the journal was to keep a record of the dinners and parties we've hosted, the guests who attended, and the food and drinks that we served in order to avoid duplicating dishes for our family and friends. However, after a few entries I quickly realized my obsessive note taking was really more about documenting the details of the meals and moments that are special to us in order to preserve them.
Here’s my gatherings journal. I started it in January of this year, and each time someone has come to eat I’ve jotted down the following information on the lined pages of my simple blue notebook: date, occasion, guests' names, appetizer, main course, dessert, and drinks. Because of this I know my friend Shannon came over in February to discuss her upcoming wedding plans. We ate cake and drank cinnamon tea lattes as we poured over pictures of dresses, centrepieces, and place cards.
I also know that we celebrated Ben’s fourteenth birthday on a Saturday in April, and the menu that day was pulled pork on buns, maple-bourbon baked beans, coleslaw, homemade pickles, and kettle chips. For dessert, we made a tiered cake out of donuts and I served pink lemonade to the cousins who were here. My hope is that in ten to fifteen years we’ll enjoy reminiscing over the parties of the past, as we plan new ones for the future.
Do you keep a journal? What do you record in yours? Also, how do you make sure you don’t repeat the same dish or menu when feeding your friends and family?