The other night, I hosted a small meeting at my house, a group of ladies who were coming over to talk about auction acquisitions for my son's school. You know what makes a meeting more fun? Food and wine. I didn't have a lot of time, so I decided to channel my mother and whip up a few easy 70s-style appetizers. Besides, I was really craving bacon wrapped water chestnuts.
The meeting started at 7pm. For most people, this would mean dinner, but my guests all had young children, who tend to eat early. So I figured they might not be hungry, but I was, and I have been known to tailor my menu to my own cravings. (This one time? I was pregnant, but not telling anyone yet, and it was my turn to host Bunco. I served multicolored sour balls and trout dip. And nothing else. I never did need to announce my pregnancy, because everyone figured it out.)
But I digress. I knew I wouldn't have time for dinner before the meeting, so my snacks had to be substantial. I made a mental menu:
- Bacon wrapped water chestnuts.
- Tea sandwiches
- Cheese and apple slices with crackers
- Whoppers, because my mother always served Whoppers, and we weren't allowed to have any. We would see the iconic milk carton on the counter, my mother would see us giving the Whoppers the side eye, and she would proactively respond, "Don't touch those. They are for the ladies." I could not wait to be a lady. Thanks, Whoppers.
For the chestnuts, I chose Martha Stewart's recipe, because it only had two ingredients. I learned something new: She recommends soaking the toothpicks in water for ten minutes before broiling, maybe so they won't catch fire. It seemed like a good idea to me.
→ Get the recipe: Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts from Martha Stewart
As predicted, it was super easy. I did have to cook them about five minutes per side, where she recommended two or three minutes. I also used canned water chestnuts, because I know my mother never used fresh, as Martha recommends.
While they cooked, I pulled a few things from the fridge to make finger sandwiches. Here's what I found:
- One log of goat cheese
- Half a package of cream cheese
- Several cups of raw arugula
- A handful of roasted pumpkin seeds
I mashed them all together, adding a sprinkling of my favorite seasoning salt, and spread the mixture between slices of bread. This is where I went wrong: I accidentally bought rye bread at the store. Though I love rye, whole wheat would have been a better choice.
The meeting went well, we got a lot done, and my kids behaved and stayed out of the way (mostly). My youngest son did come in and ask for a sandwich at one point. He picked it up and asked, "Wait. What's in this?"
"Try it. If you don't like it, you can throw away. I'll tell you what's in it after you try it."
He liked it, of course. If I had told him what was in it first, he probably wouldn't have been willing to test the waters. Letting him know he wasn't obligated to eat the whole thing gave him an out. He did eat it, and followed it with a second sandwich. Now he knows: He likes arugula, goat cheese, rye bread, and pumpkin seeds.
One of the other moms thought it was a great idea, letting him know that a bite didn't obligate him to eat the whole sandwich. On the one hand, I hate to waste. On the other hand, there are other kids in the house, happy to hoover up half-eaten sandwiches, so no food will go to waste. I'm okay with a kid taking one bite if it leads them to try something new. After all, I'm a non-picky adult, and sometimes, I just want to taste.
What's your favorite snack menu? And what do you think about telling a kid ahead of time that he can discard something if he doesn't like it? Is that encouraging waste or culinary experimentation? I'm on the fence.