It’s Never Too Early For Holiday Planning
This is one of my favorite posts as it relates to holiday planning for family gatherings and/or special celebrations. My childhood holidays were always spent together with 5 generations of family.
Those were the days in the ’50s and ’60s. There were no stores near by, and on great grandma’s farm there were no phone lines installed at that time. Oh My Gosh, imagine today without a phone?#%!!! As a result, I grew up learning to be prepared.
These days we can order our everyday groceries to be delivered right to our door. On holidays we can pre-order recipes that are are ready to serve. Oh, don’t forget there’s the best bakery in town where we can order everyones’ favorite dessert to be prepared. At times, this is a huge help and I will admit I have occasionally pre-ordered a dish or two over the years.
Now that I’m retired, life has not slowed down. It’s often hectic and I’m often over-scheduled. Just sayin’ that most everyone with a family or those who work full time might have a few ‘road blocks’ trying to plan ahead. So the first TIP here is the earlier you start planning the easier everything you need to do will magically fall into place.
We all, at some point, have been caught up in the ‘running on empty’ train. So let’s get started. There are no worries when you have the opportunity to plan ahead.
There are many who do not celebrate holidays but may still be entertaining friends and family for one reason or another. Planning ahead can be a great time-saver so I like to have the basics already in my pantry and ready for the unexpected.
This week I’m starting with my grocery list. Writing down the items you need is extremely helpful as well as a time saver. Even when planning for an easy cheese plate. Of course, we all have our favorites though sometimes the occasion may call for offering additional varieties. My family likes the usual, most familiar types of cheeses. So that is what I add to a plater. I’ll add fresh grapes and grape tomatoes along with a few crackers. Always an easy appetizer or starter for any gathering or menu planning.
The next favorite appetizer that is easy to make in advance is this delicious Roasted Olive Appetizer. This is a very easy recipe. Spread the olives on one large sheet pan, season, and then into the oven to roast. A recipe that is so easy and also a delicious appetizer to serve for any occasion.
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Next would be planning for wine and drinks. Not everyone drinks wine, nor is wine mandatory. However if you are planning to serve wine with your appetizers here is a little information that you might find helpful.
It is helpful to know the different types of cheese when pairing it with wine. Listed below are a few popular cheeses that are locally available in most markets.
- soft cheeses, usually creamy and have a soft rind — such as camembert, brie, tallegio, robiola
- aged hard cheeses, usually sharp and/or salty — cheddar, gruyere, parmesan
- pungent cheeses, usually salty — blue cheese, gorgonzola, stilton
- fresh cheeses, usually mild or tangy — such as ricotta, mozzarella, goat cheese, feta and burrata.
To find a wine to go with cheese selections can be daunting. Most often we choose to eat our favorite cheeses and the same goes for drinking our favorite wine. This works for those who enjoy their favorites. Believe me, I know this is true since grampy never complains if he’s drinking his favorite wine.
For the basic rule on pairing wines with our food it’s a good idea to start with choosing the wine and cheese/food from the same region. If you enjoy a strong parmesan cheese try an Italian Chianti or a Sangiovese, which is also the name of the grape used for making Chianti, as a starting point.
Another basic wine and cheese pairing rule is to choose a red wine with higher tannins (Cabernet Sauvignon) to go with hard cheese like cheddar. For soft cheeses like brie a white wine with more acidity (Chardonnay) can be a good place to start.
Saltier blue cheeses or gorgonzola will be well paired with a sweeter style wine such as a Port. Wine experts consider this is a classic pairing. For additional white wine pairings with salty cheeses try a Sauterne, a sweet Riesling or Moscato d’Asti.
This may seem more confusing than it needs to be if you are new to wine pairings. No worries, just keep it really simple. Choose the cheeses you enjoy and will be serving. When you shop for the wines do not hesitate to ask the salesperson in the wine shop to guide you. They are always very helpful and will guide you in the right direction.