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  • CookOrDie last Saturday: Decadent Dessert party

The economics of entertaining at home

Last Saturday, we hosted a dinner party at our house. There were eight people, including me and W-. For starters, we served broccoli and cauliflower crudites with blue cheese dip and home-made hummus. For the main course, we served vegetarian chili and chicken curry, accompanied by naan bread and basmati rice. People brought dessert: halva, chocolates, sesame snacks, buns, and all sorts of assorted goodies. The party went from 7:00 to 11:30 or so, and we had tons of fun chatting about storytelling, university advice, and whatever else came to mind. After the party, we had a week of leftovers to feast on. I estimate that we ate just a third of the food prepared.

Ingredients bought for the party: $52.81 total
Home ingredients used: Approximately $10 (one pack of chickpeas, half a pack of black beans, half a pack of red beans, three packs of curry paste, assorted spices)
Estimated cost of party: ~$63 / 3 (as we only ate a third of the food available) = ~$21 total, or ~$3 each

plus the cost of whatever desserts people shared, of which we probably ate a fifth. Maybe a total of $4 each, for the whole meal + desserts?

I don’t think you can find a restaurant in Toronto where people can eat such a spread for $4, or stay for so long and chat with such ease without the waiters trying to drop hints about freeing up tables. ;) Nor could you find a restaurant with such friendly cats, I think – Luke was _such_ a charmer, immediately identifying the cat fans and climbing onto their laps for a good purr.

I traded time for these savings, of course, but not as much time as one might expect. Pre-cooking the beans using a pressure cooker took up most of my Friday evening, which was a good time to relax and unwind. Chopping everything up for all the meals took an hour, and cooking both the chili and the curry took another hour and a half – during which I was learning more about cooking, thinking about what was going on in the week, and planning what I wanted to do next. (And listening to bouncy Japanese pop songs…) Time well spent.

And the conversation and company? Priceless.

If we had more chairs, or found some way to squeeze more people into the house (in an elegant way that doesn’t mean some people are privileged enough to sit at the table while everyone else just stands around ;) ),I can easily scale up. It seems that the time and money I spent on the get-together could scale up to 24 people, and even more if we decided to make it a well-organized pot-luck get-together.

What would this house look like with 24 people in it? Where would people sit? How would we deal with the coats and shoes? Someday I’ll figure that out. =)

Tonight I’m attending a dinner get-together for recent hires in my department. The pre-set menu is $30 per person. Now that I look at that sum, I’m thinking, “I could host a quite a dinner party for that amount!” ;)

CookOrDie last Saturday: Decadent Dessert party

I confess: I threw a dessert party just to have an excuse to bake more
brownies.

You see, I’m a social chocolate eater. Knowing it to be one of my
weaknesses, I try not to have chocolate unless I have company. And as
9×13 pans result in a _lot_ of brownies, I absolutely must have
friends over if I’m going to even think of baking.

So I did. Dan Howard, Quinn Fung and Jedediah Smith came over. We had this absolutely
decadent dessert: freshly-baked double-chocolate brownies topped with
French vanilla ice cream and hot fudge bought especially for the occasion.

As a concession to healthy eating, we followed it with pineapple
chunks and loose-leaf green tea. (I’ve graduated to loose-leaf tea!
With a tea ball! Proper.)

Now _that’s_ a terrific way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Proper.

Kelly blogged about brownie sundaes. I _so_ want to have a Sundae Sunday now, complete with whipped cream and a light dusting of chocolate shavings or almond slivers or toasted rice or _something_ equally indulgent…

Life is so much better when you know how to make dessert.

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