I subscribe to the Nike school of thought when it comes to entertaining:Just Do It. Or Just Send Out An Email, and by hitting send you’ve instantaneously committed yourself to having people show up at your door, and you’ll figure it out, and everyone will have a great time even though you haven’t managed to tidy up the dust and dog hair rhinos that have collected in every corner and on the sides of each hardwood stair. Because really, no one cares about that stuff. And I’m convinced that everyone else will feel a little bit better about themselves if they see what a disaster my house is.
The point is, if you wait until you have time, or worry about schedules and menu planning and all the things that might stress you out about having people over, it might never happen. So although I should have been working on my manuscript today, I knew much of the neighbourhood would be out chipping in for the community clean-up, and would be hungry afterward. And isn’t life all about the people in it? Isn’t this the important stuff? Says the girl who is neglecting all her friends equally.
And so a few days ago I sent an email telling everyone to come over this afternoon for a bit of a barbecue. As it turned out, the temperature hovered around ZERO all day. We woke up to wet snow, and it came down until around dinnertime. By mid-afternoon we were all wet, cold and tired, having spent hours pitching in to give the community its spring cleaning. My sister suggested that instead of the barbecue, I throw a big pot of chili on the stove, and fill the oven with baked potatoes. I did. To bake a potato: wash it, poke it with a fork and bake right on the oven rack -you don’t need to wrap it in foil- at 350F for about an hour, depending on its size. It’s easy to tuck a few potatoes in the oven along with whatever else is baking, regardless of whether or not you’ll be eating them right away. Leftover baked potatoes make great, fast skillet fries or hash. Today they would have come in handy tucked into our pockets, to keep our hands warm. Sheesh.
Mike made me promise not to spend much time cooking, and I didn’t. I knew we’d need something sweet, and although a big batch of cookies or brownies would have been easy enough, I wanted to streamline it even further. I had a bag of letter-shaped pretzels I had bought for the occasion, and so smashed some up and stirred them into melted chocolate chips and peanut butter, then chilled the lot and cut it into blocks. A little too addictive, but dead easy. Especially when you need something to fill that chocolate void.
Crunchy Salted Chocolate Peanut Butter Blocks
They’re a little like homemade chocolate bars – you could add chopped toasted nuts and/or dried fruit in place of the pretzels if you like, but I love their crunchiness and salt.
3 cups chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate)
1 cup peanut butter
1-2 cups small pretzels, coarsely crushed in a ziploc bag
In a medium bowl, melt the chocolate chips and peanut butter in the microwave or over a pot of simmering water, stirring until melted and smooth. Stir in the pretzels and pour into an 8″ or 9″ square pan. Chill in the fridge until set. Let sit at room temperature for a bit to make them easier to cut into bars or blocks. Makes lots.
I picked up an orange pound cake from Rustic Sourdough Bakery on 17th Ave. Love the domed oval shape. W loves the little candy orange wedge on top.
Cathy made tiny potato, bacon and cheese frittatas that we ate like popcorn, and Jenn baked bread. And taught me how to take the top off a cupcake, then flip it upside down to sandwich the icing inside.
Altogether too much carb loading, and only one of us is running a marathon tomorrow. (Not me.) But we had lots of laughs around the kitchen table, and no one even mentioned the dust and dog hair rhinos.