My daughter Lydia turned 21 last month, but since she's been away at UF, we didn't celebrate as a family until Saturday. There were only 15 of us, since one daughter's family was out of town. I loved holding my newest grandchild, Lyla, who is only a month old.
I had decided on a brunch menu, especially since I'd seen a recipe for Earl Grey Poached Pears in Southern Lady magazine. Then one of my other daughters reminded me that Lydia doesn't really like tea, so I left the Earl Grey out and made a caramel sauce. I halved ten Anjou pears and cored them with a melon ball tool, which made nice neat curves. Then I cooked the pears in about five cups of water with a half cup of honey, a half cup of white sugar, and several hearty dashes of ground cinnamon and ginger. When the pears were soft, I took them out and arranged them in a large serving bowl. I poured about a cup or two of the cooking liquid into a smaller pan, and whisked in about a half cup of caramel sauce. Then I simmered it until it was thick enough to pour over the warm pears. Yum. I added Earl Grey tea to the remaining cooking liquid to drink later.
I also fixed up some homemade waffles, which we served with caramel sauce, chocolate chips, whipped cream, strawberries, and syrup for topping choices.
The main dishes were a sausage & egg casserole and chicken apple sausage links. I also made a smaller casserole without sausage for a vegetarian daughter. Then my daughter Julia brought Cracker Barrel style hash browns.
We also enjoyed two bottles of sparkling juice from IKEA (ligonberry & apple and pomegranate & apple), as well as some orange juice. Quite enough food for all of us, and then some!
Can I be honest? I wanted everything to look pretty and taste delicious for my family. Unfortunately, little frustrations added up and not everything got done the way I wanted, or even at all. I overcooked the casserole (and most of it is leftover in the fridge), we never did slice the fresh pineapple, and I spilled the salt and pepper when I was trying to pour them into the cute little pumpkin shakers. My beautiful new autumn table cloth apparently shrank when I washed it the first time and was several inches too short for the table. It was also wrinkled when I took it out of the drawer, and I didn't have time to iron it. The vacuum cleaner wasn't working, which left the living room floor a mess, but I didn't find that out until everyone had congregated in there. A few of the kids weren't as eager or quick to help as I would have hoped, though they did do most of what I asked. I barely had time to take a shower. It's a good thing everyone else was running late! Then when we were finally serving the food and sitting down to eat, I found a wet bath towel on a side table in the dining room.
It was the last straw. I snapped. I had to leave the room to even try to regain my composure, with the help of one of my daughters. I think I was over tired and had a lot else on my mind in addition to my unrealistic expectations, but that wasn't an excuse to take it out on others. I had a good chat with one of my sons that evening, and he was quite understanding and helpful in talking it out with me. I did apologize to everyone at the time and also later in a Facebook message. Always good to know they still love me!
So anyway, there's that. Something to think about as I plan for Thanksgiving. The people and the warmth of hospitality are more important than the food and decorations.
At any rate, the pears were great. I'll hang onto that memory and definitely try that one again.
Grace and peace,
This post is part of my Autumn Grace 2015 series.