Honey has a friend/former-co-worker– let’s call her Belle– who just got a job at a new company. Also a promotion. Also, she is now directly on her desired career path. This is a fantastic news! The unfortunate part is that she moved to Los Angeles less than a year ago, and all of her family is out of state. Anyone who has ever moved to LA knows just exactly how much of a bitch it is to make friends out here. The place is so spread out. There’s so much to do. And everyone already HAS friends. Angeleno-transplants know this pain. While I know Belle has a couple of friends through work, I wasn’t sure if she had any on the outside yet– you know, someone local to help her raise a glass in celebration of her successes.
So we decided that she needed a proper celebration. But due to timing restrictions on both her part and ours, we realized that it would be easiest for everyone involved for us to get together in the middle of the week, rather than on a weekend. Which meant Planning.
I had grand plans. OMG! The plans I had. I’m learning, though, that part of hosting is knowing your limits, not only financially, but also energetically. The reality is that Honey and I both work full-time. In addition, I had managed to get glutened at the end of the week before, which severely affected my sleep patterns, and thus my ability to handle even simple tasks. So. Grand plans had to make way for practical plans.
Since it was going to be in the middle of the week, I knew better than to try to make something from scratch that night. HAHAHAHAHA-no. Hurray for crockpots! I made my favorite “roasted” chicken with veggies in a crockpot, so all the work for that was taken care of the night before. Just pop the crock in the heating element in the morning, set the timer, and come home to the Most Delicious Smelling House Ever.
Using the breadin5.com technique, I had some bread dough left over from when I made cinnamon rolls over the weekend. The original plan involved using that to have some fresh baked bread for Belle’s dinner. On second look, though, I realized while the dough was mostly ready and required almost no hands-on time, it still required about 2 hours, between all the resting and the baking and the cooling. Which meant *sigh* homemade bread was out. In my last post, I also talked about wanting to make a pie. I had even researched how to make it ahead of time, freeze it, and bake it straight from the freezer. I was so excited. And then not even the pie happened. >:(
By the time I got home from work on Wednesday night, I was in a panic. I wanted to be able to provide something baked, because I love to bake, and I wanted to share that with Belle as part of her celebration. But the pie was out and the bread was out… and I was quickly getting cranky. In order to have a starch for the dinner — chicken and veg is great when you’re on the Paleo diet, but most of America isn’t, and therefore expects a starch at dinner — I made rice. Thank goodness for rice cookers! Just like with a crock pot, you can dump it and forget it. SO MUCH EASIER.
But I still wanted to bake. >:(
Then I remembered my cake book! (I have a pie book and a cake book, you see.) Flipping through the cake book, I realized I could mix up the cake before Belle arrived, bake it while we were chatting and eating, and by the time we were ready for dessert, it would be cool. I decided on a bundt cake, since a) the pan makes it already pretty, so I wouldn’t have to do a fancy frosting and b) it’s less work than a layer cake. Flipping through, I found a recipe for an Applesauce cake. Hee hee! By the time Honey got back from walking the dogs– which we usually do together, but that night I was in full Go For Hosting Mode– it was mostly ready for the oven.
Honey! When you’re done unleashing the dogs, can you come here and hold the cookbook up to my face, since I stupidly left it on the other side of the kitchen?! I need to check how much longer I need to mix this thing! …You’re a godsend. Oh, good. I’m done.
I threw it in the oven, and had just enough time to think that maybe we should, like, set the table or something, then actually set the table, and then stand there for a moment, wondering if she was going to show up after all. Not because she was late– she wasn’t– but because I have stupid questions in my head every, single time I host anything from a lunch to a full-on party. Will anyone show up? Did I do all of this work for nothing? What if they don’t like the food? And really, what IS the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
Luckily, before I got too-too stupid, the doorbell rang, the dogs barked their fool-heads off, and finally! Belle was here. She even brought flowers. Awww! 🙂
We all had a fantastic evening. Belle was thrilled to get to have a celebration, and as a single YL, I think she was pleased to have a home-cooked meal. (I remember living alone. “Cooking” was what I called nuking a frozen dinner, because why bother with the fuss if it’s just for me?) We talked all evening– about our aspirations– career-wise and other-wise, about moving (she has to move before her commute kills her, which is why weekends were bad), and about the differences between life in LA and life in the South, as you do. And around that, I did cake. >:)
I rocked the cake. I did. It was awesome. And gluten free. And then stupidly, I forgot to send any home with Belle. Ah, well. I’m still working on honing my hosting skills. I’ll get there someday.
And then it was time to go home, which was much easier for Honey and me than for Belle– she still had driving ahead of her. But we all parted with full and happy bellies, and hopes to see each other again soon.
Wanna know what we had?
Starters: Cheese plate with some summer sausage. And jelly beans, because yes.
Wine: I’m not telling. I know too many wine people who would keel over in agony if I said what we had, and the fact of the matter is, all of us with our simple palates enjoyed it. If you must know: it was a California Pinot Grigio. There. Now you can fill in the blanks with whatever makes you happy.
Company’s Coming Chicken, AKA Whole Chicken in a Slow Cooker. Seriously, this is my Go To recipe. We love it!
Veggies – carrots, celery, kale, fennel– no garlic on hand, so I left it out
Cal Rose rice, because I adore Asian sticky rice
Dessert: Applesauce Bundt Cake from The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten Free by Anne Byrn (pg. 120) with cream cheese frosting
I made a couple of tweaks and fixes, according to what I had on hand, but this is (mostly) her recipe in my words.
- Baker's Quick Release
- Some Cinnamon Sugar
- 15 oz yellow gf cake mix - I weighed 15 oz of Pamela's Vanilla Cake Mix
- 1/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
- 1 cup chunky applesauce - I didn't have any, so I used regular, unsweetened
- 1/3 cup oil - I used Canola Oil
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- Dash of ground nutmeg - maybe I used a "heaping" dash
- 4 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract - I probably used more, knowing me
- 1/8 teaspoon salt - just a pinch!
Mix this way:
- Preheat oven to 350F. Place rack in center of oven if it's not already there. Apply a thin coat of Quick Release to bundt pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, enough for it to stick; shake off extra.
- Dump the cake mix, brown sugar, applesauce, oil, eggs, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Mix - using a handmixer, go for about 2 minutes. Remember to scrape down the sides of the bowl at some point. (I guess this bit is for people who don't bake often? ALWAYS scrape down the sides of your bowl. Mix all that stuff in!) Pour batter into pan, and put the pan in the oven. Or, if you're like me, realize that while you set the temperature on the oven for 350F, you forgot to tell it to GO, so preheat your oven now, letting the batter sit on the counter while you wait.
- Bake until golden brown and the top springs back when lightly pressed with a finger, 35-40 minutes. (Mine took 40, but it varies for a lot of reasons. Touch is the best indicator). Transfer pan to wire rack and cool for 10 minutes or so. After preliminary cooling, place presentation plate on top of pan, and invert it. It should pop right out, thanks to the Quick Release. (OMG! I love that stuff!)
- Time for icing! Cake Mix Doctor recommends apple vinegar icing, but I had some extra cream cheese frosting on hand from the cinnamon rolls a few days ago, so I used that. Cream all the icing ingredients together, until smooth. It's pretty easy. Spread as much or as little as you like along the top, but remember that a little goes a long way. Allow the cake to finish cooling on the plate.
- Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and enjoy!
- “I was going to ask if this was gluten free, because this is too good to be, but you’re eating it.”
- “This was the best thing you’ve made, hands down, since you started gluten free baking.”
- “OMG! I rock!”
Yeah. It’s that good. 🙂 I feel like a real baker again.
2 thoughts on “The Week of Hosting: The Plan Was to Have Pie”
I sounds like your instincts were right on and it came out beautifully. I agree that knowing your limits is a huge key. Also, not being so tired that you don’t enjoy the party! It sounds like you made a wonderful (and good tasting) dinner and created a space for celebration! I am sure your guest felt the same warm welcome I always feel at your house.
BTW, I looked at the recipe which looks great. I also clicked through to another one for Lemon Pepper Roast Chicken that also looks great. We are having an over-night guest on Wednesday night (one of my former students on her way to a retreat). So, if you haven’t made that one yet, I’ll let you know how it comes out! Thanks.
I haven’t made that one yet! Do let me know. I was just thinking all of our friends have had this and I need a new go-to recipe. LOL!
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