Strega Nona Entertaining: Conjuring Creative Fun

From recipes to rituals, I will kindly divine the perfect celebration for you!

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It's a Spring Fling Thing

Spring should be a time of flights of fancy. Keep with the vibe of the season and hold a light and high-spirited dinner party for six to eight of your closest. Invite people to wear "welcome spring" accessories– whatever that may mean to them. This could range from a flower demurely tucked behind one's ear to a full on toga. Nudge people not to be bashful with this. If you want to keep things carefree, why not create less work for yourself playing host or hostess? Nothing says less work like a potluck, fey folk. I for one start to crave healthier eating at this time of year like nobody's business. Make it a salad dish to pass theme. Assign some greens, some pastas, and fruits for dessert so that you don't wind up with too much of the same kind. You can provide this naughty and nice low-cal deviled eggs recipe for an appetizer:

DEVILED EGGS WITH PICKLED ONIONS (Fry, 2013)

8 large eggs

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

2 tablespoons plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons canola mayonnaise

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon Sriacha (hot chile sauce, such as Huy Fong) or hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons finely chopped chives

Add water to a large saucepan to a depth of 1 inch; set a large vegetable steamer in pan. Add eggs to steamer. Bring water to a boil over medium-high heat. Steam eggs, covered, 16 minutes. Remove from heat. Place eggs in a large ice water-filled bowl for 3 minutes.

While eggs steam,combine 1/4 cup water, vinegar, and sugar in a medium microwave-safe bowl; microwave at HIGH 2 minutes or until boiling. Stir in the onion. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes. Drain.

Combine yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard, Sriacha, pepper, and salt in medium bowl, stirring well to combine.

Peel eggs; discard shells. Slice eggs in half lengthwise. Add 6 yolks to yogurt mixture; reserve remaining yolks for another use. Mash with a fork until very smooth. Stir in 2 tablespoons red onion. Spoon mixture into egg white halves (about 1 tablespoon in each half). Garnish egg halves with remaining red onion and chives. At a mere 76 calories for 2 halves, these eggs can't be beat. Hey, I had to fit in some eggs for the Ostara theme somewhere!

For some zingy beverages serve a good Pinot Grigio, such as Cono Sur Bicicleta from Chile. As a non-alcoholic alternative, opt for some nice Poland Spring Sparkling Mandarin Orange Essence Natural Spring Water on ice. Add a splash of R.W. Knudsen Cranberry Nectar, garnish with a lime slice, and voilà! Instant non-toxic cocktail.

Put a tap in your guests' toes by playing some background music of the Celtic variety or gypsy jazz. Essentially, anything with a good fiddle in it. An excellent gypsy jazz recording of last year was, "Walking Home," by The Gonzalo Bergara Quartet.

Spruce up the buffet table with pretty white linen and a centerpiece: Fill a low and shallow glass bowl or vase two-thirds with colorful citrus fruits and half full of water. Then anchor echos of color with fresh spring flowers on top. Think greens, whites, lemons, purples, and pinks. There is a wonderful example of this in Williams-Sonoma Entertaining, (Dolese and Siegelman, 2004) on pages 26 and 27. 

Before the meal, light a green candle at the buffet table and  join hands with each other in a circle. Lead an invitation to Artemis to bless your individual goals that you will plant and make fertile this year. Close your eyes and picture these coming to fruition. Ground, give thanks, and enjoy your feast. 

Make cute party favors for everyone to take home with them, too. Cut up several small pieces of white cloth or burlap and place three seeds inside to represent the Triple Goddess. Larkspur is a good early spring choice which can also be started indoors, according to bhg.com. Tie seed bags closed with a yellow or green piece of ribbon or string. Everyone can then plant these seeds as symbols of the goals that they meditated on before the meal.

References:

"Yellow Flowers Bloom In Spring," photo by twobee, from freedigitalphotos.net

"Deviled Eggs with Pickled Onions," Fry, Sidney, MS, RD, (2013, April). Cooking Light magazine, 32 - 35.

Dolese, George and Siegelman, Steve,  2004, Williams-Sonoma Entertaining, Menlo Park, CA, Oxmoor House books and San Francisco, CA, Weldon Owen Inc. 

 

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Colleen DuVall has written articles, plays, short films, and a novel. Most recently, her work was featured in Crone Magazine and the Marquette Journal online. She resides with a black cat named Bootsie, who always wants to keep her company at her computer.

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