Thursday, February 23, 2012

make meals more enjoyable, without spending more

It's wonderful to enjoy a meal al fresco whenever beautiful weather permits it.

There are a myriad of easy ways to become slightly more creative, artistic, and thoughtful in your meals that can greatly increase your (and your guests') enjoyment of them.  These are just a few very simple ideas that come to mind: 

-Use the nice dishes or silverware that you probably have stored somewhere and probably never use.  Any particular day that you happen to be alive is a special occasion.

-In the evening, especially in the darkest winter months, use candles.  In the summer, or whenever the weather permits, dine al fresco!  This is always my favorite place to eat, and whenever I can eat my meal outside, I do.

-Enjoy setting the table properly.  Use a tablecloth.  Enjoy the ritual of the occasion.  

-Display basic decorations for the season or holiday.  This can be as simple and natural as some small pumpkins and maize displayed in fall, a fresh bowl of seasonal fruit (in any season), some flowers clipped from the yard and displayed in an old jar in spring, etc.

-Be creative and try cooking something new, something you've never tried before.  It is so easy and fun to branch out and discover an unlimited array of flavors and tastes and combinations that are totally new to you.

-This may be the most important tip, and unfortunately may not be something that many of us here in the United States were taught.  Learn to eat slowly and savor it.  Put your utensil down between bites.  Actually chew your food.  Taste it.  Think about it, rather than mindlessly consume it.

-Personally, I think the best way to enjoy any meal is to use fresh herbs, fruit, or vegetables from your own garden-- there is nothing more satisfying than that.  It can be as easily done as growing a couple of potted herbs in your windowsill.  The two I use the most are parsley and rosemary.

-Add a little something special that complements the meal-- a glass of chardonnay, a slice of Brie or Camembert (or whatever your cheese preferences dictate), special chocolates for dessert, etc.  Remember that all days for which you are present are special days.

-Enjoy the conversation and company.

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