Spring is the time to start fresh, toss out old habits, and add some pizzazz to your routine. But without some effort, it’s easy to revert to the mundane. When I come home at 6 pm and haven’t even begun to think about dinner, I’m not thinking stylish, I’m in survival mode.
I know it’s time to come up with something new when my kids say “Noooo, not chicken cutlets again!” The other night, I tried making my weekly standby with crumbs from brown rice cakes instead of Challah bread, and from the raves I got, you would have thought I invented a cure for homework!
Flair comes from the unexpected and, with a little inspiration, you can add a dash to every meal. Remember the first time you were at a cocktail party and someone served you an adorable hors d’oeuvre in a Chinese soup spoon? (Okay, maybe you weren’t as tickled as I was.)
Flair doesn’t mean fancy. It can be as simple as serving cold soup in juice glasses instead of bowls (see the cute photo above), or pouring a refreshing new beverage (try my Pomegranate-Mint Mojitos or Melon Agua Fresca from Summertime Anytime). The more chilled you are as a cook and host, the more fun you can have adding touches of flair to your table.
I make chicken soup just about every week, but each time I toss in something new: lemon grass, cilantro and ginger; roasted chiles, tomatoes and tortillas; coconut milk, fish sauce and lime juice. Some brews go over better than others, but I least I don’t bore myself (and my family) to tears.
Next time you go to the market, try bringing your kids or spouse along. They are bound to throw something into the cart that you wouldn’t ordinarily buy. I love letting my kids loose in the produce department and letting them try anything they desire (of course, this can be risky in the snack aisle!). That is how I added broccoflower (adorable name), Jerusalem artichokes (“Are they holy?”), pee wee potatoes and purple carrots to my repertoire.
On the other hand, some routines are worth keeping, such as family dinners (make them mandatory at least four nights a week), lazy Sunday breakfasts, and holiday gatherings. But with a few small changes to your ritual, you will feel like Spring has sprung, even if chicken cutlets are on the menu again.
Ambience is important when entertaining. Learn Eight Ways to Decorate a Glass Hurricane.