Labour Day 2017 Labour Savers…

It’s Labour Day, the holiday that heralds the unofficial start of the new business season with one last long weekend of summer. Yesterday, I shared what may be the easiest Holiday Breakfast Bake ever. Today, I have some additional suggestions to minimize your Labour Day labours…

A Full Grill - © thecleanplater wordpress comA good start. You’d have to fill this grill several times to feed the massive family gatherings
I was used to in my youth. And you’d find a lot more Burgers and Dogs
than you would Shrimp Kabobs! Whatever the food,
it’s a great opportunity to bond…

First of all, I hope you liked the Breakfast Bake!

Next, it should go without saying that Dad’s going to grill tonight so you, Mom, can have a day off from the suppertime stove chores.

If you eat the first meal of your day late enough, you can call it Brunch and forego ‘Lunch’ altogether.

Lunch…

If you do ‘do Lunch’, I have a couple of easy, different – dare I say festive? – ideas…

First, you can place Cold Cuts of your Choice on a large 8-10 in. / 20-25 cm Flour Tortilla, top with diced Sweet peppers, a sprinkle of Hot Pepper (if you wish), and chopped Scallions. Top off with a generous sprinkle of Cheddar or Swiss Cheese. Roll it up into a wrap or Burrito and Microwave for 45-60 seconds, until the ingredients are all hot and aromatic, and the Cheese has melted. An even better idea is to provide a selection of toppings and meats on a buffet sort of ‘bar’ and let folks – even the kids – dress their own tortillas. There will be a line-up at the Microwave, but that’s a good opportunity to get caught up on everybody else’s news…

Another way to go is Waffles or Pancakes. Just mix up a big batch of your favourite batter and get your griddle or iron up to heat. Better yet, get someone else to flip the Flap-jacks and wiffle the Waffles. Tom Sawyer had the right idea. Just tell them its an honour and a privilege, and folks you never thought would lift a finger will be lining up to run the Waffle iron. Provide a selection of toppings, Syrups and Fresh Fruits and let ’em at it.

Supper…

At supper time, Dad or someone else with the necessary skills will BBQ. It’s a great time for the guys to get together around the grill and shoot he bull. And get them out of your hair.

Inside, you can direct others (but not expend any actual labour of your own) in making one or two easy salads. Younger folks (12 and up) can be enticed to help grate Cabbage, Fennel and Carrots for Slaw. Dress with the Vinaigrette or Creamy Dressing of your choice. A nice Italian Panzanella Salad, with lightly toasted Bread Cubes, Tomatoes, Mozz, Herbs and lots of lovely Extra Virgin Olive Oil, makes a great complement to the Slaw and will remind folks of the last rays of summer sunshine.

Dessert can be something like a Sundae Bar, with two or three flavours of Ice Cream and a variety of Toppings. Again, folks serve themselves. You can also do an array of Squares and other ‘small cakes’. Sorry about the late notice, but I usually get mine from a little bakery a few blocks away. Pumpkin Spice Cake, Banana Bread, Nanaimo Bars, Date Squares…. You know the drill. If you can’t swing the bought-ins this time around, ’cause everything is closed for the holiday, you can still keep the idea in your back pocket for the net big Family Holiday.

Other opportunities…

I have a neighbour who defaults to a Pizza Party for Family Gatherings that don’t have a traditional menu attached. I’ve never talked to him about it. I just noticed that he puts out about eight Large-size Pizza boxes for recycling after most holiday.

You can also do the Rotisserie Chicken thing, letting the Supermarket Deli do all the roasting, and grab some prepared Salads while you’re there. And, of course, there’s the KFC option, but I don’t consider that  fare Festive enough for a big Family Event.

If you’re flush with cash and lacking in kitchen skills, you can always order in an entire catered supper. It’s fancy and yummy and elegant enough to impress any finicky Family Member. But this option, like the others in this category, provides little opportunity for the family interaction that the preparation and presentation of a scratch meal usually offers. And for me, that’s a big part of every Family Get Together.

One last touch…

My paternal Grandmother had a great tradition that went along with Christmas Dinner at her house. While Granddad and ‘his boys’ retired to the basement for Cigars and Rye, Granny and ‘her girls’ cleared away the table, put away the leftovers and washed the dishes. “Many hands make light work,” was of Granny’s favourite maxims. And daughters-in-law bonded with Granny and her own daughters in way that would not have been possible without the ritual. When granddaughters became teenagers, Granny made it clear that we were to join the kitchen brigade. It was a major rite of passage and, when everything was clean and the leftovers put away, and the good china was safely back in the hutch, Granny made a ceremony of presenting each of us with a new apron, which she had sewed herself. That was to last us ’til next Christmas and remind us of her whenever we did anything in the kitchen.

You may not be a sewing whiz, but you can create a tradition that brings people together like Granny’s after-dinner ritual. Each big Family Gathering is an opportunity to make your family stronger and counteract the divisive influences of technology and media in our lives. Granted, Granny’s ‘Apron’ tradition was a relic of her generation, as was Granddad’s ‘Cigars and Rye’ ritual. But we have lots of opportunities to bring our families closer together simply by getting everyone to participate in the preparation of the food we all share. ‘Breaking Bread’ together has always been, and will always be, the most uniting ritual in human society. Put it to work for you and your family!

~ Maggie J.

Posted under: Chef Secrets, Festive Side Dishes, Food Tips

Comments are closed.