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Inlaws are out of control


mtigges
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Here's the situation. My wife is the youngest of a family of eight children. There is currently a family reunion of sorts going on. Two of the brothers are here now, staying with their sister and their elderly mother. That sister and her daughter are going away on a sight seeing trip, leaving the brothers and the elderly mother to fend for themselves.

My inlaws find it intensely amusing that I do the majority of the cooking for my wife and I.

So, I invited the brothers and the mother for dinner Saturday. I can't manage anything special because 1) my wife and I are artisans and are hocking our wares all day Saturday. The earliest I can get to the kitchen is 4. 2) We're sort of in the middle of renovations, it's not that organized in our house. I was just going to get around 1.5 lamb shanks per person, braise in wine etc, and roast some veggies. I would run home while selling to start the oven (after prepping in the morning). Get home, roast the veggies, and serve family style. Easy.

It's never easy with inlaws. Her overbearing sister has invited herself and her husband and her twin daughters over as well. This is far more than can sit at our six seat table. Clearly changes are in order. It sounds like I need to grow a pair and tell them they can't come, it wasn't the point, but they invited us to their country club tonight ... neigther of us want to go. You know how it is. Clearly I do need to grow a pair.

Anyways. I need ideas for what to serve. I was thinking a huge ham. I've done that before for my divorce party. (Obviously not my current wife.) It was pretty good. People can just slice off little bits. The roast veggies are still a go. Maybe a bean salad beside it or something. I'm thinking of taking Friday off to prepare (and clean the house).

Any great ideas here? What was meant to be a simple dinner with the visiting brothers in law has turned into a stressfull brouhaha. I don't even want that family in my house, but oh well.

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Can you turn those braised lamb shanks into lamb stew instead? You could make that the night before, then reheat - or at least do the prep, and start it up on Saturday well in advance.

Another idea: keep with the 1.5 lamb shanks per person, and do the basic braising for them on Friday evening. You can get them mostly cooked, then defat the sauce, and let them rest in the refrigerator overnight. They'll be meltingly tender the next day, and the work will mostly be done. The problems I see with that are: (1) that's a lot of meat, perhaps more than you can handle (or afford) and (2) you're going to have to have people scattered around, or eating in shifts. #2 is true either way, but bowls might be easier to juggle - hence the stew idea.

The roasted vegetables sound great! Another idea, though is to do some kind of salad that can be made Friday and well chilled. I lean toward green salads, myself - they're easy and lend themselves to advance preparation.

Ham would work too, as you suggested, and the bean salad. It sounds like you have a good plan but were hoping for something a little more formal than you can manage with that many people. Is that the real problem (other than obnoxious and presumptuous in-laws :rolleyes: )?

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Here's the situation.  My wife is the youngest of a family of eight children.  There is currently a family reunion of sorts going on.  Two of the brothers are here now, staying with their sister and their elderly mother.  That sister and her daughter are going away on a sight seeing trip, leaving the brothers and the elderly mother to fend for themselves. 

My inlaws find it intensely amusing that I do the majority of the cooking for my wife and I.

So, I invited the brothers and the mother for dinner Saturday.  I can't manage anything special because 1) my wife and I are artisans and are hocking our wares all day Saturday.  The earliest I can get to the kitchen is 4. 2) We're sort of in the middle of renovations, it's not that organized in our house.  I was just going to get around 1.5 lamb shanks per person, braise in wine etc, and roast some veggies.  I would run home while selling to start the oven (after prepping in the morning).  Get home, roast the veggies, and serve family style.  Easy.

It's never easy with inlaws.  Her overbearing sister has invited herself and her husband and her twin daughters over as well.  This is far more than can sit at our six seat table.  Clearly changes are in order.  It sounds like I need to grow a pair and tell them they can't come, it wasn't the point, but they invited us to their country club tonight ... neigther of us want to go.  You know how it is.  Clearly I do need to grow a pair.

Anyways.  I need ideas for what to serve.  I was thinking a huge ham.  I've done that before for my divorce party.  (Obviously not my current wife.)  It was pretty good.  People can just slice off little bits.  The roast veggies are still a go.  Maybe a bean salad beside it or something.  I'm thinking of taking Friday off to prepare (and clean the house).

Any great ideas here?  What was meant to be a simple dinner with the visiting brothers in law has turned into a stressfull brouhaha.  I don't even want that family in my house, but oh well.

Pasta, salad, roasted vegetables, maybe some fresh fruit for dessert.

After a long day running around, the last thing you want to deal with is stress -- especially with people you'd rather not be around.

If they complain, well then, tough noogies.

You're braver and more patient than I could ever be. :wink:

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...Pasta, salad, roasted vegetables, maybe some fresh fruit for dessert.

After a long day running around, the last thing you want to deal with is stress -- especially with people you'd rather not be around.

If they complain, well then, tough noogies.

You're braver and more patient than I could ever be.  :wink:

My thoughts precisely...

Cheese: milk’s leap toward immortality – C.Fadiman

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Can you turn those braised lamb shanks into lamb stew instead?  You could make that the night before, then reheat - or at least do the prep, and start it up on Saturday well in advance.

Another idea: keep with the 1.5 lamb shanks per person, and do the basic braising for them on Friday evening.  You can get them mostly cooked, then defat the sauce, and let them rest in the refrigerator overnight.  They'll be meltingly tender the next day, and the work will mostly be done.  The problems I see with that are: (1) that's a lot of meat, perhaps more than you can handle (or afford) and (2) you're going to have to have people scattered around, or eating in shifts.  #2 is true either way, but bowls might be easier to juggle - hence the stew idea.

The roasted vegetables sound great!  Another idea, though is to do some kind of salad that can be made Friday and well chilled.  I lean toward green salads, myself - they're easy and lend themselves to advance preparation.

Ham would work too, as you suggested, and the bean salad.  It sounds like you have a good plan but were hoping for something a little more formal than you can manage with that many people.  Is that the real problem (other than obnoxious and presumptuous in-laws  :rolleyes:  )?

Actually, I like this stew A LOT. Mainly the reason I was backing away from lamb shanks, is they're something you need to sit down with with a knife and fork. And since there's going ten people (I think) and we only have room for six at our table, people will obviously be milling around. I might see about borrowing the neighbours patio table.

Anyway, the stew is great, because I can make it the night before, and shred the shanks (or at this point I will move to short ribs, they stand up better to resting and reheating), let them rest in the sieved braising liquid. Then add back some carrots, onions etc and reheat. This can be eaten with a fork alone while standing. You Smithy, are a genius!

As for the green salad, we have ten tomatoe plants, pea sprouts, and lot's of mesclun salad growing in our back yard. Even some green peppers for snap. So that one is a given.

Can anyone point me to a killer pasta salad (light on mayo please)? There's an orzo one I love, but I've brought it to too many potlucks. These relatives have had it too often.

Just writing it out and venting a bit and getting feedback has calmed me immensely. Thanks everyone.

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Can you turn those braised lamb shanks into lamb stew instead?  You could make that the night before, then reheat - or at least do the prep, and start it up on Saturday well in advance.

i think smithy's on to something here. and with a stew, you can stretch the meat with starch, if expense is an issue, by including plenty of potatoes in the stew, or serving it with mashed potatoes.

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If they complain, well then, tough noogies.

Well, we won't talk about the cryptorchidism :rolleyes: , but "what he said".

The ham sounds like too much work since you still plan a salad (bean salad does sound more than fine and can be made ahead), vegetables and a dessert. Moussaka, shepherd's pie, big lasagna… something that can be assembled in advance so that it's ready to pop into the oven while you bolt on a smile and oil your neck for that evening of nodding your head.

You can always direct the complainers to the nearest outlet for a bucket of the Colonel's finest.

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If possible, make your wife get rid of the sister, it's her side of the family after all.

That said, there are times when family is family & there's not a thing you can do about it but cope as best you can (and if you have a vengeful soul like mine deliberately include any ingredients you know she doesn't like, but the real guests do :wink: ) I agree that something like a stew or casserole is your best bet. a pan ful of mac & cheese or lasagne prepped in advance can easily be tossed in the oven while you prep a salad & dessert, serve drinks etc.

And really think about whether it is worth sacrificing a days wages to work around this woman???

Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

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And really think about whether it is worth sacrificing a days wages to work around this woman???

I have to make our in reno house some semblance of an organized home, not doing so would be infinitely more costly in the glances and veiled comments than the day of work.

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I had a similar situation come up last weekend...I was tasked with feeding 9 people dinner, and we were going to be gone all day long. The upside was that we would be on the lake all day, but the down side was that I would have to have dinner prepared quickly for 9 hungry guys in a short period of time. So I took my 7 quart slow cooker and made red beans and rice. Into the slow cooker that morning went 2 lbs of red beans, onion, green bell pepper, garlic, bay leaf, sliced smoked sausage, and diced ham. Cook on low for 8 hours.

When I got back that evening, I added seasoning (salt, pepper, red pepper, cajun seasoning, etc.) and cooked up rice in the rice steamer and baked some biscuits in the oven. Everyone loved it.

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Take-out.

Rip open the bags and let them go at it.

No matter what you make, they aren't going to appreciate the effort or have sympathy for your underlying stress.

When you say you have to grow a pair, are you referring to horns?

If you would like to acquire some sense of evil, why not make a big pot of bean soup - you can make that days in advance or even freeze - you know, something they may be reminded of when they get home later that night. You know how beans can be.

:smile:

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You don't need to grow a pair!! You need to take a deep breath and strategize how you can serve dinner to more folks than you'd planned. Clearly inviting oneself and family is well, rude, but there you go! She did it.

Best to keep the peace and get support from your eG family as it were. OK?

That said.....

Can you get a card table and some folding chairs? Have any TV trays? Hell, the kids don't need a chair :wink:

Suggestions:

Forget making dinner yourself! Have a speghetti and (pre made)meatball dinner. Throw in salad, crusty bread and a store bought cake and viola. Done.

Hell, tell the sister that while you're happy too have them (liar, liar, pants on fire), donning your best "Stepford" smile, it would be greatly appreciated in SHE brought dessert.

Or,....go to the store and pick up a spiral ham, rolls, salads, pickles, lots of alcohol(easier to do the Stepford thing) and do a buffet.

I think you're putting too much performance pressure on yourself. Buy premade and know your spouse thinks you're the greatest thing since sliced bread for putting up with the in laws.

Best of luck!!

Edited by monavano (log)
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There's always red beans and rice, a New Orleans tradition for Monday evenings. (if you have to have ham).

I wasn't thinking about a pasta salad so much as pasta with a really simple tomato sauce, fresh grated cheese or chopped herbs.

Though a stew is great. Coq au vin anyone?

Chicken, bacon, mushrooms, onions, red wine; what could be simpler? Best of all is that it takes less than an hour and a half to cook. Add noodles, a salad and dessert, and you're all set.

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....

Can anyone point me to a killer pasta salad (light on mayo please)?  There's an orzo one I love, but I've brought it to too many potlucks.  These relatives have had it too often.

...

Also with orzo, but perhaps different than what you made before. It's simple and delicous.

4 servings

1 cup orzo

2 Tbs fresh lemon juice

salt and pepper

1/4 cup + 1 Tbs olive oil

1/4 cup black olives, pitted and chopped (I like oil cured olives)

I also add some minced lemon zest and some chopped parsely.

Whisk up the dressing while the orzo is cooking. Add in the olves. Add the olive vinagrette to the orzo while it is still warm. Fold in parsley. Serve warm or at room temp.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Having had in-laws that were a real pain at times I can surely sympathize.

Seems to me the Lasagna idea would work very well if you had it ready to go in the oven. I'm assuming that there's an oven available.

I don't think anyone (except possibly the SIL) would expect you to do a seven course gourmet meal after working all day and in the midst of a renovation.

Salad, purchased rolls and dessert with, as mentioned above, plenty of wine should keep everyone happy.

Don't waste your lamb shanks. Keep for yourself and your wife to enjoy with some good wine.

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Can anyone point me to a killer pasta salad (light on mayo please)?  There's an orzo one I love, but I've brought it to too many potlucks.  These relatives have had it too often.

How about just buttered/olive oiled egg noodles to go with/under the stew, and then you have your fresh veggie salad?

It's getting nice and crisp in the evenings, stew sounds good.

Deborah and I are on the same wavelength. Just lube the pasta with some olive oil add a sprinkling of parsley and/or whatever herbs you put in the stew. That will go perfectly with the stew, if a kid is food phobic and only eats plain pasta, there you go. Salad & bread and the veggies are in the stew. Sounds good to me. You can even make pasta like this the day before. Put it in a ziploc bag in the fridge and drizzle in the oil, salt, herbs. Squish around to distribute. It'll reheat fine in the microwave the following evening. I'd suggest bow-ties, penne, or (mezze)rigatoni as the pasta. They should stand up to pre-cooking and reheating and will go well with a stew.

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If your yard is free of debris from the construction, let the kids have a picnic outside. If they are like my kids I'm sure they'd rather be away from the grown-ups anyway. They could also picnic inside. Heck, if it is warm enough let everyone have a picnic. Much easier clean up and then you can pick a spot that suits.

I'd keep the stew, make (buy) interesting rolls, same salad, and the roasted veggies. If you still need a starch, how about the kind of polenta (or grits) that you cook before, pour into a baking sheet to cool and solidify? The next day you cut into triangles (ok - I am not describing this well at all- I'm referring to the solid, cake preparation) and reheat. I've done polenta with mushrooms and stew spooned over it like this and it is easy and well received.

In-laws are a pain. You could call your sil and ask her to bring dessert. That way she is taking care of something and will be less apt to complain. At least this works for my sil. One time we were having a party for my brother-in-law and his wife. I called all the family and left messages asking them to please call me and let me know if they were coming so I could get the right amount of food (big family and I wanted to serve beef tenderloin). So, said sil not only didn't rsvp but also brought two extra teenage boys with her. Fortunately I always overbuy, but we had NO leftovers. Then she had the audacity to tell me she didn't like one of the things I had prepared. She hasn't been invited over since.

Good luck with everything and let us know how it turns out.

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For the record, the seven siblings of my wife are 4 sisters, then three brothers. Then my wife. Consequently the SIL who wants to bring her twin daughters is sufficiently old that the daughters are university aged. I don't have to worry about young children. Moreover, I am doing the reno myself, and the largest jobs are done. For instance, the baseboards in the kitchen are done, but no paint, backsplash isn't done yet either. So it's not a construction zone, just not really a home yet. And since we don't like children, we don't have any, hence the backyard is basically a produce production zone - no picnicing.

Thanks so much for all the suggestions. It's very helpful to come here and bounce my thoughts off others. I think I will definitely go with short ribs braised on friday. Shredded into a ghoulash served over egg noodles. My in-laws are cantonese and do not eat too many potatoes, so the egg noodles is a fantastic idea. I might make spaetzle, but I'm just not sure I want to deal with the gooey mess after working a farmers market all day. A big green salad to go with it, and a pasta salad or bean salad prepared the day before will complete.

I'm personally against inviting people over and serving them takeout. The whole point, and I was happy to do it, was to feed my two brothers in law, and my mother in law. It just got a little out of hand.

I might mention casually to my wife that it would be nice if someone brought dessert!

I will definitely check in and let you all know if I survive.

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