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Supplies for Houseguests


bavila
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My parents will be visiting this week, and as is our habit when we visit one another, she sent a shopping list of foods and beverages they would like to have on hand -- all items we don't normally have on hand.

Milk--we use skim, but we can certain use 1% or 2%, whichever is simpler for you.  We can drink whatever you use, except not whole milk.

Soy milk, half gallon will suffice for the week.  Get Light, Plain (not vanilla).

Post Shredded Wheat-n-Bran

Kellogg's All Bran

You can wait for the following until the next shopping trip after we arrive:

Low- or non-fat cottage cheese.  24 oz.

Yogurt, low calorie.  We like almost any fruit flavor, but Daddy doesn't care for plain

Prunes ( They have been promoted to the title of "Dried Plums" )

We'll also get bagels, which we don't usually keep in the house (a treat for Louisianians who don't have any decent bagel options -- yes, I know, they still won't be NY bagels...). And decaf coffee. Blech.

I kind of laugh at the length and specificity of my mom's list. But my parents are both in their 70s, and need their fiber. And I want them to be comfortable when they visit.

On the other hand, when we visit my sister, we always have to go out for coffee because her only coffee offering is instant, since she and her hubby don't drink it, and they have no coffee pot of any kind. This drives me completely insane. IMO, coffee is such a ubiquitous staple of a gracious household, I can't imagine why one wouldn't have SOME way to make a cup. I've taken to bringing my own french press when we visit.

So what do you expect when you are a houseguest? Do you ask -- or at least hope for -- certain items? What do you try to keep on hand for your guests or get especially for them?

Bridget Avila

My Blog

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I'd be pleased to get a list like that from impending house guests -- it's far preferable to the more common refusal to be specific. On the very rare occasion that we have house guests (our apartment is not particularly conducive to it, certainly not ever since we had a baby), we try to say something like "I'm going to the supermarket tomorrow morning to stock the fridge for the week. Let me know what kinds of things you like to have around." But I don't think anybody has ever responded with anything more than, "Oh, whatever, we don't want to be a burden." Please, folks, you're house guests. You're a burden already. So at least let us provide some damn hospitality.

When we find ourselves as house guests, we're happy to provide a short list if asked, and if we're not asked we just make sure to bring some stuff and get the rest of what we need when we arrive. Luckily, the average American town now has several supermarkets open 24-hours a day or close to it, so it's pretty easy to do some shopping the first morning before breakfast. Although, I can only think of one time we haven't been asked.

For me, the fun part is seeing how people interpret the list. For example, our baby loves bagels -- they're great for teething. We do live in New York, so his bagel baseline is pretty strong. We recently went to stay with our friends, his godparents, and just for kicks we put bagels on the list. I wanted to see how a Southern supermarket bakery did with bagels, but they actually did the opposite of exceeding our expectations and bought Thomas's bagels. We had to do the equivalent of pouring them out into the plant when nobody was looking.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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My parents will be visiting this week, and as is our habit when we visit one another, she sent a shopping list of foods and beverages they would like to have on hand -- all items we don't normally have on hand.
Milk--we use skim, but we can certain use 1% or 2%, whichever is simpler for you.  We can drink whatever you use, except not whole milk.

Soy milk, half gallon will suffice for the week.  Get Light, Plain (not vanilla).

Post Shredded Wheat-n-Bran

Kellogg's All Bran

You can wait for the following until the next shopping trip after we arrive:

Low- or non-fat cottage cheese.  24 oz.

Yogurt, low calorie.  We like almost any fruit flavor, but Daddy doesn't care for plain

Prunes ( They have been promoted to the title of "Dried Plums" )

We'll also get bagels, which we don't usually keep in the house (a treat for Louisianians who don't have any decent bagel options -- yes, I know, they still won't be NY bagels...). And decaf coffee. Blech.

I kind of laugh at the length and specificity of my mom's list. But my parents are both in their 70s, and need their fiber. And I want them to be comfortable when they visit.

On the other hand, when we visit my sister, we always have to go out for coffee because her only coffee offering is instant, since she and her hubby don't drink it, and they have no coffee pot of any kind. This drives me completely insane. IMO, coffee is such a ubiquitous staple of a gracious household, I can't imagine why one wouldn't have SOME way to make a cup. I've taken to bringing my own french press when we visit.

So what do you expect when you are a houseguest? Do you ask -- or at least hope for -- certain items? What do you try to keep on hand for your guests or get especially for them?

It depends on how well we know one another. I have an altered digestive system, so it is important for me to have the kind of food that makes me have good days. (Kind of like older folks' need for fiber. :biggrin: ) I'll usually just say I'd like to go to the store and pick up a few things that I need for food and then I do it. Similarly, I want our guests to feel at home enough to do that. I usually tell them what's available for eating for snacks and whatever and ask if there is anything they particularly like to have on hand. We have a little grocery quite nearby, so it is no trouble to pick up some extra things.

Re coffee: before I became a coffee drinker, I had a coffee maker but often forgot to offer coffee at dinner parties, etc. I'm sure my guests were miserable. When I visit my sister, I go out and buy fresh coffee to replace the leftovers she still has in the cupboard since my last visit -- like a year ago.

~ Lori in PA

My blog: http://inmykitcheninmylife.blogspot.com/

My egullet blog: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=89647&hl=

"Cooking is not a chore, it is a joy."

- Julia Child

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I ran into this last winter. Darling sis came to visit, and because she was coming to South Florida in February, I decided to treat her to a farm fresh veggie meal. Cooked half a day to have it ready when she arrived.

Long story short - she had just started her Atkins diet two days before.

:rolleyes:

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Hmmm... I like the idea of requesting a list.

My house is almost always well-stocked with coffee, tea, juice, various types of bread, a couple of types of cereal, eggs, and other typical breakfast items, and I always make sure to have tropical fruit on hand for guests. I also ask guests what they like for breakfast and whether they have any special requests in the way of food.

BUT, when we're houseguests, we don't expect anything of our hosts! After a quick perusal of the refrigerator and storage availability, our first stop is usually a grocery store or supermarket so we can buy what we want/need: milk, cereal, bread, cheese, fruit, chocolate(!), coffee or tea if the host doesn't have a type we like.

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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I've tried to let my parent know what I prefer when I visit, but it doesn't usually help. My most recent week-long visit was distinctly carnivorous. My Mom, whom I love, was born during the depression and her parents, remembering the bad times, would always serve meat to guests as a sign of love/respect/whatever. Somehow, that notion was reborn in my parents after I turned 30, or they 60 about ten years ago. Now, despite my suggestions for healthier dishes, we ate red meat at EVERY meal. Bacon or sausage for breakfast, ham/hamburgers for lunch, then steak/porkloin/lamb/hamburgers for dinner. I would say, "Mom this is too much red meat." She would reply, "it's very lean..."

My last short stay, last week, was capped off with a chicken pasta dish. Very light, very lean, very good. But just after serving everyone, she jumped up and said, "Oh, I forgot the topping" and came back a poured a quarter cup of chopped bacon bits on top of everyone's dish.

Bode

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I rarely have houseguests, and it's never for more than two or three nights, but when I know I'm going to have people over I try to make sure that I have a selection of beverages and ice. Usually I'll just have water for non alchoholic options, so I try to remember to get sodas in cans or juices. The ice thing is an issue because I don't have room in my freezer. I almost always wind up buying a bag of ice on the way home and then throwing out whatever doesn't fit in the ice bucket. Also tea. I bought a box for my MIL when she came over two years ago and it's still there basically untouched. I can't really speak to what I expect when I am a houseguest, because it just doesn't happen. The last time I stayed at someone's house I had a cold and there were no tissues and no toilet paper for the entire two days I was there. That was torture!

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We had a full house stay over one Thanksgiving. To keep it simple, we made a dish of eggs, apples, cheddar cheese and sausage in advance so it was easy to heat and serve in the morning. It was a dish we enjoyed at a B&B, so we thought it was a good idea. Wrong! :wacko: We got requests for specific brands of cereal, flavors of jams as well as white bread for toast. (We had english muffins and whole grain bread as well as a selection of preserves.) We couldn't wait for them to leave! It was much easier to serve them dinner than to get involved with anything else. Note - these were family members who only traveled 45 minutes by car, so it wasn't as though they flew or drove long distances to get here. It would have been easier to take the whole group to a diner!

KathyM

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On the other hand, when we visit my sister, we always have to go out for coffee because her only coffee offering is instant, since she and her hubby don't drink it, and they have no coffee pot of any kind.  This drives me completely insane.  IMO, coffee is such a ubiquitous staple of a gracious household, I can't imagine why one wouldn't have SOME way to make a cup.  I've taken to bringing my own french press when we visit.

That tone of that list is just hilarious. That said, the requests seem pretty normal to me, and I think it says great things about you that you go out of your way to accomodate your parents. (I LOVE that your mom calls your dad "Daddy." So adorable!)

That said, I think the rules for family houseguests, and particularly for parents staying with children and vice versa, are different. For instance, I don't think it's at all weird that my mom will call from the grocery store the week before I fly to California to ask me what I currently take in my coffee, or if I have a new favorite cereal. And I always make sure to have vodka in my freezer and Starbucks coffee (which I hate, but she loves) on hand when she visits me.

But I would never, ever feel comfortable emailing a friend a list of things I would like to have in the house upon arrival. EVER. It seems incredibly rude to me (unless they're specific, medial, dietary needs-type things) to tell your host or hostess how to prepare for your arrival.

As for the situation with your sister, I would say this: no, it's not obligatory for her to stock up on your favorite coffee or buy a coffee maker, but it would be the mark of a good hostess (or host, were husband to make the purchase). My advice on that front would be to keep bringing yours, maybe under the guise of saving money on the out-of-home coffee purchasing, and try to convert her to the good stuff. Could happen, you never know!

ETA: I think the host asking for a list is absolutely fine, and it's absolutely cool to respond with a reasonable list, but I think sending a list unprompted is over-the-top...wasn't sure if that came out in what I said above!

Edited by Megan Blocker (log)

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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We had a full house stay over one Thanksgiving.  To keep it simple, we made a dish of eggs, apples, cheddar cheese and sausage in advance so it was easy to heat and serve in the morning.  It was a dish we enjoyed at a B&B, so we thought it was a good idea.  Wrong! :wacko:  We got requests for specific brands of cereal, flavors of jams as well as white bread for toast.  (We had english muffins and whole grain bread as well as a selection of preserves.)  We couldn't wait for them to leave!  It was much easier to serve them dinner than to get involved with anything else.  Note - these were family members who only traveled 45 minutes by car, so it wasn't as though they flew or drove long distances to get here.  It would have been easier to take the whole group to a diner!

Where they probably would have eaten whatever was on the menu without grousing! lol!

I always try to find out what guests drink, because we drink mostly coffee, water and occasionally beer/wine. You can tell we are having company when I check out a couple of cases of soft drinks when I shop.

One thing I often forget is to mention that we use decaf, and before you gag, consider that no one who drinks my (fresh ground french roast) coffee has a clue about that - unless they are heavy caffeine users who develop headaches as time goes on. Often they tell me how great the coffee is. I'm trying to reform, really - particularly since there is rarely anything in the house that would give them a caffeine fix; we don't drink soft drinks at all.

I really don't give this whole caffeine thing enough thought; often when I drink coffee at a friend's place I end up so wired I'm practically non-functional by the time I get home! lol! I have resorted, when I occasionally remember, to taking a carafe of decaf with me, but this seems a bit tacky, though my friends are amused.

Lynn

Oregon, originally Montreal

Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting "holy shit! ....what a ride!"

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We had a full house stay over one Thanksgiving.  To keep it simple, we made a dish of eggs, apples, cheddar cheese and sausage in advance so it was easy to heat and serve in the morning. 

That sounds good! Got a recipe for it handy?

"Fat is money." (Per a cracklings maker shown on Dirty Jobs.)
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I'm with Megan in that parents have different rules, and I try to have stuff they like when they come (and they will bring stuff, too), and they always make sure there's whiskey when I go to stay with them.

BUT when I have someone coming to stay, I always ask what they like to eat, especially for breakfast, since I often don't eat breakfast and often don't have anything in the house remotely resembling anyone's idea of breakfast. And the most annoying thing they can possibly say is "oh, anything!" OK, then, you can have some muesli with me :hmmm:

As far as the coffee issue, bavila, I would have given my sister a coffee pot that I could use when I was there long ago! I have given french presses more than once as hostess gifts, since I am an absolute holy terror pre-caffeine.

Edited for the emoticon!

Edited by *Deborah* (log)

Agenda-free since 1966.

Foodblog: Power, Convection and Lies

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It has never occurred to me to send a list ahead, but I agree that parents are in a separate category. If I went to a house and, for example, they didn't have a cereal my kid would eat, I would pop out and buy it. I would be cooking at least one meal for the host anyway, so not hard to do. My mother and father in law are NOT adventurous eaters, so I try to make them basic stuff- roasted chicken etc. and make sure that there is Tim Hortons coffee in the house. :raz:

The sea was angry that day my friends... like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli.

George Costanza

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We had a full house stay over one Thanksgiving.  To keep it simple, we made a dish of eggs, apples, cheddar cheese and sausage in advance so it was easy to heat and serve in the morning. 

That sounds good! Got a recipe for it handy?

Found it! It's been at least 10 years since I made this, so I don't recall how it turned out or if I made any changes to the recipe. It was in a book of recipes from various B&Bs that we were giving to my sister as a gift. We had something very similar at a B&B and thought it was a great way to feed a group without too much fuss in the morning.

Harvest Overnight Casserole

2 lbs. bulk sausage

2 apples, cored & sliced

9 slices bread, crusts removed & cubed

3/4 tsp. dry mustard

9 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

3 cups milk

Lightly grease 9"x13" baking dish

Cook & crumble sausage in skillet

Drain & reserve pan drippings

Place sausage in baking dish

Saute apple slices in sausage drippings

In a bowl - combine apples, bread cubes, mustard, eggs, cheese & milk. Mix well.

Pour mixture over sausage, cover & refrigerate overnight.

Bake covered in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Uncover & bake for 30 minutes.

KathyM

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I find it interesting too that so many specific requests are for breakfast items. I guess I lump milk in that category. Why is that? Are we all just more limited in our breakfast options than what we'll eat the rest of the day?

Another wrinkle. I am anti-soda. Especially for kids. Yes, I have the occasional coke, but in general I don't stock any sodas. I used to provide sodas and juice boxes anytime we had kids as guests, but now I'm leaning toward just offering a couple of nice juices from TJs. I feel like I may be somewhat of a rebel in this sense compared to other parents of young children that I know. As for adults, I serve unsweetened iced tea with sweeteners on the side. At least, that's my current MO.

Bridget Avila

My Blog

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I guess my friends and family are wierd - we always ask what the guest wants before they come. They know that I need protein in the morning, and I can never keep up with their allergies. Nothing like having them wake up and not have a breakfast that they can eat.

This can backfire though... I specifically enjoy a particular brand of soy sausage, and told my Mom if it couldn't be found, I can happily do without for a few days. She, being a kind Mom, bought non meat burgers - yuck!. Which I then ate for breakfast each day.... because Mom bought them.

so it can all backfire.... :raz:

“"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

"It's the same thing," he said.”

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As several people mentioned, parents or siblings are an exception! I know my father prefers grepefruit to orange juice for example so I always stock it when they visit. My mom stocks my favorites when I come home and/or will honor special requests. When there are comfort or medical/semi-medical issues at question, especially for older guests and longer visits I think the list idea is great though...

Other than allergies or other health needs, I also usually inquire after people's breakfast preferences if they are gong to be here more than a night or two. For some reason, I think some people are more set about their breakfast habits--they "always or never eat cereal", etc Luckily it is easy to accomodate different morning fare.

Having no allergies or children yet, I don't typically make requests or extra purchases when I'm a houseguest and I don't think I've ever refused something that was being prepared or served. If it's a good friend and they ask, I might ask for a favorite dish or local specialty they've made before.

"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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I find it interesting too that so many specific requests are for breakfast items.  I guess I lump milk in that category.  Why is that?  Are we all just more limited in our breakfast options than what we'll eat the rest of the day?

Probably because house guests often eat lunch and dinner out, particularly if they're out sightseeing.

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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We had a full house stay over one Thanksgiving.  To keep it simple, we made a dish of eggs, apples, cheddar cheese and sausage in advance so it was easy to heat and serve in the morning. 

That sounds good! Got a recipe for it handy?

I hate cheddar cheese, but I wouldn't have told you that, and I certainly wouldn't have complained. :wink:

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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As far as the coffee issue, bavila, I would have given my sister a coffee pot that I could use when I was there long ago! I have given french presses more than once as hostess gifts, since I am an absolute holy terror pre-caffeine.

Edited for the emoticon!

Duh, such a good idea! :biggrin: That is so much better than lugging your own. Deborah is so smaht!!! :laugh:

I guess my friends and family are wierd - we always ask what the guest wants before they come.

To clarify mey earlier comments...I certainly don't find it weird for a host to ask. What is weird is an unsolicited or overly long, complicated list on the part of the guest. Yes, the guest saying "Anything!" is annoying, but so is the opposite...

Edited by Megan Blocker (log)

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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It sounds like many people start their day with a set routine. Would that explain the need to have certain foods and beverages for breakfast? Not being a morning person myself, it would be almost impossible to start my day without lots of strong coffee. The food part is pretty flexible, but not the coffee. Vacationing in parts of the US that still don't have decent coffee is pure hell! Maybe most people just aren't ready to make too many decisions early in the day, particularly about breakfast. This thread has actually made me more sympathetic towards those guests who do not know what the morning might have in store for them. I'll strive to be better host from this day forward. Breakfast - the most important meal of the day. :biggrin:

KathyM

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We had a full house stay over one Thanksgiving.  To keep it simple, we made a dish of eggs, apples, cheddar cheese and sausage in advance so it was easy to heat and serve in the morning. 

That sounds good! Got a recipe for it handy?

I hate cheddar cheese, but I wouldn't have told you that, and I certainly wouldn't have complained. :wink:

Megan, you sound like the perfect guest! :smile:

KathyM

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On the other hand, when we visit my sister, we always have to go out for coffee because her only coffee offering is instant, since she and her hubby don't drink it, and they have no coffee pot of any kind.  This drives me completely insane.  IMO, coffee is such a ubiquitous staple of a gracious household, I can't imagine why one wouldn't have SOME way to make a cup.  I've taken to bringing my own french press when we visit.

I think we must have the same sister. :hmmm: But no, wait -- my sister not only just has instant, but it's DECAF instant. (And she wonders why I don't visit that often!) I also used to bring a french press when I went to visit. I even left one there, with some coffee. The french press broke, God knows what they did with the coffee.

Parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, etc. sort of fall into a category of their own in this regard. My nephew's girlfriend hates onions (we like her anyway), which has really altered the way I cook things if they come over. But it's my pleasure because otherwise she wouldn't eat, and I don't know how I'd handle that! Most people will eat anything and it doesn't matter, but if someone were visiting and there were, say, a vegetarian, I sure would want them to let me in on it.

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i'll be traveling to boston next week to stay with my folks and sent along the request that they be stocked w/ diapers & 2% milk. everything else i can buy after i get there.

when my dad comes to visit me, i make sure my house is stocked w/ johnnie walker red.

seems like a fair trade to me :wink:

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I find it interesting too that so many specific requests are for breakfast items.  I guess I lump milk in that category.  Why is that?  Are we all just more limited in our breakfast options than what we'll eat the rest of the day?

Could it also be that we tend to eat family-style at most meals, but people often eat different foods at breakfast? You know, I'll have a bagel, you'll have cereal, mom has yogurt and fruit...they figure other meals are planned and will be the same for all, while breakfast isn't necessarily like that, unless you're going to cook a full meal.

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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