Plan a Special Anytime Brunch for Friends
Everyone loves a good brunch: a leisurely Saturday or Sunday morning when you don't have to scarf down cereal and rush to work or school, when you can linger over the first meal of the day and eat delicious food. It's so nice you naturally want to share the experience with friends. But there's no point in hosting a brunch if you find that you're spending all of your time catering to everyone else; it's important to plan ahead and not get too elaborate so you can enjoy it as well. The idea of brunch is to relax, enjoy good food, and spend time with friends. So leave the planning to us.
- Give your kids the task of setting a nice table. A vase of flowers in the middle of the table, a tureen for the maple syrup (instead of the bottle), a pitcher of ice water, nice cloth napkins fancily folded ... you can give your children -- even the youngest ones -- the task of setting the table nicely. You'll have to check to make sure they didn't forget the forks, but they'll most likely enjoy the responsibility (and if they pick dandelions for the centerpiece, so be it. Those beautiful bursts of sun yellow have long been devalued by adults). If they finish quickly and you need them out of your hair, set them up with paper, scissors, markers, glue, and decorations, and have them make name cards for the guests. One caveat: Don't let your kids choose the music. For this occasion, Bach is better than Wee Sing.
- Make the pancake batter (preferably whole grain) the night before. If you generally make a mess making pancakes, mix the batter the night before. Even if you're a fastidious batter-maker, pancake batter keeps well and performs nicely the next day. Store it in an airtight container overnight. In the morning, transfer the batter to a water pitcher or empty milk carton for easy pouring (you'll probably have to add more liquid if it's been in the fridge all night). For perfect pancakes, preheat an empty frying pan for a bit longer than you think you should and set the oven to 200 degrees. You can fry the pancakes before guests arrive and keep them warm on a plate in the oven.
- Fruit salad's easy and always a favorite. Kids and grown-ups love fruit salad. And if you make it with mostly strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries (yum), all you need to do is rinse them, pat dry, and put them in a serving bowl.
- Lunch food is good too. Remember, this is brunch so anything goes. Consider serving whole grain mac and cheese for picky pint-sized eaters and a bagel and cream cheese platter (quick and delicious with sliced red tomatoes, onions, capers, and cucumbers) for kids and grown-ups. Bring the toaster into the dining room or onto the patio and let your guests toast their own.
- Skip the made-to-order eggs and serve crustless quiche instead. A Spanish omelet, crustless quiche, or regular quiche are much less fuss than eggs Benedict and can be made in advance of your friends' arrival (and kept warm in the oven with the pancakes).
- Have a ritual of giving thanks. Whether you're religious, spiritual, or an atheist, it's always nice to share gratitude with friends and family. Take a moment at brunch to go around the table and have each guest say something they are grateful for. (It may very well be the delicious food on the table and the peacefulness radiating from the hosts!)