Ah ... the rehearsal dinner. I've been to so many weddings and experienced so many different kinds of rehearsal dinners. Matthew and Kailie's request was for a Southern meal (well, they also thought Indian food would be good, but after eating at the Indian restaurant we had scouted out to cater the meal, they chose my cooking instead : ) Anyway, I was delighted to plan a meal they'd enjoy so I started pulling recipes a few months ago.
The menu for our Southern Supper ...
Pulled pork and Beef brisket (catered by Jim 'n Nicks)
Jalapeno Macaroni and Cheese
Field Peas with Chow-chow Relish
Cheese Biscuits (also from Jim 'n Nicks)
Peach-blueberry cobbler (my mother-in-law's recipe, it's sooo good)
with Ice Cream
It was a LOT of work, but really, also pure JOY to cook this meal. I started early on Thursday morning ... frying bacon, washing and chopping collards, chopping onions. The kitchen smelled soooo good. Not sure that church has ever smelled quite like it did that morning. People kept popping their heads in the kitchen to see what was going on.
That's a mess 'a collards, alright! And organic, to boot. Thanks, Sprouts.
I felt like I washed and chopped collards all morning. That's an exaggeration, but about halfway through, I was wishing I'd brought my arthritis knife with me. (This is a great knife, people. I use it every day). Anyway, the collards got chopped and I only got one small blister. Into the pot with some bacon drippings, onions, and chicken broth. Oh, yea. Now we're cooking.
Then reinforcements arrived. I absolutely could NOT have prepared this meal without all the terrific help I had. Trina and Elise started right in and washed and de-stemmed grapes.
a LOT of grapes!
Then Melissa arrived and they cut watermelons for me.
They also cut tomatoes and onions and grated pounds and pounds of cheese (thank you, Kandyce for providing the food processor) and then they helped the guys arrange and decorate tables. So. much. help!
Matthew finished the seating arrangements for me and then he and the guys headed out for more wedding prep at the site while the girls headed home to get ready for an evening of festivities. (don't worry, the guys had their guy time the next night after all our crew arrived).
After everyone left, I had a few more hours of happy, quiet cooking in the kitchen. Honestly, with all the prepping done, I felt like a chef, let loose to create to my heart's content. It is truly great fun to cook, even for a big crowd, when you have a well equipped kitchen and all the chopping's been done for you!
Friday morning, I brought my sweet little assistant to finish getting the tables ready. Silverware wrapped and tied with gingham bows and flowers on the tables. Clara was a great little helper!
And these two - Kristi and Hallie, friends of Kailie's (center and right), a wonderful mother/daughter team that helped us finish setting up and then came back in the afternoon to reheat food, serve, and clean up. They were amazing!
Preparations done and back to the hotel to await the arrival of the rest of our family ...