A long-time manufacturing company in town had to layoff workers at the beginning of the month due to low sales. Dear Husband and I have been through a layoff. Our friends have, too. Now the young neighbors down the road are dealing with layoff fears. The neighbors cancelled a social event this week because of financial worries. Don’t do this! You can socialize on a budget. You can gather with friends and stay within your budget.
My go-to dish to share at a gathering when our budget is tight is a simple chocolate dessert. Like a lot of people, I’m a chocolate freak. Imagine my joy when medical science declared dark chocolate was good for you. Hooray! But strangely, not everyone likes chocolate, so here are some non-chocolate, budget-friendly ideas for social gatherings, including the dessert DH and I took to the last dinner party we attended. All of these ideas use pantry basics with the idea that you won’t have to run to the store to buy exotic ingredients. (As a minimalist, my pantry has nothing but basics.) Besides, I wouldn’t know what to do with chia seeds, and I know jack about something called jackfruit. Here ya go:
If you have 3 tablespoons flour, 3 tablespoons butter, 2 cups milk, 2 cups shredded cheddar, salt and pepper, and 1 pound macaroni, you can bring a casserole dish full of macaroni and cheese.
If you have 6 eggs, 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, 1 cup chopped vegetables for color (like broccoli or spinach or red bell pepper), salt and pepper, 1 stick of butter, and 1 1/4 cups flour (plus a little more for rolling out the crust), you can bring quiche.
If you have four-to-six pieces of fruit of at least two varieties, lemon or orange juice, honey, and cinnamon or ginger, you can bring fruit salad. Stir sliced fruit into the citrus juice to coat (to keep it from turning brown). Reserve the juice, add honey and the cinnamon or ginger to taste for the dressing.
If you have 2 cans of tuna, 2 boiled eggs, mayo, pepper, 8 slices of bread, and relish (or chopped onion and celery), you can bring 8 generous tea sandwiches. Sandwiches would be particularly appropriate for an outdoor gathering!
And finally, if you have 1 stick butter, 1 cup milk, 2 teaspoons vanilla, 4 eggs, 2 cups sugar, 2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt, you can bring a hot milk cake. It’s a recipe from the Depression era, and I vaguely remember my mother frothing eggs and adding scalded milk to make such a dessert. I used the wonderful recipe posted at http://www.culinaryhill.com/old-fashioned-hot-milk-cake-recipe/. It makes a dense, satisfying, sweet, vanilla cake that needs no frosting. The only hitch I ran into was I didn’t have a bundt pan, but my nice friend Tania lent me hers.
Make this day even better. Consider:
•Return a borrowed item with a small gift in return as a thank you.