One afternoon recently, we had some really good friends come and visit: Jennifer and Alan Harshman (of Harshman Services), and their three children; my daughter Nancy and her two children; Greg (who was just released from hospital after having heart surgery), Athena, and their two children. And of course the seven of us who live here! After spending the afternoon drinking a lot of coffee, talking, and doing a little work on a refrigerator, we decided to cook out.
There were about 20 people here so it would require quite a bit of food. The menu started with hamburgers and hot dogs, of course. Then it grew to include pork steaks, beef steaks, chicken breasts, and pork cutlets. Now while my husband cooked all this outside on the grill, I started in the kitchen! What to cook that everyone can eat, that fits into the special needs of the guests, and fill everyone up, and do it quickly?!
Foil packet cooking
Instead of making the potato packages in foil packets on the grill like we usually do, I made them and put them in the oven. Jeni cut the potatoes into wedges and put them on aluminum foil for me, then I added butter and spices.
One package had Italian seasoning, one parsley, one red pepper flakes, one onions and Cajun seasoning, one barbeque seasoning, etc. etc. I think we ended up with like eight different ones. These fit into the gluten free diet, I was told, so I had those people covered. These are so easy to make, and everyone loved them. They can also be done in a campfire—just toss the foil packets in the coals!
Now, my youngest grandson LOVES my mac and cheese, so of course I had to make that, then to round out the gluten free menu, some mixed veggies of broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots! I did not add cheese as they are very limited on the dairy consumption, too. And I added pork and beans to the menu.
Accommodating dietary needs
I didn’t realize that day was a fasting day for the Harshman family, and they were not supposed to eat meat. I try to accommodate everyone’s tastes, allergies, and religious fasting days. But with this many people it was hard. Not to mention this was not a “planned” thing, just kind of spur of the moment! So I was kind of unprepared. I am sorry about that, Jeni and Alan!
Not ever having had to deal with the gluten allergy problem, I didn’t realize how complicated it could get. I just pray every time I feed them that I do not make their children sick! Did you know that some instant mashed potatoes have gluten in them? Or that imitation bacon bits do? But I am learning and she is very patient with me. But there are so many different ingredients that contain gluten that it will take me a while to learn them all. So when they are here I concentrate on meat, vegetables, eggs, etc.
All in all, everyone ate their fill, had a good time visiting (I hope), and the food… well, we had enough left overs to feed eleven people two meals the next day! And nobody got sick from eating gluten or dairy!