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Isn't there a hotter shade of red available?

Hubs and I have finally figured out that the only way we can get our house clean is if we invite guests over for dinner.  So we did:  two friends of Hubs’ who have become, over the last two or three years, friends of mine.  Henry and Marie are what is referred to as “Half-backs,” in that they spend one-half of the year in their home in Arizona, and the other half in our area where the summers are a bit cooler.  We have had the opportunity to visit with them at their local, beautiful home way up on one of the mountain tops, and seen the glorious view.  It’s a treat to go just for that, but so far I haven’t taken my camera.  (I will, I promise!)  The company and food is always great too.

So, Hubs got busy with the downstairs cleaning/vacuuming, and since I had made a wreck of the insomnia room, I was given charge of that room, plus the upstairs bath.

Last time Henry and Marie visited I made lasagna.  Now, I have made lasagna for years and years.  Mine’s OK as far as I am concerned – better than some I’ve had elsewhere, not quite as good as at others, but certainly in the running among my family’s favorites. (Besides, since I don’t use a recipe, it’s different just about every time.)  Anyway, Marie said they would come if I’d cook lasagna for them again this time.  (I’m starting to wonder whether she thinks I can cook anything else!)  When I told her that “Of course I will!” it was in the cool of the evening.  Big mistake.

I had purchased the ingredients I needed on Saturday, so I had everything ready to go.  I told myself that I would put it together yesterday morning while it was still fairly cool out.  (We only turn on our a.c. when we get desperate.  We’re misers!).  After it was all prepared, I put the uncooked  – huge – pan in the fridge, ready to take out and bake later, and still leave enough time for it to sit after baking in order to make it easier to cut into servings.  Our guests were due to arrive at 6 p.m.  We’d eat about  6:30 or so. Which means that I put the pan in the oven at 3:45 p.m.  Let me tell you, folks, it was HOT outside.  Actually, it wasn’t so much hot as it was horribly humid.  You could drink the air, and there was little breeze to stir it up. Our oven is well-insulated, but any oven set at 400° F is going to heat up a room.  Did it ever.  All that heat was radiating upstairs to the “insomnia room” which I was doing my best to put in order, but it required a lot of physical work that my body definitely did not feel able to do, but I did anyway.  Oh! I almost forgot! – before I even put the lasagna in the oven, I realized that I hadn’t prepared any starters for having with wine before dinner.  So, what did I decide upon?

I had a large bag of pecan halves in the freezer.  I took them out and roasted them.  Yes, roasted them, at about 400° F during the hottest part of the day.  By the time I put the lasagna in the oven, the perspiration was pouring off of me like I could have been every insect’s favorite water slide.  Land on me, have a bite, and then “WHEE! Down we go!”

I finished up in the insomnia room and the upstairs bath, did a little laundry, then went downstairs to set the table.  I got out all of the plates, flatware and glassware (Ashley, God bless him, had taken a leaf out of the dining table, and put the table-cloth on the previous night!), and went to set the table.

It then occurred to me that if I did not get into the bathroom quickly, I was going to empty the contents of my stomach (there wasn’t much, but enough – ha!)  all over the freshly dressed table and the floor.  I arrived at the porcelain goddess just in time.  I had done the stupid thing – really, I do know better – of getting way too hot for my own good.  I got wise then, and waited for Ashley to finish setting the table when he got back from work.  I took a long shower; had some water, and sat down for a few moments and really cooled off.  I also realized that desperation had arrived, and I turned on the a.c.  D’uh!

In any event, I started feeling much better, our guests arrived, bringing wine and a salad (an absolutely wonderful salad with fresh leaf lettuce, small slices of surimi, strawberries, tomatoes, walnuts, and feta cheese with a light balsamic vinegar dressing) to go with our meal of lasagna and fresh bread (from the bakery) warmed and served with seasoned EVOO for dipping.  The pecans were enjoyed, (now I have to figure out how to hide them from myself!) the wine sipped, great conversation.  While cooling off, I had put together a little flash drive of photos to plug into our Kodak frame that Matt and Suddie gave me for my birthday, so I showed off our granddaughter, and the rest of the family, and some nature shots; the slide show played slowly through the evening, and it was nice – at least for me – to glance over at the photos and smile.

BTW – I was a wiser woman in terms of dessert!  I didn’t BAKE  anything for it.  Just cleaned some fresh strawberries and blueberries, poured a tad of vanilla rum over them, let them sit in the fridge.  Then just before serving, I spooned them over little (purchased) individual sponge cakes, and topped them with whipped cream.

BTW, when Marie arrived, and felt the temperature in the kitchen, her face paled a bit  It dawned on her that she had asked me to cook a winter meal for her in the summer.  She apologized, and I said, “Hey!  Don’t worry about it!  I failed to think of that little detail in our plans, too!”  Despite our poor menu-timing, everything tasted great, looked good, and I avoided any major catastrophes like those that befell me at our anniversary party last year!

So now you know what I did yesterday, and why today’s post is being posted a bit late!  Hope you’ve had a great day today, and had a pleasant yesterday!  I continue to wish you all enough. . .

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