Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Girls' Night In: Breaking all the Rules

I have a Girls Night In with a few friends once a month. When our nights first started we wanted to meet regularly and not have the frequency of our get-togethers decrease into nothingness slowly over time (this has been the fate of so many groups that I've been in, especially book clubs. Thankfully this is not a book club so we have that on our side). We got to the heart of the issue: Why do people who have fun together stop getting together? The answer: It becomes too much work with the host running around the house tidying and madly trying to figure out what to serve (oh, and that answers the book club question - there's the added pressure of actually reading the book!). To simplify things all of our girls' nights follow these four rules:

Rule #1:
The hostess does not prepare any food for the guests.

Rule #2:
The hostess provides the following, nothing more, nothing less:
  • 1 bag of tortilla chips
  • 1 bowl of salsa
  • 1 dessert purchased at the local grocery store

Rules #3:
The guests do the BYOB thing.

Rule #4:
We sit outside unless the weather is truly awful (this is supposed to minimize the house-cleaning. Although, the homes of my gal-pals are always spotless when I arrive. Likewise, I fear that I would run around like a maniac, Windex and roll of paper towels in hand, even if Rule #4 was, "Guests agree to wear blindfolds for entire evening."

OCD cleaning impulses aside, we have managed to meet fairly regularly for quite some time...until...

I was shopping for my tortilla chips, salsa and grocery-store dessert when I spotted pomegranates: Plump. Round. Scarlet. Perfect. Ohhhhh...I thought of exotic vacations...I thought of Christmas...I thought of Champagne...I thought, "Should I buy some Cava?" Mmmm....I thought you'd never ask!

Once home I extracted the seeds from the fruit (why don't chefs warn, "Wear an apron and cover entire kitchen in newspaper," BEFORE they advise, "Whack the pomegranate hard with a wooden spoon to dislodge the seeds?" *sigh*) and fed a third of them to my toddler for a snack. Another third were placed in the fridge to get cold. The final third went into a fine mesh sieve over a bowl where I mashed the juice out of them using the back of a wooden spoon. The small bowl of juice went beside the seeds in the fridge to chill out.

When the girls arrived they were greeted with tall glasses of crimson sparkling wine, pomegranate seeds floating merrily in the bubbles. Even though I had broken the rules, my friends didn't seem overly upset. And the scene that greeted me in the morning made me certain that my jolly memory of the evening before had not been a dream.

Oh, I broke another rule too. I went ahead and served some leftover butternut squash dip on garlic toasts rather than the mandated salsa and chips. I had to. I just had to since the dip goes so well with bubbly and I'd already broken rule #1 anyway. I bought dessert at least, a pecan pie from Publix. Sadly nobody could manage more than the tiniest sliver. 

Now the big question: Who's hosting next time and will they follow the rules? I hope so otherwise a few months from now I will be running around with my Windex and paper towel roll trying to think up something anywhere near as fantastic as Bubbly Pomegranate .

Bubbly Pomegranate (basic recipe)
Into one champagne flute pour 1/2 ounce pomegranate juice and 5 ounces sparkling wine.  Drop in 5 or 6 pomegranate seeds. One pomegranate yields more than enough juice and seeds for one bottle of sparkling wine.

Make it really special and add a splash of orange liqueur (like Triple Sec, Cointreau or Grand Marnier) and a squeeze of lemon.

Savor it Seminole!

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