There’s something about early spring dinners, when it’s not too hot, and there are few bugs flying around. When the grass is thick and fresh (no dry spots!), the flowers are beginning to bloom and there’s a breeze in the air. Where there’s an overall excitement because we’re eager to get outdoors and enjoy the Alfresco dining experience! (Read my Alfresco dining post w/Liz Curtis Higgs, here.)

This is exactly what we felt during our Something Old, Borrowed and Blue dinner that we had a few nights ago. As I promised I’d share the details, remember, just because I came up with a “theme” title for this post, this idea came to me after the party was over. Although there are a few ideas brewing in my head, I’m sure I won’t have many of these! We had such a great time though, so here’s a big CHEER for great friends, food, music and conversation!

The Food

Paul’s Dip: Paul makes fantastic dipping oil, fresh from our garden, that includes EVOO, sea salt, white pepper, plus herbs from our garden (lemon thyme, rosemary, mint). Delicious, especially when served with Roger’s Almost No Knead Bread, fresh out of the oven (Recipe from Cooks Illustrated).

Faye’s Salad: Faye’s salad consisted of greens, green onions, mandarin oranges and toasted almonds. Her salad dressing added a sweet, zingy flavor – perfect! (3/4 cup sugar, 1 cup vegetable oil, 1 tsp. mustard (dry, Dijon or regular), 1 tsp. salt, 1/3 cup red wine vinegar, 1 1/2 Tablespoons minced onion, 2 Tablespoons poppy seeds). I’ve made a similar salad, here.

Sandy’s Salmon: I love this simple recipe. And since my oven element went out, I was able to use my broiler! Arrange salmon on broiler pan and melt ½ stick of butter and the juice of one lemon. Pour ½ of each over the salmon, sprinkle with any kind of “fish” seasoning. Broil for 6 minutes. Flip salmon; pour rest of butter, lemon juice, more spice and 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese on top. Broil another 6-8 minutes, or until done. (For another salmon recipe, see my Fish on the Grill post, here.)

Potatoes Anna: Yummy potato dish – you can go back a few posts, here.

Gingered Snap Peas: Heat 1 T oil over medium-high. Add sugar snap peas and fresh ginger (chopped – I used sugar ginger). Cook for 5 minutes. Add ¼ cup water; reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring and scraping the ginger from the bottom of pan – about 2 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper (I use white pepper for cooking).

Jeannie’s Dessert: Jeannie is just one of those cooks who doesn’t use a recipe, and if she does, she’ll use 4! That is exactly what she did with our dessert – combining 4 recipes together, we had smooth, white chocolate mousse with rich, moist brownies. YUM!

The Music

Besides great discussions and heartfelt conversations, we had a different set up with music playing in the background through Paul’s laptop. I’ll let you in on our little secret! Have you ever heard of Pandora? It’s a great website where you build your own radio station around your favorite artist or song, or even style of music! For example, if you like jazz, Oscar Peterson or Ramsey Lewis – you type in their names and the website finds like-minded music in that category. How cool is that? Not having seen this before, our guests were enamored with a “new” type of technology (and FREE!)

You saw my “blue” table setting in the previous post, and even though this menu seems a little complicated – you have to remember that there were 4 cooks involved! I was only in charge of the main entrée! Salmon, potatoes and gingered peas! Now that is what I call an easy dinner party.

I will leave you with this last thought. Our friends of 25 years have no expectations when they come to our home. I firmly believe that cooking for people – inviting them into your home – is far better than ever handing them a gift. Because our traditional dinners offer friendship, inviting conversation and camaraderie. Our relationships with one another develop and deepen every time we’re together.

This night of alfresco dining was a great gift indeed!

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