Dinner with friends

Is there anything better than dinner with friends? Especially when those friends have children the same age as yours so you can just send them off to play/destroy your house/murder each other, or in the case of my daughter, take all your clothes off and appear in various states of undress, while you relax and drink all the wine. The fact that I’m typing this in my bed at 7.30am shows that we were actually quite mature last night and didn’t drink all the wine…just most of it.

We have a semi serious agreement with some friends of ours, we are the winter house, they are the summer house. Due to my recent decorating splurge, I’ve created a super cosy living room and dining room. So cosy, it’s actually impossible to stay awake, as one friend proved last night….(I’m wishing I had a photo now!) It’s ideally suited for cosy dinners and watching crap Saturday night TV snuggled up with blankets and gin from my recently added gin bar.

Their house on the other hand has a lovely outdoor space, with a trampoline and paddling pool to shut the kids up, and enough Prosecco to shut me up. Winner. The inside of their house is also really nice, I’m aware I’m making it sound like it’s shit and we only go there if we can sit in the garden….

The beauty of having good friends over, is that you can have a great night with very little effort. They know where everything is so you don’t have to be waiting on them hand and foot, you can slap any old food on the table because you genuinely don’t care what they think, and they always help with the washing up.

For years our evenings together have always had the same pattern. Feed the kids first. Normally fish fingers, chips, and peas, but anything that will be eaten without complaint or massive mess also works. Send them out of sight. Then the grown ups can eat in peace (I use the term grown ups fairly loosely there)

Also, while I’m adding pictures of my dining room, check out my plates! They are my best thing. I even hand wash them for fear the dishwasher will fade them. I’m not sure that habit will last forever though. It’s getting a bit old already to be honest. You can get similar here https://www.wayfair.co.uk/kitchenware-tableware/sb0/tabletop-trends-c1870037.html and I think some are still in the sale.

Last night was a super simple veg curry with tandoori chicken. It all took less than an hour to make, and could all be made in advance, thereby maximising drinking and sitting time with my friends. Added bonus, it was cheap, because, let’s face it, entertaining can be expensive, and I’m tight and love to budget. The whole meal came in at a little under £25, although that only includes one bottle of Prosecco, the rest either came off the wine rack or arrived in my friends magic bag. My friends know all this by the way, they won’t be reading this and thinking “tight bastard, can’t even splash out on a nice meal for us.” Actually, they might be thinking that, but who cares.

So that’s it. We eat, we lounge on the sofa discussing important topics, from American politics (look at Donald Trumps stupid goggle marks from his sun bed) to how we feel we could perform better than most people in any talent show (we couldn’t). Most importantly, we relax, we laugh, and normally we get a teeny bit tipsy. I should add that when I say we, I mean me and one other. She always brings her appropriate adult with her to drive her home, so someone is taking care of the children. We aren’t that bad.

I’ll add the links to the recipes for the food we had last night just in case you want to use them. Honestly though, if you have good friends, they really won’t care what you plonk in front of them. And if you have really really good friends, they won’t even notice.

Here’s the link for the base of my curry. https://jessicainthekitchen.com/cauliflower-and-potato-curry-aloo-gobi-masala/ Right at the beginning of the recipe, with the potato and cauliflower, I chuck in half a butternut squash, peeled and chopped. Then, at the point that I combine the tomato mix and the vegetables, I sling in a drained can of chickpeas. Sometimes I add a load of frozen chopped veg too. Just add whatever you like really, it all works.

And here’s the tandoori chicken. https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1660651/tandoori-chicken I use a pack of drumsticks, and a pack of thighs (all with the skin and bone) and then I serve it on a big platter with shredded lettuce, red onion, tomato, cucumber, and lemon wedges. Add some shop bought popadoms, a bowl of mango chutney, and you’re good to go.

So there you have it, dinner with friends. You don’t need to brush your hair, get dressed up or even dressed at all if you use the krakens approach to entertaining. Staying in is definitely the new going out.

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