Food for Thought

(Nov. 9, 2018) Hosting a special event takes precise planning and detailed preparation.

But no matter how organized one is, you must be able to manage the unexpected, and it is how one handles these situations that determines your level of success.

The Howard County – Iron Bridge Hounds Foxhunting Club celebrates the sport of foxhunting on the first Saturday in November at my parent’s estate (Harwood). Months of planning are in order for an event of 300 people that includes riders, spectators and invited guests.

History is an ingredient that enriches and enlightens any occasion. The Howard County – Iron Bridge pack of hounds are a perfect example.

According to an article, Mountain and Muse: A Bicentennial, written by Norman Fine, the Port of Baltimore earned a place in American history during the War of 1812. The British, after attacking Washington, D.C. turned their attention to Baltimore.

Francis Scott Key, a witness to the devastating naval bombardment of Fort McHenry, jotted down the infamous words to what has become our national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner.”

In addition, Fine states that The Port of Baltimore also earned its place in American foxhunting history. In September 1814, after the British fleet withdrew from Baltimore to head to New Orleans, a merchant ship entered the Port of Baltimore and disembarked two magnificent foxhounds from Ireland, Mountain and Muse.

Mountain and Muse began hunting in what is now known as Howard County; and because of their undeniable prowess, have become the foundation of today’s American foxhounds. The Howard County – Iron Bridge pack of hounds are a direct descendant of Mountain and Muse and not only continue their legacy but also the elite sport of foxhunting.

There is an irrefutable relationship between the Master of the hunt, the riders and the hounds. Just like there is an unquestionable sense of gratitude to all the volunteers who make opening day a glorious festivity for all. This particular year we were tested beyond our wildest dreams.

Allow me to start from the beginning.

I arrived Tuesday evening, and was greeted by mother. I could tell something was wrong but did not push for particulars. She opened up a bottle of Chateau St. Jean chardonnay and said we need to talk. I could not imagine what she was about to tell me.

Mom informed me that her dishwasher was no longer working. I thought this was not a big deal, my dishwasher has been broken for eight years. Besides, we use paper plates and many of the serving dishes have to be washed by hand. All of this gloom for such a minor inconvenience seemed unwarranted.

As I went for another sip of chardonnay, mother said there is something else I have to tell you. All of a sudden, my sip became a gulp.

A few seconds seemed an eternity. Mother said the oven does not work but the top burners are still working at this point. She ordered a new stove but it will not be delivered until after the foxhunt.

I instantly started going over the entire menu and figured out what dishes would be affected by this latest development.

The slices of baguettes need to be toasted for the Mediterranean bruschetta and the biscuits for the sugar-cured ham need to be cooked in an oven. I assured mom that we could get a neighbor to help us out and this would not be a problem.

The next two days were filled with shopping and cooking non-stop. I arrived with two huge coolers of frozen dishes that had been prepared in advance which helped tremendously. The only cooking left was appetizers that could not be frozen or had to be made at the last minute.

Gonzalez, one of our workers, told me that a bad storm was supposed to hit our area on Friday night. The day was so gorgeous and the farm looked so beautiful, I thought maybe he was exaggerating. But I trust his judgement and we decided to hold off on setting up outside.

To make a long story short, a tornado landed in a town about 10 minutes from us, the entire area was without power.

In addition, our generator that is a back up for the house, barn and automatic waterers for the horses broke down. Mom put an emergency call for the generator and a serviceman arrived at 3 a.m., four hours before the volunteers were supposed to arrive. She told him the situation, and he assured her he would do everything he could to get us up and running with electricity.

We sat in a completely dark kitchen and wondered what are we were going to do. Sometimes in an emergency situation, you will be surprised at how you can improvise. Once word got out about our dilemma, people started showing up and offering to help us in any way.

We finally got power around 8:30 a.m. and it was a mad rush to make the day go according to plans. Our kitchen looked like an old black and white movie that had been sped up to fast motion.

My case in point, no matter how much you plan for a special occasion, things out of the ordinary will happen. It is up to you to remain calm and not to panic.

Thanksgiving is around the corner and homemade decorations are very affordable and easy to do. For example, a glass trifle bowl filled with pecans, walnuts and hazelnuts and a pumpkin scented candle is a lovely display for your table.

You can take this theme for Christmas and fill the trifle bowl with dried cranberries and a cinnamon candle for the same effect.

Homemade decorations are fun, affordable, and make a memorable impression on your guests. A trifle bowl filled with nuts and a candle is as simple as it gets. Enjoy!

Secret Ingredient – Perseverance. “A failure is not always a mistake. It may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying.”

– B.F. Skinner

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