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All-Day Food


baczkowski
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OK, your homework: Give me ideas to cook or buy food for an All-Day "Open House."

I'm a high school librarian and this summer I got a new job at a local high school. Let's just say that the library has been under-utilized, so I'd like to hold an open house next week so people can reintroduce themselves to the library and meet me. Of course, food is the biggest motivator for folks, and many will come to eat instead of meet me, but that's fine since I want them to start having positive vibes about us, our space, and our services. The complicators are 1) This school supposedly has fantastic food often so the normal bagels and pastries would be yawn-inspiring and 2) The open house will be held throughout the day and available for whenever they have free time in their busy schedules as they prepare to teach our children. I'd like ideas for good (doesn't have to be fancy or even great--just something that shows a little more thought than donuts) food that also might be appropriate in the morning and afternoon. Money is an object, though, so something my staff and I could cook might be appropriate. For example, one thing I thought of was cooking a whole ham for sandwiches or breakfast snack. Ideas for sides and mains are all welcomed.

Wierd question/assignment, I know, but I was a little stumped and thought you all might have interesting and practical ideas b/c, well, you're food people!

Pax,

Brian

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Canape-sized sandwiches? Anything that's easy to eat without utensils, but clean - no sticky fingerprints on the books.
I'd second the finger sandwiches.

Squares of frittata can be held at room temperature for a while and eaten with fingers (maybe a little greasy, though).

Pricewise, having a lot would be prohibitive, but having some basic vegetable sushi rolls would complement the sandwiches and be easy to pick up and eat. They're a mouthful of finger food. (Rice on the inside, not on the outside where it can fall off.) Maybe you or someone on staff could make some?

A crudite plate (carrots, radishes, celery, etc.) would be good for people who want to snack without a lot of calories. Whether accompanying dip is a good idea in a library or not is another matter :angry:.

Squares of cheese with toothpicks. (You might try cubed fruit as well, but then you start to get into sticky.)

Homemade pita chips

Cookies (everyone loves homemade cookies no matter how much other good food there is)

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I think vegetable sushi rolls are a great idea. Olives with tootpicks - pitted though. Gazpacho or another cold soup in dixie cups doesn't require utensils. Polenta squares. Foccacia! Black grapes next to good hard cheese.

Homemade brownies. If this is a kid-inclusive events, I'd be careful not to include walnuts (just sayin').

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I catered an open house for a housing developer who was opening a new development in a recently completed model last fall. Here was the menu. It's probably not so low-budget but it gives you ideas anyway.

In one room, with a Texas Hold-em poker tournament:

Beef chili with fixings (sour cream, grated cheese, pickled jalapenos, scallions, assorted hot sauces) and cornbread

Guacamole with blue and white corn tortilla chips

Mini muffalettas (sesame semolina bread layered with Italian meats and olive salad, cut into small portions)

Smoked sausages wrapped in puff-pastry with sweet mustard dipping sauce (pigs in blankets)

Assorted homemade cookies

In a second room, with tables for sitting:

Cookies and Coffee: Assorted homemade cookies, Starbucks coffee, assorted teas, hot chocolate, sugars, half-and-half, milk

In a third room, with space to mill about in a kitchen:

Pasta in chafers:

Fettucine alfredo

Penne with garlic, olive oil and vegetables

Italian breads/Focaccia

I brought chafers for the pastas and the chili, and coffee urns for the hot beverages. You can probably handle some of both in the library. Hot food makes a big impact, and you don't have to offer much of it to enjoy the good feelings it provides.

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Crock pot meat balls are easy to make and can sit for a long time. The bonus is that they fill the air with a great smell!

Great idea. There is a great recipe from Il Gaidelo in the In Nonna's Kitchen cookbook. I had the good fortune to eat them at the source. Heh heh heh

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Ahhhh, now I know why I asked you guys!

Adults only on this day that I asked about. But funny you mentioned it, I'm doing the same thing for students the following week! Kids will have less time to linger, so their food will have to be quicker, unless they come during lunch, which they can. Giffords actually donates free ice cream on the first day of school, so I can't compete with that. We'll probably do the library open house day 2 or on the Friday. So, if you wanna suggest kid-friendly ideas, too, fire away :angry:

ETA: A fridge is definitely available but a stove is less available. We can always put things on ice that need to stay cool. So, we're thinking items that can be served cool or room temperature.

Pax,

Brian

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If it's all day, forget chafing dishes, crock pots, and anything else that uses heat. Think, first, food poisoning. Think, second, the inevitable degradation of quality.

Similarly, when thinking of food that needs to stay cold, think food poisoning and the inevitable degradation of quality.

What can sit out all day and not go bad, stale, dried up, rancid, and/or puckered? Cookies. Hard candy. Little cakes, like lemon bars and cupcakes. And that's about it.

JMHO.

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What can sit out all day and not go bad, stale, dried up, rancid, and/or puckered? Cookies. Hard candy. Little cakes, like lemon bars and cupcakes. And that's about it.
Maybe I read too much (or too little) into the request, but I had figured items would be put out and then refilled as necessary from a refrigerator or some other storage. It would be be pretty iffy to put all of something out at 7 am and still have it be edible or appealing at 2 PM, even if it's carrots and celery. Whatever is out is going to need some kind of refreshing, I'd think.
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I keep accidentally clicking some button that keeps going a page back and erasing this whole post AHHHHH!  Ok, I am hosting an Studio Tour of my jewelry studio not this weekend, but next, I will also have a photographer in my space.  Other people who have done this typically have some food and beverages kind of reception-y type stuff.  The problem is it's an all day event.  I can go upstairs and refresh some stuff tough.  I am trying to keep it on a fairly low budget, and to be honest, when we do the tour we have rarely eaten many of the things people have so I am trying to avoid that.  I also don't want to serve alcohol to people driving around the county to other studios.

I was thinking for beverages I would do small bottles of water and peach iced tea mix in a cooler.  The food is where I am more hesitant.  I am hoping to be able to mostly buy things from somewhere either here in NOVA before I leave, but I could get some things up there.  Again trying to do this low budget. The point is for people to linger and interact with artists, but you can only eat so many cookies and sweets.   I was thinking of having someone in Garrett County make me mini pepperoni rolls, as that is bread and cured meat.  But I am really drawing a blank on other things.  I don't really want to have to plug stuff in, so was hoping to avoid crock pot, but it could be an option.  Ideas on stuff that would be ok sitting out for a little while?

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Crudites and dip would be a finger food to contrast with sweets.  Hummus is something that can typically sit at room temperature for a while.  If you transport it cold in a cooler, it should be fine sitting out at your event.   Leftover veggies are certainly recyclable in something else.

Cheese and crackers or baguette slices would be another option.  A harder cheese would do fine sitting out for hours.

Along the line of cured meats, you could buy some prosciutto and put that out with the cheese and bread.  Maybe some sliced melon too or melon balls with toothpicks.

Olives.

Make a few pretty platters out of some combination of the above, maybe something tying the aesthetics into a theme of the studio.

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