Now You’re Cookin’… in Harmony
Lori Hope Baumel
Originally appeared in Around Wellington Magazine on October 1, 2014
Autumn is upon us. Hopefully, the stifling south Florida air will subside as the cold fronts from up north move toward us. From the end of October to New Years day we begin a series of festivities and celebrations. In the retail world it seems like we skip directly from Halloween to Christmas, but for those of us in charge of culinary delights at home we start planning the festive meals. From pumpkin pie and turkey to Crème Brule on January 1st, our family not only pairs our meals with accompanying wines, we also put together an unofficial musical playlist from the moment we start cooking to when the final dish is cleaned and wiped.
The process of preparing a festive meal should be as much fun as eating it! If you are doing most of the cooking alone, as a starter, I would recommend some upbeat music to help you keep your energy level high. Are you a jazz fan? Try some Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck or Puppini Sisters while you are chopping the vegetables for the soup. If you’re more of a “pop” kind of person try some Jay Z, Katy Perry, Timberlake or Taylor Swift while you peel those potatoes. If you’re more of a “classical” kind of cook, then a Beethoven, Mahler or Brahms Symphony will definitely get you going. Just be careful not to cut yourself if you find yourself conducting the music with a cutting utensil.
When the festive meal is all prepared, it’s time to compose yourself, shower and get dressed. Best to put on some “calming down” music. It can be lyrical, but perhaps with a slower pace. I don’t know about you, but my guests seem to arrive within minutes of my stepping out of the shower and sliding into my holiday attire. If you’re expecting guests that prefer music from an older generation, trying putting on some Streisand, Sinatra or Tony Bennett for when they step into your house as you warmly greet them with the usual kisses and hugs. They’ll get such a kick out of hearing music that once was playing on their old record player. Of course, if you’re the oldest in the group, pick “arrival” music that suits the tastes of the ages of your guests. But, like I said before, keep the tempo a little calmer. You don’t want to get distracted, a headache or burn the green bean casserole.
I adamantly believe that the actual dinner music should be instrumental only (no vocals or lyrics). You worked very hard on the festive meal. Conversation is an important aspect of the occasion – especially if many of you haven’t seen each other in a long time. You want to be able to hear what your guests are saying. Also, the instrumental music often fills in the lulls that occur when people start eating and prefer not to talk with their mouths full. The style of instrumental music, again, depends on the tastes of your guests. Although, I find classical music like Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” or something similar to be a perfect dinner music selection.
When the dinner is done, you want everyone to pitch in and help with the cleanup. That’s when it is time to pick up the pace again and play that “dinner prep” playlist one more time. It will get everyone’s dancing feet going – the table will be cleared, the pans will be washed and the dishes will be in the dishwasher in no time.
Now, if you don’t have time to even think of assembling a playlist or switching music gears as the day or evening progresses – plan ahead. Sit down with one of your children or grandchildren who will be attending and go over your music choices with them. Be specific about what to play and when to play it. I don’t know of one teen or “tween” who hasn’t dreamed of DJ’ing for a night. This will be their opportunity to shine.
The music that accompanies your meal may end up being the perfect ingredient to a successful evening. It will probably be the least expensive as well.
Live… Go… Do!
Top 5 List for October 2014
Orange Is The New Black
Yes, it’s October and orange and black are the colors of Halloween, but that happens to be a coincidence this month. Piper Kerman’s autobiographical recollection of her time spent in a women’s prison is a wake up call for all who aren’t aware of what is going on in the American prison system today. This book is a page-turner (and in my case, an audible.com masterpiece read by Piper Kerman herself). Only slightly resembling the popular television show, this work is an immersive experience. Reader discretion is advised as the language and various situations require a mature audience. Advised for ages 21 and older.
I was absolutely blown away by this film. It is surely going to be an Oscar contender. If it is no longer in theaters at the time of this printing then put it in your Netflix queue or search for opportunities to stream it. The editing of this piece is pure cinematic genius. The movie is incredible as it seamlessly segues over a period of twelve years. Within the storyline I found myself seeing some of my own characteristics as well as biographical traces from the lives of so many others I know. It’s a cinematic first and tour de force that should not be missed if you are a true movie fan.
For that festive meal “guest arrival” music you might want to give this collection a try. It has a little bit of something for everyone. Barbra Streisand has assembled a new CD entitled Partners. A compilation of duets with such greats as John Legend, Stevie Wonder, John Mayor, Blake Shelton, Billie Joel, Andrea Bocelli, Josh Groban, Michael Buble, Babyface, Lionel Richie, Jason Gould (Streisand’s son) and a virtual remix of “Love Me Tender” with Elvis Presley. I heard about it on NPR’s “All Songs Considered.”
To hear a taste of it go to:
4) For the little Ones:
Preschool Story Time: Fire Prevention Day
Presented by Society of the Four Arts
Thursday, October 9, 2014 – 10:30 AM
Palm Beach Fire and Rescue will be on hand to show the children the fire trucks and what they do.
For more information go to:
5) Fun FREE Concerts at: The Wellington Amphitheater
Chicago Tribute by The Brass Evolution
Saturday, October 11, 2014 at 6:30 PM
A Motown Tribute by Motown Magic
Saturday, October 25, 2014 at 6:30PM
12100 Forest Hill Boulevard, Wellington, FL. 33414
Contact: (561) 753-2484
Food Trucks will be on site from 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm, bring your own seating!
For info about more Wellington Amphitheater events see: