Rhino Cooks for Company

Rhino’s dream came true last weekend. He played host to a house party extraordinaire. Green Hope Farm was Hotel New Hampshire! Rhino lived his dream of a full sink. At one point, the census chez Green Hope rose to eleven. There were three Emily’s in residence. There was not a single lonely moment at the sink! Rhino was in heaven.

As fate would have it, Friday brought a timely used book arrival from alibris. A circa 1970’s cookbook by famed texan chef Helen Corbitt called “Helen Corbitt Cooks for Company”. When Rhino was not hoofing it in the kitchen, he was pouring through Helen’s tome.

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While the house guests hooted that poor Helen’s dress matched her wallpaper, Rhino read on, aware of the need to get inspired to cook the next meal. Rhino knew all too well that the next meal is always moments away when you have almost a dozen human vacuum cleaners twenty somethings in residence, all expecting breakfast, second breakfast, elevens, lunch, tea, supper, and dinner.

Helen weighed in on mid morning entertaining (and I paraphrase here and everywhere else Helen’s guiding wisdom is shared) noting that successful morning coffees require getting up at a devastatingly early hour but are still a great time to entertain small or large groups of women as men wouldn’t be caught dead at a coffee hour. Rhino looked at all the coffee mugs on his counter used by men as well as women for mid morning coffee and could only wonder.

About brunches Helen commented that for women, for debutantes, for introducing an author or a favorite politician, for women’s club affairs even for men, brunches are enjoyable. Rhino felt good. The brunch after second breakfast had clearly been a good idea. The empty refrigerator and Helen told him so.

After a mid morning restock at the season’s last farmer’s market and the grocery store, Rhino was ready to face lunch, tea, supper, and dinner. Helen suggested he make friends with foreign kitchens. He hoped the chicken stir fry and shrimp curry were enough of an effort, but by dinner time he needed to bring in truly foreign reserves. Chinese take out. Rhino consoled himself that as Helen had flown naranja juice in from Argentina for a gig at Neiman-Marcus, Chinese take out from Lebanon NH couldn’t be that wrong.

After card games, evening snacks, more evening snacks, and then bedtime snacks, the crowd dispersed to their various beds. Rhino read on. First breakfast was only hours away. Helen described a foreign theme dinner for men to celebrate British cuisine. It went off without a hitch because what man would not like her hashed brown potatoes with sour cream. So true Helen. For man, woman or rhino, hash browns with sour cream are hard to beat, though sadly not the first thing Rhino thought of when he thought about British cuisine.

Rhino moved on to Helen’s discussion of cocktail buffets and holiday fetes. Helen suggested a cocktail buffet should look heavily laden even when it is not. It was good news to know that faking it was okay with Helen because any buffet Rhino got together on Sunday morning was going to involve slim pickings. Every piece of fruit in the house had vanished between midnight and one am and the refrigerator had that hollow look again. Helen suggested that holiday entertaining (and wasn’t this weekend really a sort of pre Halloween holiday weekend?) could be a seated dinner or an informal pick up supper to kick the gong around.

Rhino wondered what was indicated when one kicked a gong around. Clearly, he would have to ask texan friend Jan Barker about that, but it was later than Rhino had been up in months, maybe years, and therefore a bit too late to call even Jan who has much more party in her than the average rhino.

Rhino finished off his reading with an inspiring chapter on buffets in which Helen said that she always found it easier to do a dinner two nights in a row with a luncheon or supper on the third day. This was heartening as Rhino was about to do just that. He fell into a deep and dreamless sleep.

At breakfast Rhino winged it with waffles, bagels, some left over Chinese take out, scrambled and fried eggs and of course, six or eight boxes of breakfast cereals. Green Hope Farm maple syrup added a little panache to the outlay and the carbo load gave Rhino a few hours to dodge out and restock again.

By Sunday dusk the house guests had rolled out. There had been dancing, there had been kicking the gong around (sorry Jan, we figured it out without you), and there certainly had been eating. All non resident hobbits were gone and so too were two quarts of beef stew, two quarts of chicken stew, ten ham and cheese pasties, 10 mini quiches, fourteen boxes of chinese take out, all left over chicken stir fry, all left over shrimp stir fry, two quarts of maple syrup, a double batch of waffles, an 18X24 inch pan of pecan shortbread bars, four dozen eggs, several gallons of mango tango, a cornucopia of fruit, every dairy product in a three mile radius including several pounds of various cheese with accompanying crackers and a tower of bagels .

It was the best of times. It was bliss. But Rhino was a bit tired. I took a candid of him when the last dish had been washed.

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