As entertainers, we are always trying to reinvent the party, to be trendier, more cutting edge yet still spend as little money as possible, successfully executing the event and having fun while doing it! Impossible? Absolutely not – you are a military spouse so let’s do this!
I have hosted countless events yet still was somewhat unprepared for how pricey entertaining within the realm of command started to become. I had a million amazing ideas I wanted to experiment with and found myself way out of budget within a short period of time after my husband took command. We all know every penny is spent by choice, so this is not a complaint. However, I know you all well enough to understand that we entertain out of a love for the people in our unit and the preservation of our customs and courtesies. Most importantly though is the bonding that comes with families who are always a moment’s notice away from sending our active-duty loved ones into harm’s way.
After a few months in command, I started to crunch the numbers somewhat disappointed that my extravagant meals and chic parties had gone by the wayside before ever getting off the ground. I tried to think of food items that were less expensive yet still a joy to cook with and something I would be proud to serve my guests. Breakfast is inexpensive but who would want to come to breakfast?
I approached my husband and he suggested we make it into a PME (Professional Military Education) breakfast. What is a PME you might ask? It is an opportunity to teach the active duty about all aspects of personal and professional development. I was on it!
We planned for a Friday and my husband sent out an invite via email. We set the limit to command and staff exclusively with an arrival time of 0630, yes that is 6:30am in the morning! We planned for and fed fourteen Marines a sit-down meal that day.
I created the menu with diet in mind. Our military is held to a strict standard of weight and I wanted to be respectful of that. Plus, it’s hard to eat a huge breakfast and then return to work and stay focused.
What I served:
- Egg and Potato Strata – a layered casserole dish mainly used for brunches
- Goldilox – scrambled egg with fresh salmon and cream cheese topped with fresh parsley
- Fresh Fruit – mixed berries
- Fresh buttermilk biscuits – made the night before and stored tightly in a Ziploc baggie
- Homemade peach jam – from my sister’s West Virginia peach orchard
- Butter – room temperature
- Salt and pepper
- Fresh coffee, tea and water – cream, sugar, artificial sweetener
- Freshly squeezed orange juice – squeezed late the night before
Whenever I create a menu I always include everything down to the salt and pepper. Attention to detail is something to be emulated from our spouses. Leave nothing to chance!
The strata was very time-consuming in prep so I did it all the night before and actually created the dish the next morning. Remember to keep your sliced potatoes completely covered in water or they will turn brown within a short period of time.
The one thing I can always count on is that Marines are on time. Sure enough at 6:30am on the dot our guests were at the door! There is nothing more amazing to see uniformed men and women of all ranks walking up to your door to break bread.
The PME breakfast was a successful event in many ways. With a cost comparison between eggs (one dozen for 46 cents at a local chain or a prime filet of beef from the big box store averaging $80.00!) the breakfast is by far the less expensive choice. Also, this was an event where spouses were not invited thereby cutting the count in half. We incurred no cost for invitations with a professional email request being sent by the leadership and the event was done by 10am.
I set up a coffee bar at all of my events. I sometimes use a 60 cup urn but for smaller gatherings that still require copious amounts of coffee I use my Keurig. My china cups and saucers were set up and ready to go. As the guests arrived and began getting their morning coffee, right away I sensed a commotion. I turned the corner only to see Marines holding 8 ounce china cups and selecting the 12 ounce coffee option. Coffee on the floor, bar and their shoes. I hadn’t thought the service all the way through. I immediately swapped all the china out for mugs. Disaster averted!
So when can I expect breakfast?