WHERE’S MY JAM AT?

Upon arriving to work one cold, December morning, a young Marine took stock of her workplace associates’ cubicles and noticed something terribly awry…

On every desktop, as far as the eye could see, there was a small jar of Christmas Jam neatly placed, as if to say, “good morning, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!” What was this sweet concoction? Was it left the night before by some magical military elf with a CAC card? Perhaps Santa flew down on his F-18 and left an early holiday treat?

As a veteran Marine, the Sergeant had seen this before, but upon looking down was perplexed and possibly  hurt to see that her desk had been passed by. What happened? Was there a run on Christmas Jam this year? Had she been mistakenly placed on the unit naughty list? Absolutely not! This servicewoman had made sure she was always on the nice list!

So, with holiday boldness, and a jam mission in mind – the Marine stood, straightened her uniform and walked down the hallway towards my husband’s office. The hallways in all units are lined with photos of the current leadership (my children swear that as they walk by Dad’s photo his eyes follow you. I believe it but I also digress).

In a very Dickensian way she appeared, much like Bob Cratchit with his query for an early departure on Christmas Eve. Taking a breath and with slight hesitation, she knocked on Ebenezer’s –  I mean my husband’s – door and inquired,

 “Sir, where’s my jam at?”

Before you cast judgement on what may appear to be a very Millennial moment, allow me to explain the situation a bit further. It is tradition for anyone in a position of leadership no matter the rank – whether from shop, group, company or battalion – to hand out a holiday gift of some sort. Nothing extravagant, and certainly not a mandatory thing, but quite rewarding for all involved. Cookies, candy or cake – a token of appreciation for a job well done. The worst thing when doing this however, is to mistakenly forget someone, anyone! We consider each and every person in the unit both civilian and active duty as family. To forget even one person hurts! And that Christmas, we forgot someone.

In short time, I was out grabbing a few more jars of Christmas Jam. I delivered them to the office beribboned and labeled in an attempt to make things right.

The holidays, for both civilian and military, offer a wonderful opportunity to acknowledge your staff or coworkers. A brief moment to build stronger relationship bonds with your brothers and sisters in arms. So please, don’t forget the jam.

                     “No space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused.”

                     -Charles Dickens

Entertainingly Yours,

Cassie

Crepe Bar

In the insular world of military life, it can be very difficult to be creative, especially when entertaining. As ideas catch fire, a host or hostess must dig deeper in the area of creativity as not to be passé or overdone. As I was busy planning our battalion Christmas party, I racked my brain as to who in my life had a skill or talent that I could utilize at our big event. I immediately called my daughter Jackie and asked for her help. Being the savvy, young professional that she is, she calmly replied, “crepe bar mom, have a crepe bar for your guests, it’s really easy and everyone loves it.”

I was immediately hooked on the idea. Jackie happens to be a culinary genius and volunteered to work crepes all night on an as-needed basis. The night before our event she set up her station. We ran over the flow as guests would enter and determined that I would welcome individuals to enjoy a cocktail on the patio, or walk to the left and enjoy a freshly made crepe at the crepe bar (my kitchen counter).

Jackie then set up her station. We decided to keep the options simple. The dessert offerings for the evening would be a traditional sugar with butter or a Nutella filled crepe. I purchased extra-large piping bags located in the cake decorating section of my local craft store (you will not need to purchase tips), large jars of Nutella according to how many guests you expect and of course the necessary ingredients called for in the recipe.

Jackie knows the recipe by heart, but I chose this one for you. Remember: as the crepe is finished cooking you will fill the inside with Nutella and fold accordingly. We planned on crepes for one hundred having sent out one hundred and twenty-five invitations.

Jackie filled two large bags with Nutella and closed them off with a twist tie. She then laid out the two crepe pans I purchased (6.99 each at a local cooking supply store), a can of non-stick spray and a spatula. We also purchased one hundred clear plastic dessert dishes and forks, stacking them at the station. Approximately one hour before the event, she prepared one batch of the crepe batter (for freshest taste I recommend making the batter as close to party time as possible). She also clipped the end of one of the piping bags with a pair of kitchen scissors. She was ready to go!

I purchased red metallic frames (can also be used for Valentine’s Day, Independence Day events, Memorial Day, Homecomings and Birthdays) at IKEA and had them placed around the various food stations showing options and content. A few weeks prior to the event, I printed out menus for each food station to include the crepe bar choices.

As the evening got underway and I was able to catch my breath, I walked around to check on all the food and drink. Jackie, dressed in her white waist coat and chef’s hat, was busy creating at a rapid rate with no end in sight. The guest line for crepes wrapped around the kitchen bar and into the hallway. Success, I thought! Jackie took orders, prepared on request and I clocked her at five hours with very few breaks in between. It was brilliant and I feel comfortable saying that because I had nothing to do with it!

I highly recommend this idea for a few reasons. It is delicious, very inexpensive and it eliminates a dessert table for your party. It is different and your guests will love making their selection, watching it being created and of course the taste! You can do this for two or two hundred. Also, if you over purchase your ingredients, you simply have extra eggs, Nutella, sugar, flour and butter! I encourage you to find a friend or relative who enjoys cooking and can handle the task at hand so you, as the host or hostess, are not stuck at the stove all night. We actually had a dry run for the family a week prior (gorging ourselves on crepes with several different fillings) finally deciding on the sugar and Nutella. Remember, never, ever try anything for the first time the day of your event. It could prove disastrous!

Entertainingly yours,
Cassie