Living

Throw a party that's festive and green

We spoke to Edith Jakobs, an environmentally-friendly caterer and party planner, about how to throw a party that’s high on fun but low on waste

1. Eat the décor
During the warmer months, using in-season and locally grown flowers to reduce carbon emissions is easy. But when the temperature dips, a great alternative is to decorate with seasonal fruits and vegetables. Not only do they make unique and colourful centerpieces, but they’re edible, so you can enjoy them again after the party. The produce can also be used as place holders. To do this, handwrite the guest’s name on recyclable card stock, slice the fruit or vegetable along the top and insert a name card to mark their seat. If you choose to use candlelight, soy and beeswax candles are environmentally-friendly options over traditional wax.

2. Table setting: Mix and match or bring the outdoors in
A great way to set a table is to mix and match vintage china (or those old sets that are collecting dust in your cabinet) to achieve a shabby-chic, bohemian look. You can find some great pieces at thrift stores or garage sales, giving a new home to a piece that may have otherwise landed on top of a garbage dump. To create a more uniform look, pick a colour scheme (use two or three colours) and stick to it when purchasing new china. If you don’t want to use formal china you can also purchase [biodegradable plates and cutlery] {www.greenshift.ca} made from 100 per cent sugar cane fibre that can be recycled or composted and the fibre is renewable.

3. Hold the store bought hostess gift
This is one area that’s super-easy to keep environmentally-friendly. While good intentioned, many hostess gifts do end up in landfill sites (skip the kiss the cook Santa apron), include excessive packaging and are imported from foreign countries. If you’re not sure what your host needs, bring them baked goods or wine. Since wine is a popular gift, try to bring local wine in a Tetra Pak carton. These packages can all be reprocessed into tissue, and their compactness requires far fewer trucks for shipping. Plus, more than 80 per cent of Canadian households are currently able to recycle Tetra Pak packaging.

Another idea for a table setting is to use leafs that have fallen from the trees and place them flat on the table for décor. Go one step further, and iron the leaves. To do this, lay a dish cloth flat on an ironing board, then lay a piece of wax paper, then, place the leaf on top and then cover with another piece of wax paper and dishcloth. Put the hot iron on top for a few seconds (enough for the wax paper to coat the leaf) and your leaf centerpieces will last for months. In the winter, use small evergreen branches taken from the base of a holiday tree, lay them flat on a table and place tall soy candles and fruit in the nooks and crevices of the branch.

Festive and local menu
Use ingredients that are grown locally and packaging that is environmentally-friendly to keep it as planet-happy as possible.

These recipes have not been tested by the Chatelaine Test Kitchen.

Turkey Stuffed With Apples and Rye
• 10 pounds Young Ontario Fresh Turkey
• 2 cups Algoma Honeycrisp Apples, seeded and diced
• 2 cups chicken stock
• 2 cups onion, diced
• 8 slices bacon, chopped
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• 1/8 cup Canadian rye whiskey
• 1 teaspoon sage, chopped fine
• 2 cups rye bread, diced
• 12 slices thick-sliced bacon
Servings: 10

In large pan, sautee chopped bacon and onion together until bacon is crispy and onion is browned
In mixing bowl, combine onion and bacon mixture with chicken stock, rye bread, apples, salt, pepper, whiskey and sage. Mix thoroughly. Stuff bird with apple mixture. Sew up the opening. Cover breast of turkey with thick slices of bacon. Cover with buttered wax paper. Place on rack in roasting pan. Roast at 450F for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375F and continue roasting for 1 hour. Remove wax paper. Continue roasting for 30 minutes. Remove bacon and continue roasting for 2 1/2 hours, or until well done, turning bird in order to brown all sides, and basting occasionally with fat from the pan.
For gravy: Pour off excess fat from cooking liquid in pan. Add 1/4 cup boiling water and bringing to boil, scrape bottom of pan until all brown crust is entirely dissolved. Correct seasoning. Thicken with roux in a sauce pot.

Mulled Wine
• 1 bottle of Ontario wine in a Tetra Pak carton
• 1 cup of sugar
• 2 cinnamon sticks
• 3 whole cloves
• 12 teaspoon of toasted peppercorns
• 12 teaspoon whole all spice
• 12 vanilla bean
• 1 sliced orange
• 1 sliced lemon
• 1 cup cognac or brandy

Simmer for 20 minutes. It’s better if you steep in a fridge over night. Then simmer strain
and drink right away. Serve warm in coffee cups.

Asian Style Woodland Mushroom and Red
Potato Casserole

2 teaspoons sesame oil
• 1 tablespoon dry white wine or sherry
• 1 teaspoon soy sauce
• 1/2 teaspoon ginger, minced
• 1 tablespoon green onions, chopped
• 1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted
• 24 Ontario Mini Red Potatoes, sliced
• 6 ounces Ontario shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and cut into 1/2 inch dice
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 2 teaspoons cilantro, minced
Servings: 12

In saute pan, heat 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil; add mushrooms and cook over low heat, covered, about 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are soft. In bowl, whisk together remaining sesame oil, vegetable oil, wine, soy sauce and ginger. Add mushrooms and sesame seed; stir together. In saucepan, cook potatoes in 2 inches simmering water, covered, about 15 minutes or until tender. Drain and cool.
Layer potatoes and mushroom mixture in casserole and bake in 375 oven for 20 minutes. Top with cilantro and serve.

Roasted Ontario Root Vegetables with Maple Syrup

• 1 pound Ontario Parsnips, peeled and cubed
• 1 pound Ontario Rutabega, peeled and cubed
• 1 pound Ontario Carrots, peeled and cubed
• 1 pound Ontario Squash or Pumpkin, peeled and cubed
• 1 pound Ontario Red Beet, peeled and cubed
• 1 pound Ontario Yellow Beet, peeled and cubed
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 1/4 cup maple syrup
• salt and pepper, to taste
• 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
• 2 tablespoons walnuts, crumbled
Servings: 12

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook each root vegetable separately scoopiing out of the boiling water when just tender leaving the red beet to last (so it does not stain the other vegetables). In a large mixing bowl toss veg together with oil, 1/2 the maple syrop and seasoning. Place veg on well greased large baking sheet bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes or until veg is just browning. Remove from oven, turn out into serving bowl and toss with remaining maple syrup and balsamic vinegar and top with chopped walnuts.