Entertaining the Elderly

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Joined Jun 10, 2004
Help!! - we are hosting an 80th birthday party for my mother in law in November at her retirement home. There are 140 residents and we plan to invite everyone. We have scheduled the party for Sunday at 2 pm. We live an hour away and do have access to kitchen space. The chef (award winning in his field) will be serving brunch from 10:30 until 12:45, so we are planning on finger foods, small sandwiches, punch and a 2 tiered cake. I am planning on mini muffin sandwiches (zucchini bread, corn bread) with roast beef and lightly curried chicken salad, Cucumber sandwiches, raddish sandwiches, tea-smoked eggs, warm sweet onion dip, cheeses, grilled breads, veggie tray and dill dip, condiments on the side. I can order alcohol from the chef and thought about ordering a bottle of rum and bourbon for those who want to spike their punch (especially me!!). Any other suggestions??? The chef is great, as I mentioned, but all these people do is complain about the food. Plus the various diets these folks are on.... None of these items are heavy on salt, except the eggs, which are quartered. I want to "put on the dog" for my MIL without breaking the bank or killing any of the residents. I am recruiting help from friends from our dinner club. I checked the past forums and have not run across this particular issue. Thanks in advance for your experiences and suggestions. I cannot imagine doing this for a living!!! Bless you all!
 
866
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Joined Apr 28, 2003
My only experiance in feeding the elderly is through my grandparents which 3 of them have now passed on.

I find only 1 thing in common, don't be excessive. Don't serve them anything thats very sweet, salty, spicey, hard, rich, etc. But they don't want anything thats plain or bland. I find they will praise you more if you keep things simple and mild.

Small portions like finger foods was a good call, another thing I found in common was that they don't eat much so large servings arn't nessesary. If you can find the episode of Jamie Oliver where he's entertaining his "nan" and her friends for tea, you may be able to draw some imspiration from him.

Good luck
 
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Joined Jun 10, 2004
Thank you Chick. Your points are exactly what I needed! Don't serve anything that is too...... And I will keep the portions small - I was overestimating quantity. Thanks again! Vicky
 
7,375
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Joined Aug 11, 2000
This is really bizarre, I just got called to do a dinner for older board members of Washington U. In the past few years I've cooked at some private dinner parties that were older (late 70's early 80's) wealthy clients. They enjoy throw backs....oysters rockerfeller, shrimp cocktail, shortcake, cornish game hens with wild rice.....
This menu for the board will be interesting in that it is not as frouffy as originally thought.
tapenade with chevre on crostini
Grand marnier pate (smooth chicken liver with currants)

baby greens with golden and red beets

grilled chickens with white wine roasted garlic sauce
new potatoes with pesto
whatever veg is available at market

berry crisp or tart with lemongrass ice cream


I pulled out my frouffy menu for the dinner and the hostess decided to go with what she normally does.....which is the above, as much local simple food as possible.
 
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Joined Jun 10, 2004
Ms Schroom, I am in Ohio and find morels in our yard (6 acres, lots of trees) and woods in the area. WHERE do you find the chanterelles? The woods here are full of virginia creeper by mid spring..... A friend found a foot tall black morel - he left it. I want to go with him next year!! We also find lots of ramps (yum) in the spring.

Thanks for your input. I hadn't thought of shrimp cocktail and will also add a pate. I have some entertaining books from the 70's I picked up at yard sales I will look through. Great idea on the retro menu's. Thanks again! Vicky
 
7,375
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Joined Aug 11, 2000
shroom,as in mushroom.
chanterelles grow only under oak trees. I find them in parks that are heavy in oaks....even inner city parks. Now is the season and this being an exceptionally wet/hot year it'll be a bumper crop.
 
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Joined Jan 24, 2003
Ive fed a lot of old people & I would agree to keep the portions small. Old people tend to like traditional fayre ( a generalisation , I know but nontheless true)....check out what their favourite meal is at the home n perhaps adapt something similar but more celebratory. Buffets take much longer than cooked to prep & the last buffet I did for 150 took me about 12 hours of hard graft.
I would go soup or cold starter, a protien & fish main & a sticky pudding which we all love regardless of age....No bones or crackling & any twxture modified diets will require you only to do a few alternative mains...good luck.
 
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Joined Jan 30, 2002
Would suggest you avoid heavily seasoned food. Finger foods are good - if they are able to be handled neatly w/o a lot of mess. For example, steamed shrimp (cleaned, of course) and chicken wings are good, ribs and oysters on the half shell are not so good. Fresh fruits and vegies are good. As I'm sure you know, you eat first with your eyes. Good basic food in a dynamite presentation are better than more "over the top" foods. Congratulations to your MIL :)
 
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Joined Jun 10, 2004
Thank you all for your suggestions. I priced tiered cakes yesterday - OUCH! Will have to do a bit more research on that one. Our menu is progressing, with your recommendations. Thanks again.

Mike, your sticky pudding mention has me craving a pub dessert we had in Kensington.... Treacle pudding.... sponge cake soaked in treacle, warm custard spooned all around and topped with freshly whipped cream. It is a combination dreams are made from. We have found nothing like it here in the US. Whenever someone says they didn't eat well in England, I remember all the wonderful things we discovered there! Thanks for the reminder!! Vicky
 
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Joined Jul 6, 2004
My 2 cents worth here V. :)

I cooked at a Retirement Home for 18 months, after returning to New Zealand after many years in Italy. What a change of pace that turned out to be!

First of all, you need to remember that most, if not all of the residents, will not have their own teeth. Also bear in mind that many will have ill fitting teeth to boot. :( So beware of anything that requires much chewing. Someone has mentioned chicken wings but I absolutely do not agree with them being served. Apart from the chewing factor, they are messy. Eighty plus year olds were brought up in a much more genteel era and I dont believe they would appreciate handling greasy anything! Also, try to have mostly soft/ish foods, many elderly require their food to be nearly pureed.
As there are 140 residents, you could probably count on 10 to 20 diabetics so any sweet items made with a sugar substitute would be appreciated Im sure.

I am not quite sure if you are meaning the Brunch has been taken care of, and you are providing Finger Food from 2 pm, or you are intending this food to take the place of the evening meal. If you are thinking to provide food from 2pm, I suggest to keep it to 2 to 3 items to begin with. Many will still be feeling the effects of Brunch around then!

Have you considered having an afternoon tea?? Considering Brunch has been served, and assuming a light evening meal of Soups etc may be available later, this may be ideal.

* Ribbon Sandwiches with fillings you have mentioned, plus maybe smoked salmon, cucumber,cream cheese and lemon pepper ( a little!) I would make curried chicken sandwiches, great with a few sultanas added.
* Little Vol au Vents with a creamed mushroom or asparagus /egg mix. Smoked oysters in a light white sauce are wonderful too. I use tinned ones and incorporate the liquid.
* Baby Quiche. I use mini muffin tins and fill the pastry with for eg: Goats cheese and thyme...pesto, spinach, fetta....diced ham and pineapple.....smoked salmon offcuts with dill etc etc.
* Stuffed Button Mushrooms. Try blue cheese and walnut....bacon with a hint of chilli and heaps of parsley......your American style crab ones too! ( Have not tried them myself!)
* Mini Fritters. I make them with Paua ( abalone) mussels, oysters, corn and bacon, etc. Put a dab of sour cream and herbs on the seafood ones, avocado salsa on the corn type ones. Hands can get shaky, so toppings need to adhere to the food.
*English Scones with Jam and Cream!!! My favourites. I use a lemonade and cream scone recipe, if you would like it please PM me. Just split and put on some strawberry/raspberry preserves and a flourish of whipped cream.
* Madeira Cake...a lovely buttery cake that needs nothing other than a dusting of sugar
*OR, instead of Madeira, something old fashioned such as a ginger cake/bread
* Baby Meringues sandwiched with whipped cream and lemon curd or flavour some with rosewater and tint pink for the MIL! Decorate platters with fresh roses/petals.
* Little glazed fruit tartlets.

Just some ideas. The most important thing to remember is that, as has been mentioned, appetites will be small. Having a huge repast laid out may not achieve the desired effect whereas a smaller selection of exquisite little things may just do the trick.

Best of luck and do let us know how it goes. Eventually!! :)
 
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Joined Jan 24, 2003
VBorn....yes we do eat well here & even have michelin starred restaurants...why my chums across the pond still think we boil everything I dont know....lol
Treacle pudding.....weigh three eggs in the shell .Cream the same weight each of butter & caster sugar until pale fluffy. Add the eggs & teaspoon of vanilla esscence & a tablespoon of flour to stop curdling & whisk. Add the same weight (as the eggs) of self raising flour. Add finely chopped peel from 1 lemon.
Mix enough golden syrup & lemon juice to fill by 1" a baking tin of about 18" by 12" . Add the pudding mix & bake till done. (Not to hot or syrup will burn)
Remove & dish sunnyside up (the top is on the bottom!!!!)
There are variations with jam & you can add things like thyme to the pudding mix too. If you want to do individual puds just do the same in well greased moulds .Enjoy
oh & you can also blind bake a sweet pastry case n fill with a mix of breadcrumbs(fresh),treacle ,lemon juice n peel & bake till set...this is treacle tart.
 
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