My in-laws are coming...
So, my inlaws are coming to visit us and staying for about a week.
My mother-in-law is quite the cook, with a specialty in old school (meatloaf, roast chicken, ham) They are not particularly interesting eaters (see previous: meatloaf, roast chicken, ham entry). But they sure are picky. As it turns out, I missed all of the classes on meatloaf, roast chicken and ham and instead majored in "other". I like to cook spicy ethnic food. They do not like to eat spicy ethnic food. Damn.
So, what's a girl to do? How do I feed the midwestern basic eaters with my obviously lacking "fancy" (not my word, apparently pasta falls into the fancy category) cooking?
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Tell your mil that you know that she is a really good cook and you specialize in other things, and ask her to share and show you how to make the "basics". She probably would love to show you and you would be making points.
The twelve states that make up the "mid-west" include such a wide range of ethnic groups that it's difficult to define what you mean by "mid-western basic eaters". But from the three protein entrees you listed I'd assume something in the from a good German cookbook might work out just fine. You could combine some sauerkraut with slices of sausage, slices on onion and some chopped garlic then butterfly a chicken and lay it on the sauerkraut mixture onto which you might sprinkle some pieces of browned bacon and cover to cook at about 350 for 45 - 55 minutes (or until chicken is done).
When I have guests and am unsure of what they might like, I usually try to please them by cooking things that I like (but not spicy dishes unless I ask first) and share that "something special" with them.
Well, on meatloaf night, it would be no real trouble to speak of, to make two smaller meatloafs, rather than one large one. Make one "traditional and safe" (i.e., bland, to you) and make one with seasonings and/or additions you and hubby like. (E.g., you could make a chili or harissa, or garam marsala, or whatever meatloaf for you guys.) Just don't get them mixed up. :-O ;-)
Same principal if the in-laws like steak. Easy enough to broil or grill two of them; marinate one of them to your taste. (For that matter, you could do that with chicken.)
So, since pasta is fancy, does that mean that something like spaghetti and meatballs or marinara sauce are too exotic? If not, divide the sauce and turn some into Arrabiata for you.
You get the idea. I think you could do a few of these things without adding on an inordinate amount of prep time for you.
And then for some of the other nights I like the suggestion that you see if MIL will teach you a couple of her dishes.
I would think it was nice they went to the effort to accommodate me, and I'd especially feel comfortable doing it with family. One way to do it discretely would be to say, "We have two sauces (or meatloaves, or whatever) here. Would you prefer the marinara or the Arrabiata?"
I just still really have that problem with anybody, guest or host, having to eat something that is distasteful to them, when any potential problems could be addressed relatively easily by thinking ahead. But this is just my own opinion, mirage. I understand that, and you could certainly be right about this and I could be offbase. (Even so, if you came to my house, I'd want you to have exactly what you want :-), even if it's not something I eat.)
It's a wonderful solution if the host offers both to the guest and is happy to eat whichever meatloaf the guest does not choose. The guest might surprise the host and decide to try the Arrabiata, leaving the host to eat something "distasteful" to them after all!
And, no fears Normandie if you invite me to your home: I eat everything ;-D