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Rice salad - I'm being tested by my MIL

We have been summoned (not invited, but told our presence was expected) to the in-law's for an early New Year's Eve dinner.

I asked, as I was raised to do, what we could bring.

MIL has responded with a text - "rice salad". I asked her for preferences - hot/cold, any ingredients I should include/exclude, etc. Nope. No clues.
In 5 years, I have never been served rice salad at their house. DH never remembers his mom making or serving rice salad. His overall feeling is that this a test. (MIL isn't my biggest fan.)
We are in the UK, if that makes a difference to anyone who might have a clue as to what this woman is expecting me to bring. I'm kind of wavering between wild rice/nuts/fresh herbs/celery? and something with a Moroccan vibe.
I know from prior experience with their palates that onions, garlic, strong dressings, cilantro, anything too spicy will not be welcomed.
Any suggestions appreciated. In the meantime, I will be hitting the cookbooks!

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    1. "salad" to me implies not hot, but i prefer these things room temp vs. refrigerator cold. i'd bring everything separate and combine all the ingredients and toss with dressing when you get to the party, so nothing goes soggy and the flavors and colors remain distinct and vibrant.

      keep it simple if that's the room to which you will be playing. moroccan might not be the way to go. :)

      curly parsley for texture with baby yellow grape tomatoes, cut in 1/2 and a sharp lemony dressing.

      frozen peas and chopped mint and scallions with a thin yogurt dressing or an orange vinaigrette.

      dried cranberries, spiced pecans, tangerine segments.

      i wouldn't do more than a few ingredients for these peeps. good luck.

      1. I'd bring three very different and phenomenal rice salads. I would smile as I said "You didn't specify which kind you wanted." (I also deal with a difficult family member.)

        7 Replies
        1. re: weezieduzzit

          but that can backfire, too (Well, you didn't need to show off...and What are we going to do with THREE salads? and Couldn't you make a decision?)

          Passive-aggressive knows no bounds (happily, I'm no longer married to that family)

          1. re: sunshine842

            Is it at all possible she meant, or will claim to have typed, "nice salad" .. ?

            1. re: blue room

              Can you imagine if she did have a type-o? It could be though, since her son has never had a rice salad at his parents.

              I would call and double check it out.


              1. re: mcel215

                'rice' salad was confirmed via phone call. She's evil.

                1. re: tacosandbeer

                  LOL! That is just the best/worst. I'm seriously laughing out loud and my husband is looking at me funny... and now HE'S laughing!

          2. re: weezieduzzit

            ... and make one of the options glorified rice -- rice, Cool Whip, canned pineapple, and maraschino cherries!

          3. I make one that is always well recieved. I don't care for rice so I use the tiny pasta that looks like rice. Cook it al dente very important. I make a balsamic and olive oil dressing and add fresh garlic to the dressing (you can omit). I love dried cherries, so that goes in, pinon nuts, fresh parsley, scallion, and tiny grape tomatoes. You don't have to stick to my ingredient list, its one of those salads where your own creativity can work. It's best the next day, and it can be served cold or room temperature.
            I first had this salad a very well loved and respected winery here in CA. I pretty much just copied and asked the servers what was in it. They used cranberries, but the one thing that's theirs exact is the dressing. I swear I've recieved the nicest compliments. Whatever you decide, Good Luck to you!!! Happy New Year!

            6 Replies
            1. re: chef chicklet

              Tiny pasta is orzo. It's silkier than rice and very nice. Good suggestion and I'd bet her MIL won't know the difference! (Unless she's gluten intolerant!)

              1. re: rccola

                OMG, I had a brain hiccup! Thank you for correcting my "tiny pasta" bit. That is so much more helpful for the OP!!!

                1. re: rccola

                  Are you kidding? OP feels she is being tested and you want her to made a substitution for what was requested?

                  I like finely chopped carrots, peas, maybe some red pepper in an asian inspired sesame oil/soy dressing.

                  1. re: magiesmom

                    Easy there, tiger:

                    1. I was helping chicklet out

                    2. odds are MIL won't know the diff

                    1. re: rccola

                      Thank you mm. I think you caught that I was only mentioning my preference.

                      1. re: chef chicklet

                        I hope you don't think I was meaning that you were insisting orzo be used. I was just trying to help, reacting to how I feel when I can't think of a fairly common word.

              2. I'd go for the wild rice/nuts/fresh herbs/celery, with maybe some dried cranberries to be festive.

                A Moroccan vibe is going to run full-tilt into garlic, onions, and spicy. (maybe that's what you want)

                I wish you strength.

                7 Replies
                  1. re: salsailsa

                    I have an awesome wild rice salad recipe if she would like to try it.

                    1. re: Leepa

                      The rest of us would, even if she's decided by now.
                      I'm always up for a new wild rice recipe.

                      1. re: bbqboy

                        This is the wild rice salad served at the now closed but very popular Blue Moon Bakery/Cafe in Asheville, NC.

                        1 pound wild rice
                        1 cup dried cranberries
                        1 cup dried apricots, sliced
                        1 cup almond slivers -- toasted (I often used pecans)
                        1 bunch green onions -- chopped
                        1 red bell pepper -- chopped
                        3/4 red onion -- chopped

                        3/4 jar mango chutney
                        4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
                        1/4 red onion
                        1/2 cup oil (your choice, I use grapeseed)
                        salt and pepper -- to taste

                        Cook rice with 1 bay leaf and salt to taste and drain well.
                        Combine cranberries, almonds, apricots, green onions, red peppers, red onions, and mix with rice.
                        In food processor put mango chutney, vinegar, red onion & puree. Add oil in at last minute.
                        Combine dressing with rice mixture and add salt and pepper to taste.
                        Cool and serve.

                        Makes enough to serve about 15 people.

                        1. re: Leepa

                          Thanks! Looks wonderful. Totally different flavors/ingredients than I'm used to with Wild Rice.

                          1. re: Leepa

                            Sounds like a great rec, thanks!

                      2. re: salsailsa

                        okay now wild rice, that's a whole different story. Love it! and this sounds delicious!

                    2. If they like shrimp, that looks like an investment in giving a damn. If they're really traditional not-to-hoity-toity Brits, a cold rice salad with small pieces of battered and fried fish or chicken added at the end. Or if they like smoked fish, some of that in chunks. Or bits of good ham and cheddar with a mustardy-dressing and parsley added at the end.

                      Oh and a big "I won't let you get to me" smile with the statement, "(husband's name) and I wish I could cook like you do!" That covers the possible inevitability of her not liking anything no matter what.

                      1. :) y'all have met my MIL, I see!!! Thanks for the suggestions, and the support!

                        hotoynoodle, I like the less-is-more approach, I think you're right that there's not much point in pulling out all the stops. So far every idea I have run by DH has been met with 'so-and-so doesn't do nuts/black beans/olives/whatever'. Augghhh! Can't they just pick it out or eat something else? I already know the rest of the table is going to be a Costco appetizer nightmare!

                        I'll let y'all know how it goes. Thanks again!

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: tacosandbeer

                          Why not just make something you think you'd like, sans ingredients you know others won't eat? There's no pleasing her anyway, from the sound of it :) Good luck. Your best bet is to take wine & drink plenty of it!

                          1. re: thymeoz

                            If only...I'm 6 months pregnant and will be the only sober one there! Fortunately we have a three-year-old and no sitter, so I will be making a reasonably early escape.
                            I like the idea of just pleasing myself!

                            1. re: tacosandbeer

                              yay! getting away asap can be the only solution to family members like that... I've got experience with that too!!!

                        2. Just curious. What is wild rice in the UK? Same as our "Minnesota" type
                          or the California hybrid or something completely different?
                          I always thought it was unique to the USA.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: bbqboy

                            don't know about the UK, but it's called "riz sauvage" = wild rice in France, and it's imported from the US. (crazy expensive, but available...)

                            1. re: bbqboy

                              I haven't even looked to see if I can get it where I am - I do not live in one of the bigger cities in England, where a variety of int'l foods are more available. But the grocerie stores here occasionally surprise me, so I'll find out in the morning.

                            2. BTW, I just noticed a banner at the bottom of the page with a wild rice-pecan-cranberry salad. If I can't get wild rice, does this sound like it will work ok with white or brown rice?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: tacosandbeer

                                I don't see that recipe, but it would probably work with other rice -- or see if you can find something like my go-to favorite here in France, a three-rice blend of red, white, and brown rice -- nutty enough to use in place of wild when I can't bear the price of riz sauvage.

                              2. Whatever you finally decide to put in it, be sure to freshen it with vinegar or citrus, fresh herbs, and S&P right before you serve it.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Jay F

                                  Love this! I was joking with DH that I was going to carry a lime, knife and my microplane so I could hit it with some citrus while we were waiting for them to answer the door!

                                  1. re: tacosandbeer

                                    Oh, it's absolutely necessary. Don't leave home without your lime.

                                  2. Take anything you do well as a side dish, except rice salad. Sorry to be difficult, but you really need to just take what you do well, and if you allow these people to try and humiliate you from the first "hello" you will not do yourself any favors.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Terrie H.

                                      and set poor tacosandbeer up for a lifetime of "all I asked you to do was to bring a simple rice salad, and you couldn't even manage that"

                                      You have no idea how toxic people like this can be until you've actually lived with one.

                                      The salad will still be called up in family stories until the end of time...but at least MIL got the damned rice salad.

                                    2. I've read through the replies you've received so far. I had a subversive, impossible to please MIL. Looking in the rear view mirror at that, I'd be of the mind to make a luscious tossed salad dressed with a delectable homemade vinaigrette and serve it with a centerpiece of plain boiled white rice, unmolded from some kind of form right smack in the middle of the bowl.

                                      There... She owns it!!

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: nlgardener

                                        yes. it *is not* about finding the perfect recipe... it's about how to deal with a bitch!! :)

                                        1. re: thymeoz

                                          The way to deal with the bitch is to not care what she thinks.
                                          It took me until I was at least 50 to figure this out.
                                          Either she os open to liking your contribution or she is not.
                                          Make something that you think is good and fits the occasion.
                                          The rest is not in your control.

                                          1. re: magiesmom

                                            This is true. I wish I would have known this 25 years ago.

                                              1. re: debvil

                                                you live long enough you learn a little something ;=)

                                                1. re: magiesmom

                                                  Combine this advice with I have to leave early for X and you are golden.

                                        2. You could turn it into a cross cultural exchange and make Hoppin' John! Very traditional Southern dish for New Years. Just make it a little less soupy and garnish with scallions.

                                          I had your MIL. I tried asking her advise, mind reading, ignoring, etc. Knowing I will never have to deal with her again made the breakup soooo much easier! After years of her nonsense I came away having learned to bow out of the game. Make what ever you want. Offer it up with grace. Make no apologies.

                                          1. While not quite rice this is fabulous and looks "rice like"

                                            1. I've made a rice salad before which consisted of wild and white rice, nuts and chopped dates. It was dressed in some sort of vinaigrette and served cold. I believe the vinaigrette was on the sweet side. If I was making it now I'd add chopped celery and maybe chopped sweet onion.

                                              Sorry, I don't have the recipe any more.

                                              Good luck!

                                              1. This sounds like a tough one. If someone sent me a cryptic text like 'rice salad,' I would make a cold rice dish that I thought was yummy and would probably not indulge a whole lot of dietary restrictions.

                                                That said, I love to toss cold rice with good olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and some minced herbs (parsley, basil, chives, whatever you have). I didn't read all of the responses but I'm hoping that's easy enough for your MIL.

                                                Good luck and do report back.

                                                1. I'd do something simple and 'English' like prawn and avocado with a marie-rose dressing (i.e. prawn cocktail) layered with white rice and shredded iceberg lettuce. Maybe top with wedges of lemon and lime and a sprinkle of sweet paprika.
                                                  To keep the rice from clumping maybe mix it with a little of the dressing.
                                                  That should fit well with Costco appatisers!

                                                  1. I saw Ina Garten make a rice salad. She seemed rather excited about it. Generally that is how I pick recipes. I try and gauge how excited the person is that is sharing the recipe. Any howww. I believe that this is the link.


                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: csacks

                                                      as opposed to the Paula Deen outtake where she scowls at the camera and says "this taste like *@&(!"

                                                      I'm guessing she was ecstatic in the final cut...

                                                      1. re: csacks

                                                        I have had something similar to this before - very simple but tasty and surely innoffensive enough. I would possibly add some puy lentils to it also.

                                                        Have you had a look at the bbc website for recipes? Might have recipes with easier to find ingredients since it is UK based. I know that Tilda do a nice mix of wild rice and brown basmati i think - it is in a light green package. That would work well for a salad.

                                                      2. Tell us how it goes. We love family drama. Other people's! And rice salads!

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: rccola

                                                          Well, if you love drama, you've come to the right place!!

                                                          Looked at wild rice this am at the grocery - about $12US for a 6oz box. I'm thinking they aren't worth that, so white rice it is! I will definitely let y'all know how it goes down.

                                                          1. re: tacosandbeer

                                                            Maybe this situation is not worth the effort, but you can buy black "forbidden" rice in East Asian groceries. It adds to the look of the rice and cooks like the regular white rice. And is probably cheap at those places.

                                                            My problem wasn't cooking for my MIL. It was eating her cooking! We once brought home a chicken she cooked and the cat wouldn't try it.

                                                        2. Anyone mentions rice salad or says "bring something", then they get this dish - pesto rice salad (which uses risotto rice rather than long grain).


                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Harters

                                                            winner, winner, chicken dinner --

                                                            "safe" flavors, rice salad, easy (because TnB isn't all that big on standing in the kitchen all day at 6 mos pregnant), easy ingredients to find....


                                                          2. Maybe one way to feel out what she is looking for is to ask what else she is making so your dish will blend seamlessly. Then again, maybe not worth the effort - she seems the type to hate what you make no matter what. I have seen edamame in rice salads before, and it was really good!

                                                            1. Chop some celery, a bit of red onion, add maybe a cup of mayo, and 6 cups of cooked rice. Stir.

                                                              Explain with a straight face that you assume she meant the kind that's similar to tuna salad, and you hope you made it the way she likes.

                                                              1. One of my favorite tavola caldas in Rome makes a seafood rice salad that would be perfect for a New Year's Eve buffet, though I'm not sure where rice salad would fit in a normal dinner. Presumably your MIL has her own ideas on that. This one includes whole small shrimp, bits of smoked salmon, and plenty of (low-end) caviar. I can't remember what else, but probably some minced celery and perhaps a little spring onion, extra virgin olive oil certainly, and probably a squeeze of lemon.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: mbfant

                                                                  A quick search pointed me to this salad http://southernfood.about.com/od/shri... - it actually sounds good as a light lunch served on a bed of greens.

                                                                2. 'Jerusalem' has a recipe for saffron rice with barberry, pistachio, and fresh herbs. No garlic, onion, or heat. You could pick up a copy of the book and report your findings in the COTM thread!

                                                                  Good luck - I get the impression you are going to have a difficult time passing the test no matter what you do.

                                                                  1. Make the rice salad you would choose to make for someone you really care about. Putting love into it could make a big difference--if not from her perspective, at least from yours.

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: escondido123

                                                                      That's a classy answer. Then if the MIL doesn't feel the love, at least it was offered. You did all you could.

                                                                      I've learned a lot from this post, and not just about rice salads.

                                                                      1. 3 hrs to party time. MIL just sent DH a text "tell M I have bell peppers if she wants them for her salad."

                                                                        9 Replies
                                                                        1. re: tacosandbeer

                                                                          Part of me wants to LOL, part of me wants to just give you a big, squeezy hug.

                                                                          But did you put bell peppers in your salad?

                                                                          1. re: tacosandbeer

                                                                            You are correct - pure evil!

                                                                            Deep cleansing breath and sally forth!

                                                                              1. re: tacosandbeer

                                                                                Yes, bell peppers are already chopped. No, I didn't use hers!!

                                                                                Here's what I decided on - I might as well make something I will enjoy, because I have a sneaking suspicion I'll be bringing home the majority of it. So I went with white rice, corn, black beans, red bell peppers and green onion in a lime vinaigrette, lightly seasoned with some cumin and dried ground coriander seed.

                                                                                It looks great, bright and colorful, it's tasty and I think it will be even better at room temp, and once I get the leftovers home, I'm jacking up the flavor with some black olives, fresh cilantro, fresh jalapenos and S&P. (Yeah - S&P are on the 'don't use in food for MIL' list!!!)

                                                                                I decided that the SIL and neice who "don't do black bits" in their food can go walk a plank, if they don't want the black beans, they can pick them out.

                                                                                Now I'm going to have a hot shower and get ready to do lots of deep breathing for the next few hours. Party report in the morning! Thanks so much - y'all have been awesome!

                                                                                1. re: tacosandbeer

                                                                                  ah, but well-played, you rebel you -- bell peppers, but they're RED!

                                                                                  and black beans are dark brown, actually (since it will get to that anyway, you can use it as an argument)

                                                                                  (and it sounds delicious)

                                                                                  1. re: tacosandbeer

                                                                                    It does sound delicious! I wouldn't mind making that one myself.
                                                                                    Thanks for the inspiration!

                                                                                    Happy New Year

                                                                                    1. re: tacosandbeer

                                                                                      Your salad sounds so good, I hope you love it. I have been following your thread as this is something my mother-in-law would do to me too, I felt so bad for you.

                                                                                      I hope you have a nice evening regardless of her reaction to your gorgeous salad. Happy New Year!

                                                                                      1. re: tacosandbeer

                                                                                        your dish sounds delish and well done on taking the high road. :)

                                                                                        happy new year,

                                                                                      2. re: tacosandbeer

                                                                                        She's tightly planned all of this. I just know it. At this point, you're almost off to your party, so take a :::::deep breath!:::: and smile. It'll make your MIL wonder what you're up to. :-D

                                                                                      3. Happy New Year, tacosandbeer-- your salad sounds awesome and beautiful too! Hope you have a good time. Looking forward to your report.

                                                                                        Lucky me-- I had a wonderful MIL who was kind and supportive. Sorry that yours is not. Good luck! Tomorrow is New Years Day-- the big day for Japanese celebrations and I am trying to re-create the dishes that my MIL used to make on NY day!

                                                                                        1. Well, here's how it went down:

                                                                                          We arrived, salad in hand, MIL commented "that looks like it will go with the salmon okay, just put it on the table." (Umm, sure. You're welcome, by the way.) It's shortly after 5pm.

                                                                                          Table is loaded with Costco-style frozen apps, chicken nuggets, phyllo-wrapped shrimp, frozen pizza, small rolls with deli ham and roast beef. She commented that we are "going to get the kids fed first." Rice salad is the only thing on the table that is home-made or with any fresh ingredients.

                                                                                          Fed the kids, MIL starts encouraging the adults to 'dive in'. No sign of anything else being served.

                                                                                          By 8pm, dessert was served. So far, only 3.5 servings of rice have been eaten - by me, DH, our chowpup and the VERY grateful lone vegetarian. (in total, 12 adults present, 6 kids.)

                                                                                          By 9:15, chowpup is beyond tired, and she and I finally make our escape. No sign of that salmon!

                                                                                          DH returned home at 11pm, with all of the remaining salad.
                                                                                          Salmon never made an appearance. DH reports that MIL never touched the salad.

                                                                                          I really appreciate all the support and feel good that I kept my head up, managed to keep my mouth shut, and now I have plenty of leftovers to enhance for today!

                                                                                          Of course, I am left pondering the whole point of putting me through this exercise. And where was the salmon??

                                                                                          22 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: tacosandbeer

                                                                                            that is SO weird.

                                                                                            But over, mercifully.

                                                                                            the point was, of course, to show you a hoop and see if you'd jump through it. It's a bullshit power game, but New Year's Eve with the family all round isn't the time or place to tell her to get stuffed. (and hopefully DH will be there to back you up when the time and place reveal themselves)

                                                                                            Happy New Year, TnB.

                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                              Happy New Year's to you, too!

                                                                                              I did, after being offered crap frozen apps for about the seventh time, put my hand on my hugely pregnant belly and say "I've got no more room for food, this baby is up to here, but thanks!" and MIL retorted "oh, that baby needs to be fed!" So I just told her fine, I'll make sure to call her at 2am when the heartburn really kicks in. That shut her up.

                                                                                              DH always has my back when it comes to his mom, thankfully!

                                                                                              1. re: tacosandbeer

                                                                                                glad to hear that -- I've known a few people who's DH (or DW) won't back them up with the evil MIL...and that makes life really, really tough.

                                                                                                1. re: tacosandbeer

                                                                                                  Or you could have said "Oh, I'll have some of the rice salad - the baby seems to really like fresh food!" ;-)

                                                                                                  Glad your husband backs you up with his mother.

                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                    Tuesday morning quarterbacking, I'd say, "I'd never serve that bloody chemical-laden crap to my baby!"

                                                                                                  2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                    Just got a phone call from SIL, who has been at MIL's for lunch today.
                                                                                                    They had cold salmon!!

                                                                                                    1. re: tacosandbeer

                                                                                                      Good morning and Happy New Year. This is the best outcome--it solves the age-old problem of "God, I hate to waste this on (...). Pearls before swine!"

                                                                                                      You have lots of lovely leftovers, you know exactly how things are and so does your DH, and now you are certain NOT to make anything but what you like to eat. Frees up all that worry and effort that generated this lovely thread.

                                                                                                      Or make nothing at all and say, every year, "Oh, goodness, I forgot it at home with the salmon!" She'll get it.

                                                                                                      Bon appetit!

                                                                                                      1. re: tacosandbeer

                                                                                                        I bet she did want you to leave it for the next days lunch, which I assumed you were not invited to today?

                                                                                                        1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                          No, DH said he was headed out the door and MIL chased him down with the leftovers.
                                                                                                          And I am rarely invited to their house on my own (all the boys are at the football match today). Fine with me - it's easier that way!

                                                                                                    2. re: tacosandbeer

                                                                                                      Very very weird.

                                                                                                      And the whole point was control on her side. She *made* you make something, and then completely ignored it. She thinks she had the upper hand. Key word is "thinks".

                                                                                                      1. re: tacosandbeer

                                                                                                        Nicely played, tnb, well done! And Happy New Year!

                                                                                                        1. re: GretchenS

                                                                                                          Agreed. I only wish she could have an anonymous email with a link to this thread. It would probably fly right over her head though...

                                                                                                        2. re: tacosandbeer

                                                                                                          Here's another way of looking at all this. I encourage you to consider the musical and book "Wicked," seeing the Wizard of Oz story from the point of view of the witch. Consider if the witch might secretly be suffering from shooting pains in her back all day and therefore is b***y to all. Not an excuse, but possibly a reason. Or dotes on her son so no woman could ever be "good enough" for him. Whatever the reason, you could sail through it all without reacting, with the appearance of a "teflon daughter-in-law" (criticism slides off you and you are effortlessly sweet and kind, without even having to try).

                                                                                                          Why she assigned you rice salad.
                                                                                                          She doesn't like rice salad; that is why she hasn't made it in your DH's memory. She wanted to assign you something since you asked, but was already planning to provide everything she actually wanted to eat. So she came up with something she doesn't even like eating, but knows other people sometimes do.

                                                                                                          Why she didn't eat it.
                                                                                                          See above.

                                                                                                          Who "won", and by how much.
                                                                                                          You won, because she didn't criticize. Probably because you did follow almost all of the instructions. But note, you did fulfill her unspoken prophesy of not being able to comply with a simple request, because you did not follow all of her family's encyclopedic food-preferences even though several people here offered recipes which did not include all the forbidden foods (you did include onions, but green onions aren't quite as strong as regular, and you also included black beans, so you got a B+ I suppose - resulting in snideness from her but no actual criticism).

                                                                                                          Why no salmon?
                                                                                                          Because she is an old woman and forgot the salmon. It sounds ridiculous but I have seen this happen and have practically done it myself and I'm only middle-aged: at our annual Mardi Gras party, I have twice forgotten to hold the promised "Costume Judging at 9 pm" even as hopeful, sleepy kids turn big eyes in my direction and their parents hint that they need to go home soon. When you are hosting something you can get easily distracted with all the things you are thinking about (need to re-mix drinks or find more cups? who is entering and did anyone take their coat? can husband be convinced to help niece clean up that spill so you can bring out another tray of sodium-laden Costco appetizers?)

                                                                                                          With hugs for your experience - you did beautifully, and you bit your tongue and didn't say anything terribly mean when she was pushing food on you, so that is a win. She may want you to be nasty so she will have an excuse to exclude you from family events. Staying polite and preserving the possibility of at least a cold relationship may be important if you want your chowpup to keep being able to see other relatives on that side of the family. It is hard to come up with polite answers to rudeness, but you remain the better person and it is good for the sake of your child (and your husband). Sorry for all the moralizing and talkativeness. Well done, OP.

                                                                                                            1. re: Julia_T

                                                                                                              From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

                                                                                                              I am trying. After telling me we'd never do it, DH moved us to the UK and we live - literally - in the in-law's back yard. I am 6000 miles from home, pregnant, and the concept of having family next door that I can not rely on, let alone even feel comfortable around, has made this a very challenging year. I struggle between keeping the peace and wanting to stand up to this woman and giving her a piece of my mind. I win my little private battles by cooking circles around her when I can.

                                                                                                              1. re: tacosandbeer

                                                                                                                Don't worry. You'll join a mum's group once the baby is born and soon make friends. Meanwhile, cook your heart out for the others and soon they'll preferentially take your offerings over hers--just a matter of time and developing tastes!

                                                                                                                Mexican tastes are good to slip in there, the less gourmet the better to start. It seems to be hard-wired in the male genome to like fajitas and tacos.

                                                                                                                (My MIL was used to being the queen bee in the family. Thank goodness everyone agreed she was an awful cook.)

                                                                                                              2. re: tacosandbeer

                                                                                                                Erm, she forgot to serve the entree?! Has she always been weird and controlling? I wonder if you shouldn't have her checked for dementia.

                                                                                                                1. re: tacosandbeer

                                                                                                                  Stick up for yourself in the future. Your instincts are right, so follow them and manage your MIL, rather than her managing you. I only learned this from being older and lots of "I wish I had done..." -- just advice from someone with experience.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Terrie H.

                                                                                                                    How true. Looking back, when my MIL said something nasty to me, I wish I would have smiled and said, "It's so lovely to spend time with you, Norma." That would have taken some wind out of her sails.

                                                                                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                      Easier said than done, I know, but I tend to think the best revenge is not giving someone like that your time and energy beyond the time you have to be around her. If you're sitting around thinking you had said such and such snappy comeback or trying to figure out which food item will keep her the calmest or make her the most upset, or whatever, she has sort of won in that she's wormed her way into your mind. If a similar situation came up for me, I think I would make something neutralish, say, rice with vinaigrette and parsley, and if I got some snide remark, say "I'm sorry it wasn't what you wanted" or just say nothing. As they say, arguing with a fool proves there are two. Though I do have to agree that after a certain amount of politely enduring relentless rudeness, a big smile and a "thank you for the warm welcome" or some such is quite appropriate.

                                                                                                                2. TnB
                                                                                                                  Happy New Year! You carried it off with grace and class. Good for you! Congratulations-- I think you won this one!

                                                                                                                  1. Ouch! No salt or pepper? Am I reading correct? How did they make all those wonderful little frozen appetizers without salt and pepper? Does MIL know how to cook rice herself? Maybe she was hoping you would leave it there and serve the salad today with her salmon. ha!

                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: DarthEater

                                                                                                                      they make all those little frozen appetizers by opening the box, emptying them into a baking dish, and baking them.

                                                                                                                      Plenty of s&P already in the appetizers....

                                                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                        Thats what i meant. I thought that was on her MIL list of nono's when in fact everything she served already had it. I guess everything comes magically seasoned with S+P, including homemade dishes so no need to add.

                                                                                                                        1. re: DarthEater

                                                                                                                          OP should have gone to Costco and bought rice salad. Or sent DH as he is the Spawn of Satan. A very nice SoS but still wants OP to visit Satan.