St. Patrick’s Day at the McGuire’s —it was going to be grand! Five couples plus ourselves would gather in the dining room of our newly built home to enjoy some traditional Irish fare. It was our first real dinner party in the home that we had spent the previous year piling our hopes, dreams and finances into while construction took place.

We started the evening with a glass of cheer and our take on the traditional Irish potato pancake called boxty. Guests gathered around the counter in the kitchen eating small pancakes served with turkey bacon and sour cream for dipping. Though this presentation strays from its roots a bit, the tasty result has gained the dish acceptance in our little world.

Also on the menu was roast leg of lamb, colcannon (an Irish dish of mashed potatoes and kale), an Irish Farmhouse Salad and dinner rolls with a simple apple crisp and homemade sour cream ice cream for dessert.

In attendance were new neighbors and some people from Jim’s office. They were all very nice people, of course. That said, it was not a group of close-knit friends and the size of the group already had me a little anxious. Adding to that was a sudden shortage of leg of lamb in the greater Cincinnati area resulting in a mad panic to defrost a frozen one in time to properly prepare and cook it. I’ll blame my youth, but changing the menu was somehow not an option. We had gone on and on about the menu when we eagerly invited folks, bragging that we would serve true Irish food: only good.

The timer sounded, it was time to remove the roast. We encouraged our guests to make their way to the dining room and feel free to enjoy their salad while we let the roast rest and readied other fare. As some lingered, I went to the drawer to grab a new dish towel to use to remove the roast from the oven.

“What are you doing?” Asked my befuddled husband. He started to reach into the cabinet above the oven for the hot mitts.

“I’ve GOT IT, honey,” I said, widening my eyes and looking intently into his, as if somehow this would telepathically transmit my thoughts to him. He closed the cabinet door. Phew.

Please, don’t tell me that you have never let your only pair of oven mitts become horrifyingly stained and greasy, with patchy burns where charred puffs of stuffing pop out and you can no longer tell what color they originally were? Okay. Well, we had. What would people think?

I held the dish towel, draped over my hands, and gingerly reached into the oven to retrieve the roast pan. The smell of the lamb, rosemary, garlic wafted into my face in a wave of warmth. My mouth started to water. Then, wait. There was a burning smell. No! We had done everything just right. It couldn’t be! Then the flame on the dish towel caught my eye. It must have touched the heating element.

“Ack!!” There was a kerfuffle as I released the dish back to the oven rack and pulled out the dish towel, pounding it on the stove-top to distinguish the small flame. Jim came to my assistance with another towel and smothered the flames. Relief. We can recover from this. Easy explanation and move on, right?

Moments later, an assaulting horn, “WEEEE, WOOOO, WEEEE, WOOOO!” The top-of-the-line smoke alarm in our new kitchen was in full alert mode, lights rotating, siren blaring. As Jim reached to remove the cover to quiet it, a second, in the hallway, ““WEEEE, WOOOO, WEEEE, WOOOO!” Then a third, upstairs, “WEEEE, WOOOO, WEEEE, WOOOO!”

“It’s okay! It’s okay!” We announced as we scrambled about the house turning off fire alarms. “We just caught a dish towel on fire! Sorry!” Our guests were surprisingly calm. Did they simply expect this kind of inaptitude from all young couples? We encouraged another round of Guinness or a glass of wine while we gathered our wits.

Luckily, the roast had been removed from the oven before all the alarming excitement. We cracked a few windows and managed to get through our special dinner party without further drama.

Late that night we lay in bed talking over the event which would later become known in our household as The Great St. Paddy’s Day Inferno. Just before lights out and a peck on the cheek, Jim said to me, “Well, love, at least no one saw your ugly oven mitts.”

(Originally published Oct. 5, 2017)

As embarrassing as that St. Paddy’s Day was, eating together is always a wonderful way to connect. Sometimes when things go wrong people see another side of you and can relate. Have you had a dinner party disaster? We’d love to hear about it! Leave us a comment or feel free to email me!