Helping with funeral catering

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Helping with funeral catering

Postby tezza » July 3rd, 2010, 5:09 pm

We are just two days away from OH's nan's funeral, or as we like to call it, celebration of her life.

Obviously as we are so close as a family we are helping with all the planning arrangements including the catering, as I am sure many on here would have had to do in the past. If so I would love to hear about your experiences.

Today OH's mum asked us if we could go to the supermarket an buy the drinks. We went to Asda for some good deals on booze and managed to spend £320 on 30 bottles of wine, 72 cans of lager, 72 cans of bitter, a bottle of gin, one of brandy, 3 large bottles of cream sherry, bottles of tonic water, bitter lemon, lemonade, cola, oh and I threw lemons and ice cube bags into the trolley too. While we were piling our haul onto the checkout conveyor belt I did mumble to OH 'Why didn't we shop online and get this lot delivered??!!'

By the way, if that seems like a lot of booze we are expecting about 150 back to the wake. OH's nan was a much loved lady. :luv: :luv:

Anyway, I have never driven home so carefully in my life. I seriously did not want any of that lot smashing in the back of my car.

Unfortunately I am unable to take Monday, the day of the funeral, off work as my colleague has already booked holiday and we aren't both allowed to be off at the same time, :twisted: but they have agreed I can leave early to get there for the service - JUST! I really wanted to help with the food side of things on Monday morning, but as I cannot be there I have offered to make a cheesecake and a cheeseboard which I can assemble the day before. A close family friend is making sandwiches, salad, various other finger food items.

OH's mum today sprung on us that she would like a little vase of flowers on each of the tables she has for her garden, around 8 in total. Trying to keep costs to a minimum, and bearing in mind there aren't many places round here still open that would be able to sell me 8 vases before the funeral, I have had a brainwave. I bought 4 jars of jam, 4 jars of lemon curd & some ready rolled pastry. Tomorrow I will make jam and lemon curd tarts for the wake and will use the jars as vases. We are going to pretty them up with ribbons and lace. :)

It will be a very emotional day for all. OH is going to wear his fire brigade colour party uniform because his nan was so proud of him. And I remember how blown away I was at my grandad's funeral 14 years ago when I saw how many people had come to pay respect. It will the same on Monday, so many people coming!

There is no doubt in my mind, Monday will truly be a most welcolming celebration of such a wonderful person's life. :hug: :hug:
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Re: Helping with funeral catering

Postby tezza » July 3rd, 2010, 5:15 pm

If so I would love to hear about your experiences.


Oh dear, I hope that didn't come across as morbid! I meant the catering side of things of course and not necessarily the funeral. :o

We are slightly panicking that although we have almost bought the whole of Asda's booze aisle we still won't have enough! Have you ever done the same? Tried to cater for unknown numbers and either ended up with not enough or far too much? We do have the village shop round the corner if we need to pay a visit for drink or food items.
Last edited by tezza on July 3rd, 2010, 5:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Helping with funeral catering

Postby uschi » July 3rd, 2010, 7:07 pm

In Germany we have a tradition that we go to a café after the funeral for Kaffee und Kuchen (coffee and cake), but in rural settings you might expect this to happen at the village hall or the deceased's home. In that case, depending on how close the family or village community is, the cakes will either be home-made (everyone pitching in to help out) or ordered from the bakers.

As for catering for big numbers, we had a street party three weeks ago and no idea how many would turn up. It's not such a problem anymore as the shops are open all day on Saturdays now, so we calculated a bit lower. We served the equivalent of sandwiches and mini-pastries for those with a sweet tooth. No alcohol this time, as we have never had that many adults in attendance.
It was rainy, so only the children turned up, but they tucked in with gusto and I had to nip out for more breadrolls and butter. We'd calculated the cuts of meat and cheese right but needed 20 breadrolls on top of the fifty we'd ordered.

As it was, we'd overdone it on the drinks front, but as it was all Aldi mineral water and soft drinks it wasn't too much of a financial shock. We gave it to the community centre and that was that.


Great idea with the jam pots! You can also use little rounds of paper lace for pastry as doilies. Otherwise I'd have suggested looking at pretty bottles like Ty Nant's blue ones, although they can be a bit narrow on top for a small bunch.
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Re: Helping with funeral catering

Postby sueturnersmith » July 3rd, 2010, 7:36 pm

It sounds like it's going to be quite a send-off/celebration of life! She must have been a very special lady.

I would keep the food simple, to cater for all ages. Sandwiches are a good idea - nothing too fancy, just ham, egg and cress, etc, maybe some quiches, cocktail sausages, crisps, and some cakes. The jam and curd tarts sound good, but you might find it cheaper to roll your own pastry if you can - the ready rolled stuff is quite small.

I think I would get some squash as well, especially if there will be children going. And maybe some biscuits?

I hope it all goes well, and turns out to be a fitting celebration.
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Re: Helping with funeral catering

Postby tezza » July 3rd, 2010, 7:52 pm

Interesting to read how you do things in your neck of the woods uschi. And we have stocked up on soft drinks too, lots of orange, lemon & blackcurrant squash. I am pretty much sure that kiddie to expected adult ratio there will quite a few kids about. That's why I though jam tarts would go down well. :D

I gather the sandwiches will be simple and OH makes a mean quiche or two. They will go down a storm.

To get off work early enough I've got to be in by 7am. Apart from supporting OH throughout I think that will be the toughest part of the day!
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Re: Helping with funeral catering

Postby MrsWWoof » July 3rd, 2010, 8:02 pm

I posted something about 10 minutes ago but it seems to have disappeared?

Regarding the jam/lemon curd tarts and using ready rolled pastry - I would cut the pastry into squares to avoid any wastage and you can still push them into the round holes in pan trays to cook them.

Sounds like the Celebration of your OH's Nan's Life will be a good and fitting send off for her - hope all goes well
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Re: Helping with funeral catering

Postby uschi » July 3rd, 2010, 8:11 pm

Tezza, when my Wuppertal gran died in 1977, everybody and his dog turned up as she'd hoped and the café did a roaring trade. It was the party of the decade, in the end they ran out of food and anyway, it was late, or so they gently reminded us. It sounds heartless, but it was exactly what Oma Gretchen would have wanted.

I hope that your Gran will have a great send-off.
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Re: Helping with funeral catering

Postby tezza » July 4th, 2010, 2:47 pm

Today has been a bit 'tetchy' with so much to be done, me and OH have found ourselves niggling at one another, raised voices, etc. We were both going to go over and help get the garden ready with marquis and tables, cut the grass, tidy the rockery, that sort of thing, but I made up an excuse that it was far too hot at midday when OH set off on his bike and I would be better off spending my afternoon at home getting the jars ready with ribbons that we picked up this morning from a garden centre. He toddled off alone and now the jars are all made (far more fiddly than I expected!) and I have made a Victoria sandwich (to be creamed and jammed in the morning), a lemon meringue sponge and a rhubarb & custard cake. Also the jam and lemon curd tarts, which have turned out looking a little bit like Yorkshire puddings actually! OH's brother is just on his way over to pick the cakes up as we don't have room for them overnight in our fridge. Then I'm cycling over and we are all having a bit of tea.

Thanks for the well wishes folks. I will post on here how it goes tomorrow. One thing that is for sure is nobody is going to go hungry!
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Re: Helping with funeral catering

Postby 18kari » July 4th, 2010, 6:09 pm

massive hug from me tezza :hug: :hug: :hug: :hug: when my steve died we did the catering but no one would let me do anything!, i am so sorry, love to you and all the family, you know where i am :hug: karen x
who is now slowly getting there!
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Re: Helping with funeral catering

Postby tezza » July 4th, 2010, 7:45 pm

18kari wrote:massive hug from me tezza :hug: :hug: :hug: :hug: when my steve died we did the catering but no one would let me do anything!, i am so sorry, love to you and all the family, you know where i am :hug: karen x


Thanks Karen :hug: These are truly trying times but we are all rallying round. I am totally pooped after today! OH and all the cats are fast asleep. I may join them. The poor lemon meringue cake suffered in the heat today. I made something similar to this.

http://www.nigella.com/recipe/recipe_de ... px?rid=180

Once it had cooled from the oven I sandwiched it with the filling and popped it in the fridge. Ten minutes or so later OH's brother came to pick it up as I was running out of fridge space. By the time he got it to his mum's fridge 4 miles away the whole filling had melted in the heat and oozed out leaving a rather ugly cake! :terrified: Hopefully a night in the fridge will cool it down enough so that we can make it look pretty again.

I just wish I could be around tomorrow morning to help with the rest of the food. So much to do!
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Re: Helping with funeral catering

Postby karadekoolaid » July 4th, 2010, 10:43 pm

Very sorry about nan, but I'm sure she'll be smiling when she sees all the effort you 've all made to give her a good send off.
Now, there's another thing:
I just wish I could be around tomorrow morning to help with the rest of the food. So much to do!


You cant be there, so avoid unnecessary stress. You've done what you can, and now you have to delegate the responsibilities to others. You'll be working, so that's it. Make sure those who are responsible for putting it all together have done so, then rest easy.

Enjoy the party - that's what Wakes are for; to remember all the good times you had with Denise, all the wonderful things she did and to celebrate her life on earth.
" Bite off more than you can chew, then chew like Hell!"
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Re: Helping with funeral catering

Postby tezza » July 5th, 2010, 7:08 am

What a lovely post karadekoolaid. Thanks for that. :hug:

Just catching up on Wildfood before I plough into my work for the next 5 hours. Getting home and changed and over to the service by 2:30pm is going to be a tough call as there are road works in between which I can't avoid unless I take a massive detour! :terrified:

I'm trying not to fret over the fact that OH may forget to take the cakes over with him this morning. And the possibility that whoever picks the flowers to go in the jars that I made may pick the wrong colour. Picky me! :roll:

I am looking forward to a lovely gathering this afternoon. This time 10 years ago it was my own nan's funeral, bless her. We were very close and it hit me hard. All I can do is stay strong for OH and help him through his grief this time around. :hug:
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Re: Helping with funeral catering

Postby PurpleLuv » July 5th, 2010, 7:45 am

Tezza, I hope today passes fine :hug:

a funny story, I made one of my first buffets for Ex OH elderly great Aunt's funeral 12 or so years ago, we where living with family at the time as our house purchase was going through.

I made all the salads etc but had no herbs to garninsh anything with, the owners of the house had nothing I could use.

I came across a tub in the fridge & thought, why not :shock:

I garnished all the dishes with weed, it was a cheerful event :lol:
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Re: Helping with funeral catering

Postby tezza » July 6th, 2010, 12:25 pm

Just a quick report back that yesterday was a lovely and horrible day all at the same time. It broke my heart seeing OH and his brother in bits through the service and by the grave. I held it all together until we had all had a few drinks at the wake and then just couldn't stop crying. The service was beautiful and very respectful. So many people came back to the house. All my jam and lemon curd tarts were eaten, the lemon meringue cake was devoured with gusto! OH's mum forgot to get my Victoria sandwich out of the fridge, and there were three of those that other people had made anyway, so I brought mine into work today and colleagues have made light work of polishing the whole thing off.

I really wish I could have taken today off work too as my eyes are so swollen & sore that I am having trouble focussing!

Here's to a good many years before we have to go through anything like that again. :cry:
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Re: Helping with funeral catering

Postby ianinfrance » July 6th, 2010, 5:05 pm

Hi Tezza
I'm really glad for you that you WERE able to weep. A funeral is about grieving - and if one feels somehow that one has to keep a stiff upper lip (tewwibly British,) then you can't let the grief out and begin to live a full life again. Sorry if I' sound as if I'm preaching, but it's too sad to see people who can't bring themselves to admit their pain. I'm also really glad that it went well, food wise.
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Re: Helping with funeral catering

Postby tezza » July 6th, 2010, 7:30 pm

ianinfrance wrote:Hi Tezza
I'm really glad for you that you WERE able to weep. A funeral is about grieving - and if one feels somehow that one has to keep a stiff upper lip (tewwibly British,) then you can't let the grief out and begin to live a full life again. Sorry if I' sound as if I'm preaching, but it's too sad to see people who can't bring themselves to admit their pain. I'm also really glad that it went well, food wise.


Thanks Ian for confirming what I have discovered over the years. In 1996 when my granddad died, the first close family member I ever lost, and suddenly too, my family fell apart and I felt that I needed to stay strong for them. I didn't shed a tear, until about 2 years later when it started coming out in weird ways - bad dreams, couldn't sleep, didn't want to go up to bed in the evening. I ended up having counselling to get me back on track and find out the cause. When my nan died 4 years later I wailed and wailed both day and night whenever I got the urge and it was best thing I could have done.

OH's brother was like a completely broken man in that church but a couple of hours later at the wake he was chatting about the good memories and smiling. A funeral gives people the opportunity to show their grief, share their grief and celebrate the deceased person's life. It also generally gives everyone a chance to eat lovingly prepared food and consume vast amounts of alcohol if they so wish. One guest had to be carried home last night, the embarrasing individual! (OH's ex! :shock: )
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Re: Helping with funeral catering

Postby ianinfrance » July 6th, 2010, 8:28 pm

tezza wrote:Thanks Ian for confirming what I have discovered over the years.
:hug: :hug: :hug: :hug: :hug: :hug: :hug:
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Re: Helping with funeral catering

Postby tezza » July 6th, 2010, 8:37 pm

ianinfrance wrote:
tezza wrote:Thanks Ian for confirming what I have discovered over the years.
:hug: :hug: :hug: :hug: :hug: :hug: :hug:


Thank you. :hug:
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