Tuesday, August 24, 2010

was it all about the cookin'?

Prep for Party #51 began in the early morning hours as my three year old, filled with the back to school spirit, was up and at 'em at 6:45 AM.  Having promised a dear friend a batch of homemade muffins and a special breakfast for the impromptu sleepover guests, this early rising was not without its benefits. As blueberry muffins baked and french toast hissed on the griddle, I sipped some coffee and reflected on the previous ninety days.  As I moved on to prep for our late lunch, I chopped and sauteed all things needed for our comforting entree.  I first came across this chicken recipe on an episode of Emeril's Kitchen.  As he described serving the roux bathed chicken alongside a pile of fresh pasta I knew that it was the perfect cure for a mood laced with melancholy.

Around 3:00 our guests arrived and shared three bottles of wonderful wine before taking a seat at the bar to enjoy my summer projects: herb infused bread and spicy pickled green beans.  These proved to be time well spent as one guest insisted that she could make a meal from this alone.  As we caught up on the  summer months I mistakenly thought I was 100% organized, however I had neglected the inventory of one key meal component: the drink box.   At three years old, you can't enjoy a Saturday meal with your friends without some Mott's Reduced Sugar.

After the necessary juice run,  the meal was enjoyed by both kids and adults.  When the older guests discussed meeting family members in unmentionable establishments and comments from friends made at a costume party, the younger members stripped down to their unmentionables and began chasing each other in a game we were never meant to understand.

Once the request for s'mores turned into a demand, I moved back to the kitchen for dessert construction.  Can I say, thank god for kid friendly desserts?  Not only was this popular, but it was the easiest dessert to date:

  1. spread fresh peanut butter on a graham cracker
  2. place sliced bananas atop peanut butter
  3. place roasted marshmallow atop banana
  4. Top with graham cracker.
Seriously?  You spend more time deciding which cake to buy from the bakery.  

A few hours later, our friends gathered their offspring and headed towards home. However it was not before leaving me with a comment that I have pondered more than a few times in last three days.  

"I bet these parties taught you more about people than cooking."

Cooking Notes:
Michael Ruhlman's Ratio:  This was my second attempt at his weight-based approach to baking, and once again it was an amazing loaf of bread.  This book is worth $27 for the bread explanations alone, however considering its repeated success, I'm tempted to dabble with the other recipes.  Stay tuned!
Home Canning: I was left to my own devices one weeknight this summer and decided to turn leftover green beans into a sort of homemade pickle.  The result was a fantastic snack and an easy appetizer.  Next time you have fresh vegetables and some extra time,  I recommend a Google canning search.

The Party In Numbers:
Parties Completed: 51
Weeks Before Deadline: 2
Bottles Consumed: 3.5
Justified Purchases: zero! 

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