Thursday, January 3, 2013

Holidays are Over but we Still Have to Eat!

My job over the Holidays was mainly baking. We had no guests staying with us, and only a few came to share some goodies. I made no meals. We went to relatives houses for Christmas. We are not great party people and were in bed by 10 PM on New Year's Eve. New Years was quiet. I had planned to make a pork roast on New Years Day, but we were going to be alone, and we had so many left over appetizers we could be (and are) eating them for days. My sister in law and a friend are coming over this weekend for a real meal. The meal I had originally thought to make on New Years Day. It will be a nice large meal, but no real "courses", and only feeding four.

Anita's Beautiful New Year's Eve Table

One of my sisters had in-house guests over the New Year's holidays. She made a huge 4-course Indian dinner for eight people on New Year's Eve and just sent pictures of her beautiful table, which, as always looked spectacular. She slaved over some of the elements of the dinner, for days ahead of time. Indian desserts are extremely labor intensive, and this was no different, requiring hours over the stove stirring, stirring. Then, while she made her rice ahead, it turned out far too spicy for her guests, so she set that batch aside and made a simpler Saffron Rice. Everything was prepared well in advance that could be. Still, at the last moment, she realized the shrimp she bought that were supposed to be raw and broiled, were actually precooked shrimp, so that meant a last minute run to the grocery when time was short. The meal turned out excellently and was a complete success, all thanks to the excellent pre-planning. Even so, after cooking and caring for guests nonstop for a month she quipped, "I don't care if I never cook again!"

Anita's Table: Glassware, Candles, Decor
There are some times that planning a meal is just a little more ambitious than what it seemed it should have been. My sister and I have been paying far more attention in recent years to the planning of that type of large meal. I used to just select recipes that I wanted to make, and then go crazy with the prep work, much of which was last minute. These days we pay closer attention to selecting recipes with an eye to what can be made ahead, and how far ahead. Making ahead is still only half the battle, because if everything has to be reheated last minute, or is not completely done but needs extra work, you are still in a rush. If guests are waiting, the pressure is on. Too many last minute details and you are still run ragged, even if you did all the prep ahead.

If you make large meals with many courses, think ahead. Plan out each step, what must be accomplished and by when, including right up to serving time. This doesn't always work 100% but it truly helps. The meals always turn out wonderfully, but it's nice to be able to enjoy them yourself, too.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website, on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.