Successful Party

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This year I was the smartest I’ve ever been, proving that you can teach an old dog!  I started my prep a day ahead of time, so when my guests arrived I was not a basket case of last minute panics.  Nothing I made takes a lot of time. . .unless you’re making enough for an army.  Or two.

When was the last time you peeled, seeded and sliced 18 long English cucumbers?  That’s a lot of cucumbers.  Then there were the carrots, shallots and red peppers for the acar (Indonesian cucumber salad).

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The worst part about the nasi goring (Indonesian fried rice) is the prep, but I’m even smart about that, too.  I buy the chicken when it’s on sale and cut it up into the proper size chunks and freeze it per batch.  I buy the rice from the Chinese restaurant because it’s better if it’s a day old and cool anyway.  Everything else has to be chopped a day before.  The hot red peppers are the worst.  I learned the hard way to wear glasses, gloves and tie a dish towel over my face. . .my version of a hazmat suit. . . because the hot goes right into my lungs otherwise.  One year I rubbed my eye hours after I had washed my hands!  Yikes!   

It takes me two solid hours of stirring and adding at the stove with two woks going at the same time.  During the process I look like a demented muppet, throwing food all over and speaking in tongues.  This year it was cold enough outside so I made it a day ahead, too and put it on the hood of John’s car in the garage to cool.  Usually I’m doing the nasi on the day of the brunch with the hot oven full of other stuff and all that’s left of me is my shoes curling up under the stove, like the wicky witch in Munchkin Land.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

 

Today I am grateful for successful parties.  When I was younger I used to wonder why a caterer charged so much to make, serve and clean up after a party.  Then I started doing it myself and I understood.  What a lot of work.  Fun, yes, but a lot of work, too.

 

 

 

This year I was the smartest I’ve ever been, proving that you can teach an old dog!  I started my prep a day ahead of time, so when my guests arrived I was not a basket case of last minute panics.  Nothing I made takes a lot of time. . .unless you’re making enough for an army.  Or two.

 

 

 

When was the last time you peeled, seeded and sliced 18 long English cucumbers?  That’s a lot of cucumbers.  Then there were the carrots, shallots and red peppers for the acar (Indonesian cucumber salad).

 

 

 

The worst part about the nasi goring (Indonesian fried rice) is the prep, but I’m even smart about that, too.  I buy the chicken when it’s on sale and cut it up into the proper size chunks and freeze it per batch.  I buy the rice from the Chinese restaurant because it’s better if it’s a day old and cool anyway.  Everything else has to be chopped a day before.  The hot red peppers are the worst.  I learned the hard way to wear glasses, gloves and tie a dish towel over my face. . .my version of a hazmat suit. . . because the hot goes right into my lungs otherwise.  One year I rubbed my eye hours after I had washed my hands!  Yikes!    

 

 

 

It takes me two solid hours of stirring and adding at the stove with two woks going at the same time.  During the process I look like a demented muppet, throwing food all over and speaking in tongues.  This year it was cold enough outside so I made it a day ahead, too and put it on the hood of John’s car in the garage to cool.  Usually I’m doing the nasi on the day of the brunch with the hot oven full of other stuff and all that’s left of me is my shoes curling up under the stove, like the wicky witch in Munchkin Land.

 

 

 

My kitchen is perfectly adequate. . .for us. . .but I want to cook for the masses. Oh I can  cook for the masses, I just don’t have any place to put the crap when it comes out of the oven.  The counter is U shaped but the sink, stove and fridge are all in the U.  That leaves me with very little flat, work surface.  I am my own island, holding pans over my head and spinning like a crazy-susan yelling, “I don’t have any place to put this!”

 

 

 

I need the small counter for the coffee maker and Keurig, so that’s completely out of commission.  We put the board in the kitchen table so that infringes on my work space.  I put the crock pot on a bunch of books (thank you to a favorite author, Lisa Scottoline, whose books are all the same size) on my bedroom dresser with the ham in it.  We throw a table cloth over the washer and dryer, so that’s the bar.  A white plastic table cloth in the big tub sink is where the ice and cold drinks go.  A couple of portable tables go right smack in the living room for the plates and food. 

 

 

 

I put notes on the table to be sure I have room for everything and I don’t forget something, but this year I forgot about the damned chicken salad sandwiches anyway.  They were still on John’s car after everyone ate.  Maybe next year I’ll save some work and put the whole bloody buffet on his car.  That way I can drive it to people’s houses, toss them a plate and they won’t even have to get out of their jammies.

 

 

 

Everyone wants to help and that’s great until they are in the kitchen with me.  We turn in circles and rotate like vertical chickens on a spit.  It just doesn’t work and I can’t baste us both at once!  You can’t open the dishwasher if you have the fridge open.  You can’t open the fridge if the dishwasher door is down.  If you open the dishwasher and the stove at the same time you have to homestead in front of the sink cuz you’re locked in anyway.

 

 

 

I tell them thanks, but just be available when it’s time to serve.  Getting everything done and hot at the same time is an Olympic feat.  When it’s ready, I bark, “I need a runner!” and start tossing pans and potholders at the nearest available human.  On the TV cooking shows they talk about setting out your buffet with order and grace, but “order” is not in my wheel zone and “grace”, the bitch, didn’t show up!  They don’t tell you how to send hot food like a bucket-brigade over the heads of wall-to-wall guests.   If someone gets near my pass-through window to the dining room, I’ll say, “Yo, You! This goes where it says, ‘Veggie quiche-sort-of” and I’ll jam it into someone’s hands.    Or “Put this where it says Mary’s Mexican Lasagna Crap.”; or if I can bust out of the kitchen myself I will speak in my trademark dulcet tones. “Get outta the way!  Hot shit coming through!”  It’s very formal.  And Very Mary.

 

 

 

When the food is on the table, we choose a nearby kid, this year a strong young boy, give him the gong mallet and instruct him to bang that sucker right in the middle with all of his might. He did.  It’s a BIG GONG!  Half of the guests had to be treated for shock because they weren’t expecting it, but they were okay by the time it stopped reverberating off the walls.

 

 

 

I am grateful for every second of a successful party.  I love doing it so much that I will keep it up until no one shows up!  Everyone says, “You should be a caterer!” but I won’t. No way would I work this hard for strangers.  You can’t pay me enough!  Party On!

 

My kitchen is perfectly adequate. . .for us. . .but I want to cook for the masses. Oh I can  cook for the masses, I just don’t have any place to put the crap when it comes out of the oven.  The counter is U shaped but the sink, stove and fridge are all in the U.  That leaves me with very little flat, work surface.  I am my own island, holding pans over my head and spinning like a crazy-susan yelling, “I don’t have any place to put this!”

I need the small counter for the coffee maker and Keurig, so that’s completely out of commission.  We put the board in the kitchen table so that infringes on my work space.  I put the crock pot on a bunch of books (thank you to a favorite author, Lisa Scottoline, whose books are all the same size) on my bedroom dresser with the ham in it.  We throw a table cloth over the washer and dryer, so that’s the bar.  A white plastic table cloth in the big tub sink is where the ice and cold drinks go.  A couple of portable tables go right smack in the living room for the plates and food. 

I put notes on the table to be sure I have room for everything and I don’t forget something, but this year I forgot about the damned chicken salad sandwiches anyway.  They were still on John’s car after everyone ate.  Maybe next year I’ll save some work and put the whole bloody buffet on his car.  That way I can drive it to people’s houses, toss them a plate and they won’t even have to get out of their jammies.

Everyone wants to help and that’s great until they are in the kitchen with me.  We turn in circles and rotate like vertical chickens on a spit.  It just doesn’t work and I can’t baste us both at once!  You can’t open the dishwasher if you have the fridge open.  You can’t open the fridge if the dishwasher door is down.  If you open the dishwasher and the stove at the same time you have to homestead in front of the sink cuz you’re locked in anyway.

I tell them thanks, but just be available when it’s time to serve.  Getting everything done and hot at the same time is an Olympic feat.  When it’s ready, I bark, “I need a runner!” and start tossing pans and potholders at the nearest available human.  On the TV cooking shows they talk about setting out your buffet with order and grace, but “order” is not in my wheel zone and “grace”, the bitch, didn’t show up!  They don’t tell you how to send hot food like a bucket-brigade over the heads of wall-to-wall guests.   If someone gets near my pass-through window to the dining room, I’ll say, “Yo, You! This goes where it says, ‘Veggie quiche-sort-of” and I’ll jam it into someone’s hands.    Or “Put this where it says Mary’s Mexican Lasagna Crap.”; or if I can bust out of the kitchen myself I will speak in my trademark dulcet tones. “Get outta the way!  Hot shit coming through!”  It’s very formal.  And Very Mary.

When the food is on the table, we choose a nearby kid, this year a strong young boy, give him the gong mallet and instruct him to bang that sucker right in the middle with all of his might. He did.  It’s a BIG GONG!  Half of the guests had to be treated for shock because they weren’t expecting it, but they were okay by the time it stopped reverberating off the walls.

I am grateful for every second of a successful party.  I love doing it so much that I will keep it up until no one shows up!  Everyone says, “You should be a caterer!” but I won’t. No way would I work this hard for strangers.  You can’t pay me enough!  Party On!
 

Each and every day I find something to be grateful for. My gratitude's are heartfelt, personal, moving and often humorous. Facebook followers have encouraged me to branch out. I hope you will relate.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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