Tomorrow I’m throwing a dinner party for some friends. We had planned to get together around the Christmas holidays but life got in the way. So to celebrate February and friendship I invited everyone over for dinner.
I love food and I love cooking for a crowd. In fact I love cooking for a crowd so much that I am often the butt of jokes for over-cooking (by volume not temperature). At my last dinner party a friend complimented me on my self control… He was quite impressed that I had only cooked enough food for a dozen guests. (Six attended and I planned for four.)
I am working on better planning skills in the kitchen – to avoid my over-cooking problem. But I don’t think that problem will ever be completely solved because guests give me the perfect opportunity to try new things; to let my imagination take over yet another part of my life, and once I let my imagination go, it tends to take over and leave my better judgment in the dust. Tomorrow for example I am serving six different types of perogies. Mmmmm…perogies.
Did your jaw drop? I hope my guest’s will as well. Most people are only familiar with the basic varieties: potato and cheese; sauerkraut and cottage cheese. Shortly after I got married, my mother in law invited me over to learn how to make perogies (so I would be a good wife despite not being Ukranian). I learned the basic recipes and even how to judge the amount of flour needed for the dough by the humidity of the day (no really!). She sent me home with visions of perogies dancing in my head and something she had not planned to give me; a new outlet for my creativity.
Since those early cooking lessons I have experimented with the perogie recipe and each time I make them I try a few new combinations. Some turn out (mashed yam) and some are disastrous (olive oil ruins perogies dough), but they are all fun to try. Tomorrow I will be serving: potato and cheese, yam, acorn squash with apple and cinnamon, blueberry and cyan pepper, three mushroom with swiss and buttercup squash with lemon.
I will probably go overboard again, but I will have fun doing it.
Sometimes our imagination needs a little help from chance. Roll a die. No, I mean it. Find a board game, or rummage through your junk drawer and get yourself a standard six-sided die. Now roll the die six times and record the numbers.
Once you have your six numbers take a quick walk to your local grocery store making sure to bring a notebook and your recorded die numbers. The first number represents the grocery store isle you should walk down. If you rolled a three, walk into the store and into isle 3…get the picture? The second roll represents the number of steps you should take down that isle. The third roll will be for the shelf number you should look into. Once you have found your way to the correct isle, location and shelf reach out your hand to find inspiration. It may be rice, it may be heart of palm, but whatever product you find is the product you are stuck with. Now repeat the process with your second set of numbers. When you are done you should have two products randomly chosen from the grocery store.
Write down the name of the products, and all the information you can find on the product packaging. (If you prefer, you can buy the products and do the writing at home.)
Your writing challenge is to now create a recipe using these two products. Don’t cheat. Google may already know the answer to your recipe problem, but the point is to be inspired by the products. Will your recipe be a culinary creation inspired by traditional tastes, or something closer to a children’s story about worm cookies. At the bottom of the recipe write a paragraph about why you made your culinary choices. Whatever you come up with it will be unique to you. Enjoy.