Weighty Matters

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Cooking for a Crowd

on June 27, 2013

Most of the time when I cook, I’m preparing food for one person — me.   I don’t do anything elaborate during the week. Grilling something and fixing some veggies sort of does it for me a lot of nights.  On weekends I sometimes do a little more like cook up a soup or prepare something that takes a little longer to cook and end up with good leftovers for other evenings.

I’ve mentioned before that I enjoy cooking.  This weekend friends and I are putting on a baby shower for another friend at my house.  I volunteered for the main dish and decided to put together a baked ziti that I do well and a Caesar salad with a really great dressing recipe.  We aren’t quite sure how many people to expect.  Our family of co-workers aren’t always the quickest to remember to RSVP.  So, I knew I’d be safe if I doubled the recipe.  More work but more fun.

I had everything planned and then something good came up that requires me to make a quick overnight trip out of town tomorrow after work.  I bought a car from a dealer four hours away and need to pick it up first thing Saturday morning and then get my butt back here in time to put the final touches on the meal.

Points in my favor — my house is clean.  Three other people are co-hosting and they’re taking care of decorations, appetizers, drinks and dessert.  Once I knew yesterday that I needed to do some of my prep work ahead of time, because I wouldn’t have time to put together ziti for 20 or more people on Saturday, I planned and organized.

One of the many wonderful things about Italian food is that any good red sauce readily takes to being prepared a day or two ahead.  This will actually develop the flavors.  The salad dressing will be fine, too.

I am still spinning so many plates and have so much on my mind that I’ve been getting out of bed far earlier than normal.  Something has woken up my dogs at 4:30 a.m. the last two mornings.  After satisfying their curiosity by letting them out for a quick run in the yard, I’ve been unable to fall back asleep.  It’s amazing how a slight bout of insomnia can open up the opportunity for daybreak productivity.  By seven o’clock this morning I’d showered, dressed, fed the dogs, left two business voice mails, checked email and Facebook, and chopped six red peppers and two giant onions.

Tonight after enjoying dinner out with a friend I came home, finished the tomato-meat sauce and mixed up the salad dressing.  I’m as ready as I can be now for the shower.  Barring any highway-closing trouble, I should be home with plenty of hours to spare and will easily be able to assemble the ziti for baking.

One of the things I’ve noticed about my cooking style is how often I stop to taste and adjust the seasonings.  I’ve had to make some adjustments, particularly if I’m cooking a meal on the same evening I’m going to eat it.  I’ve teaching myself to lightly taste without taking full bites or spoons full of the dish.  Otherwise I’ll fill up just in the cooking.

I think I’ve shown myself that I can cook for myself, for a few friends, or cook for a crowd and not use it as another excuse to overeat.  Tonight I was able to sample so that I could balance or adjust the flavors but I never felt like I was eating too much on top of my great meal at dinner.  Tasting really was different from eating.

Now I only have to hope that the crowd enjoys the meal as much as I’ve enjoying making it for them!

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One response to “Cooking for a Crowd

  1. Skye says:

    I love people who love to cook, because I never really learned how to cook and thus dislike it. (On the other hand, I love to bake.) So I consider good cooks a treasure.

    It’s terrific that you can cook for a crowd and still maintain your own eating balance. Your skills have increased, as is your ability to balance. This is wonderful.

    Hope the party is awesome!

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