Okay, that was a crazy thing to do. I pulled it off - everything was done and out to the tables on time, but it required an incredible amount of work. I was either cooking or shopping from 9 am until dinner was served at 6:15 pm, minus a single short break to eat lunch. Then I ate dinner, played with Liam for a while, gave him his bath and put him to bed (Eric was on the cleaning team that had to clean up the monster mess I made). And after that? Then I had to wrap the caramels for Scott and Sue. I've just finished getting those all packaged up and ready to go, and I'm completely, utterly exhausted and ready to fall over. So I think I'll go do that real soon now.

I've been so busy with all this cooking, that I haven't had a single chance to play with the new digital camera I got yesterday! Tomorrow, hopefully, although my busy doesn't end with today - I have to finish putting together the voting guide for the ConFusion elections on Saturday, and then I have to get all of the scheduling and paperwork organized for the meal worker signup on Sunday. Monday is work, then packing. I can't wait until I get on that train to Chicago Tuesday morning - 5 days with nothing more pressing than dinner reservations - I need a vacation after all of this!
Tonight I made two batches of caramels - one apple and one salt - for [livejournal.com profile] scottij and [livejournal.com profile] sueij to take as gifts on their upcoming travels. This made me realize that my concerns about my truffle prices were unfounded - I had been thinking I was overcharging for the caramel filled ones because the ingredients cost so much less money than the chocolate filled ones, but tonight I realized that that is totally made up for by the significantly increased amount of labor required. And I still have to cut and wrap them tomorrow. House smells very caramely.

Tomorrow I'm cooking Canadian Thanksgiving Dinner for my cohousing community. I thought I'd constructed a significantly easier menu than last year, but as I started assembling recipes and creating a shopping list tonight, I realized that I was somewhat mistaken in that thinking. What tomorrow looks like:
- get up with Liam, feed him breakfast get him ready to go
- drop him off at daycare
- go grocery shopping. Sparrow Meats to pick up the turkeys, Zingerman's to grab a loaf of day old bread, Hillers for the rest, I think, because they are near to Michael's and I need to check out caramel wrapping options.
- slice bread and put in a low oven to stale
- make three batches of Nanaimo Bars for dessert and get them in the fridge to chill
- make cranberry sauce
- bake squash
- get turkeys in the oven
- start giblet broth
- make stuffing, stuff squash
- chopping, lots of chopping - potatoes, carrots, trimming brussels sprouts
- make gravy (all except for adding the turkey drippings at the end)
- cook and mash potatoes
- glaze carrots
- once the turkeys come out of the oven, roast brussels sprouts and cook stuffed sqash
- finish gravy
- carve turkeys
- get food out to tables

Yikes. It's going to be a busy day. Somewhere in there I need to wrap caramels for Scott and Sue, or that might wait until after dinner, assuming I just don't fal over immediately. It's not a lot more complicated than some of my common meals, but there are more dishes, and more things that have to be planned ahead.
Last night I cooked common meal. It was a pretty small meal (for me, anyway) with only about 45 people. I made up two different fruit toppings for the fish - peach-tomato salsa and blueberry-corn relish. The fish itself was just tilapia, which is very mild. I baked it in the oven, which was great - very quick and easy - took just 15 minutes to cook 12 lbs of fish. While the result was not as tasty as my pan-friend pecan encrusted tilapia, it sure was a lot less labor intensive...

The blueberry corn relish was the surprise hit of the night. It's very simple - just corn cut off the cob and quickly cooked, blueberries, chiffonaded basil, and a vinaigrette of olive oil, champagne vinegar, salt and pepper. Crunchy and fresh - definitely more than the sum of its parts. The peach salsa would have been better (or at least more what I wanted) if I'd used my original recipe. But there was a Zingerman's event in the common house in the morning, and there was a big bowl of peaches with chiles leftover. So we used those, but it just didn't result in the fresh taste I was looking for. Still good, just not what was in my head.

On the side, I served some leftover cucumber-feta-mint salad also from the Zing thing, some green salad, and boiled potatoes tossed with olive oil and parsley. Dessert was a Texas Sheet Cake, something I'd never heard of until someone in my eGullet "Cooking for 40" thread suggested it. It was reasonably tasty, although not all that interesting, but certainly simple and fast, which is a big plus when it comes to common meal. It's a very thin cake, cooked in a jelly roll pan. It's a little bit chocolate, and a little bit cinnamony, and a lot sweet.

Speaking of my eGullet thread, it's very odd. I have fans. People read the thread regularly, and if I've been slacking on keeping it up and do a big catch up post, I get comments saying how glad they are that I posted, that they'd been wondering what I'd been up to. Here's a recent comment:
Tammy, I just read from page 1-7 and I am bleary-eyed to say the least.I have thoroughly enjoyed reading these, and I am so glad you have beenposting all your meals. I have been cut and pasting them into a folderfor future reference. Thanks! Pages 1-7 equates to over 200 posts, that she sat down and read in one sitting! Wow.

Eric thinks I should start a separate blog that's a more public food blog, and put all of my food related posts there. What do you all think of that idea? I kind of feel like eGullet meets my public blogging desire, but it could be fun to do something for a potentially broader readership. Eric thinks I could just point LJ people there and stop posting food stuff to my LJ, but I said I'd still want to double post, cause I like having things in one place. I just created a Vox account (tammylc, just like here) so I could use that as my food blog and keep this as my journal...

If I get a job at Zingerman's, it seems like I'd definitely have lots of content to put in a food blog. Yes, I'm back on that trip again. I have an appointment Monday morning to talk to Grace, the managing partner of the Deli. I want to learn more about a) what kind of jobs there are there, b) what openings there are or that are coming up, and c) how much the pay and hours would suck. I'm growing increasingly bored with my job. They love me there, and I do good work when I can get motivated to do so, but that's not really often enough for me. And, as my paunch grows every paunchier and my body is starting to show the ergonomic strain of sitting at a computer all day, I'm actually thinking I might like a job that got me back on my feet and out from behind a desk. We'll see.
I cooked common meal tonight. Instead of posting a menu, I posted the following:
Are you willing to take a chance? I'm going to go to the Farmer's Market on Saturday morning, and see what looks fresh and good, and what Sparrow Meats or Monahan's seafood have on sale that day. I'll collect up all that bounty of the season and turn it into dinner. But I can't tell you what it is before you sign up, because I don't know - you'll just have to trust me.

Now, to be honest, I had given it some thought before going to the market. I knew I wanted to use this as an excuse to make these little beef and basil hors d'ouvres from my BBQ cookbook. And I knew I was going to get some beets. And that I'd probably do potatoes, because they're easy. But I didn't know what the main dish was going to be.

Walking around the market I saw that there were still cherries for sale (different sellers have been saying "last week" for the last two weeks) so I started thinking about doing some sort of cherry sauce for meat. Went in to talk to my butcher, and when he offered me a 8.5 lb whole pork loin for $20, I was sold, even though I'd just made pork tenderloin for common meal on Thursday.

The veggie main was a complete market inspiration, though. I'd had vague thoughts about stuffed squash, and when I saw these really awesome looking flying saucer squash, that sealed the deal. But I still wasn't sure what to put in them. But then I got thinking about tomatoes and how I wasn't using any yet, and then Zingerman's was there selling fresh mozarella, and I decided to do a caprese salad thing, with the tomato and basil in the squash and the mozarella on top, heated under the broiler. These looked amazing - wish I'd taken a picture!

The final menu:
Vietnamese Grilled Beef and Basil rolls
OR
Grilled haloumi and basil rolls (vegetarian)

Chile-mustard rubbed roast pork loin with sweet and tart cherry sauce
OR
Caprese-stuffed flying saucer squash (vegetarian)

Dilled red potatoes

Red, White, and Blue Salad - mixed greens with roasted beets, blueberries, and goat cheese

Peach cobbler with ice cream

Everything turned out well, and people were pleased. I started at 3pm and my assistant cooks came at 4pm, and we had to work really steadily during that time, but we got it all done and served dinner on time. We even managed to do some clean-as-you-go, which is good, because somehow we used an awful lot of pots.

But between the cooking and the gardening and Liam having a very restless night last night, I am exhausted, so I'm off to bed.
So a while ago I realized that I could buy fully cook, very tasty, supermarket rotisserie chickens (handle chickens as Erik Olson would call them) for less money than I can buy chickens and cook them myself. So I got this idea that it would make for an easy common meal sometime - buy the chickens, cook the veggie main and sides - great chicken dinner that's not otherwise doable in the common house.

Well, it was tasty, but not as easy as I thought it might be. I ended up working my tail off. In part because I made an overambitious dessert. Tuesday night's cook had made a dessert that used 5 dozen egg yolks, so I figured I'd do something to use up the whites. I made a fabulous Brown Butter Almond Cake. It's really good, but too much work for common meal, especially when there are 64 people signed up, requiring me to make 4 cakes.

By the time the actual cooking started at 4, I'd already put in a couple hours work making cakes, plus shopping time in the morning. It was fun, but my feet were killing me, and I slept like a rock.

Notes for the future: 25 lbs of mashed potatoes was too much. Lots of leftovers. But, on the other hand, groceries still came in under $4 per person (my goal), so maybe bounty is okay - all the leftovers went home with people, so it's not like things were wasted.

Total of 64 people: 27 meat eaters, 15 vegetarians, 1 teen meat, 5 big kids, and 16 little kids. Total cost: $178.60 (plus another $7.58 for staple items that come out of the pantry fund and aren't charged directly to my meal). So $4.42 per adult, including the pantry fee.
More detail than most of you probably want )
If I hadn't made the overambitious dessert and had picked up the chickens a little earlier, it would have been much easier, so I'll have to keep it in mind for the future. People didn't seem to mind my little chicken cheat at all...
Anyone who has come to Great Oak for common meal will be familiar with our nightly ritual. One of the children clangs on a glass and shouts out an (often unintelligible) "Thanks to the cooks!" and everyone claps. A minute later, another child will clang on a glass and shout "Thanks to the cleaners!" and everyone claps.

Tonight was a little different. I made chocolate cake for dessert. It's a super easy chocolate cake recipe, but it looks *really* impressive, thanks to a chocolate ganache poured over the top that gives it that shiny smooth finish. As soon as I put it out, a line queued up. And once most people had served themselves, somebody clanged on a glass and shouted "Thanks for dessert!" First time I've ever heard or had *that* happen. Nice egoboo.

Dinner was tasty. I made the same jambalaya I've made a bunch of times before, and it's always a hit. Tonight's was especially good, because the store I shopped at had some really nice andouille sausage. I really like this meal because not only is it tasty, it's fast, easy and cheap to boot! I just wish there was some way to make the vegetarian version taste anywhere near as good as the meat eater version (well, adding chicken and sausage fat would work, but then it wouldn't be vegetarian anymore...) But I guess the veggies don't know what they're missing.

Oh, and note to self - given that this is a cheap meal, I should probably make extra - we never have leftovers, and people are usually scrounging around for seconds. When calculating how much to make, I should think of the base recipe as serving 4-5, not 6.
Last night's menu: Eggs Masala, Chana Dal, Cucumber-Mint Raita, Rice, Peas.

I only had 40 people sign up (28 adults, 12 kids), a pretty small meal for me. Don't know if the menu scared them off, or if everyone was just otherwise occupied. In any case, they sure missed out, because it was a very tasty meal, if I do say so myself. And having only 40 people meant we had a lot fewer hardboiled eggs to peel.

In fact, the eggs were the source of the only problem with the meal - I didn't adequately separate the plain eggs I was holding back for the kids from the rest of the eggs, so when my assistant cooks were halving the eggs and putting them on plates to be topped with sauce, they cut those up too. And I didn't notice until they were all topped with curry sauce! Doh! We told the parents to just scrape off the mild sauce, but I'm sure that wasn't acceptable for at least some of the kids. Oh well, just meant there were more curried eggs for the rest of us.
Meal Making Details )
Well, I'm sure the dishwashing is still going on...

Everything got done, mostly in time. We were still mashing potatoes and 20 or 25 after, and the last batches definitely had more lumps than the first. But 30 lbs of potatoes is a lot of potatoes.

People absolutely raved about the stuffing, but even with people liking it that much we had waaay too much. We also had too much squash - I got all caught up in having all the different kinds and bought more than I should have. There was a little bit of the other things leftover - mashed potatoes, turkey, peas, even gravy (although several tables ran out and just didn't bother trolling for more). 5 pies were enough, especially since we cut them into 12 pieces each.

After the adding and the dropping were all said and done, we ended up with 77 people! 41 adult meat eaters, 8 adult vegetarians, 5 teen meat eaters, 8 kids over age seven and 15 kids aged six and under. And I ended up having many, many people volunteer to help out - T cut all 9 loaves of bread into cubes. K and J peeled 10 pounds of potatoes each. K also chopped 9 onions. D volunteered to be an additional assistant cook and worked from 3 pm until dinner. S and M were my regular assistant cooks from 4 until dinner, and they kicked ass. R came early and did some advance dishwashing. A came early and helped set the tables. I don't even remember all the people who helped run food out to the tables. K is working as a 4th cleaner. J watched Liam from 3 pm until Eric got home. Definitely a community wide affair!

And there was even another Canadian in attendance (from Sunward) so that was nice.
Done:
Cubed 9 loaves of Zingerman's bread (thanks to a neighbor)
Peeled 30 lbs of potatoes (yet more neighbors)
Cut assorted sqash in half and scooped out the insides
Chopped onion for stuffing (another neighbor)
Cooked two turkeys. Separated the fat from the drippings, set aside for gravy making.

Still to do:
Make gravy, both turkey and mushroom
Carve turkey
Slice potatoes, boil, turn into mashers
Roast squash
Make stuffing
Bake stuffing
Make stuffed mushrooms
Cut pies
Recruit someone to get me red maple leaves for the tables
Set dinner tables
Put food on serving dishes

Liam did not want to take his nap. I only got him down by taking him for a walk in the stroller around the loop. But that meant he didn't get down until after 1, so he's still sleeping. Thankfully I have three people helping me cook tonight, so it shouldn't be too bad. I'd like to get the squash in the ovens by 3:30, so I hope Liam wakes up soon!
And not enough time to do it!

Liam is so neat these days - practically every minute he's doing something LJ-worthy, but he's also keeping us on the run so much that there's no time to post about it. This morning he woke up and was wandering around the bedroom before I was out of bed. He walked over to the nightstand, picked up my glasses, carried them over and handed them to me! It was the sweetest thing.

His new favorite bedtime book is The Wheels on the Bus. It's a beautifully illustrated book of the song, set in a charming French town, but I had to sing it to him three times at bedtime tonight, and that was simply enough!

WOTD - some other words, or word like things, that I have been forgetting. "La-la-la" - used to request another new book, Sandra Boynton's Moo Baa LaLaLa. "Dan" or something like it, which I think means dance. Or might mean again. We're working on "nursing" or some other word that he can use instead of tugging at my shirt. I think he has a d-word that is meant to be a nursing request, but there are so many d-words that I'm missing it. Just like "more" started with a "mrrr," nursing is starting with a "nrr" - but it shouldn't be long before he's got some vowels in there.

Sleep is progressing well!Click through for the ongoing saga )

Had a really interesting conversation at lunch with my coworkers today. Someone asked "How many steps are in the Washington Monument?" I replied "If we were in front of a computer right now we could have the answer in seconds. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing." And from there we had quite a discussion of the changing role of information in our society, and the value of delayed gratification, and how teaching people to evaluate the validity of information is absolutely crucial to the new information society. Fun stuff.

I have to cook Thanksgiving dinner for 72 people on Thursday. I finally gave in and posted a request for help. A couple people are going to help with advance prep on Wednesday night, and another is going to come early on Thursday to set tables. I'm feeling much more capable now. [livejournal.com profile] malawry (or anyone else who has an opinion) - can I peel and cut potatoes the night before? Now I must be off to figure out how much of everything to buy, as I'm going to the Farmer's Market tomorrow.
I have 73 people signed up for my meal next week. It's not even a very exciting meal - it's a Canadian Thanksgiving dinner - turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, squash, peas, pie for dessert. Thursdays are the night that we share meals with our neighboring community, Sunward. We recently switched over to an online meal sign up system and set a cap of 64 people, as that's how many the dining room can easily fit. But not all of the Sunward folks had their signups figured out yet. So when I realized my meal was getting rather large, I started pushing Sunward to get their signups in. But while that was happening, Great Oak people were still signing up. Next thing I know, I'm cooking Thanksgiving dinner for 73 people!

36 adult meat eaters, 9 adult vegetarians, 5 teen meat eaters, 8 kids, and 15 little kids. I have two 18-lb turkeys on order, which should be enough. But do you know how many pounds of mashed potatoes I'm going to have to make for that many people? It's insane.
It started off as a big meal - 35 meat eaters, 7 vegetarians, and 21 children. Then more people kept asking to be added, and since I was sure I had enough food, I went ahead and said yes. I wasn't sure we'd have enough *chairs*, but thanks to some late plates (and maybe some no shows - it was pouring rain when the dinner bell rang), we managed alright.

By my count, we ended up with 39 meat eaters, 9 vegetarians, and 24 children, for a total of 72 people signed up (the dining room seats 64). Yowza.

The menu was tortilla soup, which has developed a bit of a following in the community. I had one person hug me, she was so happy about dinner.
Notes on quantities for future reference )
A repeat, but a popular one. I ended up with 62 people for my Middle Eastern dinner tonight - 22 meat eaters, 21 vegetarians and 19 children. On alternate Thursdays we invite the members of the neighboring cohousing community to join us for dinner, and we had a big turnout this week, which pushed up the numbers.

This is the third time I've made a variant of this meal, and third time was the charm, I think. I decided to take a big shortcut, and buy pre-cooked falafel from Jerusalem Garden. At 40 cents apiece, they're not super cheap, but I could make them fit in my budget and still hit my $4/person goal, while at the same time keeping the workload more manageable. I also bought a big tray of really wonderful baklava from them for dessert. Because I was buying the falafel, I only made two side dishes - hummus and tabouli - plus lamb kebabs for the meat eaters. (From a cost perspective, even buying pre-made falafel was significantly cheaper than feeding the meat eaters - I spent $60 on lamb vs. $30 for falafel.)

The hummus and tabouli both turned out their best ever from the three times I've made them. I'm finally getting the recipes tweaked to my perfection (although, to be fair, I was just being really approximate on the hummus, intending to correct later, and it came out almost perfect on the first try.) I was really pleased with the ratios in the tabouli - the recipe I was adapting calls for too much dressing, and I finally got that part right.

So, all in all, a definite success. It's a very summery kind of meal, so it probably won't come back around until next spring/summer - I'm moving into more wintery meals now. Next up: tortilla soup, then a turkey dinner to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving, then Beef Burgundy, and that takes me through to the end of October.
Good meal to cook. Cheap - probably about $3/person. Doesn't require that I start much earlier than my assistants (I started at 3:30, they got there are 4:00, we maintained a relaxed but steady pace throughout). Oh, and people *really* like it. Although I think a big part of what they liked tonight was dessert. With dinner being so cheap, I bought a bunch of mini-cream puffs and mini-eclairs. Cost $20, but that's not much more than cookies or ice cream and is easy and popular and different. In addition to the noodles (with chicken or tofu), I stir fried 10 lbs of green beans and 8 red peppers. 10 lbs is a lot of green beans - one of my assistant cooks spent the first hour of her shift trimming green beans. But this time of year the price can't be beat - 99 cents a pound!

There weren't many leftovers (44 adults and 18 children will put a dent in a serious amount of food), but I did manage to snag a bowlful for lunch tomorrow. Or maybe a snack right now...

Recipes:
Veggie Sesame Noodles (I add tofu)
Sesame Noodles with Shredded Chicken
(You will need to login. If you aren't registered, you can use mine: tammylc@gmail.com)
Tonight's menu for common meal:
Grill Roasted Smoked Pork Loin with Garam Masala
White Rabbit - stuffed and grilled tofu
Cucumber and Tomato Raita
Curried Rice and Broccoli Salad with Mango Chutney Vinaigrette
Mango Sorbet

[livejournal.com profile] shadowriderhope and I cooked up a really good meal tonight. Everything came together beautifullly.

I've made the rice salad before, so I knew how that would be. And raita is pretty basic. The pork was just a variation on a theme from a grilled pork loin I did a month or so ago, but instead of the chili-mustard rub, we made up a garam masala spice rub and used that. Also, this time I had time to go over to Hiller's and get the good pork loin from there. Unlike the pork loin from Meijer, this isn't injected with 15% salt solution, so I got to follow the full Cook's Illustrated technique which involved brining it for 3-4 hours. That made it extra moist and juicy.

The tofu, though, now that was a great discovery! I knew I was going to do some sort of marinated grilled tofu, but didn't really give it much thought until this morning. So I pulled out the BBQ Bible, and discovered that it just happened to have this really good sounding recipe for an Indian tofu dish! Awesome. First you press the tofu, then cut it into quarters. Cut a slit in each piece of tofu and stuff it with a paste made from cilantro, mint, scallions, oil and lemon juice. For the marinade, you puree garlic, ginger, jalepenos, oil and water, then mix that mixture with yogurt, cream, a bunch of spices, and cilantro. Marinade the stuffed tofu for 4 hours, then grill it for 4 minutes per side. There was only enough for the vegetarians who'd signed up, but I did manage to sneak a taste and it was excellent. I'll definitely have to make it again.

I don't think I'm going to co-cook in future work seasons. I end up totally wiped out at the end of the day. Theoretically with co-cooking I should be working the same amount as I usually do, and my co-cook would cover the rest. In reality it just doesn't work out that way, and I end up feeling like I've been cooking all day. I'm sure [livejournal.com profile] shadowriderhope is wiped out too. Having three people in the last two hours just makes things not feel so rushed, even for a meal like today's where so much of it could/needed to be done in advance.
Upcoming meals...

I only had to cook once in July, so I have to cook three times in August. On August 7th I'll be mixing and matching some dishes from other meals. I'll be making the grill-roasted pork loin, but with Indian spices instead of the chile-mustard rub. Vegetarians will have grilled or baked tofu. To go with it, we'll have the Curried Rice and Broccoli Salad with Mango Chutney Vinaigrette, and some yogurt raita. This is another co-cooking night (only one assistant), so we need something that will be pretty easy, and I think this fits the bill.

Out for dinner at our favorite Korean deli last night, and my husband suggested I do bibimbap for common meal sometime. Upon consideration, it seems an ideal dish for common meal, so I've put it on the menu for August 11th. Cook a big pot of rice, make up a bunch of toppings, serve it buffet style with kim chee and hot sauce on the side. The only trick is the runny fried egg, which I consider essential to bibimbap. I'm pondering a couple of strategies. 1) have cooks frying up a couple pans of eggs just as people are going through the buffet, then go around to tables and give one to everyone. 2) Do poached eggs instead - the runny yolk is the important part, and poached eggs are a little easier to hold, especially since they don't have to stay especially warm because of the hot rice.

Any thoughts on the fried egg problem? Also, anyone have any favorite bibimbap topping recipes to share?
Cooked common meal last night. Cook's Illustrated "Ultimate Veggie Burger." It was a good recipe, but a bit too complex for the constraints of common meal, I think. Especially when I was down one assistant cook and ended up co-cooking (just two people, but with a longer time committment). Although, to be fair, we also had a bunch of people pitch in, and it still required working in fits and spurts all day long.

Here's the process: cook lentils, drain them, spread out on paper toweled cookie sheets to soak up as much water as possible. Soak bulgur in boiling water. Drain, press through a mesh strainer to get out as much water as possible. (Are you seeing a trend here? The idea is that the key to a good veggie burger is controlling the moisture content.) Okay, next step, dice up onions, leeks and celery and saute them until carmelized and dry. Slice mushrooms, saute until golden brown. Now, get out your food processor. Pulse raw cashews until very finely chopped. Mix them in to the rest of the ingredients, along with some mayonaise. Then (nope, not done yet) pulse the mixture in batches in the food processor until it's cohesive. Stir in some panko breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Then, form it into patties. Finally, grill (or cook on the stovetop).

See what I mean? LOTS of steps.

I also made some hamburgers for any timid meat eaters who didn't want to try the veggie burgers, along with 20 lbs of potato salad (at least 5 lbs too much, as it turned out). And some green salad. Dessert was easy, as it was Willa's 10th birthday, so we just had cake and ice cream.

And the cooking's not done yet. Today I went to Meijer and bought brunch makings for 50+ people. Later, Eric and Liam and I went down to Kerrytown to pick up the last few things. 4 lbs of bacon from Sparrow Meats. 4 lbs of cheese and 4 loaves of bread from Zingerman's. 3 bottles of sparkling wine for Mimosas. Coffee. I spent as much on my three bags of food from Kerrytown as I did at Meijer! So far I've spent about $275 of my $300 food budget, and we still need to pick up some fresh local berries at the farmer's market tomorrow. But I think we have enough food. Probably too much, which is why I took 6 late signups today.

You'd think after all this common meal cooking I'd be confidant about my quantities, but I've never done a brunch, so... I think it will be fine, though. Our baker is cooking up sweet rolls and muffins and banana bread tonight. Katie is making up a huge batch of crepes. She'll make fillings tomorrow. We'll alsol do the potatoes, the bacon, the veggie sausage, the fruit and prep all the vegetables for the omelette bar. The omelette bar is my thing - I'll be working the stove, making omelettes to order. Eric will be the barista, making espressos and cappucinos (and bartending the champagne for mimosas, probably).

Should be fun, and we'll raise about $300 towards the purchase of our food processor. But I'll be glad to have a break from cooking for a little while.
On the menu tonight - grill-roasted pork loin with chili-mustard spice rub, dilled potatoes and steamed broccoli. Plus portobellos stuffed with spinach, feta, pinenuts and sundried tomatoes for the vegetarians.

Mmm, mmm, good. The pork loin came out absolutely perfectly. You only put coals on one side of the grill, creating a hot side and a cold side. You brown the pork loin for just 2 minutes on a side directly over the coals, then move the whole thing over to the cold side, throw some wood chips on the coals to add smoke and flavor, and put the lid on. Turn it 180 degrees after 20 minutes, then cook it until it reaches 140. Tent it with some foil and let it rest, and the temperature comes up to a perfect 155 or so. Done, but delightfully juicy and flavorful.

Everything else was good too. Except the broccoli. Let's just say that my assistant cook and I have very different ideas about when broccoli is done. This was just on the warm side of raw. I was busy carving the pork and since he's an experienced cook, when I saw him portioning out the broccoli I didn't even bother to check it.

I brought over a bottle of wine that I'd picked up while shopping for wine club the other day, and shared it around with people at dinner. It was a 2003 Kuentz-Bas Alsatian Riesling, and a mighty nice wine.
A light summery meal for a hot sweltering day. Attendance was about 38 adults and 10 kids. I didn't expect ot have quite so many, but there was a mix-up with Sunward and I didn't know a bunch of them were coming. I was worried about not having enough food, but ended up fine. More potato salad would have been eaten, I'm sure, although there was a tiny bit left at the end of the night (which got scooped up for leftovers).

Curried Rice and Broccoli Salad with Mango Chutney VinaigretteRead more... )
Potato Salad with Gouda, Eggs (with crumbled bacon on the side)Read more... )
Green Salad with Sauteed Criminis, Pecans, Granny Smith Apples and Garlic CroutonsRead more... )
Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp with Ice CreamRead more... )

This was another popular meal. I'd definitely do it again, with some variations as noted above, but I'd find a way to manage the time better. Like make part or all of one of the salads the night before. Do a different dessert so 90 minutes of my assistant cook time wouldn't be taken up by it.

But it sure was tasty.

Oh No!

Apr. 14th, 2005 08:44 am
After last night's post, I'm sure no one is especially surprised to learn that now I appear to have the ick. Unlike Eric, I'm already a water fiend, so I'm not at all worried about ending up dehydrated and needing and IV, but still - the ick is no fun. Especially since I'm supposed to be cooking common meal tonight for 40 adults and 11 children. What to do?

I don't want to cancel my meal and order pizza. I've got a friend from eGullet coming in to help cook. My current working theory is to draft her as head cook and mostly sit in the dining room and give directions, so I can still serve the tortilla soup everyone's looking forward to, while at the same time avoiding spreading the ick.

The only trick will be getting a long enough window to go shopping. Although, knock on wood, after 4 quick trips to the bathroom this morning I seem to be doing okay now. Stomach is feeling a little unsettled and I'm sleepy, though.

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tammylc

April 2010

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