Last Saturday I decided to cook for my family and friends. Just 2 dishes, since I really don't cook: our famous carbonara, and Lemon Chicken Caper, a recipe from my officemate.
Here's what I learned from the whole experience.
1. Women who can cook a delicious meal and still look good are goddesses.
How do they do it? I only had to cook 2 dishes, but I had help from my mom, my sis, and our kitchen helper. And don't forget other details like the salad, garlic bread, serving dishes, and ice.
2. Never cook a first-time dish for a big group.
It looks easy enough when you read the recipe - but it's a different story when you're doing it from beginning to end. First-time dishes are fine for a regular day, but you don't need the pressure when you have to entertain guests as well. Thank God that these people are all family to me.
3. Stick to the recipe.
Improvising is okay, but not for first-time recipes. Save the fine-tuning for later. No matter how much of a hurry you're in, resist the temptation to pour in the whole bottle of capers when the recipe calls for only 4 tablespoons. :D
4. Have mom in the kitchen.
Or someone like her, to build your confidence. Though she isn't a cook, my mom's always supportive, never puts anyone down and always helps out. I'm a lucky gal ain't I?
5. Taste the salad dressing first.
I just grabbed the first bottle I saw, assuming that it was the one my mom told me about. By the time I sat down to eat most of the guests had finished their salad - too late! My apologies to the unsuspecting victims, myself included.
6. Have at least one back-up.
One sure-fire dish that you didn't cook yourself. Grill Queen to the rescue!
7. Prepare post-meal snacks and/or activities.
Some love coffee; others like nuts. For us, Doritos and and Playstation 2 did the trick. Not to mention chocolate truffles (including take-home) for Gai.
But what I learned most was that my family loves me. Because my sister fussed over the carbonara. Because my mom stuck it out in the kitchen with me. Because nobody complained about the sub-standard salad dressing. (Fie Craving's Ceasar's salad dressing!) And because they ate everything that I served.
I didn't get a rave review that day but the fact that all that carbonara was wiped out the following day convinced me that it wasn't bad at all. In fact, it was quite good.
Well. Practice makes perfect. But I promise myself that I'll take up a cooking class someday. Fiiind.