Monday, June 4, 2007
The Perils of Parties
I've got some fun stuff to blog about this week, but it's still in process. So instead of a recipe today, you just get a story.
My father just turned 75 and his sister turned 80. They rarely see each other, living in different states, but for this special occasion decided to get together and have a party. Various siblings from other states came, too, making it something of a family reunion. My sister, the gracious and talented hostess, opened her home for the event. I called her this morning for the recap.
She said the ladies at the event had selected recipes and my sister's only responsibility was the sangria, the pork, and the sauce. The sangria went over well and soon everyone was outside talking and laughing. My sister headed back into the kitchen to make the pork, which had to be made last minute, and the sauce, which couldn't be made until the pork was cooked as it used the pork drippings.
Knowing that it was going to be hectic, my sister had prepped all the sauce ingredients, chopping and measuring into bowls on the counter. But despite her organization, the sauce wasn't working. Maybe it was tripling the recipe, maybe it was the sangria she'd had, but the sauce just wasn't coming together. Boiling and boiling, it still was a soupy mess.
When the recipe said to strain the sauce she did, straining out the expensive, out-of-season, hard-to-get cranberries and tossing them into the garbage can. Then, on closer inspection, the recipe picture clearly had cranberries in it. What? The recipe never said to set the cranberries aside. It never said to add them later. And if you weren't supposed to strain them out, what were you supposed to strain out??
Her husband came in to check on the dinner progress and she said, "Here, taste this." He did and right by the open window, with guests just on the other side of the window, he yelled, "This is vile!"
Tasting it, she agreed, and dumped the whole thing down the drain - the wine, the fresh sage, and the cranberries. Then she went to her pantry and pulled out a jar of Costco cranberry chipotle sauce, poured it into a crystal pitcher, and called, "Dinner's ready," while hissing to her husband, "Don't say a word!"
After dinner our mother sidled up to her and whispered, "Is this the recipe we'd decided on?" When she revealed that it was in fact Costo sauce she said, "Ah, I thought it tasted like that."
So, feeling frustrated and embarrassed my sister went into the disaster kitchen to clean up. That's when she found the pre-measured sugar in a bowl sitting on the counter. The cheapest ingredient that never made it into the sauce.
There are many morals one could draw from this story. Don't try out a new recipe for a party. Don't drink sangria when trying to triple a recipe. Don't offer to host a big party. Or, my favorite, when stressed, let Costco do the catering.