Happy New Year!
Got tons of pics to update with, but thought it would be more fitting to make some New Year resolutions today. I don't usually believe in making resolutions, but given that a couple of big changes are taking place in my life around now as well (including soon moving to our new place in the East, yay), I might as well give it a shot!
So here are my food-related resolutions for 2006:
1) Better kitchen management!
Believe me, I've come a long way on this front already from my early days, where every dinner party was prepared in a panicked haze. My menus would consist of a long list of dishes, all of which either required 8 hours each to prepare, some exotic ingredient that I was bound to forget to buy, or all needed to be in the oven at the exact same time. In fact, the very first party Philippe and I threw was a crepe party - it sounded a great idea at the time, but inviting 30 guests to the same meant that we were permanently stuck in the kitchen making crepes one by one the entire night. Even our seasoned ayi's usually boundless energy faded as she surveyed the batter splattered mess.
Since then, I've definitely improved to the stage where (ahem) at least half the dishes are prepared by the time guests arrive and shopping for any given dinner party can usually be completed within 3 trips to the same supermarket :P
So far, the golden rules I've managed to figure out are:
- Choose dishes with staggered preparation (e.g. some in advance, some in the morning, some just before). I know this sounds pretty obvious but it's amazing how easy it is to be carried away by tempting recipes. Also: for big parties and if you don't have help, avoid anything that needs to be prepared on-the-spot and served piping hot (e.g. anything deep fried, especially if you have to fry in batches). Or anything that requires lengthy peeling, de-veining, assembling and so on - save these for more intimate gatherings where you can work with smaller quantities.
- Wash up as you go along. The one ladle you need to grab in a jiffy before your stew burns will always be at the bottom of the sink under a mountain of greasy unwashed dishes.
- Remember that your friends would rather be served cheap takeaway food and have you for company than great food but you stuck in the kitchen the entire night. If they don't, they don't deserve to be invited over for dinner!
2) Try not to waste food
It's always sad (and not to mention, often disgusting) to throw out extra food. My second resolution is to be more diligent about using up extra food in the fridge, and in particular to take leftovers as an opportunity to be creative. Which leads to the third resolution...
3) Come up with my own ideas or try to recreate favourite dishes on my own, without recipes
In the past, I've always managed to be a pretty diligent follower of recipes. When I wanted to plan dinner, my first reaction would be to pour through various recipe books and pick and choose from within. Now that I'm getting a bit more experienced, I find greater joy in coming up with stuff on my own, or trying to recreate and modify great food I've tried elsewhere. Not only does this make for some fun detective work while eating out, but the finished product is always more satisfying...
The best food in the world, I think, is food you automatically associate with certain people, because you know no-one makes it just like them. There's my mom's Christmas ham, London Sam Ee Por (third grandaunt)'s wo tip, Sook Por's hee peow soup... one day I want to have a little treasure trove of dishes that only I can make, in my own special way, that will hopefully create fond memories for others too.
So, like the Caltex ads, short term goal = learning how to cook, my way. Long term goal = happy memories for loved ones!
Once again, happy new year everyone!!!