Monthly Archives: December 2012

Seasoned Eating

It seems obvious to me now that I should taste the food I’m preparing and tweak the seasonings, if necessary. But it wasn’t something I did automatically, until the idea was stressed in a cooking class I once took.

If you follow recipes without sampling, you’re likely to end up with disappointing results. Ingredients vary in flavor and potency, ovens cook at different temperatures, and palates aren’t all the same.

So even if the recipe doesn’t remind you to season to taste, always do it anyway.

Merry Making!

If you’re cooking Christmas dinner, don’t feel that you have to do it alone. Assuming that you neglected to assign dishes to guests in advance, you may (rather, should!) enlist their help when they arrive. There’s a job suited to every skill level, and working together turns drudgery into fun. The topper is that you’ll finish faster, allowing you to spend more time with your guests…and, after all, that’s what the holiday is all about.

Best wishes to all of you for a very happy, hysteria-free holiday!

A Matter of Time

Since I am someone who sometimes berates herself for taking too long to accomplish things, I found comfort in this adage a friend invented. Perhaps, you will, too:

Double the time you anticipate that a task will take and then transfer it to the next unit. In other words, a job you think will take you two hours is more likely to take four days.

Regardless of whether or not you think she’s exaggerating a bit (and I don’t), it’s good to allow ample time to prepare for company…and then some.

Last week my friend proved her rule when she invited some friends over for luncheon. It all took much longer than she’d anticipated, although she’d set the table on Thursday night, took Friday off from work to prepare, and accepted the offers of guests who’d volunteered to bring wine, bread, and dessert. The washing and peeling were inordinately time-consuming, and unexpected cleaning jobs kept turning up–polishing so-called stainless flatware that she hadn’t realized was spotted when it came out of the dishwasher, neatening up in places she doesn’t ordinarily notice.

The cold salads and quiche menu she’d planned was fairly simple. Yet, having begun the meal preparations at 2:30 Friday afternoon, she wasn’t nearly done at 5:30 when I called to check on her progress.

Because she laid out the food on platters the night before and transferred the quiche from its foil-lined baking pan to one she could reheat in the microwave, she was able to, “be a participant at her own party,” she says. And, in case all this has only discouraged you, she says that despite the time it took, she’s very glad she made the effort.