This is the third instalment in the August blog carnival. This week’s theme is – something I’m good at. To join in, all you need to do is post a blog on that theme any time before next Sunday. Find out more here.
I’ve always scoffed at those Coles ads about feeding your family for $10. A family of four? You’re not really trying, are you? Try feeding fifteen people for less than $10. Now there’s a challenge.
What I’m trying to say is that I’m very good at making enormous quantities of pasta bake. Not to brag, but I am. I also excel at turning half a packet of frozen blueberries into enough crumble to feed ten people. I’ve always thought they should have a series of Master Chef called STUDENT MASTER CHEF where you have to create a three course meal for as many people as possible using only ingredients you’ve bought with the change your guests have in their pockets. Challenges include – ‘your vegan friend is coming!’ and ‘someone is intolerant to gluten!’ I am willing to sell the rights to this format for as little as $1 million.
I guess the word is “entertaining”. That’s a word that brings to mind 80s recipe books and frilly aprons but I’m not against either of those things.
I like making so much food that you run out of surfaces to put it in. And brewing pots of tea large enough to hydrate an army. One day, when I have a real job, I’d like to graduate to the school of entertaining that’s somewhere above carb-based meals. The school where you have dinner parties with fancy desserts and nice cheese and where you don’t have to ask everyone to contribute money to fund the thing.
I used to be jealous of my mum’s ability to improvise meals. When you’re learning to cook (following word-for-word what the recipe says) it seems impossible that this ability to invent delicious meals from thin air will just come naturally. But it does. After longing for the skill for years, one day I could just do it. I love looking into a cupboard full of ingredients (or empty of them, as the case may be) and letting all the possibilities run through my head. I’m much better at doing this when there are five people coming over than I am at creating something for two.
The meals I’ve had the most fun making, though, have been the ones that required a little more planning. I cooked themed banquets for both our Host-a-Murder parties. “Bullets and Barbecue
” featured Texan Beef Stew with cornbread and beans, followed by Pear Pandowdy (although everyone was rather full/drunk by dessert). “The Last Train from Paris” featured an elaborate spread of canapés and a chocolate cake that didn’t really rise properly and ended up being more icing than cake. We also made a fishbowl full of a Sherlock Holmes themed cocktail that called for a “quart of sherbet”. Let me tell you – you haven’t lived until you’ve emptied half a kilo of Wizz Fizz into a giant glass bowl (and then dissolved it with champagne and drank it). Good times.
It’s actually been really hard to write this blog. Whenever I sat down to write it I was overwhelmed by how much I miss doing these things. Last year, I was cooking for five or ten people at least once a week.
Sometimes three or four times a week. I would say we played too much Dungeons and Dragons but I’m pretty sure that’s not a thing. We had dinner parties and picnic parties and cake parties and party parties.
Since moving to Melbourne we go out more and people come over less. We have limited space and limited chairs, so we’re always cautious about how many people we invite at any given time. My oven is a lot smaller. I left my industrial sized lasagna dish in Newcastle. There’s a lot of factors. But pasta bake for eight is something I’ve only made once or twice since we moved.
Further Blog Carnival posts:
Noni Doll – COMING SOON.