Meals and the New Year

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It was a week full of sharing meals with loved ones. Looking back at the menu that came to be, we only ate alone twice in the whole week. I feel that this is the holidays done right. No one should be alone over the holidays.

It was also a week where I challenged myself to become a better hostess. I don’t know what overcame me but I chose to have two big dinners just a couple of days apart.

Was it tiring? Oh, you bet! Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.

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I thought the best way to welcome my best friend back to the country was to prepare something for her that could provide some home comfort. So my thought process went directly to roast beef and mashed potatoes.

It was an ambitious project, considering that I had never made roast beef before. My inexperience was reflected when the meat came out a bit more rare than we would have liked. Nothing that the oven cannot fix though. Here I learned the essential lesson to give things their time- I don’t think that applies to cooking only.

In the same line of thinking, I thought it would be a great idea to give our friends a nice dinner for New Year’s Eve. I wanted to go the opposite route of laying out snacks and drinks and I definitely wanted to counter the bad experiences one might have when eating out on New Year’s Eve.

This time, and probably because I only had an hour to prep and cook for six, I kept the menu simple and restricted to things I have tried making before. It also involved having to get my pasta sauce out of a jar (something I normally shun), but honestly, I had no more time and no more pots.

I love the fact that I have a no-fail recipe to fall back on: honey mustard chicken. I used to marinate the protein for at least an hour, then cook them stovetop, but the flavor completely changed once I started laying the pieces out in a baking dish and putting them in an oven for around the same time.

Speaking of recipes to fall back on, the other two times I cooked this week were both well-loved dishes: one Indian and one Italian. Clearly, I have a fascination with both cultures and their food- and clearly I value them for how quick it comes together.

On that note, do not let anyone tell you that making bechemel sauce is hard. It only takes a few minutes before it comes together and once you’ve made it on your own, you’re never going to want the stuff that comes out of a box.

Back to gatherings: we kicked off the first day of 2016 at my parents’, where a filling lasagna was the star of the show. What I love about my mother is that even when she has people over, she doesn’t include any frills. She just expects us to enjoy the food and the company. Which we always do.

And because I love a good reunion more than anything, but it was too cold to go anywhere else, we got Classic Burger Joint to cater for a bridesmaids reunion. I may not be the biggest fan of fast food or hamburgers, but their consistency and great taste are really hard to turn down. I can only work and hope that my food is as consistent as that.

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