Tuesday, February 28, 2006

She's baaaack!

I'm back from all the craziness, and recovering quite nicely, thank you. The 20-person cooking stint turned out to be a 16-person stint, and I had an absolutely excellent helper. I never do these things solo (sorry if I made it sound as if I did). There's always someone to come along behind me cleaning up my messes, setting the tables and clearing them, running the dishwasher, running to the store for forgotten or newly-needed items, etc.

For years, my assistant has nearly always been my friend Terri, who is mellow and funny and really prefers to be in the assisting role, but who can take over cooking a dish if needed. She wasn't available this time. Instead, a woman named Claudette (yep, French roots!) whom I'd met some years ago volunteered to assist, even though her husband had just had hernia surgery and needed some level of help at home. And she was fabulous! This gal's the local version of the Energizer bunny, so fast that I was in awe. We really clicked as a team. It was touching to hear that helping me in the kitchen reminded me of when she was a child helping her mother. And no, I'm not old enough to be her mother, in fact she's got a few years on me. But it was nice to know that she was truly enjoying the time she spent helping. I expect we'll work together again from time to time, and I look forward to that. I never thought I'd be as happy with anyone as I always have been with pal Terri, so it's really delightful to find this wonderful teammate!

So, the meals got made, the snacks got served, the kitchen got cleaned, and everyone left happy. A number of the guests asked for recipes, asked about how I learned to cook, made sweet comments about the quality of the food. One couple runs a B&B and said I could come cook for their inn any time. That's exactly the atmosphere I'm shooting for at these events, so that made me happy.

Sunday was very busy, church in the morning with a quick bite to eat at a local truckstop (but think "local diner," this food is great!) and then an afternoon of writing up the shopping list for the cooking class Monday night. The Huz had to clear our driveway of over a foot of powdery snow. It's a big driveway, and he opted to do it with a shovel instead of the snowblower because the snow was so powdery, he wasn't sure the snowblower would throw it very far. It took him a couple of hours. Then I was off to do the shopping for the class, stowed everything in the class kitchen, and then headed off for a couple of hours of play rehearsal. Whew! End of day.

Monday, I worked on my teaching plan, made a chocolate cream pie so there would be one all firmed up and ready to eat at the end of the class, and got out all my cooking equipment that I wanted to take to the class. By 4:00 I was out the door, needing to stop & pick up an item that wasn't available at the first store Sunday. Got to the class kitchen by 4:40, and my awesome friend and assistant Ruth was there already! She wasn't due till 5:30. With the extra help, we were mighty dang organized for the class!

By 6:20, class participants were filtering in, washing their hands, signing their forms, picking up the recipe sheets and feedback forms, and we started the class nearly on time at 6:35. With Ruth and me, we were twelve. It was a most congenial group of adult food lovers. We had a retired Air Force guy, a middle school music teacher, a couple of lawyers, a stay-at-home mom, a mom with 3 part-time jobs, and a few others whose occupations, sadly, I didn't have time to inquire about. They all pitched in and helped with the chopping and the stirring and the searing. The theme was "Mardi Gras", and we made a honey pecan pie first, got it into the oven and then into the fridge so it could be eaten that night. Then we started the chicken gumbo, and while various activities were going on around that we made the killer corn bread. We nibbled on that while we finished the gumbo. Lastly, we still had time so we made a chocolate cream pie. Then we all sat down together with some bottled water and the fruits (meats, vegetables) of our labors. It was a perfectly lovely time! The participants all got to take home the leftovers, of which there were many. And I got to bring home the as-yet-unset chocolate pie for my tall skinny fast-metabolizing Huz. Home by 10:00. Much happiness all around.

And then .... sleeeeep!!! One more night of it, and I should be back to human again. Yeah!


mll said...

Sounds like a great weekend. I had wanted to stop by, but was totally consumed with the wedding that occured Sat. night. We had family stay... I even cooked!!! Yep, I cooked and I still have a full head of hair. I didn't do the 3 bean salad but I did do the 7 layer salad plus alot of other stuff. Haven't done any cooking since!!

Paz said...

Talk about busy bee! How wonderful to have a nice assistant. Claudette sounds great!

Love the sound of your honey pecan pie! Yum!