Saturday, April 22, 2006

Why I Should Stick To Store-Bought

So last night was Girl's Night. My first one since moving back. My girlfriends and I started getting together every month for a regular "Wine & Dessert" night to counter-balance our husband's poker night. They were never on the same night, but whatever. We would rotate who would host, and the host provided the dessert and a bottle of wine, and everyone else sort of brought additional wine and/or sometimes snacks. There is a core group of us, but many times a new "girlfriend" would be invited to attend. Our group has grown over the years.

Now, Girl's Night has evolved, somehow, into dinner. And some of my friends are truly excellent in the kitchen. Gifted ladies. It still follows a semi-potluck format, and still includes yummy desserts and lots of wine, but now it's also a main course. And sides. And hors d'oeuvres. Which is really fun, actually, and everyone seems to enjoy our own evolution. Last night my friend C hosted - she was making beef tenderloin and has a dining room that can seat 14. I, on the other hand, can seat 4. 4! I covet C's dining room. I volunteered to bring a mushroom risotto for which I have an excellent, easy recipe using the slow cooker crock pot. Her beef tenderloin was to be topped with sauteed mushrooms, so our coordination was perfectly in sync.

Thank God for the Cosmopolitans and the platters full of snacks is all I can say.

I botched the risotto, damnit.
Really mucked it up good.

I'm not a horrible cook, but I'm not a fantastic one, either. I fall somewhere in the middle. I do OK. It's rare you can't eat something I've prepared because it's so awful. I'm comfortable with spices and various cooking techniques, and I'm not afraid to try something new (hence the risotto - it was a first try effort). But I'm not "inspired" in the culinary arts. It doesn't always come naturally to me. I can't completely wing it, and must rely on the tried and true guarantee of a step-by-step recipe.

Which even that I can't always do well because the risotto recipe couldn't have been easier and I still managed to screw it up.

I couldn't figure out what I had done wrong - the risotto was a bit too al dente and getting dry in a hurry. But it smelled wonderful and didn't taste bad. Just pasty/dry when it should have been creamy. It bugged. Upon returning home last night (after 5? 6? drinks - couldn't count because girlfriend "Fun J" was in the house and never let your glass become empty. EVER.) I double-checked the recipe. Seems I mis-read the amount of aborio rice required and doubled it by mistake. Oops. No wonder it was thick and dry and pasty.


Next time, I think I'll stick to the veggie tray and call it good. Clearly it's safer to have me bring something store bought vs. cook. Live and learn.

I am the paper plates and cups and napkins staple in my family. Everyone knows not to suggest I do anything else!
I shouldn't chuckle about this, but I just couldn't help it. I happen to have previously thought I was quite handy in the kitchen. Til superwoman moved into my neighborhood and I happened to befriend her. We spend much time with her family, as our children play beautifully together and in spite of the fact that she works (breadwinner, no less), the dinners she makes are far better than things I put together and her desserts? Let me just tell you that the apple pie she made for our Easter feast should have had a photograph and recipe listed in a culinary publication...

Anyway, glad you had a good time and I am sure your friends just love having you back at Girls Night. :)
Oh, I hate it when that happens! I feel your pain, as it has happened to me once. Thankfully, just once. I too will try new things when taking something to someone's house. I don't know why I do that. But it never failed me except that one time. And it was bad enough, that I'll never do it again lol.

I'm sure your friends are so glad to have you back that they didn't care about the paste, er risotto. :-D
Store bought can be good, if you get it somewhere like Costco where all the food is awesome. but homemade food is good. I bet the risotto wasn't as bad as you thought. That's kind of a tough dish to make sometimes because you dont want it to turn out gummy, but not dry either. :)
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