Archive for category Entertaining
. Cheesecakes are intimidating. They are finicky. They have many steps. They take a long time to bake. Oh, I am definitely a cheesecake novice. This was my second attempt at a cheesecake. Thank you Ina Garten for your wonderful recipe. I only adjusted the topping to be strawberrylicious, as that was my friend’s request. Let me back up.
One of my neighbors, now a good friend, just celebrated a birthday this week, the same week she was throwing her now 4 year old daughter a birthday! As us Moms know, our own birthdays are now about the little things like an extra hour of sleep, a quiet dinner, or maybe a piece of really good cheesecake.
There are several pieces of art within a kitchen. Objects that live for years, producing some of the most memorable tastes to grace the kitchen. The first of my collection was my Kitchen Aid mixer. It was a Christmas present years ago from Hubby. Suddenly, batches of cookies weren’t as daunting, whipping egg whites was a breeze and I became more efficient letting the mixer run while I prepared other ingredients. Since then, I have acquired a cast iron skillet, several nice chef knives, and a roasting pan that has delivered some amazing turkeys and roasts. This year, I received a long-awaited Christmas wish, a Le Creuset round french oven.
Within the hour, I was looking up recipes to christen my new collector’s piece. I had already done Julia Child’s boeuf bourguignon a couple of years ago for New Years, so this had to be something different. I landed on Bon Appetit’s number 1 recipe of the year, Red Wine Braised Short Ribs. Paired with a wonderful bottle of B Cellars Blend 24.
In the spirit of Auld Lang Syne, a group of my friends from the college years reunite for New Year Year’s Eve every year. We spend half the year selecting a location, finding a house to rent and then all of December planning the meals. This year, it took an 8 bedroom condo in Myrtle Beach to house 10 adults and 6 kids. Three of the regular group weren’t able to attend plus 3 children spent the time with their grandparents, so you can see how this tends to be one big party each year!
Lately, I handle New Year’s Eve dinner. Last year, we had artisan pizzas with all the leftovers in the mountain cabin. This year, I knew I had a big kitchen and plenty of time to prep, so I arranged a tasting party. The first step was to visit the party store. This irks my husband to no end. He hates when I visit the party store because it costs a lot for things made of paper and plastic. I went anyway, rebellious wife that I am!
It was supposed to be a little birthday party for my daughter. She turned 2. Two year olds don’t even remember their birthdays. They certainly don’t understand making a wish and blowing out candles. So, it doesn’t make a ton of sense to have a huge party to celebrate. However, I survived the last two years, so isn’t that worth a party? Yes, it is. Just not this kind of party.
I have a secret. It’s horrible. It’s embarrassing. It’s not something I’m proud of. Here it is: I love tropical storms. I love the power they exude. With the first announcement of a named storm, I am glued to NOAA. If I live in what my family refers to as the “cone of doom”, I check each update which occurs every 5, 8, 11, and 2 o’clock hour, am and pm. Living in Florida has taught me to have great respect for these storms. I have seen first hand the destruction that can occur from storms like Katrina, Ivan, Charley, and Andrew, so though I love tracking them and watching them develop, I do it with the understanding that lives can change, even end, as a storm passes. Still, I love watching the swirling clouds, the rain blow sideways, and the roar of the wind as it rushes over my house.
As the second named storm of the not-even-begun season put me and my family smack dab in the cone of doom, I started tracking the sucker. And planning what I would do as we waiting for Beryl to arrive. Now, this is a minor storm. It means that it’s going to rain a lot and be a bit windy, so we’re not packing up and leaving town. We’re preparing to be inside for awhile and keeping an eye on things. My first thought:
Knowing a storm is headed your way means a few things. First, you have to make your preparations and for this kind of storm, that just means, stock up on food and bring in any loose outside planters, toys, and patio furniture. So, knowing two days in advance that we would probably have a storm on the Sunday before Memorial Day, we decided to grill out as much as possible until we were forced inside. I am also going to note that I’m growing basil and have a cheese obsession. You’ll notice the theme as the weekend diary progresses.
Read the rest of this entry »