We had a great time at the housewarming, but man did we have to work our asses off to get the house in shape. Last week I spent about 16 hours priming and painting the downstairs bedroom (wood paneling for days down there), but now it looks incredible. I love it. And it felt great having new and old friends come over, drink Ed's awesome Sangria and just relax on the deck. We even had perfect blue skies. What a nice time.
So I've realized in the last couple of years that I'm kind of a drill sergeant in the kitchen. I started noticing this about myself in Jackson when Ed and I would cook together. I'm telling you, if that man had to feed the world we'd all weigh 16lbs. It's not that he's not a good cook--Eddie honey, I love your cooking--it's that, thanks to all the "fun" he had in college, he gets REALLY EASILY DISTRACTED. So I'll say something like, "could you grab the carrots from the fridge for me?" and a half hour later he's nibbling on a piece of celery, staring off into space, and the carrots are still nowhere to be found. If we ate dinner at midnight on a regular basis, this would be an ideal cooking pace.
I think the bigger issue is my history in kitchens. I know what'll get you yelled at (and I mean along the lines of "get the f*&% out of my way! g%$dammit!") in a professional kitchen and over the years I've learned not to do those things. Also, when I've got a ton of cooking to do I go into "kitchen mode," which means I've got pine nuts toasting, peppers steaming after being roasted, the grill is on getting ready for the chicken, the chicken's marinating, I'm making the cookie dough....you get the idea. Meanwhile, Ed is standing with one leg crossed over the other, sipping a G&T and working his way through half of the summer sausage and swiss cheese that he's supposed to be cutting for our guests. In other words, he's the guy who'd get his butt fired the first day.
This causes some tension for us because, clearly, Ed is having a great time keeping me company while not cooking yet standing near food and knives. I, on the other hand, have to pick up the slack. I actually don't mind doing it--I love having 10 things going and the balancing act that that creates--but working at a million miles an hour is not usually a recipe for a sweet, easy-going, breezy attitude. So we end up on two different ends of the spectrum. One of us is intense and the other is loosey-goosey. But, in this case, the up-side of working my rear off was that, by noon on Saturday, I'd made onion dip,
panzanella, s'mores bars (recipe below!), herbed cream cheese (for the smoked salmon), and prepped fruit for the sangria. I finished early enough to treat myself to a pre-party pedicure. AWESOME. Those cheesy massage chairs are life savers.
The night before was another cooking story altogether. Ed, Ruby and I had gone over to my parents house to water plants and take a dip in the lake. Since it's only 5 minutes away and Ruby was starting to melt down, I just kept my bathing suit on for the trip home. Anyways, just-like-that we'd put Ruby to bed, opened a bottle of wine and had started the grills going for our smoked salmon. Ed was doing his fish in the Weber using hardwood charcoal and alder chips.
I was smoking my fish on the gas grill also using alder chips. That night we were out on our deck (me, buzzed from the wine, dancing around in my bathing suit, him getting embarrassed, both of us listening to our gay neighbor Rick's "sexy date music" streaming from his stereo) until 10:30pm, smoking fish and chicken. Good times. The salmon and chicken were terrific.
Here's the S'mores Bar Cookie recipe:
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 c. brown sugar, packed
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 c. flour
1 c. graham cracker crumbs
1 bag milk chocolate chips, melted (usually there are melting instructions on the bag)
1 bag miniature marshmallows
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9x13 pan. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and salt, mix in. Add combined flour and crumbs, mix well. Be sure to scrape down sides of mixer.
Press crust mixture onto bottom of greased pan. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. Meanwhile, melt chocolate chips. Spread chocolate over crust. Top with marshmallows. Broil on low 4 inches from heat source, removing pan if marshmallows start to smoke, then putting the pan back under the broiler. Once the top layer of marshmallows has toasted, turn oven off, move pan to lower rack and close the door to let the lower layer of marshmallows melt in the warm oven. Watch very carefully so that marshmallows don't burn. Let cool. Cut into bars using a lightly buttered knife.