Passover PandemoniumI have officially learned my lesson. As the undisputed winner of the procrastinator award of the 21st century, I decided it would be a totally great idea to cook for 18 Passover guests on the same day as our seder. You see, I've never really cooked an entire meal on any holiday. Usually, my mom cooks half, I make a turkey or a roast beef, we buy the side dishes, and voila, our guests arrive and devour the meal in record time.
On some occasions, I've even purchased the soup to nuts holiday special that comes complete with cooked turkey, matzoh balls, farfal and more, but this time around, I was bitten by the cooking bug (I must have lost my mind) and was deciding to make a statement. Though I profess I don't cook, hate cooking, can't cook - I cooked.
But when you're a cooking novice, there are roadblocks at every turn. Take the turkey for instance. I bought one on Tuesday and was afraid to leave it in the refrigerator, fearing it would go bad, so I stuck it in the freezer thinking I could defrost it the night before our guests would be arriving. That would be wrong move #1. When I removed the turkey out of the freezer, it was still frozen solid. And when I finally printed out the directions to a fabulous turkey recipe I had found online, it said as clear as day that it takes five hours to defrost one pound of turkey. Which meant it would take 75 hours for my bird to be ready for basting. Oops. So, it was time to wake up the family, make them get dressed in record time and head to Stew Leonards for a brand new turkey.
Thinking they'd have great sides on display at 9am, I was all ready to pick up a green bean tray, fruit platter and a few more all ready made dishes, but sadly, they hadn't even put them out yet. And so, it was going to be a day of making everything from scratch. When we came back home, I put my daughter to work and I have to admit, she was quite the efficient little helper. She put my jewelry away for me so that it wouldn't get covered in matzoh meal, she helped roll the meatballs we were making for the fricasse and the stuffed cabbage - which I prepared from scratch from my Grandma Dora's recipe, and she helped my mom make the matzoh balls. Somehow, as I stood in that kitchen yesterday, I felt as if the torch had been passed and I was stepping up to the recipe plate and handling my responsibility quite well.
As the day progressed, the food preparation went swimmingly and our guests started to arrive. Although at one point, I realized we didn't have enough chairs so I had to zip over to the hardware store to pick up some extras. When I returned, it was almost time to get down to business. I cleaned myself up, slipped into a holiday outfit and we got started. For the first hour, everything was fabulous - food delicious, everyone was raving, but then that's where our good fortune turned. In an effort to cook the sweet potato pudding with marshmallows a bit quicker, my mom decided to turn the broiler on and bam! The marshmallows caught fire in the oven and the room filled with smoke. While I was ready to call 911, my cousin Jeff whipped into action, covered the inferno with aluminum foil, put out the flames and while the concoction was a charred mess, we removed the burnt mallows and proceeded to eat the rest - it was still quite delish I might add.
Next, as I was making dessert, I started pouring coffee into a carafe and somehow, the glass canister shattered - sending coffee and a jar of olive oil spilling out all over my counter. As I spent the next several hours with my mom cleaning up glass shards, coffee, olive oil and dishes, I realized why cooking is not my bag. It's not the cooking that gets me overwhelmed - it's the clean-up. And as I sit here thinking about the 17 guests who will be coming tonight for round two of Passover, I'm starting to think that fancy paper plates and cups are not such a bad option.
Have to dash in a few - need to see if turkey #2 is finally defrosted. Otherwise, I'll be paying a second visit to Stews this morning. It kind of feels like I'm in the movie "Groundhogs Day" - only it's Passover.