Thursday, June 14, 2012

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread: Part I - the menu for the feast

It would have been dangerous indeed for anyone, even a person with wings and a halo, to set foot in the Parish Center kitchen early Saturday evening, shortly after Younger Daughter's wedding Mass. But to explain why, I have to rewind just a bit.

Long Suffering Spouse had been preparing food during the last couple of weeks before the wedding.

There was an extensive experimentation phase prior to the time that actual preparation began.

It had been suggested that chicken cordon bleu would go over well. But could we make chicken cordon bleus without toothpicks? (Someone might bite into a toothpick, my wife fretted.) She tried making a tray with the wrapped chickens tucked next to each other so they wouldn't unwind. (They also wouldn't cook all the way through, and undercooked poultry is apparently a big no-no.) The Internet was consulted -- but were metal skewers really an improvement over toothpicks? (Harder to miss, worse for you if you did.)

A teaching colleague of my wife's -- Mrs. Lork (no, that's not her real name, but she will figure prominently in the narrative to come and deserves a name -- and perhaps a medal) -- suggested tying them with a string, but Long Suffering Spouse was not overly impressed with that idea. (What if someone didn't see the string and bit into it? How would dinner and a flossing go over?) Eventually Long Suffering Spouse found a restaurant supply store that offered frozen, premade chicken cordon bleus.

Not for the first time, we consolidated our freezer space.

The potatoes were another issue. Mashed potatoes were deemed too plain. Some sort of scalloped dish was decided upon and a tray was procured from the same restaurant supply store at which we (eventually) found the chicken cordon bleus. These were produced at a family dinner -- it may have been Easter Sunday -- but they proved to be a disappointment. Too bland. More cheese would certainly be required.

Several versions followed. As near as I could tell (and I am no foodie), the key issue was the thickness of the potato slices. Too thin and the casserole tray would dissolve into soup upon reheating; too thick and they would be too hard. Crunchy potatoes are fine as french fries, not as scalloped potatoes.

And how deep should the trays be?

We had a lot of scalloped potatoes in the last several weeks before a recipe was decided upon.

The spinach lasagna was a tried and true recipe. These were already in the freezer by the time chickens were acquired. Then came the chickens. Then, somehow, came the potatoes.

There wasn't room for anything else.

We have two refrigerators in the Curmudgeon house, the one in the kitchen and the other in the basement. The basement frig handles the overflow and, understandably, is most heavily used around the holidays or for events like this one. So we had two freezers available -- and, for awhile there, it looked like we couldn't possibly accommodate everything.

My mother-in-law (Abuela to my kids) has a giant freezer, the kind that a successful deer hunter might use to store a season's worth of venison. But she filled it long ago -- in anticipation of Y2K I think -- and she scoffed when my wife suggested that space could be found therein for at least some of the wedding feast. "It's full," she said. "There's no room."

I'm not sure anything in my mother-in-law's freezer is actually still edible -- but if it is, and if the Apocalypse comes, Abuela will ride it out in style. At least as long as she can keep the freezer cold. Somehow, therefore, we made the best of what we had.

The entrees accounted for, it was time to turn to dessert. Long Suffering Spouse found a giant wedding cake cookie mold online -- and for a veteran cookienista (I can make up words in my own blog, can't I?) like my bride, the temptation was irresistible. We tried a couple of different recipes and several frosting and decoration schemes before she settled on the final design. Each cookie was individually wrapped and ribboned. Did they come out alright? Put it this way: Strangers took pictures of these cookies and posted them on Facebook.

Making the final batches of cookies occupied most of my wife's evenings in the first part of the week before the wedding. But she'd already ordered two sheetcakes from Costco to go along with the cookies. We were to pick these up last Thursday along with the flowers.

Oh, yes, my wife made all the bouquets, too. She practiced on plastic flowers, using different color ribbons and types of floral tape and pinning schemes before deciding which to use. She would produce the bouquets on Thursday night.

But... wait! The basement refrigerator, already top-heavy from an overloaded freezer, had to be repurposed to store the flowers. The cakes had nowhere to go.

My friend Steve's wife, whom I'll call Charlotte (because this is not her real name either) said she could take the cakes. Charlotte, like Mrs. Lork, becomes a hero of this story, as does Long Suffering Spouse's old college roommate, Penny (that's a link to my 25th anniversary post in which Penny was introduced to the blog). But you'll have to stay tuned for all of that.


Anonymous said...

OK I want you to lock your office door and turn off all phones. You are NOT there to work for goodness sake, you are there to tell us this wedding story and I can't wait to read more of it..Whats you hourly rate Curmy? I will pay you to not do any work, just type.

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

well gosh i would have gladly stored the cakes! *snicker*

smiles, bee