Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Stick To The Recipes You've Been Making For Decades. Those Are The Best.

Many years ago, I went to a friend's house for Thanksgiving. She was a phenomenal cook and I enjoyed the many meals that she invited me to share with her and other guests. I was especially looking forward to her Thanksgiving spread. When I arrived, I was ready to dive in with any help that she needed to prepare the feast or set the table or whatever else. However, I barely had enough time to take my coat off before she grabbed my arm and pulled me into her bedroom.

Get your mind out of the gutter.

My friend was in complete distress. Instead of making her traditional feast from recipes that had been passed down from generation to generation, she went down the path of making a contemporary Thanksgiving meal.

"I need your help. I completely f*cked up. Nothing is coming out right. I'm so stressed out right now. I've already had 3 glasses of wine. I don't know how I'm going to salvage this meal."

She wasn't joking.

Over the next hour, I worked my magic the best I could, but it wasn't enough. She had burned the balsamic reduction. The Brussel sprouts were crunchy. Her rolls didn't rise. The stuffing was gummy. Her gravy was lumpy. The turkey breast best resembled turkey jerky.

The mashed potatoes and whipped butternut squash was the only traditional thing she made. Those were delicious.

Long story short, it was a total Thanksgiving meal fiasco, but I knew she learned her lesson. While I helped her put the food away and do dishes, she said, "I'm never doing that again. I'm sticking to what I've always made."

This is a life lesson that I learned years and years ago, even before my friend's Thanksgiving disaster.

When I reflect back on that story, I'm reminded of the College Graduation Party we hosted in May for a special friend of ours who has become family. Our gift to her was hosting the party and providing all of the food.

I made a variety of homemade finger sandwiches, salads, appetizers, and desserts. Her graduation cake was all homemade. Nothing fancy.

We knew a little over half of the guests that were attending.

After everyone arrived and started eating, one of the guests that I hadn't met until that day reached out to me with one of the best compliments I've ever received.

She told me that the food was incredible and asked about the various foods.

I told her that I kept it simple. The foods that were prepared and offered were those that I had been making for decades. Fresh ingredients. Homemade.

She was absolutely enthralled. 

Her compliments and comments made me feel proud.

The following day, Lisa and I were discussing the party and that particular conversation came up.

She reiterated what I've always embraced.

Stick to the recipes you've been making for decades. Those are the best. They have substance and history and usually a story behind it.

Keep it simple regardless of who's sitting at your table.

Trying new recipes is great, but do it because it inspires you, not because you want to impress your guests.

If your guests want fancy schmancy meals, let them go to a 5-star restaurant and pay $100 a plate.

When people join us at the table, they know they're going to get a simple, homecooked meal made with fresh ingredients and love.

So far, no complaints.

We have no interest in changing that.

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