Monday, March 1, 2010

Not the good stuff

Two sets of good china sit in my china cabinet. So pretty to look at; so scary to use.

Grandma's china doesn't get used much ... holidays mostly.

Beau and I have only used our fancy, discontinued Lenox china that we registered for over 15 years ago two times. Still trying to complete the entire set, seeing as a cup and saucer set is $65.

But, it sure is pretty ...

I often think if I don't start using this good stuff, I never will.

I had the perfect opportunity last Friday night.

Beau and I hosted one of four fancy dinner parties at our house. It's all part of a small group, titled "Restaurant Wars," where we "compete" against three other couples for the title of "Biggest Glutton for Punishment" "Best Restaurant." We are each required to cook a four-course gourmet meal and then the guests judge us.

I am a pretty competitive person, however, I would like to just get through this experience without having a nervous breakdown or accidentally piercing my husband with a steak knife.

I'm not sure I realized what I was signing up for when I agreed to do this.

Yeah, I can cook. I'm a pretty good cook. I'm an excellent cook for 4-6 people, but for 12-14, I turn into Gordon Ramsay (minus the expletives).
I kinda freak out. Just a little.

I freak out especially when I realize 45 minutes before the guests are supposed to arrive that I don't have enough potatoes and have already started to boil the ones I did have.

I nearly killed myself driving to Winn Dixie in a monsoon to pick up a bag for just four more potatoes. Of course, I got behind every grandma who could barely drive on a sunny day, much less in a thunderstorm.

Freaking out causes me to make rash decisions like deciding to put a little milk in my mashed potatoes, when the recipe doesn't call for milk. Then, they're runny.

I asked Beau what I should do. He said, "Add more potatoes." No, duh. No time for that. They thickened up a bit before I had to serve them, but weren't the best they could be.

Another rash decision was adding gravy thickener to my madeira sauce to hurry up the thickening process. Sauce got clumpy. I ladled out all the little clumps. Stupid.

Cooking in a small kitchen with four bodies (two waiters) also can be stressful. We were often in each others' way. So much so, that Beau (the one who said we shouldn't use Grandma's china because someone might break or chip a piece) was the one that broke the top to the sugar bowl. Let's not talk about it.

I took no pictures until the end due to the freaking out part and pictures were the last thing on my mind.

All the guests seemed to enjoy themselves and complimented the chefs on their dishes. There are some things to tweak for next time, but all in all, it was a good night.

This was the end result.

This was officially the dirtiest my kitchen has ever been. I ran the dishwasher four times and still had left-over dishes in the sink the next day.

And, I may need to rethink using the good stuff ... at least for Beau's sake.


Cathy said...

Too funny. My "good stuff" is the Corel...otherwise we use paper plates. hahaha

The Hat Chick said...

Use the good china honey....that's what it's there for. Check, ebay and craigslist for the sugar bowl lid. If you tell me the pattern name, I'll check for it over here. (I love me some china...I have 3 sets...and I use it all.) I think my sister-in-law has your same wedgewood pattern.

Jeff Ables said...

I will expect the good stuff when I show up at Ches Gaspard for Restaurant Wars! (Can't wait! But please - No clumpy sauce!)

Julie said...

Awesome story . . . sorry about the piece of Grandma's china that got broken. :-(

Don't know about handling all of the stress, but beyond that you had a good time.

One question, unless I missed it somewhere . . . Did you win?

Mama Belle said...

Jules ... Won't know until all the groups have come to our house.

I don't expect to. I'm up against some really good cooks. It's all for fun.

Rachelle said...

I'm the same way. I have a set of Franciscan dishes that were my Grandmothers. She would but a plate or a bowl after each paycheck until she had a set.... I would feel so guilty to break something she worked so hard for.

Katie@The Baby Factory said...

How fun.....and stressful :) So, you're saying you have to do this again?! Like many more times?!
My stress level definitely could not handle that.
Good luck!
Sad about your sugar bowl, though :(

Chel's Leaving a Legacy said...

You know what I say? (not that you asked, but...)

Use the good stuff anyway. So a piece got broken. So what? Don't be afraid to use it, or it's no good to anybody. Your kids won't have special memories of it to pass on to their little ones (in like 50 years) if they don't remember eating off of it.

Just my thoughts.

I am sorry a piece got broken, though. That does stink. But that's what is for. And glue.


sara said...

I am so with you on the china...mine comes out at Christmas..maybe.

What a fun idea!!! minus the stress, it sounds like a great time. So how do the couples judge? will you eat at the next person's house and be a judge? I would love to know the rules if you have time!!!

Vanessa said...

Everything LOOKED and TASTED wonderful! You would never know you sweat this out. I am still thinking about some of those dishes I ate Friday! So much work but we appreciated it all! Thanks again!

Donnetta said...

Always use the "good stuff." That's why it's there. :)

Ebay is a girl's best friend!