Dinner Planning for the Beach

We will be heading down the Nags Head again this year.  Already, I am trying to plan my menu to feed 25 or so guests.  With such a goal in mind, it gives me a chance to do the ever-pleasurable review of my cookbooks, or scout out my Bon Appetit magazines monthly to find something that will surprise and delight the house.

The house is large; the kitchen magnificent (a great kitchen x 2) with the exception that not everything works as it should.  And, there is a paucity of decent pans etc, to the point that I haul down equipment (food processor, blender, knives, pots/pans) to have the necessary tools to accomplish the task at hand.  The task is that the house is divided into teams.  There are generally 4 teams with a team captain of which I am one.  The purpose is simply to provide happy hour, dinner and dessert to the balance of the house. And cleaning up! There's a competition and all with the prize being a plastic severed body part.  High stakes indeed!

I'll not lie to you:  it is hard planning, purchasing, logisticizing (I know that is not a word) for that many people.  That being said, it is wonderful to be fed by others on the other 4 nights, and fun to get the feedback on one's own offering.

I've got a long while to settle on my offering.  I have to remind myself that

Perfection is the enemy of the good

That means for me for this task, that quite a bit of time and effort can go into the perfect menu, when most people will be happy with good.  That being said, I will rationalize that finding the perfect menu is an exercise in broadening my culinary inquiry.  As part of my long list of non-resolutions for the New Year, culinary inquiry is at the top of my non-list.

I sit down with a cookbook like normal folks who read regular books (and I read those too).  "The Dinner" gives purpose to my my perusing. Plus, putting the pieces of a dinner together is fun for me.
A thoughtful friend gave me Jacques Pepin's Complete Techniques as Christmas gift. I did read it cover to halfway through.  Lots of great information, to include how to skin a rabbit.

To be a true cook is to understand these things.  I'm happy faking it, and starting further up the process!  In the meantime, I'll conduct my chore of planning my menu from the comfortable chair of the elephant room with a glass of wine and the warmth of the fire.

I currently have a few books around me, one of which is The Gourmet Cooking School Cookbook by Dione Lucas with Darlene Geis.  (A thrift/antique store find).  In her section on equipment to have in the kitchen, one essential piece is a pepper mill. . .

One for whole white, one for whole black peppercorns. Don't ever use commercially ground pepper; you might just as well throw sand in your food. (p. 17)


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