Please welcome my sister, Marci, as Foodie Reflections’s first guest blogger! I’m so excited that she’s sharing the experiences of her first-ever “formal” dinner. As someone lucky enough to have scored a seat for that meal, I want you to know that she was a wonderful hostess and we all left with our belly’s full.
Hello Blogging Universe!
My name is Marci and I am Jackie’s sister. I’m an accountant and while I like to think that I’m not a stereotypical dorky accountant with a pocket protector, I am by no means a foodie. But I really like to eat and am decent at following recipe directions, though I often have to call Jackie and ask her basic questions like “what does dicing mean?” or ” what do you mean by mince?” I also like to make sure that no one in my family has any expectations of me as a chef (so as not to disappoint or be required to cook when I don’t want to). So you can just imagine the shock when I suddenly volunteered to host Rosh Hashanah dinner for my husband’s and my families (felt by both families and by me).
My reason for offering to host was twofold. The first reason was pure laziness. My mom wanted us to come to her house in the suburbs for dinner on Friday night but I really didn’t want to deal with traffic so I started to think that it would be nice to see Jeff’s (my husband) family for at least one night of the holiday. Thus, it would make sense to have dinner in the city. Then I realized that if I hosted I could use all my fun wedding gifts for the first time, such as my fine china and a bunch of nice serving pieces (things I never really wanted but now absolutely love). So, based on these reasons I decided to offer my services as a host.
I invited everyone over with promises of amusement at my attempt not to burn down my apartment and began figuring out what to serve. My first step was obviously consulting Jackie’s blog (this blog actually). I told my mom that she had to make her Jell-O mold because I don’t believe in a holiday without it and she also offered to bring my favorite challah bread from a place in Buffalo Grove.
Over the next day or so I waited to see what Jackie would offer to make in hopes that she would volunteer to take over the cooking, but she decided that since it was my event she was going to try to not be controlling. This was annoying for me since I had obviously counted on her being controlling. Finally I confronted her and came to terms with her bringing her roasted fig salad and a dessert. She ended up making an amazing carrot cake* that I highly recommend. After some careful deliberation with Jackie, my co-workers and friends, I decided to make Jackie’s crispy roasted chicken and fingerling potatoes for the main course and a sweet potato and apple kugel for a side dish (recipe courtesy of my co-worker Laura). I decided not to make a traditional brisket because I knew that we would be having it at my aunt’s house the next night. My mother-in-law said she would bring an appetizer so now all I had to do was execute my plan.
I was very lucky in my timing of this holiday – I was sick of working so I decided to take off both Thursday and Friday (the dinner being Friday night). I convinced my friend Priti to take Thursday off work as well without telling her I was planning this dinner until she agreed because I was secretly plotting to get her to help as she’s an amazing cook.
Luckily, Priti is too nice to object so on Thursday my partner-in-crime and I went to Costco and then to Jewel to get all the supplies. Then we made the sweet potato and apple kugel which wasn’t too hard once we got the hang of peeling everything, and I always feel much more confident with Priti helping/leading me.
On Friday morning I cut up some fruit for a delicious fruit salad that no one had any room for, sliced the fingerling potatoes and set the table. All I had left to make was the chicken.
But the thing about the chicken was that I’d never cooked or even touched a whole chicken before. I thought I could do it but it turns out that it’s gross. I kept waiting for Jackie to come over to “show me” how it’s done but when she was running late I realized that I should try it on my own. I got about as far as taking the chicken out of the bag when the combination of the slimy touch of the chicken and the prospect of having to stick my hand in certain places that I can’t even think about without wincing made me realize that this was something that I just couldn’t handle. Luckily, Jackie saved the day when she arrived and then cleaned the chicken. We did the rest together and the chicken turned out perfectly (with a few small glitches due to my oven temperature being wrong).
Overall I think the first ever Kol-racki Rosh Hashanah dinner was a huge success. Thanks to help from my sister, mom, friends and co-workers, along with some damn good planning on my part, I survived and even managed not to burn my apartment down. My Dad did end up coming down with pneumonia starting that night at dinner but I truly believe that I am in no way responsible for that.
* Note: Carrot cake recipe coming soon!