Monday, June 22, 2009

So I almost lit my condo on fire... what's the big deal???

On Saturday night, I had a bunch of friends over for Cajun Night. The purpose of the night was to drink beer - all sorts - and make some Cajun food. I'm a big fan of Cajun food, but I've never made it before and I haven't had it in a long time (since I can't find a good place in Washington).

Here is how our night went....

In advance of our night, I sent out the recipes and the seven of us split out the ingredients and beer and we all brought things to my house on Saturday to begin cooking. One of the ingredients that I was responsible for was a chicken... and a whole chicken at that. The recipe said to cut the chicken into eight pieces. So I, being fearless with a knife, decided to butcher my first chicken. I figured no big deal... although I don't have a coning knife, I'm sure I can figure it out. Moral of the story, I didn't lose any fingers, and I, more or less, was successful in my job - YEAH! So now what??? I figured that since the chicken was for the Jambalaya that I should make a stock (also never done this before) so I started boiling water, threw in the carcass and some garlic... step one done.

At this point my friends started arriving. Fortunately the people with the crawfish and shrimp (YUM!) arrived first. We spent an hour picking off heads and peeling the seafood (which I also added to the stock). By the time we were done everyone else was showing up and we were ready to go.

Side Note - I was not responsible for beer, other people were. We were all assigned two types of beer (awesome idea) but the execution was flawed. By the time everyone got to my house with the beer, there wasn't any room in the fridge for food.... oops.

So we all started chopping, stirring, melting, spicing...etc to make our meal. I know that I was driving Doogie crazy because there was a recipe, but I was using it as guidance and not following it exactly. He kept saying... are you sure? Isn't that enough... heck no! I cook by my food and I was in a particularly playful mood on Saturday.

So we cooked (and drank for three hours) and then it was time to sit down and eat. The food was fabulous. One diner commented that he was surprised how good the food was, he wasn't planning on it being so good. He figured he'd eat less and drink more beer. My response - Have you met me??? I can cook! We laughed (and I still have a crap-load of beer in my fridge).

We rested for a bit, then it was time for dessert. I was making Bananas Foster (a traditional New Orleans dessert with brown sugar, butter, liquor, bananas and RUM - to light on fire). I prepared the dish and then when it came time to light it on fire, I brought the pan out of the kitchen and into the living room. I poured the rum on and lit it on fire. Everything was going fantastically, when, my smoke alarm went off (at 11pm).... oops. I'm sure my neighbors are loving me now.

It was a fantastic night, with good friends. Our next adventure... Caribbean Cuisine and Rum... now this could be interesting.

Now for the Lessons Learned:
  1. When making a meal with a lot of food and beer, don't make fabulous food. Apparently, mediocre food encourages people to drink more beer, leaving you room for other necessities in your fridge.
  2. When making a dessert en-flambe, don't light it on fire just under your smoke detector.
  3. When making Jambalaya and you're pulling out the chicken to pick it off the bone, don't let other people help you. You won't have any chicken left to put back into the Jambalaya.
  4. When cooking with lots of spices, especially when you cook by feeling, make sure that there is a shaker on each of the bottles before you put it into the stew. You don't want to end up with a whole jar of coriander in your etouffee when it just calls for 1 teaspoon (even if you do cook by mood).
  5. When making a bunch of spicy food, figure out a way to deodorize your apartment after. The food was amazing, but it still smells like chili's and seafood... amazing smells, but there is a time and a place.

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