In Week Twenty-Four…well, how do I say this and still remain family-friendly? In Week Twenty-Four, the dirty diaper really hit the fan. Does that get the point across? Week Twenty-Four, and I want to be real careful not to overstate this or exagerate, but Week Twenty-Four almost gutted me emotionally, physically, and mentally.
We all have limits, a breaking point, a level of reasonable stress that we can metabolize and still function like a normal human being. My limits whizzed into my rear view mirror this week, bringing my breaking point front and center and my stress level to a red hot defcon one.
In Week Twenty-Four, I unexpectedly found myself managing the kitchen full time at Hurley House, on top of my role as business owner, operations manager, marketing manager, communications manager, content manager, and creative manager. Oh, and almost half-way through this little Ina In A Year project that is basically a part-time job.
I buckled. To make the whole situation even more laughable (or cry-able, depending on who you ask), I had four private events in four days this week. On Monday I taught a private class on how to roast a chicken. On Tuesday we hosted our second Ina In A Year VIP Party. On Wednesday I hosted an Ina Lunch. On Thursday we hosted our first Whiskey Night at Hurley House. All of these events required enormous amounts of time and energy from me, and I felt every second of it.
In the midst of my crisis, my Enneagram type 1 coping mechanisms took over. I immediately dropped anything that was not vitally important and created a new system for running the Hurley House kitchen. Creating a new system, which brought with it a hefty learning curve, was only part of the equation. I also decided it would be in the best interest of the company long-term for me to batch test every recipe in an effort to eliminate as many errors as possible, increase efficiency, and reduce waste. This process required my hands-on involvement and oversight of every single detail. I was thrown into the deep end of my own kitchen and wondered whether or not I would sink or swim.
Coughing up water, flailing to hang on, gasping for air, I fought my way through this week and came out alive. I decided I was not about to let this new snag ruin me or my business. If I needed to dig in, then I would dig in. By the end of the week, knew where I wanted to go and how I wanted to get us there. What I didn’t know was how I was going to carry the monstrous load of all this on my own. I geared up as best I could, and kept my head down as I powered through each day, discovering new levels of exhaustion.
I did not write or post very much. How could I? I toiled behind the scenes, putting in the hours necessary to get our train moving in the right direction. The work was vital, but it was hard. It wasn’t cute. It wasn’t charmingly challenging. It was ugly.
WHAT I COOKED
Dark Rum Southsides, Cooking for Jeffery Rossinis, Foolproof Chunky Blue Cheese & Yogurt Dip, How Easy Is That? Jalapeño Cheese Crackers, Foolproof Tomato Crostini with Whipped Feta, Foolproof Elephant Ears, Barefoot In Paris
Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs, How Easy Is That?
Roasted Chicken with Potatoes
Caesar Salad with Pancetta, Parties!
Garlic and Herb Roasted Shrimp, Make it Ahead
Pears, English Stilton, Port, Parties!
WHAT I LEARNED
DARK RUM SOUTHSIDES.
Winner winner! We served these at the VIP party, and several people commented on how refreshing and easy these were to drink. The base of lime, mint, and rum is topped with sparkling water which makes these a light, low-alcohol cocktail. We set up a station with all of the components, and people helped themselves and mixed their own drink. I went back for seconds and will definitely be repeating these at future gatherings!
WHIPPED FETA BRUSCHETTA.
This is one of my favorite appetizers yet. The combination of feta and lemon whipped together and then topped with tomatoes sounds deceptively basic, but it is not. The flavors mix and mingle and bring out hidden notes in each element making this a magical dish. It also happens to be strikingly beautiful when displayed on a platter.
CHUNKY BLUE CHEESE AND YOGURT DIP.
Not only was this delicious as a dip with fresh vegetables, but later in the week I used the leftover as a spread for a roast beef sandwich. The flavor is intense, creamy, tangy, and geared toward the blue-cheese lover (which I am).
Sometimes when someone labels a certain recipe as a weeknight favorite, I quickly discover that we define “weeknight” very differently. Weeknight recipes need to be fast, easy, and relatively inexpensive. For this recipe, Ina and I definitely define “weeknight” the same. I loved this so much. The flavor is very meaty and satisfying, with a touch of heat and a touch of cream, but not too much of either. My kids loved it. And it was a cinch to throw together. I am adding this to my line up of favorite go-to dinners.