Guys. What even? Can we just skip right over the embarrassment of Week 36? I feel like I’m walking around in my underwear or something. Can someone hand me a robe or a towel so I can hide the ugly truth? No? Okay, fine. I’ll be brave, truthful, and in my skivvies at the same time.
What a joke of a week. It’s so bad, it’s laughable, but also cry-able, but also you are not going to believe all the curve balls. Settle in.
First, in the What Was I Thinking department, I decided this was the summer Hurley House should launch an entirely new summer menu. The concept is pretty cool because all of the new menu items are recipes from the Ina Project. But instead of waiting until next summer, after the project was over, I decided this summer was go time.
Launching anything new in a business is always a huge undertaking. But launching something new in a food business? It’s basically like orchestrating a three ring circus. There are the obvious things to consider regarding the food: batch testing, yield notating, scaling a recipe to feed hundreds of people instead of six, naming, pricing, grocery lists, making sure we can get all the ingredients in bulk, finding a place to store new ingredients, and on and on and on. And then, on top of the food aspect, there is the marketing and sales aspect. New can be fun, but new can also be scary. We spent weeks deciding on how we would describe each dish, what the roll out would look like, how we would market it, how we would package it, what kind of bag would it fit into, does it need a label, do we have all the new menus printed, do we have all the new graphics designed and in their proper place, what is our plan if this really doesn’t do well, how many should we make? Am I painting a clear picture?
As if that weren’t enough, it was in fact the last week of school. I won’t go into unnecessary detail. I trust you can use your imagination on this one. Paint me exhausted.
And here’s where it gets super fun. Over the course of three weeks, including this one, certain members of our family (who shall remain nameless but I assure you it was multiple members) had and passed around among other members of our family the throw ups, a fever, pinkeye, and lice. What the actual bleep-ity-bleep is happening?
Guys, I can handle a lot. But I cannot handle the lice. On my best day, at my most emotionally robust, on-top-of-the-world, brimming with the Spirit of the Lord, exuding patience and love and long suffering for all who cross my path, even then, I CANNOT HANDLE THE LICE. It is my undoing.
To discover this unwelcome house guest in the middle of May Madness, in the middle of the end of the school year, in the middle of the stupidity that is my schedule, only served to highlight the fact that I really really really cannot handle the lice. So you know what I did? I didn’t cook. I coped.
I walked away from things I could walk away from (which wasn’t much), and gave the Ina Project zero attention. I did cook the food for the eight kind people who attended this week’s Ina Lunch, and the menu was fantastic (see below). But apart from that I decided to work on keeping myself sane and lice-free instead of cooking. (No, I did not have it, for those of you wondering.)
There was a shining star of an event that redeemed this entire stink-bomb of a week. But to hear that fun news, you will have to wait until next week’s report. Nothing like a good tease, right?
WHAT I COOKED
WHAT I LEARNED
The best version of Gazpacho I know. I’ve been making this for fifteen years, and it does not get old. Every time I am reminded how magical this simply prepared concoction of fresh vegetables, processed and poured into a bowl with perfectly proportioned ingredients really is. Make it. Keep it in your fridge all summer. It is a staple!
Again, a classic Ina favorite that I have been serving for over a decade. The chicken is thin, flavorful, juicy, and perfectly crunchy on the outside. But the best part is the cold salad greens coated in pucker-worthy lemon vinaigrette served on top of the hot crispy chicken. Ina taught me this trick, and it is excellent. The combination of flavors and textures keeps me coming back for one more bite. It is light, interesting, and easy.
Are you sensing a theme? These also are the best in class. The only lemon bars I ever make. In fact, if we had a refrigerated case at Hurley House, these would be on the menu. The shortbread crust, the zest-filled lemon filling, and the perfect-every-time results make these a winner. The best part about lemon bars, and these in particular, is that a little goes a long way. They are so rich, so full of flavor, you don’t need a huge bar. A couple of bites satisfies and stretches a single pan into a dessert offering for a crowd.