Tuesday, April 29, 2014

On Ruts, Risk, and Recipes

I'm not going to start this post by exclaiming about how busy I've been, what with it being the last week of classes and teaching, and trying to get ready for a weekend beach camping trip, and spending an entire afternoon attempting to correctly format my thesis so I could submit it to the graduate school. I've been exclaiming about how busy I've been for months now, it seems, and I'm sure we're all sick of hearing it. And yet. And yet. 

So, because I've been so busy (I'm sorry! I just can't help it!) I've been in a bit of a recipe rut. Even though my first attempt at cooking in bulk was wildly successful, I have not repeated the process since and our freezer is looking pretty bare. I was sick all last week and a number of my dinners consisted of peppermint tea and popcorn. And now that I'm well again, I'm back to a regular diet of Trader Joe's Masala Burgers and fried eggs. Graduate school, it seems, is not exactly conducive to a healthy, well-rounded diet. 

This past weekend, however, offered a chance to change my ways, at least for an afternoon. It was Easter, and though I'm not religious, I'd been wanting to host a party while the azaleas in our backyard were in bloom. Seriously. Look at these azaleas! 

In honor of those beauties, the Eazalea Party was born! We mowed the lawn. We cleaned the chicken coop. We set up the cornhole and the ladder ball. We bought ice for the cooler. And then it promptly rained all. weekend. long. And I'm not talking a light sprinkle - our backyard was completely flooded. The chickens were perched on their stumps and ladders, looking down at the lake at their feet. The azaleas were hanging low under the weight of water. 

We moved the party inside, and while it wasn't quite the afternoon of day drinking in the sunshine I'd been dreaming of, it was still quite lovely. My friends brought all kinds of garden party fare (cucumber sandwiches, strawberry bruchetta, deviled eggs, carrots and hummus) and I decided, as usual, to try out a brand new recipe on my unsuspecting friends. 

This is where the risk factor comes in. Whenever I'm hosting a party or cooking for a group, I almost always decide that now is the time for the untested. This is very unlike me, as I am generally a fairly cautious person who prefers the tried and true, but there's something about potlucks that taps into my wild side. Go figure. 

I decided to make stuffed mushrooms, which I'd never before attempted (naturally). I found a recipe that was vegan and gluten-free, and looked easy enough to put together. Friends: the recipe was a success! Not one mushroom was left behind, and everyone asked what was in them, where I got the recipe, and if I could send them the link. (It is right here, if you'd like to make them yourself. I followed the recipe exactly, because there's only so much risk I can handle at once.) 

Moral of the story: it's okay to experiment on your friends, sometimes a party is the best way to pull yourself of a recipe rut, and risk, it turns out, is delicious. Bon appetit!