The past two months have been busy at the tiny house though thankfully not stressful. Because of the looser restrictions, we have been able to entertain some guests and it was a fun learning experience.
It is only the start but here are some of my realizations following my slew of domestic adventures on how to be the hostess with the mostess from the kitchen.
1. Keep it small and relaxed.
The biggest group that I have cooked for is eight. A full table but certainly not a festival. What makes it easy for me is I cook family-style meals, all for sharing, and I do none of the fancy-schmancy stuff. Just honest, straightforward good food that lets the ingredients speak for themselves. Often five ingredients max.
2. Plan and prep ahead.
I will always thank the high heavens for the magic that is the shakshouka and hummus breakfast combo. The hummus and spiced tomato sauce for the shakshouka can be prepared in advance and the only thing I need to do in the morning is heat some flatbreads and poach eggs in the shakshouka for breakfast that guarantees a good day. Homebaked bread and eggs never fail, too!
3. Cook something you know how to cook!
There are recipes I would like to try – cauliflower buffalo wings, jackfruit rendang, and mushroom risotto – but it is not time to experiment when cooking for guests. For this occasion, it is best to cook signature dishes that you are confident in making. Now is the time for favorites that have always been proven a winner. My go-tos are our vegetarian sandwiches, black tofu, and seafood.
4. Utilize small pockets of time.
Multi-tasking is required in the kitchen, especially if it is small. I cook my pasta and fresh tomato sauce at the same time, set the table while the eggs poach, and prepare drinks while the sandwiches toast. There is always something to do and getting the timing right helps a lot in putting a good meal together.
Cooking is a lot of work. Why else would chefs be so cranky all the time? The only reason I have not chased people off with a broom is I enjoy it. Even if it is busy and exhausting, I find the entire activity therapeutic and not stressful.
To me, there is meaning in it and feeding people is an opportunity for me to express myself and my values. It is just a lot of fun – from sourcing local and sustainable ingredients to preparing them in the simplest way possible.
As of this writing, restrictions have returned and it is possibly the reason why I finally have time to write about this. I have zero complaints. Now is the time to relax, recover, and find new inspiration in making good food.
I hope one day we can share a meal together, too. What are some of your best tips for entertaining at home?