In Week Thirty, I made a Big Decision. In Week Thirty I hired a personal assistant. Typing that sentence, or even saying it out loud, still brings me a smidge of discomfort because who do I think I am? But also, if you’ve been following along, how could I not ask for help?
I was sitting at our back patio table with Timm after work, my head swimming. Things were beginning to fall away at a pace that alarmed me. I literally could not do my primary job of running a business because of the time I was spending in the kitchen managing our team. Never mind the Ina work. My day job was crumbling, and it was causing me alarm. Sitting there in that moment, I looked at Timm and said, “I need help. Now.”
I walked into the house, found my computer, and posted a job listing on my church’s private Facebook group. Twenty minutes later I had a message from someone saying she was interested. We set up an interview, and by the end of the week, she was officially on board. The fast turn around was a gift in itself. I expected it to take weeks to find the right person, and instead it took hours.
Her name is Emily, and Emily is saving me. I literally have handed her everything that does not require my specific attention. I have never felt more validated than the moment when Emily looked at me, after listening to me outline everything I have to do in a given week, and said, “Katherine. This is a lot.”
Four little words. This is a lot. I know it’s a lot, but you know how you get used to things when you’re in them, and then someone other than you takes a look at your reality and calls it what it is and it washes over you for the first time? That was me, sitting next to Emily, bathing in the flood of validation at hearing her say how large of a load I had been carrying by myself. Thank you, Emily, for being honest. And thank you for stepping in and helping me carry this load. I feel hope for the first time in a long time.
WHAT I COOKED
Cheddar and Chutney on Brioche, Parties!
Herbed Goat Cheese Sandwiches, Parties!
Smoked Salmon Tea Sandwiches, Barefoot Contessa
Herbed Ricotta Bruschettas, How Easy Is That?
Greek Mezze Platter w/ Thyme Roasted Red Peppers, Make It Ahead
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, Make It Ahead
Marinated Herbed Feta, Make It Ahead
Easy Tzatziki with Feta, Foolproof
Foolproof Ribs with Barbecue Sauce, Foolproof
Tarragon Potato Salad, How Easy Is That?
Watermelon & Arugula Salad, How Easy Is That?
Fresh Blueberry Pie, Make It Ahead
Perfect Pie Crust, Make It Ahead
Roasted Shrimp & Orzo, At Home
Veal Chops with Roquefort Butter, Barefoot In Paris
Potato Celery Root Puree, Barefoot In Paris
Sauteed Wild Mushrooms, Barefoot In Paris
Oven Roasted Vegetables, Back to Basics
Roasted Shrimp Salad, How Easy Is That?
Roasted Beets, Barefoot In Paris
WHAT I LEARNED
ROASTED SHRIMP AND ORZO.
This would be a fantastic party dish for a summer brunch or shower. It yields a boat load of food, and is fairly simple and straightforward. The dish is full of lots of fresh ingredients. Make sure you really chop the herbs finely, otherwise they lend a “furry texture” to the pasta that my children made sure I knew was a hinderance to their overall enjoyment level. Kids, man.
VEAL CHOPS WITH ROQUEFORT BUTTER.
I’ve never eaten veal. But every time I think about it, I get a scrunched-up sick look on my face. I’m not an animal rights activist, but veal bothers me. It makes me cringe. Yes, it’s tender. Yes, it’s flavorful. Yes, it’s expensive. But it still bothers me. I could manage two bites, one with the roquefort butter, one without. I preferred it without the roquefort butter, but that really isn’t the point.
WATERMELON AND ARUGUA SALAD.
This was beautiful. Big shallow bowls of bright green arugula with pops of red watermelon and shards of white parmesan. It is a visually striking first course, full of refreshing flavors that are cooling and easy on the palette. My only complaint was that our watermelon was not that great, but that’s what I get for buying watermelon in April.
TARRAGON POTATO SALAD.
I will keep this brief. THIS is my default potato salad, and I feel like I have completed a life-long quest. The flavor of this is everything I want in a potato salad, without being so off of the page that it isn’t recognizable as a classic. The method of allowing the hot potatoes to soak up the dressing makes sure every bite is full of flavor. Don’t forget to taste the finished salad after it cools. Frequently it needs another sprinkling of salt at this point to wake it back up.
FRESH BLUEBERRY PIE.
This was the dessert for an Ina Lunch, and I was so sure this pie wasn’t going to turn out, I had a backup dessert ready. Fruit pies in general can be difficult. They rarely slice well, usually resulting in a soggy mess that requires scooping rather than slicing. Blueberries are a tricky ingredient, because unless your blueberries were harvested in your backyard at the peak of the season, they typically don’t have a lot of flavor. Take these potential pitfalls together, and I had zero confidence in Ina’s Fresh Blueberry Pie. Granted, when it came out of the oven, it looked amazing. The crust was glistening golden brown, dribbling with hot bubbling fruit juices oozing out in the best way possible. But to be fair, the apple pie from Week ?? also looked beautiful when she came out of the oven, only to break my heart with her puddle of filling and cavern of crust. I held my breath, steadied my knife, and dove in. More wrong about this pie I could not have been. It was AMAZING!!! Perhaps even a top ten dessert, and by far the best pie I’ve made from this project so far. The slices held their form perfectly. The flavor was dynamite, thanks to the framboise and lemon juice. And topped with a scoop of Haagan Daaz vanilla ice cream? Done and done. I think I will bake this again as a Father’s Day gift for Timm. Shhhhhh. Don’t tell him.