Jennifer is a one in a million stay-at-home mom. (More like one OF a million stay at home moms!) She graduated from a liberal arts college but there is nothing liberal OR artsy about her. She is married to Kevin Fischer of This Just In, and together they have a beautiful young daughter Kyla Audrey. In no particular order she loves dogs, wine, a good bargain, her family, pizza, and entertaining. Follow her blog of all things miscellaneous including but not limited to cooking and baking, entertaining and party planning, being a mommy, and homekeeping.
They say you never forget your first love. That may be true. But for anyone who’s ever entertained for family or friends, you never EVER forget your first kitchen disaster. If it occurs during a holiday, you can automatically double the angst.
A couple years after Kevin & I were married, I wanted to host Easter Sunday dinner. So I asked my Sister-In-Law Bernie if she would mind if they came by us. I foolishly thought that she would be offended to have to give up shopping, planning, preparing, serving, and cleaning up for a dozen people on one of her rare days off during the year.
Clearly she didn’t mind being a guest instead of the hostess. After all, it was a day she could kick back, put her feet up, have a cold one and just relax. Just show up on time with the rest of her family, socialize, eat, and go home. HA! That’s what SHE thought!
Admittedly, that’s what I thought too.
I have a habit of biting off more than I can chew. What I think I can pull off and the reality of what I can handle never fall on the side of me truly overachieving. I run out of time, patience, ingredients, skills or a brutal combination of “all of the above.” That Easter was no exception to the rule.
I had never made a formal, traditional Easter feast before. Kevin was manning the ham on the grill and made the most incredible marinade for it. Of course we had veggies, Polish sausage, and all the other requirements. Part of those “requirements” included scalloped potatoes. They are a favorite of Kevin and a must-have for his Easter feast:
Clearly, this was NOT a photo from the nearly ill-fated Easter dinner at the Fischer residence. ;-)
As usual, I had a score of recipes at hand and thought I could handle this dish flawlessly. I didn’t take into consideration that I would have to hand-slice five pounds of potatoes (mandoline malfunction for another blog) prepare the sauce and bake them long enough to have them ready to eat with the rest of the meal.
It’s not in my nature to easily ask for help even when the ship is sinking and I don’t have a life jacket. But I saw that there was no way I could accomplish an important side dish without some assistance. Bernie to the rescue! I don’t remember if she offered first or if I actually requested she come to my aid.
Every Easter since, whether I host or not, I retell my story of near disaster and thank her as profusely as I did that spring. That wasn’t the first and surely not the last time she’s come to my rescue in the kitchen. She’s unflappable and has a lifetime of cooking under her belt. Nothing phased her as she took over the process. Additionally I was chastised that skim milk is NOT the proper milk to use – who knew?
Two very important lessons learned: get a decent mandoline that doesn’t threaten to sever digits so that the spuds can be prepped in advance. And, don’t think that skim milk is going to thicken a white sauce to any effect.
You might think at this point that my Yes Yes is having a good plan for a recipe, or perhaps having a seasoned, capable relative who’s willing to assist you when your kitchen is literally or figuratively going up in smoke. Neither one of those is the case, however.
I mentioned earlier that I had a score of recipes at hand. It’s no small task finding a true scalloped potato recipe. 90% of them out there have cheese as a main ingredient. I’m sorry… those are AU GRATIN potatoes. I’m not bashing au gratins… I have never met a potato I didn’t like. Hash browned, French fried, mashed, pancaked, baked… you name it I love it. But if I want cheddar cheese in my saucy sliced potatoes I will hunt for a recipe that specifically calls them Au Gratin potatoes.
It amazes me how many recipes use the terms scalloped and au gratin interchangeably. One uses a béchamel sauce, one incorporates shredded cheddar cheese. They ARE NOT the same thing. Both delicious yes, but NOT the same thing.
If you’re interested in a few recipes that I have in my arsenal, you can attempt King Arthur Flour’s “flourish” link here.
Another classic and informative resource is Fine Cooking’s Classic Scalloped Potatoes recipe. Honestly I have to adjust the recipes that I’ve acquired to make a much larger quantity. I use an entire five pound bag of spuds and I’m lucky if there are enough left-overs for another slice of ham.
Old-fashioned, tried-and-true, CHEESE-LESS, saucy, rich scalloped potatoes this Easter season? Oh you bet your bag of Idaho’s it’s a Culinary Yes Yes!
CULINARY YES YES BONUS
Do you remember your first filet mignon?