I Joined My Neighborhood Dinner Club

I joined my neighborhood dinner club

The Great Idea

We moved into a new house in May. Just down the road from where we were currently living but with 100 homes, there were quite a few people we didn’t know. So I was SUPER EXCITED when I saw an email about a neighborhood dinner club called “Gourmet”. I just knew it would be the solution to meeting the neighbors and signed us up (without asking my hubs but I had a sneaky suspicion that he would praise me for it).

Gourmet

The premise behind the Gourmet Club is this: twelve couples signed up so around every other month there are three host homes. Of these 3 host homes there is one who is the Lead Home. These hosts are in charge of setting the theme and menu. After the menu is set, each couple is given recipes that they are responsible for preparing and bringing to the dinner. On D-day (that’s what I call the dinner day cuz I’m terrified) everyone meets at their respective host homes to eat. After dinner everyone meets for dessert and drinks at the Lead Home (or wherever the Lead Home hosts decide, so maybe the clubhouse if they don’t want a bunch of drunk suburbanites getting kah-runkkk at their crib.)

The Problem

I don’t cook. If I DO cook, I want full control of all variables and I’m probably NOT going to be cooking for other people that might judge me for messing up. (Yes, that’s the very point of Gourmet. Shut up.) Now. I AM a very good cook. Most of the time. I have a few nemeses. First up: mashed potatoes. Really, it’s any dish with potatoes because they will NEVER get cooked all the way through. Potatoes hate me. They’ve made that very clear. Because mashed potatoes are arseholes. Pot roast is the other of my arch nemeses. My mom can make a dam pot roast. The kind that make me wanna slap her after taking a bite (IN A GOOD WAY! You know, so good it makes you wanna slap your momma?!) I make an effing stupid pot roast. The kind of pot roast that makes other pot roasts wonder if it was dropped on its head as a baby pot roast. It’s always tough and rubbery. Pot roast hates me. The kind I make don’t make my kids wanna slap me in a good way. And my mashed potatoes make my kids wanna slap some sense into me so that I never make them again. Other than that, I can get shat done in the kitchen.

The First Dinner

The first dinner we had was in October. It was an October (wait- Oktober) Fest theme so I, of course, dressed up in my best lederhosen just in case I needed to distract the group away from the horrible food I brought. Turns out, not everyone is a gourmet cook. Some people were sitting in the same boat I was in the whole time and I had no idea! Yay! The food was delicious, the recipes weren’t quite as difficult as I anticipated, and we were all so tipsy that it didn’t really matter anyway. #winning

The Second Dinner

The second dinner was a few weeks ago. It was a Valentine’s Day theme. I looked for a cupid costume just in case I needed the distraction again but I couldn’t find one… Fuq. It’s ok. I’ll just practice a little bit before the dinner, once I get my recipes. Guess what my dishes were… just guess. Short bread cookies and FUQING MASHED POTATOES! REALLY??!!! Ugh. It’s ok! I’ll follow the directions EXACTLY. It’ll be fine.

I ended up with no time to practice because life was so crazy. The Friday before the dinner I “worked from home” for the last half of the day so I could make the other dish I was assigned: short bread cookies. In the shape of a heart. With a smaller heart cut out in the center. And white chocolate and raspberry jam in the center. As complicated and delicate as they were, they turned out delicious. I ate one to try it out. Ok, I had 3. “I don’t know why the recipe says it makes 14! I only have 11…”

The mashed potatoes needed to be made the day of because I didn’t want to risk them not tasting fresh and delicious. This meant that I only had a short window of time to get them right. If not, I was fully prepared to go to the grocery store, purchase some taters, and pass them off as my own. But I can do this. It was me against the potatoes. Eight of them. Eight stupid potatoes just staring at me. I was terrified.

Game Time

The recipe said to use 8 potatoes. I had 8 MASSIVE potatoes. They were huge (that’s what she said). In the recipe it said to cut them in half if they were large. But I ain’t got time for that. I’ll just cook them longer.

{Now, for those of you reading this, this was my crucial mistake. This is where the other team took the game just like the Patriots took the game from my Falcons. Crucial mistakes. They’re sneaky little donkey holes.}

The recipe said to cook the potatoes for 22 minutes or until you can easily pierce with a fork. I cooked mine for 30 minutes. Should be good. Right?! Pierced easily with a fork. I was so gonna rock this.

At 5:30 pm Eastern Standard Time I drained the potatoes, cut them up, and placed them one by one in my stand mixer as per the instructions. I mashed them up a little and turned the mixer on. Seemed good. I started to add the warmed milk, the salt, the butter, and OH MY GOOD GAWD!!!!!! The potatoes were crawling up the side of the mixer and down the back! I tried to grab them with any utensil I could find. A spoon, a ladle, a knife, a cup, the piping bag in the sink from the cookies I made the day before.

So, not sure if you have ever seen the I Love Lucy episode where Lucy and Ethel were working the assembly line? If you haven’t, Google it right now. You need that visual. But be sure to come right back. This is about to get good.

To set the scene, it was now 6:10. The dinner started at 7. At this point there was no time for the grocery store backup option. I was standing in my kitchen with wet hair and my pink fluffy bathrobe on, sleeves pushed up but they kept falling down. I was trying to keep the potatoes from falling all over the place when I realized that there were chunks of raw potatoes mixed in with the smooth, creamy potatoes. All the while, taters were still pouring out of the mixer every time I turned it on. I turned it off, grabbed a fork, and dug out one of the chunks to see if it was edible.

And it was not. Not at all. Ever tried a raw potato? That’s what I was about to serve my neighbors. They were sure to blackball me. I was about to be the girl that brought raw mashed potatoes to the party. Not today. Not. To. Day. I did what any self-respecting southern girl would do. I rolled up my sleeves, washed my hands, and proceeded to pick the chunks out by hand. But the potatoes weren’t as creamy as they looked. They stuck to EVERYTHING.

I was panicked. I had mashed, raw, chunky, sticky potatoes all over my arms, in my freshly washed hair, in my eyebrows, and I had mashed potato hatred in the depths of my soul rising up to meet my husband as he walked into the kitchen. He knew he wasn’t safe. He found somewhere else to go. I don’t even know where he went.

My friend, Laura, sent me a friendly text “I hope you have fun tonight!” She always has it together. I gave her a quick “my mashed potatoes are raw”. Then Laura sent me a message that made me realize just how much I appreciate her. “Drink a little more and they’ll be great.” It was like a Superman comic when you’re sure he’s a gonner but then he rises from the wreckage to defeat Lex Luther. I could do this! I could defeat these stupid, ugly villainous mashed potatoes. I grabbed asiago cheese from the fridge and added that. I tasted them. It was good enough.

At 6:45 I finally started getting ready. I washed the potato carnage from my body, trying to forget the bloody battle that had just taken place in my kitchen, grabbed my pink shirt with leather trim that looks like a vagina in the back (yes, you read that correctly. I mean, it screams Valentine’s Day!), and realized it had a huge grease stain on the front. Ugh. It’s just like you to do this to me, vag shirt. So that wasn’t an option. Red pants and a black shirt. That’s what I went with.

So How Did it Turn Out???

I started the dinner a defeated woman. Defeated by the potatoes, defeated by my vagina shirt, and defeated by time. I hate being late. But it was what it was. We arrived, cookies and mashed potatoes in hand, 20 minutes late.

Our neighbors hosted us with grace and welcomed us as though we had been friends forever. It was a fantastic time. I warned everyone about the potatoes. So we all agreed that more alcohol was the answer. It’s always the answer.

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New Year, New Mariah, New You

It’s 2017. If you’re reading this, you made it! Congratulations. It probably means you aren’t a cracked out rock star, beloved screen actor, or Princess Leia. Maybe it means you’re Betty White! GO BETTY!

Anyway, with each new year comes a renewed effort to start anew and begin again… to become a better person and along with that many of us make goals and some lofty resolutions to keep ourselves on track.   Be our best in 2017. I want you to know that those goals, your goals are all within reach. No matter how lofty or big they are, you can make those goals your biatch.

The difference between goal setters and goal reachers is that goal reachers put one foot in front of the other, even when the fog is too thick to see the end. All it takes is that first step, then the next, then the next. Some people are mistaken by thinking that they have to perfect that first step before they take it. New Year’s Eve proved us wrong.

Did you see it? Mariah Carey’s performance? If not, hold EVERYTHING and Google it. Immediately. But be sure to come back. This shat’s about to make you feel a whole lot better about yourself. Even your 2016 self.

It was pretty crazy, right?

If New Year’s Eve with Mariah taught us anything, it’s that you just gotta get out there. Did she know the words? The words to her OWN SONGS? No. No, she did not. Did that stop her from getting out on that stage in front of millions? Nope. Not only that, she was confident. She stuck both of those legs in that sparkly, high-cut leotard and walked out on that stage like the diva she knows she is. And that, as “THEY” say, is the first step.

Was she there to sing? Yes. Did she? No. But she smiled and held that microphone like she was gonna love it. She owned her suckiness and gave us a show that none of us expected. And there we all were left with our mouths agape wondering what just happened to us.

I don’t know what your goals are. Maybe it’s to be more present. Maybe it’s to get in shape. Maybe it’s to pay off your debt so you can fulfill your dream of becoming a Bikram yoga instructor.   If MC taught us anything, it’s that life won’t stop so you can line everything up for perfection before you take that first step. Sometimes you have to get out on that stage unprepared “without a functioning earpiece” and make the best of it. But as long as you sparkle and own it, that stage is yours.  If you fail, put on your highest heels, slap some mascara on those lashes and get back out there.  At least you’re pretty.

So, what will you do? What’s your first step?

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