My Least Favorite Things

We had a team lunch today with the team requested menu of favorites: mac & cheese, cornbread, and griot. I threw in a little rice and peas and pikliz (since I have a ton of it!). I absolutely love feeding people, but it left me with the two things I hate most about cooking: leftovers and cleaning.


Why oh why is there always so much food leftover? I get it, it’s because I cook like I’m feeding an army, but I honestly have tried to do a better job of estimating how much food I need. Unfortunately, it just never works out no matter how much I plan. Part of that is because no matter how many people I plan for, the likelihood is that there are at least some who won’t be able to make it due to last-minute emergencies. I suppose I could try to love leftovers, but it’s much more likely that my coworkers will continue to  enjoy them more than I will.

This brings me to another pet peeve: guests who refuse to confirm one way or the other. Hey, I realize that not everyone is a planner by nature, but doesn’t basic consideration for your host insist that you at least reply to an invitation? Yes; no; or maybe, I’ll let you know soon, are all acceptable answers. Silence makes me wonder if you still respect me. I suppose it’s possible that technology fails and the message was never received (on either side), and perhaps something crazy happened that prevented you from replying, or you could have just forgotten to respond, but those sound like excuses to cover up an uncomfortable truth. I suppose silence can also be interpreted as the no it’s meant to be. Either way, it makes it impossible to plan properly.

My other least favorite part about cooking is cleaning. Creating all the food is fun; the mess that’s left afterwards is not, and there’s just no way to avoid it. I wish I could just learn to love this part too, but it just feels like an unfortunate side effect.

Anyone have any tips on avoiding the leftovers or the cleaning, or learning to love either? I’m all ears!


Sometimes Less is More

My sister has this theory that the foods people tend to rave about (the things that we enjoy the most) have the least number of ingredients. I’ve had that experience recently with a dinner party. I slaved all day creating several masterpieces, and when everyone came over, my guests were all raving about the white rice. White rice, really? I definitely love it, but it there really isn’t anything to it.

I had a similar experience at my favorite Greek Yogurt place. The first time I tried it, it was like a party in my mouth. I have never had yogurt that good! So when I asked for the ingredients, I expected a long list of ingredients. Now, I’m sure they didn’t tell me the family secrets, but I only received two ingredients (milk and honey).

This brings me to one of the simplest Haitian recipes that I know: pikliz. It’s the Haitian version of pickled vegetables, and is usually served as a topping to the fried pork. I’ve seen lots of recipes for this online that call for adding everything from garlic and onions to peas and string beans. However, the version I like the most only has four ingredients. I’m sure it’s still good with these other things, but in this case, I think the simpler version gets you exactly where you want to go.

As always, please think of the recipe as more of a guideline. The recipe below is very spicy and makes a fairly large amount: feel free to use less habaneros (if you want it less spicy) or less cabbage and carrots (if you don’t want this much). You do want to keep an even mix of cabbage and carrots, though, which is how I ended up with this amount to avoid wasting any ingredients.

I don’t know if it’s fundamentally necessary, but I like to mix the cabbage and carrots evenly before adding the habaneros and vinegar. It’s also best when it’s had the chance to sit for a few days.

1/2 head of cabbage, shredded
6 carrots, peeled and shredded
8 habanero peppers, finely chopped
32 ounces white vinegar

1. Remove the stems from the habaneros.
2. Combine the cabbage, carrots, and peppers (including seeds) in a half gallon jar.
2. Add the vinegar to jar and give it a good shake. Store in a cool place.