I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed having everyone over for the party.

Also, for something so disorganized (bring over stuff for a dish you’ve always wanted to cook!), dang, that was a lot of organization.  I think a lot of the organization came from planning for contingencies.  What if X doesn’t show up?  Will we have enough side dishes? How will I handle the gluten/dairy free contingent?  Vegetarian?  Kids?

But it all worked.  Strangely enough for me, I wasn’t nervous about it, either.  The only thing I got worked up about was cleaning the house.  Ah, well.  It was clean enough.  I can’t plan things that need to be perfect.  But I can plan things that need to be reasonably spontaneous and will probably not go entirely as planned.  Go figure.

The combination of orange and rosemary is a beautiful thing, as I discovered.

Olives (from I Am Almost Always Hungry)
1 c good green olives, not stuffed with anything
1 sprig fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 orange, zested and juiced
2 T extra virgin olive oil

Mix all ingredients. Let settle for ten minutes. Serve.

The baked cucumbers did not fall into mush, like a potato gratin. It was more like baked shredded cabbage with a cucumber flavor. I don’t like cucumbers; these were…surprisingly okay? Nevertheless, not something I’d make every day; they’re still cucumbers. I think it’s some kind of mutation: I have the same automatic aversion to both cukes and muskmelon. But if I had to eat cucumbers, this is the way I’d go.

Baked Cucumbers (from Mastering the Art of French Cooking)
6 cukes, peeled, seeds removed, and cut into matchsticks about 2 inches long
2 T rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 t salt
1/8 t sugar
2 T butter, melted
3 minced green onions
A few grinds of pepper

Mix the cukes with the vinegar, salt, and sugar, and let sit for a couple of hours. Drain and pat dry with a paper towel. Heat oven to 375F. Toss cukes with butter, green onions, and pepper. Bake for 1 hour, or until crisp-tender. May be sprinkled with minced parsley.

I made up the following salad as an excuse to cook with celery root, an ugly vegetable with a heart of crunchy goodness, much like many monsters I know. [Cronch cronch cronch.]

Winter Salad
1 celery root, skin cut off, cut into matchsticks
1 fennel bulb, cut in half lengthwise and cut into matchsticks
3 green onions, sliced thin
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 small bunch of radishes, sliced thin
Extra-virgin olive oil
Fleur de sel or other flaky salt
Spring mix

Toss everything but the spring mix together and let set until serving time. At the last minute, toss in a few handfuls of spring mix and serve.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes are here. I added some green onions.

More later…