Four tips to sim­plify cook­ing for a crowd this hol­i­day sea­son

Porterville Recorder - - HOME-GARDEN - METRO

Fam­i­lies big and small typ­i­cally cel­e­brate the hol­i­day sea­son to­gether. For some, cel­e­brat­ing the hol­i­days with fam­ily re­quires trav­el­ing, while oth­ers stay put and wel­come fam­ily and friends into their homes.

At some point dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son, cel­e­brants who host fam­ily and friends will no doubt pre­pare a home­cooked meal for their loved ones. Cook­ing for a crowd can seem like a daunt­ing task, es­pe­cially for first-time hosts. How­ever, there are var­i­ous ways for hosts to sim­plify cook­ing for a crowd this hol­i­day sea­son. 1. Pre­pare a fa­mil­iar dish.

Hosts may ag­o­nize over their hol­i­day menus, and some may feel com­pelled to pre­pare a fam­ily spe­cialty or the same dishes their par­ents or grand­par­ents pre­pared for hol­i­day din­ners when they were chil­dren. But hol­i­day hosts can make things easy on them­selves by choos­ing dishes they’ve made in the past, re­gard­less of their place in fam­ily his­tory. Chances are the in­gre­di­ents for hosts’ own spe­cial­ties are al­ready in the pantry, sav­ing a po­ten­tially time-con­sum­ing trip to the gro­cery store. And thanks to the fa­mil­iar­ity fac­tor, hosts’ own spe­cial­ties likely won’t re­quire as much time to pre­pare. 2. Share some cook­ing du­ties.

An­other way to sim­plify

cook­ing for a crowd is to in­vite guests to bring along a side dish or dessert. Guests who live nearby can make some­thing in ad­vance of the big meal, while hosts can hand over their kitchens to overnight guests who ex­press a will­ing­ness to con­trib­ute their own home­cooked dish to the party. Shar­ing the cook­ing du­ties gives hosts more time to con­nect with friends and fam­ily and serves as a great way to plan the menu in ad­vance. 3. Only make what guests are likely to eat.

Hosts also should not feel pres­sured to cook more food than is nec­es­sary. Hol­i­day meals have a ten­dency to be lav­ish, but hosts don’t have to spend all day in the kitchen pre­par­ing food that will likely end up as left­overs or trash. Get a fi­nal head­count in the days be­fore ev­ery­one comes over and ad­just your recipes ac­cord­ingly. 4. Start early.

If the big is on Christ­mas Day, that does not mean hosts have to start cook­ing while ev­ery­one un­wraps their presents. Hosts who are un­cer­tain about what to cook can look for meals that can be pre­pared in ad­vance so come the big day all they need to do is turn on the oven and let meals cook while the fam­ily spends time to­gether.

Hosts can em­ploy var­i­ous strate­gies to sim­plify the process of cook­ing for a crowd this hol­i­day sea­son.

PHOTO BY METRO

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