Sate´d, Shaken and Stir-fried

The Prompt: Shaken and Stirred—What’s the most elaborate, complicated meal you’ve ever cooked? Was it a triumph for the ages, or a colossal fiasco? Give us the behind-the-scenes story.

Sate’d, Shaken and Stir-fried

When I was in Thailand, age 19, I purchased a teak-handled brass cutlery set of 144 pieces—twelve place settings of 11 pieces each, 12 serving pieces. It was a beautiful set in a teakwood box the size of a suitcase, and I actually bought two of them! I was traveling by ship and so had no weight or luggage restrictions. Once I got back to the reality of the U.S. and realized what a pain it was to hand wash and polish all of these pieces, I never used them (and neither did my sister, who was the recipient of the other set)—except for once. I decided to plan one grand meal for 12 and to plan a menu that made use of every knife, spoon and fork. Although I’m sure I won’t be able to remember every course, I’m going to try, but as a memory aid, I first need to remember all of the pieces. Here goes: shrimp cocktail fork, salad fork, dinner fork, cake fork, demitasse spoon, teaspoon, soup spoon, ice tea spoon, steak knife, butter knife, table knife, cheese knife sugar spoon, 3 large serving spoons, salad serving fork, salad serving spoon, meat carving knife, meat serving fork, bread knife, pie server. Phew! I can’t believe how easily I remembered the pieces. It renews my faith in my memory and as an exercise, probably staved off Alzheimer’s for a few more years.

So, what I served, if I recall correctly, was an Indonesian meal and it probably included: shrimp cocktail in a sweet chili sauce, lemongrass sweet and sour coconut milk soup, cucumbers and sweet onions in yogurt and dill sauce, nasi goreng (Indonesian fried rice) with mixed fresh vegetables, chicken sate in peanut sauce, kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), deep fried rice noodles with scallions  (to replace the shrimp chips usually served with the nasi goreng), more sweet chili sauce to put over the rice and noodles. coconut ice cream (I believe we used the demitasse spoons for the ice cream) green tea ice cream, some sort of cake (This must have been so, to enable us to use those cake forks.) Tsing Tao Beer, iced tea and wine. I don’t know how I worked the cheese and butter knives in—probably during the hors d’ ouvres course.

I had set all the tables elaborately, using sarongs purchased in Bali as table cloths as well as batik napkins I’d had made there. Unfortunately, a friend who didn’t quite realize the planning that had gone into this, arrived late, just as we were sitting down to our meal, with four uninvited friends in tow! I am afraid I was less than gracious as I tried to gerrymander an extra table with regular stainless cutlery. The best-laid plans!!!! Many years later, I served a 13 course Chinese meal where I had guests bring the ingredients for one dish, which I sent them a list of. (I had on hand the unusual ingredients they would have had a hard time locating.) I think I was responsible for most of the dishes, but wanted them personally involved. When they arrived, I had a Chinese chef there who helped each to prepare their individual dish. Some of mine, I’d already made, but had him help me with one more complicated dish.

Most of the evening was spent cooking, but it was so much fun and by the time we sat down to our late meal, everyone’s mood had been elevated by numerous large-sized bottles of Tsing Tao beer—a vice I’d discovered in China and found a supply of in the trunk of the car of a drapery salesman whom I dated once—just long enough to buy the entire case of beer. I don’t know why he had it and why he was wanting to get rid of it, but it was another case of the synchronicity of those years in L.A. when all of life seemed to get sorted out and when I finally got on my way to becoming closer to who I wanted to be.

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12 thoughts on “Sate´d, Shaken and Stir-fried

    1. lifelessons Post author

      Yes. When I cook, I like to do Indian or Thai/Indonesian. Sometimes Italian or Mexican. Love Ethiopian and actually have a recipe for injera that I’ve never tried. I usually cook big amounts of soup or spaghetti sauce or chili and freeze in individual portions for myself, but when i cook for a bunch of friends, I like to go exotic. i do not like kitchen cleanup, however and I do make a mess!!! So. Is that more than was called for by your question??? Thanks for commenting. Judy

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  1. i8there4irun

    The first time I went to make my Mother’s “Secret Recipe” for pumpkin rolls…OH EMMMM GEEZ. The confusion and mess were ridiculous. I have been making them now for over twenty years, so have the process down to a science, but those early days were huge exercises in patience, time management and multi-tasking. I still have not been able to successfully duplicate my hubby’s Babci’s (Grandmother) recipe for pierogis, and honestly I don’t think I ever will. Sometimes it is just fun to try new things- regardless of how frustrating that process may be.

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    1. lifelessons Post author

      Now I want your recipe for pumpkin rolls! Yum. My favorite flavor and not much of it in Mexico. And, as for your cooking prowess, I take it from your name that you are a runner. Bet you could beat me in everything from sprints to 12K! We all have our special talents. I don’t even walk too well, let alone run. Thanks for reading and commenting. Please come back! Judy

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      1. i8there4irun

        I could share- but then my Mother would KILL me! LOL, Pinterest has a few recipes, and those are pretty close. Yes, I run. Slowly, but I run. I must say, I am thoroughly enjoying the blogging community. So many fun, talented and supportive people!

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  2. Patti

    Actually, I did use the set you bought for me several times. The problem was that the smell of the Brasso that clung to the pieces after cleaning wasn’t very appetizing. I was hugely complimented that you lugged the set halfway around the world for me though. What a sister!

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  3. i8there4irun

    Also- the level of girl fail that I would reach if I tried to recreate YOUR dinner? It would be EPIC. So, kudos for the staving off of dementia AND the forethought of batik napkins, etc. That sort of thing doesn’t even enter my realm of thought…LOL. I appreciate the ambiance when other’s provide it- I just have no concept of how to those things on my own, PLUS make a delicious meal.

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  4. Allenda Moriarty

    Wish I had known you then, as I would have been a happy participant in that feast. However, I can’t complain, having delighted in many gastronomic and visual treats that your table provided. Speaking of pumpkin rolls, I have never made them, but I have been adding lots of recipes to my Pinterest files during this time of dieting. Looking forward to the time when I can cook again and try some new recipes. You know you are ALWAYS welcome at our table.

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  5. Pingback: Elaborate Menus | lifelessons – a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown

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