People often ask me, “Do you like to cook?”
And I always reply, “I love to eat.”
The truth is yes, I do like to cook. Am I the most amazing cook you’ll ever meet? No, but I’ll try to make you tasty things with good foods and ingredients. My favourite way to spend an evening is with good company and enough food for a round of seconds and maybe (hopefully) leftovers the next day. The key to staying chilled out and enjoying your own party is to take away the anxiety that sometimes occurs when one person tries to put on a big meal all by themselves. I’m able to enjoy time with my guests because I go the potluck route.
If there were a potluck fan club, I would be the President. I LOVE potlucks because it takes the stress off the host, and guys, I’m busy and want to see you so let’s make life easy.
I love having my friends over but I don’t love spending the entire day in the kitchen. The older I get, and the more babies my friends have, the more I realize time really is precious and if there is a way to save time, I will take it.
As President of the Potluck Club, I’ve learned to delegate. People want to bring something, so let them know what they can bring. I should point out that as delicious as this sounds in theory; a potluck of eight desserts and three kinds of dinner buns is in reality, not awesome. This is what you risk if you don’t delegate.
As host of the dinner, you should prepare a main or something fairly substantial, and take care of one or two simple side dishes. The side dish is where McCain Red Skin Chunks come in very handy. They’re scrubbed, cut, and seasoned with a little canola oil and sea salt. Open the bag, pour the potatoes on a baking sheet, pop it in the oven and you have an instant side dish. Dress them up with some fresh herbs, paprika, or if you have a few extra minutes, top it with some shredded cheese (there will be NO leftovers so just accept this fact), or crumbled bacon.
Another way to save time is to buy salads in a bag. Am I going to wash and dry little leaves of baby kale, arugula, and finely chop radicchio? Do I have 35-hours in a day? Do I never want to see my friends at my own dinner party? Let’s not be foolish. Just like with the Red Skin Chunks, a prepared salad is great on its own, and even more impressive if you toss a few extra things on top (sliced avocado or some toasted nuts). Find ways to take shortcuts on prep that aren’t short on taste and you’ll have more time to enjoy the company of your loved ones.
Pay Chen has been working in television since 1998 when her parents told her not to pursue a career as a doctor/concert pianist and encouraged her to seek a career in the arts because TV saves lives too. Catch her on @newstalk1010 Sun 8-9 pm.