The ski trip was planned and it was time to go. As food arrangements were being made, my son and his wife volunteered to cook a dinner for the group due to their Paleo diet and concerns for others in the group that were eating gluten free. They had a recipe that would feed our group of 6, but due to my brazen craziness, the group went from 6 to 12 within 12 hours of arrival. The cooks were eventually advised of the situation.
Here’s how it went. We get to the condo on a Friday night. We, being 6 adults, squeeze into our 1 bedroom condo. Saturday, 4 skiers gear up and proceed to hook up with 2 other skier-friends known from previous ski trips. We realize with this hookup that there may be 8 for dinner in our tiny condo…and that we may need more groceries.
The other skier in our group could not ski due to her recent eye surgery and I do not ski. We non-skiers decided to meet the skier group for lunch. Just before lunch one-eye and I decide to go visit her friends that have a house across from the mountain. What a house!
Once you view the house shown in this link, you might understand why some crazy kitchen spirit took over my brain and mouth.
We arrive at the house and are invited into this fantastic, unbelievable, warm and interesting home. I am introduced to Donna. We had tea and talked. Now, I need to explain that before we went on this little trip, my friend’s husband had emailed Donna about the group “possibly” coming over and bringing dinner. Her email reply explained that grandchildren were visiting and a birthday celebration was happening, but she was agreeable to the group coming over and bringing food – just nothing too spiced for the kids. I did not want to infringe on another family’s time with grandchildren, so I nixed that idea, but we kept the idea open of meeting for drinks.
As we sat at this beautiful kitchen counter talking, I found myself just eyeballing everything around me. OMG…this place is fantastic… I kept thinking to myself as we talked. The warm floors on my feet, the warm tea offered, the fantastic stove and vent system…the amount of counter space and oh my, such beautiful woodwork. I was a bit distracted by the interior and the views from the surrounding windows. Donna mentioned that her daughter had decided to leave early and take the grandchildren home, because they wanted to have the birthday party at their house. WHAT???? BACK THAT UP!
Before I knew it, these words just flew out of my mouth. ….that just leaves you and Fred by yourselves?….Yes, she said (and she was probably looking forward to relaxing without grandchildren that evening)…and I say….so why don’t we all come over and cook dinner for you? WHAT??? Alert! Alert! – Kitchen Crasher! I continue on…why, we’ll even bring our own pots!
Am I crazy??? What just happened??? I proceed on and say… my son and his wife would love to cook in your kitchen. We’ll bring everything! OMG –what is wrong with me? She doesn’t know my son or his wife? She is probably thinking…is this woman crazy…how could she ask me that…they could be terrible cooks…I just want to be alone tonight….ugh.
Now, I would never had said these things if the offer had not already been put out there and discussed by emails with my friend’s husband. Luckily my friend chimed in and moved things along from this uncomfortable spot I had put us in. You see, they were all supposed to go on a ski trip to Switzerland, but my friend could not due to her recent eye surgery…and they all really wanted to visit… socially we were all on the same page…so I convinced myself.
Happy Kitchen Crashers
It was the best evening in a kitchen I had experienced in several months. My son and his wife just rolled with it – they know I’m a bit brazen and crazy. I was their sous chef and kept things moving along. They seemed very happy to cook in such a well-appointed kitchen. The host and hostess got to talk and enjoy their ski friends and meet new ones forced upon them. I think it worked out perfectly for everyone. Another couple brought appetizers and our quick shopping trip provided plenty of food for 12. What a night!
It really wasn’t the food that was so fantastic. Don’t get me wrong – the chicken and red beans and rice were excellent…it was the atmosphere, the friendships made and renewed, and the stories shared. We could have eaten snow and it would not have mattered. So, after that long story, you deserve a good recipe. Here is the chicken dish that was served-adapted from Food.com & skinnytaste.com. Serves 6 – (we doubled and stretched to 12)
Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken
6 bone-in chicken legs with thighs attached, skin removed
1 lime or ¼ cup lime juice
1 large tomato, chopped
4 medium scallions, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
½ – 1 hot scotch bonnet pepper*, seeds & membrane removed, chopped
4 sprigs fresh thyme or 2 tsp dried thyme
2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce (for gluten free we used Coconut aminos)
1 tsp coconut oil
1 medium carrot, chopped finely
2 tsp cornstarch (we did not use-substitute with arrowroot or kuzu)
1 ½ cups unsweetened light coconut milk
¼ tsp kosher salt
*Scotch bonnet peppers have a lot of heat-using just the 1/2 was plenty
Squeeze lime over chicken and rub well. Drain off excess lime juice
Using gloves combine tomato, scallion, onion, garlic, scotch bonnet pepper, thyme and soy sauce in a large bowl and add to the chicken. Cover and marinate at least one hour.
Heat oil in a large pot or saucepan. Shake off the seasonings as you remove each piece of chicken from the marinade, reserving the marinade for later.
Lightly brown the chicken on medium-high heat. When browned on all sides, pour the marinade over the chicken and add the carrots. Stir and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.
Mix cornstarch and coconut milk and add to stew, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and cook an additional 20 minutes or until tender. Add salt to taste.
Kitchen Crasher Instigator
It really did just start as a simple ski weekend in a crowded small unequipped condo kitchen and blossomed into a fantastic dinner party in a stranger’s home. Well, maybe now I could call them acquaintances. It was an unbelievable house built to face the Sunday River ski mountain. As we dined that evening, we could see the trail groomers and the lights on the ski mountain. A fireworks display took place on the mountain and we had the best seats in the house. I raised my glass and we all made a toast to the hosts and thanked them for “inviting” us all into their home and putting on such a special fireworks display.
So, if I ever come to your house and you see me getting a crazy wild eye, acting a little distracted and looking around your kitchen, remember… you can always kick me out and just say NO!
Respectfully, Susan – a Kitchen Crasher
Credit: StockFood/FoodCollection//Videos: JSparaga-Machias Dental