Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Cooking Versus Cleaning
H’s grandmother used to have a wonderful attitude about cleaning before big family parties. She always said there was no point in doing a heavy duty cleaning BEFORE company came, since she knew she’d have to do it AFTER anyway. I've taken her advice to mean that getting the house ready for company means cleaning the obvious stuff first and tackling anything additional, if there's time. In other words, focus on first impressions. Plus, I would much rather make an extra pie than clean out the back closet.
My tactic about both cleaning AND cooking is to accomplish the tasks in advance that you absolutely cannot do after your company arrives. For example, washing your hair is not a good idea as the hors d'oeuvres are being served, but draining the potatoes is perfectly ok. Cleaning the toilet is probably frowned upon when people are having salad, but getting the coffee set up as everyone takes his or her seat is entirely acceptable. Get it? Just say to yourself, do I care if Aunt Millie and Uncle Fred SEE me doing this? If you do, make sure you do it before you answer the door.
I measure how successful I am at advanced planning by whether I can get the roasting pan washed and out of the way before folks arrive. Sometimes I'm successful and sometimes I'm not. That's what laundry room sinks (and closed doors) are for.
The rule here is that you can't do everything. Food is more important than cleaning. And (I can't believe I'm saying this) being a relaxed host is more important than the food. Maybe not by much...but nobody wants to see you sweating into the soup.
Relax and get working.