Posting All the Photos

Prepping for teaching this morning, in between posting ChiCon photos. Goal — post all the photos and commentary before I go to CT to help out my parents; we’ll see.

It helps that I only took one photo during the pre-party I threw on Wednesday! Was too busy chatting, cooking, and having fun!

In retrospect, a few party-hosting notes for myself for the future:

• if you don’t unfold the folding chairs, there is a good chance people will not use them at all, until you come over and unfold them

• ask a friend to take food photos if you’re not doing it — you’re a cookbook author, Mary Anne, you can always use more food photos for promo

• when you realize (as you inevitably will) that there are at least three dishes that you aren’t going to have time to make as planned, you should put those groceries AWAY in the downstairs fridge, and not leave them cluttering up the already crowded counters for hours on end

• we really could use a buffet / bar cabinet in the dining room before we throw another big party; time to start haunting secondhand furniture stores

• if we can assign someone else to deal with simple grilling in advance, grilling is easier — thanks to Darius for letting me teach him how to grill, and to Lori for taking over the teaching when I got busy

• I had some SLF staff help beforehand, which was great (yay Darius and Meghan), but they were busy recording SLF interviews during the actual party up in our library, and it might have been worth actually worth hiring help for a few hours mid-party, especially to be in charge of heating up all the curries and putting them out, which is a tedious hour-long process; I would’ve rather been chatting!

But despite all that, it was a great time, the house was full, we got to actually use both the front porch and garden and backyard firepit seating area all at once for I think the first time ever, and I’m really glad we did it.

Part of what made it manageable was all the people who helped — Dan Percival and Roshani Anandappa did heroic dishes / clean-up duty during the party, and lots of people helped out at various points during and after. I did almost no clean-up, which was good, because I was kind of falling down tired by midnight. 🙂

I particularly enjoyed getting to cook some Sri Lankan favorites that I don’t make so often, like Jaffna crab curry and vatallappam (coconut milk flan-like custard).

I didn’t even attempt Sri Lankan short eats (what we call appetizers) this time, which I think was the better part of wisdom, since they’re so time-consuming to make. Another time — probably for our Christmas party, if we do that again this year. (Dependent mostly on what happens with COVID in the intervening time. Crossing fingers.) If I do attempt them, I should remember to prep them most of the way weeks in advance, freeze them, and then thaw and fry just at the party. That’s the way to stay sane.

Next time there’s a big con in Chicago, let’s do it again, folks!

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