Some might call it crazy to make five pies, six quarts of Thai sweet chili sauce, and ten quarts of ginger simple syrup in the weeks leading up to a wedding, but I don't regret a moment. Here's why:
For me, cooking is a way of making connections with the people who eat the food I've made. An idea that springs up in my head and is created by my hands embodies, I believe, some essence of me by the time it ends up on the plate. So it was only natural that in the months leading up to an intensely personal celebration, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen.
I left the bulk of the reception meal in the very capable hands of our caterers and focused on three things I love experimenting with in the kitchen: condiments, cocktails and dessert. To accompany the Thai grilled chicken on the menu, I made sweet and garlicky Thai chili sauce. My friend and bridesmaid Jessica, the one-woman wonder behind SQIRL preserves, made a giant batch of peach and lemon verbena jam, and we spent an afternoon canning it together with another bridesmaid. For the signature cocktail, a rye whiskey and ginger beer concoction, I made an extra-spicy ginger simple syrup to mix with soda water, as a cheaper alternative to ginger beer. And over the course of several months, I made and froze five fruit pies, which were served for dessert, alongside an assortment of treats made by a handful of talented friends.
I may be ambitious, but I am no masochist; none of my projects required any prep on the day of the wedding and only one — the pies — needed any work in the week before the wedding. The jam was canned a month before, and the chili sauce and ginger syrup were made and refrigerated two weeks before the big day.
I'm not going to lie: it was a lot of work. And yes, I did contemplate throwing in the towel a few times, but in the end, seeing those I love best in this world eating, drinking, and enjoying a meal my friends and I helped to create was worth all the hard work. Could I have bought the chili sauce, the jam, the ginger beer, the pies? Yes, and it would have made my life a lot easier, but some meals are about much more than convenience. This was one of them.
Have you ever taken on a lot of cooking in preparation for a big event? Why do you make instead of buy?
(Image: Annie Shannon)