Dinner Party Planning in Action: Prep Cooking

Dinner Party Planning in Action: Prep Cooking

For me, prep cooking usually entails doing something fast in the morning to save me an hour in the evening of waiting for an ingredient to chill. This week, however, prep cooking turned into a highly adventurous affair and a very sticky floor.

While the whole point of cooking a dinner in 30 minutes is to not spend all day in the kitchen, sometimes recipes call for items that need to be prepared and then chilled before use. I try to avoid recipes that call for extensive prep cooking, but two of items I was cooking for my team dinner were fast and worth the 10-15 minutes before work. I always talk about planning before cooking, and these items seemed easily achievable in a few minutes before I headed out the door.

My goal was to make the batter for the fried bananas and the simple syrup for the mango gelato. Simple syrup definitely seemed easy enough to make. All the instructions said I had to do was simmer 4 cups of sugar with 4 cups of water until the sugar dissolved. I set everything up on the stove and went to work making the banana batter.

The sugar was all done practically in the time it took me to mix the ingredients for the batter! However, it was far too hot to pour into the large plastic container I had set aside for it. I was afraid it would melt and the simple syrup would have toxic plastic chemicals in it.

I waited … and finished getting ready … and waited … and finally I really needed to leave. I started pouring the syrup from the pan into the storage container, and (I just have to interject that I am normally shockingly good at pouring. I can pour wine from a carafe back into a bottle and not spill a single drop) it came out much faster than I thought. It went everywhere – on my skirt, the stove top, the floor. I couldn’t quite manage to get the floor completely un-sticky and one of the burners on my stove won’t light all the way.

So, the moral of the story is: prep cooking for a new recipe can sometimes take far longer than you would expect.

Help me out here. Does anyone have a good way to pour simple syrup (or a similarly liquid-y item) into a storage container without making a huge mess?