Little known fact about Laura: I can start a load of laundry, brush my teeth, plan dinner, write a grocery list, and instruct four different children on six different chores all at the same time, but for all of my multi-tasking abilities, I cannot talk and cook simultaneously.
I try to fake it. I’ll stir together cookies while chatting with a friend in the kitchen, and attempt to sound intelligent when answering a question. This works not at all. She’ll ask how long we’ve lived in this house, and I’ll look lamely up from my cocoa powder and answer, “blue.” She’ll try again, asking where I got my lovely serving platter. I’ll blink a few times in an effort to pull myself into the conversation, and come up with “last week at a soccer game.” You think I’m kidding. God bless our house guests.
Occasionally, I will actually answer questions correctly while cooking (and even ask a few brilliant ones) only to realize later that I forgot to stir important ingredients like oil or eggs into our breakfast muffins. We already know I struggle with remembering to put bananas in my banana bread – and that’s when I’m all alone in the kitchen holding only a conversation with myself (don’t ask). It’s rather scary and a wonder friends and loved ones still eat my food and declare it to be good.
Because I love extending hospitality, but I also love not looking and sounding like a dimwit, I work to prepare as much food ahead of time as possible before guests arrive. It is my number one hospitality survival tactic. This also helps insure that I will not be working in the kitchen the entire time my company is here. I love to cook, but when guests are here, I’d much rather play games, watch the kids play, or sit around and visit intelligently. (Eleven. We’ve lived in this house for eleven years. It was a wedding gift. The platter, not the house. Try to keep up.)
In addition, prepping food ahead of time means that the worst of the dirty dishes are cleaned up and put away. I’ve also found that when some of the guests are children who eat as much and as frequently as mine, having snacks and meals prepared is helpful in avoiding melt-downs and grumpiness. As we all know, a grumpy hostess melting down in the kitchen is ugly. (Right. You thought I was talking about the kids.)
One more thing to note: Beyond preparing food ahead of time, I feel it is important to keep meals simple. Guests don’t need gourmet, they just need food served with love. They don’t need fancy, they just need tasty. A fruit platter is beautiful, nourishing, and delicious. A lettuce salad tosses together quickly. Veggies steam in no time. Put those together with a casserole or another main dish you’ve prepared ahead of time, and you’ve got a perfect, simple meal to serve to guests.
So just in case you find yourself like me, with the inability to cook and talk at the same time, do the best you can to prepare food ahead of time. If all else fails, remember to keep a smile on your face at all times. You might respond to your guest with “in the refrigerator behind the peanut butter” when asked where your bathroom is located, but at least you’ll look cute.
Can you talk and cook at the same time? (If your answer doesn’t make sense, I’ll assume you’re adding spices to your sauce.)
Oh my gosh! I laughed out loud (literally!) because I can soooo relate!
No, I can’t. Just recently, my daughter commented to Daddy, “Mommy, is not paying attention to me when I’m talking to her.” It soon became a joke, but if you want your dinner cooked or the muffins baked, I need to concentrate also! Happy 4th of July to you! Enjoy your company! (Oh, I can’t type and talk. Funny how what I am saying or listening to all of a sudden appears on the screen. )
Shannon @ Of The Hearth says
I have trouble visiting and cooking at the same time, too. My solution: Use the slow cooker to prepare meals when we’re having guests over.
Jessica @ redeemingthehome says
I’m in the same boat. I have to do a lot of gluten free baking which means LOTS of fractions to combine flours. I almost need a vault to lock myself in to keep out all distractions and make sure I get it right!
I am so glad I’m not the only one! Yet people give me hard time having everything already prepared so they feel bad they can’t help with anything… Trust me, if you want the food to be edible, it needs to be done ahead of time :-)
I can not do this either! I am always stressed out when I am trying to make something and we have company. Leaving the bananas out of banana bread is something I would do too. I have lists upon lists to help me remember what all we need for meals and how to make it when we have company. We are having company in a few weeks and I will need to be very prepared. Thanks for all the tips!
Rebekah Williams says
No, not at all! I am so glad I’m not alone!
Charlotte Moore says
Hahahaha!!! I am so tired after fixing a meal when our family comes in. By the time it is over and cleaning up I can hardly think what to do with the leftovers. I guess I do think I have to fix too much.
LIST… Oh yes, I am a list maker. What to do on Mon., Tues., Wed., etc…. Hahaha!!!
Lynnette Shields says
I once made chicken enchiladas, but when I took them to lunch at work, they tasted really odd, andmuch too spicy. When I got home, I found the chicken in the microwave, completely dried out fron sitting there overnight (and I have no one to talk to since I live alone, so I have NO excuse.)Then there is the time I left the eggs out of the brownies… there is nothing harder than brownies with no eggs. You may want to use it for laying bricks, or repairing sidewalks. Just don’t try to get them out of a glass pan.
LOL….Me either….I cannot cook and talk on the phone for sure….love your cute stories, looking forward to the like REESE PEANUT BUTTER CUPS :)
BTW, I don’t think you answered my last question :) It was about the muffins you made…..
Depends on how complicated the recipe is or if it is a new recipe. If there is any kind of timing thing, don’t even think about it. I think I could potentially manage cookies. But I did one time ruin a huge batch of your Taco Seasoning because I switched the garlic powder and the onion powder while taking. We were eating the tacos that night and were like, “Whoa! Whats up with these?” Somehow I managed to track through what happened. Yikes. My dear husband even took them to work the next day only to be harassed by co-workers for making the whole office smell like garlic. Oops!
YAY! I seriously thought that I was the only one with this problem. My DH can’t seem to fathom that I can keep track of so many things outside the kitchen, but once in the kitchen I have a one-track mind and literally can’t hold a decent conversation – almost like trying to talk to him when he’s watching sports. . .
K. Ann Guinn says
I, too, have trouble carrying on an intelligible conversation while cooking or baking. Once when we had guests, I actually shook a two liter bottle of soda and had it fizz and squirt out all over! I guess that means that I can’t even pour a drink and talk at the same time successfully! It’s fun and therapeutic to laugh at ourselves, and even more effective when shared with others!
Sheri Beeker says
No, I definitely can not talk and cook at the same time. I have to do the same thing when we have guests over for dinner. It must be simple and mostly prepared before they arrive because once they arrive I chat and chat and totally forget about the food that needs to be prepared. We have even just ordered pizza so that we can fellowship with our friends and not worry about food prep or clean up…especially nice when pregnant with #4 right now. Thankfully, my husband is good in the kitchen and not distracted when people come…so usually last minute food cooking is taken care of by him. : )
I thought I was the only one! Grrrr, give me some peace while I’m cooking for you! I can either cook or talk, which do you want? Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone!
Ann Marie says
And I thought it was just me with this strange inability to talk and cook. My kids are learning to leave Mommy alone in the kitchen, especially if she is trying out a new recipe!
I totally can relate to this post!! I have never been able to talk and cook at the same time. I have had times when someone has called when I am in the middle of making cookies and I will forget an ingredient no doubt. But, I am also like you in being able to multitask at a million other things at one time just not cooking. Strange huh?
I have been to some Pampered Chef parties where the demonstrator will prepare a dish and carry on a conversation with the watching group at the same time, and I always wonder how she can keep her wits about her.
I always do as much ahead of time as possible! AND I’ve learned to call Maggie and say-you know the group that’s coming FRiday night? They all raved about your brownies-do you think you have time to throw a batch together and bring them? It’s a big group but I’ll have others bringing desserts, too, so you don’t need to go overboard…now there are some who won’t bring anything, and that’s OK. I have learned some people really like to help lessen the host’s load. so, find out who they are, what their specialties are, and ‘allow’ them to bring food, too…