November is a big month for us. Aside from one of the most busiest holidays, we also have several family birthdays. This year was exceptionally special since our family celebrated our firstborn child entering his teen years, although in reality, it feels like we've been in this realm ever since the terrible three's. Just kidding.
One of the challenges I always have in throwing large parties is the quality of food is often tossed to the wayside because of the quantity of food that is needed to feed a large group. This time was no different. We had about 40 people, including children of all ages (thanks to all the cousins procreating like bunnies, 😉 it's a good thing). I have strong personal convictions about food and what goes on my table to feed my guests therefore, I take great care to prepare the best that my budget will afford without compromising the quality of food. On the other hand, I know that the majority of my guests really don't care if the chicken is organic or regular Foster Farms from the local grocer. We would all just much rather fellowship and spend time together than not at all because the quality of food doesn't meet my expectations. Furthermore, it wouldn't be wise to scrape the last few pennies to feed a group of 40 people local, grass-fed, pastured foods. As strongly as I believe in true, clean, real food from your local farmers, I also try to adhere to #11 of my principles of Nourishing Foods.
With that in mind, I did a combination of real (organic and non-organic) foods that were specifically selected by the birthday boy.
I kept the decorations simple with burlap and eucalyptus leaves from our tree. And the menu even more simpler with just a few dishes. The desert table was pretty scarce with animal crackers (because we're classy like that!), some Pirouline chocolate hazelnut wafers in pretty glasses, Toblerone (thank you Costco for the sale!) and of course the birthday cake. It was definitely different from what I've done in the past which is basically slave in the kitchen for 400 hours before the party. My motto this time was: Keep-it-simple-because-he (the birthday boy)-probably-won't-remember-the-food-served-at-his-party-anyways.
And was it ever simple?! And I enjoyed it so much more. As much as I love being in the kitchen, I love being with my family more without having to stress about what I'm serving my guests that weekend.
What did I serve my guests?
I asked my mom to make traditional Uzbek Plov (rice pilaf) and I kept it warm in a chafing pan. See how simple that was? Just delegate and all will be well with the world.
Okay, I did make something. In addition to that amazing plov, we also had grilled chicken thighs, dill scalloped potatoes and fresh cabbage salad made with produce from the local farmer's market.
For finger foods, we had small tea sandwiches with sardine pâté, pastured butter, and grated eggs on sourdough, Aidell's meatballs with lettuce and grape tomatoes on small skewers and deviled eggs topped with salmon roe. Lots of good nutrition right there. Pass the chicken, I'm just gonna stuff my face with that pâté and fish eggs.
The cake was pretty simple, with regular layered white and chocolate cake with cranberry & honey jelly, buttercream frosting topped with shaved dark chocolate and slivered almonds on the sides. It was basically a case of opening your fridge and seeing what can be made out of the ingredients you already have. Yeah, that cranberry & honey concoction - nothing special. I cook the cranberries for the cranberry punch that I usually make in the fall and save the cranberries for another use. Such as this use. It's just cooked cranberries and honey together combined well but it creates a depth of tart flavor that goes great with the sweet buttercream.
Somehow if you throw animal crackers in a nice, tall vase, they look much more fancier. Same thing with the Toblerone but at least the chocolate has a fancy name going for it. The animal crackers are just animal crackers. At least the kids appreciated them much more than the adults did. 🙂
fancy not fancy cake I made. Sorry, it's not gluten free. Some things should remain as is. This is one of those things.
Overall, it was a very successful, stress-less, and generally fun birthday party. The kids enjoyed spending time with their cousins and I enjoyed not having to stress over the food or decorations. It may not have been pin-worthy but it was worth it for me to keep it simple. After all, we are now parents of a teenager.
And on that note, we are currently accepting donations for all future therapy I and/or my husband may need as we delve into the world of teen years.