Dispensing Happiness

A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.-Elsa Schiapirelli

That's me, the magical good cook.

Borrowing from my friend Dexygus, I've created my own food blog.

Read of my exploits in the kitchen! Salivate over the descriptions of fabulous desserts and savory meals I've concocted!

No, seriously...go ahead. It'll make my day.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

We Partied Like it was 1939


Three generations

So, the reason for my blogging absence can at last be explained. This past Saturday was our annual Two-Days-After-Thanksgiving Dinner, with a tie-in of 'let's celebrate Matt's big birthday'.

Our colors were blue & silver, and the theme was '40 is the new 30', so we celebrated like it was the 1930's & 40's!

We spent months planning, and the weeks running up to the event were, as you can imagine, somewhat chaotic and stressful. There was a floor-to-10 foot ceiling clean-up for the entire house, huge quantities of groceries to be bought and stored (that's the real challenge, isn't it?), cooking, finding time to spend with Alex so he didn't feel ignored (mustn't become bad parents just for a party), more cooking, set-up, and...oh, it was a lot of work.

But, it was a wonderful night! We had a decent-sized crowd, probably as many as we can comfortably fit in the house. Matt tacked on the line 'black-tie optional' to the invitations, so his dad wore his tux, and Matt donned the vintage 1930's tuxedo I'd bought for him earlier this year. I thought he looked rather dashing.

We rented tables and chairs (highly recommended), set the dining table with as much food as it would hold, got the music going (all the Artie Shaw, Louis Jordan, Benny Goodman and the like we could find), and had fun.

The food? Of course I'll tell you about the food.

We started the dinner with a cheese tray...one dozen delectable cheeses, ranging from herbed goat cheese to Irish cheddars to Gruyere to Port Salut and more. I honestly can't remember what I put out, but they were all rather wonderful.
Wait! Matt remembers more than I do: Cantal, Port Salut, Fromage d'Affinois, smoked cheddar, Gruyere, Jarlsberg, Emmental, gorgonzola dolce & smoked Gouda. That's nine. Add the goat cheese, ten. Missing two...oh, well.
About half a dozen crackers, all nice and organic and fancy.

A trio of dips, with vegetables. I've clearly learned a thing or two from Ina & Martha: it's all about the presentation!

This was followed with a miniaturized version of the fabulous cheese tart I make, recipe from Moosewood. It's filling consists of Gruyere, a sharp cheddar, and smoked Swiss. So good.

Next, a fantastic Roasted Vegetable Soup that I'll never be able to make again! It was a 'what looks good today' soup; butternut squash, turnip, carrot, leek, garlic, mushroom, potato & sweet potato. All cut up, drizzled with olive oil, salt & peppered, and roasted till tender. Pureed, cooked with vegetable broth, run through a food mill. It's...amazing. Comforting. And impossible to replicate!

From soup to potatoes, and specifically, Pommes Alex, a dish Alex has more-or-less perfected. Nothing fancy, in truth; thinly sliced potatoes alternately layered with shredded cheese (this time, odds and ends from the cheese drawer), a bit of half-and-half poured over, seasoned and baked till liquid reduces and potatoes are tender and browned.

Despite the number of times Alex has 'made' this dish (with Mommy & Daddy's help, of course), this time there was catastrophe. While waiting for set-up, Alex decided to poke the food processor blade. Resulting in a rather thoroughly sliced index finger.

Three hours later, Alex was stitched and bandaged, and sent to bed, and we continued with food prep. He was very brave about the whole thing, reacting negatively only while having a syringe injected into his finger multiple times for the anesthesia. And seeing it happen, I can't blame him. I wanted to shout a little, too.

The saddest part, the tug-at-the-heartstrings moment of the night, came when Alex realized it was late, and definitely past his bedtime. He started crying and saying "I want to make my dish!"...we couldn't help but look at each other and agree that he's definitely our kid.

Finger heavily bandaged and protected, and keeping all digits away from anything sharp, the next morning Alex prepared his dish. And it was almost completely gone by evening's end.

There was a wild rice mixed with pecans and a wonderful red wine reduction sauce, too.

The 'main' was a nice chunk of roast beef, coated with herbs and horseradish, and the rolls from this month's Daring Baker's challenge.

Not shown, non-alcoholic Nutella-tinis and rosemary lemonade, served in a Depression-era glass punch bowl made in my hometown.

And for dessert, another batch of the pistachio baklava Matt liked so much. Also, because I felt there just had to be something chocolate, Mint-Chocolate Brownies, to which I added a layer of Junior Mints!

Much food was eaten, which is only proper. After dinner, everyone sat around playing a game Matt had gotten as a gift, and silliness ensued.

When it was finally time to say goodbye's, everyone received a goody bag filled with items invented during the 30's and 40's, including Slinkys and yo-yo's, various candies, and a CD of Hit songs from the time.

Wonderful night. Lots of work. I can only hope I've forgotten exactly how much work in time for next year's party!

Alex, and his poor little bandaged finger, was content to play with Lego's while the grown-ups gabbed.

Matt being roasted...err, I mean, toasted, for his birthday.


Gifts for Daddy.

This kept 'em entertained the rest of the evening!

Ha ha. Old man present.

Matt & Monica, both in period (he in 30's, she in 40's) & authentic, garb.

10 Thoughts for food:

At 12:26 PM, Blogger Gabi said...

Looks like a smashing "do" Steph!
Of course what could we expect from the Queen of parties.
Many Happy Returns on the day to Matt! And tell your Alex that I have to remind myself to not poke sharp objects too!

At 2:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like that was the place to be!

I am jealous! LOL!! Nice Post.

Just out of curiosity….Do you know where I can get quality organic/vegan ingredients online? I am now trying to order from online stores only because of various reasons…….can you help me with any suggestions??????

There is only one place, out of all that I have tried that really stood out for true quailty, and that is Celebrityfoods.

If you can help me grow my list of quality services or stores, where I can buy my food, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thank you!

At 6:52 AM, Blogger Cakelaw said...

Wow, what a terrific party! Best wishes to Matt on his birthday, and wishing a speedy recovery to Alex's finger (youch!).

At 7:55 AM, Blogger Mrs. W said...

Looks like a wonderful party!

And... *what* is a nutella-tini? I must know more about this concoction.

At 8:21 AM, Blogger April said...

This party sounds wonderful!!! Sounds like a ton of fun, and a great theme!

At 4:04 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Thanks, Gabi!

It was a wonderful party, and thankfully...with careful planning...I wasn't stuck in the kitchen as guests arrived. I was exhausted, yes, but I managed to have a good time!

I'll tell him, and Alex has definitely learned his lesson. Poor little guy.

At 4:05 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Cakelaw, thank you!

Alex is all better now; clearly the ER doctor did a good job with the stitches because one week later, he's bandage free!

At 4:09 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Thank you, Mrs. W!

A Nutella-tini is an original concoction; parts Hazelnut and Chocolate Torani syrups (I don't know what I'd do without the good folks of Torani), and sparkling water. Of course, for the imbibers out there, vodka could be substituted for the water.

No exact recipe; just taste along the way till it tastes like Nutella!

I also do a Tootsie Roll-tini, using mostly chocolate syrup with a splash of orange, to get that amazing candy flavor.

At 4:10 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Hi April, and thanks!

Lots and lots of work, but it gave me a head start on holiday cleaning, at least.

If I can keep up with the house another three weeks, I'll be in good shape.


At 11:36 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Anny: it was pretty cool.

Have you tried Vegan Essentials? I've found a lot of stuff there.


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