We Partied Like it was 1939.
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.