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.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Blog Party#41: Traditions---the squeezing it in before the year's over Round-Up


oh, well...what can I say? Perhaps throwing a party for friends around the same time I was facing down four Christmas celebrations wasn't my finest or most brilliant plan.

And there was something refreshing, almost, about staying away from the blog for a couple of weeks. Made me antsy to get back, finally.

So, here we are, just under the wire. We're staring down a brand new year, and a dozen new Blog Party themes. Oh, yes...I'm such a Virgo/planner, I've got parties lined up for you, for a very long time!

Before we get to this month's party, though, I'd like to announce a new tradition for Blog Party: starting in January, the deadline & party dates are moving.

Because no matter how much advanced planning I do? Every single thing I need to do during the month seems to fall on the very day a BP round-up is due, which means I scramble, or it's late.

So, beginning next month, entries/RSVP's will be due the third Friday, with the round-up coming on Sunday. Realism in '09, that's my new motto.

Ok, not really, but it sounds good, doesn't it?

Now let's get to the fun stuff.

We're all about traditions tonight, and for me, that means a certain style for the table & general decor.

I look to holidays at my grandparent's house, and while today even my Grammy has a computer(!), the tree and tables were most certainly set with a mid-century leaning.

So of course, I had to get one of these adorable platters!

While I was at it, this one, too...

Anyone have a plastic star? Because this cute little 'aluminum' tree, set in the center of the table, could use it!

And because I know my guests, a very nifty way to serve up all those drinks tonight: candy cane shot glasses!

The music was a bit trickier this time. We had some many people crowded into the house around the holidays, you wouldn't be able to hear whatever might be playing on the stereo. And we did just do Christmas music last month...

So, what to do?

Oh, the heck with it. New tradition. Holiday parties will now feature the pleasant sounds of Django Rheinhardt & Stephane Grappelli!

Now it's time to meet the guests, and get started on that delicious food.

First one in, from a much sunnier clime, it's Sarina!
And she's cooked up some gorgeous Curried Potato 'mini' Latkes for us...oh, can't wait to grab one. I've never met a potato I didn't like.
Those tiny taters are just a bit spicy, though, so you'll definitely want to grab some of her Bubbly Guava-Ginger Ale.
Fantastic, Sarina...thanks so much for coming!

Next one to arrive, it's Deb!
And tonight she's serving up a family favorite, from the NW by way of Hawaii: Debbie's Bean Dip. Yum, yum.
No worries about the 'simple' angle; wait till you see what I made!
And I know you're all going to want one of her Blood Orange Creamsicles...who cares if it's cold, right?
Wonderful, as always Deb. Glad you could make it!

Making a return to Blog Party, be sure to say hello to Heather!
And she's sure to make friends fast, with a platter of her Mom's Molasses Cookies; ooh...they smell so good.
Keeping those warm, wintry flavors going, she's also serving up a pot of Hot Apple Cider with Amaretto; who's first in line?
So good to see you again, Heather!

Here come Mary...Welcome!
Now, I'm always happy to see her, but tonight even more so. Why? Well, she brought along one of my absolute favorite cookies in the entire enormous world. The Kiss Cookie!
Proving once & for all, good doesn't always equal fancy. Love 'em.
Thanks so much for coming, Mary!

Next we have Judith, with something just a little different.
Like my own family, she has relatives in Florida. And that can mean only one thing: gifts of citrus!
So, help yourself to a lovely, sugar-drenched, Grapefruit Half Mmm...brings back memories.
And what could be more perfect for the time of year, than a nice glass of Eggnog?
Thanks for the Vitamin C boost, Judith!

Finally, our friend J has arrived!
She always makes sure we're well-fed, and tonight's no exception.
Starting with Bacon Sandwiches & Spoons of Smoked Salmon-Laced Scrambled Eggs, moving on to Beef Wrapped in a Parma Ham Jacket, and finally, a nice glass of warm Winter Pimm's.
Nothing short of fabulous, J...so happy you could come!

And now it's my turn.

My family has few traditional foods. Ok, there is the 'cookie of my people', Grammy's fudge (which I didn't have time to make), or Am's sausage (a friend of my Grampa's recipe, sold only at Pfaff's Market). And of course there would be a turkey or ham, bread, various side dishes...the usual.

But what I do remember most, and found applicable, was the cheese & cracker tray.

The long coffee table in the living room always sported a platter loaded with some sort of summer sausage (Am's, if we could get it), crackers from those familiar red and yellow boxes, and some sort of cheeses. It could be cubes of cheese, a cheese ball or log...but there was always cheese.

This time, I just picked up some random sausage approved by Matt (as I no longer consume it), Triscuits & Wheat Thins, and a repeat of the Smoky Lil Cheese Ball I'd made for a previous party, only this time making many tiny ones instead.

One thing I cannot do without over the holidays? My mom's sugar cookies.

I don't actually like sugar cookies. But these? Oh, they are only the best sugar cookies you'll ever taste. I'm not kidding. She's shared the recipe with me, but only after swearing my to secrecy. And while the cookies are fantastic, it's her beautiful decorations that really make them special.
This year, we were gifted with a tray of my mom's cookies, sporting two tooth-shaped ones...in honor of Alex's missing front two choppers!

And I know Matt wouldn't feel as though it were really the holidays if I didn't bake, too.

I got a late start this year, but do help yourself to a few! Starting at the top, and moving right: Pistachio Fingers, Chocolate Almond Biscotti, Lemon Cookies, Chocolate Rugelach, the 'Cookie of My People', the Holly Berry Cookie, Kolachy, Choco-Caramel Delights, Chocolate-Mint cookies, and peanut butter cups, center.

For my beverage? Well, I have a rather bizarre tradition of my own. I guess I always had a thing for flavors, mixing and matching. As far back as I can remember, I'd take whatever drinks (child-friendly, of course!) were in the house, and play mix-master. I'd start with some sort of cola, add in some iced tea, juice, whatever we had. I still do that today, although my ingredients are of a slightly higher quality.

So, I've decided to uphold that tradition tonight. I'm taking a little of this, and a bit of that...sampling everyone's drink offerings, and coming up with a Blog Party Special. Wish me luck with that...

It's been another wonderful party, and an amazing year. Thank you to everyone for making Blog Party such a fun place to be!

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