Monday, 5 September 2011

Party time

Busy weekend.  My parents came to visit, first time they've been back for many years, and I hosted a birthday lunch for my dad, with  a large number of us from that side of the family.   I had planned to invite DSS1 and family, as they live relatively close,  but when the number reached 20 including some people I hadn't seen myself for more years than I can remember,  we decided it was probably better for my parents if we kept it to the B side of the family. (B side isn't a derogatory term by the way)..

I decided early on in the planning that a cold buffet would be the last stressful option.  Military planning, involving detailed lists, made it relatively straightforward.  LIsts organised food, chairs, lifts...

I did the non-perishable shopping a week before, including pink and white wines.   I started an Ocado order for the perishables.   DB1 took care of the soft drinks andfruit juice, DB2 took care of the beer and balloons.

The beef for roasting arrived a week before and went into the freezer.  The ham arrived a few days before and went into the fridge.

On Thursday, I worked out exactly what dish/bowl/plate/platter would be used to serve each and every item, and wrote a label for it. I then did the last minute shopping for things like M&S apple pie (easily as good as home made), cheesecake (I didn't have the time), and olives.

On Friday, I low-temperature roasted the two joints of beef, one rare and one well done.  Ocado delivered, I prepped the veg for crudites and vacuum packed them.  I made cakes (an apple cake and a fruit cake)  I measured out flours for the bread.   Long day

On Saturday, I was up at silly o'clock to start making bread dough.  THe breadmaker went on to make one particular batch, but everything else was by hand. Another list (and writing on cling filmed bowls) kept me on track of which dough was at what stage and where, and what time it needed to be handled again.    It didn't start so well, I forgot to put yeast in the first lot of dough I made.

Still, I realised my mistake before baking, and was able to redo. The breads came out well.  2 Partybrot (alternating brown and white-milk-loaf tear-and-share type loaves), 2 Focaccia,  1 walnut loaf (definitely be making that again), and a white loaf.  I also made some mini yorkshires to have cold. Yumm.

DB1 arrived with the fruit juice, and was then deployed decanting crisps and salad and so on onto the labelled receptacles, and pricking potatoes for baking.  He went off to pick up a couple of Aunts and an uncle.  DB2 and his OH and daughter arrived, and started blowing up balloons, putting up banners. DB2's son, my DN (Darling Nephew), and partner arrived and, as usual, brought lots of smiles with them.

We were supremely lucky with the weather,  and we put up all the chairs and tables, plus the gazebo with a table for the drinks. I wish I'd taken a picture actually.

I ran out of time, and things like the french dressing didn't get made.  But it all came together well,  and everyone was fantastic it looked good.   My DC (darling cousin) and his family arrived,  and his lovely wife (whom I haven't seen for 10 years or more) brought flowers, potato salad, and some lovely breaded and fried chicken livers.   That was so thoughtful of her, and they tasted delicious.

And it went well.  I'm so grateful to everyone.   Lunch was at 1.00, and I estimated that people would probably leave at about 5 or 6.  At 9pm we were all still there chatting away.  Most people hadn't seen most people for years, so there was a lot of catching up to do. DN's partner was busy amusing my Great Neice (who's 3, and so lovely).

Eventually people started to leave at about 9.30/10.00/11.00.    I wasn't too tired on Sunday as we cleared up (and DB1 came over to help with the leftovers)  but I am very tired today.  

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