You Missed Some Parties

we all sits & fits

Okay, YOU didn’t miss them. I was very remiss in posting anything the first quarter of this year. Truth be told I was worn out, unhappy, and finding it difficult to think up positive things to post. I was putting all my effort into trying to be positive in my day-to-day dealings – writing was a step too far.

ready for setup. isn’t that floor gorgeous? 20 years or so and still looking so good. ignore the shade. 🙂

One of the activities that usually cheers me is entertaining. Now that most people are vaccinated and feeling a tad more confident about other people being considerate with regard to spreading germs, I felt comfortable throwing my traditional Super Bowl party.

don’t need to miss a minute

48 hours pre-party I was expecting 34 people – quite an unexpected positive reply. 24 hours before I’d lost 2 people who’d become new grandparents. 8 hours before I’d lost 5 people to illness and positive covid tests. By party’s end we’d had 24 folks eating, laughing and celebrating – only lost 3 to general rudeness of saying they’d come and never showing up or sending word.

hadn’t yet removed the chair covers because it was misting just before party time

I had the deck set up for anyone who might feel overcome by so many people in an enclosed space – all the propane heaters going, the drinks were outside and the umbrellas were open to keep the hot air down. We had covid tests on the front porch as a gentle reminder to anyone who had NOT considered it before coming. *laughing* 4 people emailed me their clean covid test results before the party. Now THAT is consideration. *grin* Also totally unnecessary – I trust you.

looks so much better than during the renovation, right???? no plastic to be seen!

So that was February. March was a misery. The last month of work as daily I detached more and more work threads from myself, attaching them to others. I was bored out of my mind, quite honestly. It’s exhausting to sit at a computer (hah – first I wrote “terminal” but realized how totally dated THAT term is) doing nothing but unable to leave in case someone has a question. Ugh. There was a Jewish holiday in March – Purim. One year I remember everyone on my social media feed was going crazy making various specialty hamentaschen. This year I thought that maybe indulging in baking would cheer me up. I made sugar-free chocolate tahini ones, dipping some in melted SF chocolate, and mojito ones. Darn those mojitos are good. 🙂

not a Superbowl party without the boxes

My last day was March 31, my son was arriving April 1 and the first Passover seder was April 5. We do first night at my sister’s and 2nd night at my house. My sister and her husband had just moved so it would be the first family dinner in the new house. We were expecting 14 at our house – we’d lost one whole clan because of 2 new grandchildren (see above *grin*). That’s a small crowd for us. We weren’t expecting any Zoom attendees this year for the first time in many, many years.

tahini hamantaschen plain and dipped in chocolate, mojito hamanataschen

We woke up April 5 to the news that we’d lost the southern contingent – my niece had tested positive for covid. Besides being EXTREMELY disappointed that they would not be attending, I had 2 major concerns. My nephew-in-law was bringing some of my liquor for my plague cocktails. And my niece had been out in Arizona the week before on business and she and my son had dinner together. All we needed – NOT – was for him to be positive as well. Thankfully that did not happen. We managed the liquor issue as well. 🙂 Another very typical Ahuva crisis-hysteria-solution-overkill. *laughing* We had a very lovely dinner inaugurating my sister’s new dining area.

while this is definitely NOT the best picture of any of us, we are happy together, w/ the southern contingent on Zoom

Among the many great joys of having my son is his ability to bake & cook. The baking he gets from me and the cooking from his father and he’s moved beyond our capabilities. 🙂 I turned over all the dessert making to him. All of our desserts were sugar free with something to appeal to everyone. He made the most amazing icebox cake out of matzah, whipping cream and SF bittersweet chocolate. It was so good that we let my brother-in-law keep the remainder from the first night and we came home and my son made another whole cake for the next night. He made a SF flourless chocolate torte, SF macaroons, and our traditional SF tahini chocolate chip cookies. I made the SF ginger snap cookies and the fruit salad. Yes, we did indeed have 6 desserts for 6 people. *laughing*

you very rarely see such a PERFECT breaking of the middle matzah!! a heretofore unknown talent!

We ended up being 10 at my house – the smallest gathering since my first attempts at a seder when it was myself, my parents, my son and husband. 🙂 Size does NOT matter. We had a fantastic time, laughing and celebrating and eating and playing new games (I always try to have something new for us to do). This year’s “game” was a bag full of things found around the house – things that have nothing – on the surface – to do with Passover. Each person in turn had to draw an item from the bag and then explain what that item had to do with the Passover story. I have very talented and creative friends and families – who KNEW how important a curtain cord binder could be????

matzah icebaox cake

While we did have a wonderful time both nights we hope that next year we have back all the families that could not come this year. Although I’m not sure where we will fit everyone – we’re going to need a bigger house and table. Maybe time to do another renovation and expand the first floor??? Not. Happening. 🙂

a small but merry band

We’re Having a Party!

I love socializing. I love feeding people. I love my friends. I love throwing a good party. There are several parties/food events I do every year, some of them more elaborate than others. I used to throw a New Year’s Eve party. We had what I used to call “The Gang of Eight” – 4 couples that got together frequently during the year. After my son was born I called us the Gang of 8.5. 🙂 One of our standard get-togethers was on New Year’s Eve. menuAlong with a few other folk, we’d get together at my house for dinner and watch the ball drop. Then a few years ago some of us began murmuring about being too tired to stay up til midnight. I remember one year where I think 3 of the females were actually asleep on couches and chairs after dinner – we had to wake them before midnight. *grin* NOT ME. But you knew that. A few years ago I made an “executive decision” – I moved our get-together to New Year’s Day, called it Brunch/Lunch and invited a few more people. It was still a relatively small crowd and we did still have New Year’s Eve with a small handful of folk (who could stay awake, or at least attempted to make it to midnight).

This year, between the college football playoff games and my new kitchen, I decided a more drastic change was required. I decided that we would FINALLY have our “come see our gorgeous new kitchen” open house along with our New Year’s Day luncheon. coffe labelsOnce I drew up the invitation list, I saw I had around 60 people on the list. I’ve posted pictures of the inside of my house and you should know that it would be an extremely tight squeeze to fit 60 people on my first floor without removing furniture – even WITH removing furniture. I think the only time I’ve hosted that many simultaneously was for my son’s bris, when I think we had between 60-70 people there (and yes – we took most of the furniture out of the living room and put in folding chairs). We got lucky that day because it was in March and we had some springtime temperatures and people flowed out onto the deck as well. But I wasn’t worried. I knew that on my list there were some who wouldn’t come (just because they don’t come), some who would be away for the holiday, and some who had prior commitments. New Year’s Day is NOT an original date for a get-together. 🙂

How do you throw a party for 60 people? I start by looking at the folk I expect to show up, and noting all of their dietary preferences. *grin* My mother used to stress-out totally about entertaining. She was an ogre on the days leading up to the entertaining, and the day-of she would practically have palpitations. spiked punchAnd that would be just for having the bridge club over to play bridge (12 people there for a specific purpose eating only munchies, coffee & dessert), long before this day and age when everyone has some food preference and/or allergy. So I make my list: gluten-free, diabetic, kosher, vegetarian, no alcohol, following the keto diet, on a lose-weight diet. Apparently I also have someone who does not eat nightshade but I didn’t know that until she was there and checking ingredients. Once I have the food restrictions, I begin on my menu. There must be enough food that all of those people will have a CHOICE of something to eat. I don’t want to have a pile of carrot sticks to hand out and say “here – you can eat this”. 🙂 (Do carrots have nightshade??? Something new to learn and consider.)

When I have my basic idea of food groups – appetizers, main course, side-dishes, desserts, drinks, snacks – I being selecting recipes. I have certain staples that work for large groups – roasting a turkey, large rectangular pan of quiche, bagels/lox/cream cheese – plus the standard drinks. gluten free Paring the menu down to the selected dishes is the next step. The dish has to fit the mood, fit my loose kashrut standards (no pork, no shellfish, no mixing meat & dairy in one dish) and be tasty. For this party I decided that other than my main courses (turkey, quiche, bagels/lox/cream cheese), all the other dishes had to be new and different – NOT like my other party menus. 🙂 And that meant – turn to the internet and browse!!!