Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Happy Bear-Day!!!

My daughter recently turned four, and she requested that the theme of this year's birthday party be about bears. Last year's party was about birds (the details of which can be found here). As I often try to do, I made the food reflect the theme, at least in part. I tried to make foods that bears eat, and fortunately, bears eat a lot of things, ranging from sprouts to tubers to fish to bamboo to blueberries. Lots of fun to come up with a menu. I did stray a bit from the theme here and there, but mostly, I kept to it. This is what I served:

Just for the Kids, I made a Bear Food Face Buffet. The idea here is that the kids get to make a bear face out of food, and then eat it. The kids really enjoyed this, and the parents seemed to, too. My daughter and I make food faces all the time, and it's always a hit. The great thing about the prep for this is that it takes virtually no cooking. It's just some chopping and shredding, and some things just need to be put in a bowl as is. The kids really do all the work! These were the buffet items:

- brown rice
- yogurt
- shredded lettuce
- alfalfa sprouts
- shredded carrots
- sliced kiwis
- hardboiled eggs
- grapes
- cashews
- peas
- olives
- broccoli florets
- mushrooms
- sliced beets
- grilled shrimp
- orange sections
- carrot circles
- celery semi-circles
- grape tomatoes
- blueberries
- very small cheese cubes
- pine nuts

I served a balsamic vinaigrette on the side, for those who wanted.

For the adults, and kids who wanted, I served:
- Bear Break-Fast Salad (made of things bears eat when they awaken from hibernation) with the balsamic vinaigrette above.
- Mini Spinach Knishes (wheat and egg-free)
- Salmon balls (wheat-free)
- Baked tofu with bamboo shoots and snow peas
- Southwestern Pork Sausages (made from scratch!) on Whole Wheat Buns
- Refried Bean Sloppy Joes (vegan alternative to sausage)
- Cabbage, Fennel, Jicama Slaw (a condiment for sausage and/or refried beans, or a side dish)

For desserts (kids and adults alike), I made:
- Bear-face mini-honey cakes with vanilla frosting
- Vegan lemon curd cups with blueberries
- Chocolate whole wheat bear cut-out cookies
- Berry Beary Plate (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, kiwis)

Ordinarily, I don't make drinks and serve just water, or sometimes water and hot tea. Given the 85 degree weather we had, hot tea would not work at all. So, this year, I also made blueberry lemonade.

Most of the food went over very well, but a few dishes need some tweaking. Although lots of people commented that they enjoyed the knishes, the dough was a little challenging, I thought, and that's mostly to do with the lack of wheat. Unfortunately, that couldn't be helped, unless I was willing to forgo eating them (and really, I was not too keen on that option).

The lemon curd, which was delicious when I made it two days earlier, had become a bit too tart by party time. The leftovers of the curd got progressively more and more tart as the days past until I couldn't bear to eat it anymore. A lesson learned about lemon curd. Next time, I'll make it the day of, or I'll just sweeten it much more.

The sausage, which I think was one of the best things I ever made, hardly was eaten, because by the time it came off the grill, people had already had their fill of food, and were looking for dessert. On a positive note, one dear friend of mine, who did eat a sausage, asked where I bought it ... it took a lot for me not to squeal with glee that I made it myself. That was a satisfying moment.

It was really a great party overall, and one that I think my daughter will remember for a long time. There are so many ways to celebrate with kids, and the party food is supposed to help make their day special and memorable. That's something pizza and ice cream cake just can't do.

No comments: