All partied up

The birthday celebrations are over. My girl is now completely ten.

Her first-ever birthday party was on Friday. I think she had a good time.

I was a little worried that we didn’t plan more activities for them to do, but every time I brought it up to Mr. Handsome, he’d just wave at me like I was a gnat and say, “They’ll just go play. It’ll be fine.”

He was right. As soon as the girls arrived, they all holed up in the clubhouse and it was perfectly quiet.

Which was a startling contrast to my son’s party where all the boys ran around waving sticks and yelling. They played hard, threw popcorn, gorged on candy, and were sound asleep by 11:30.

The girls, on the other hand, were generally quieter though a little screamy, perhaps. They made up organized games, play-acted intensely (when delivering some popcorn, I unwittingly interrupted a childbirth), had deep discussions (“Isn’t it ridiculous how women used to be treated?”), pooled all the pinata candy and then divided it out evenly, and stayed up till two and got up at 5:30 (and a couple of them reportedly stayed up all night).

A childbirth? A popcorn party? I’m not sure what’s going on here exactly…

The birthday supper was a little controversial. My daughter wanted fried chicken and corn-on-the-cob, but I had a better idea, I told her: raclettes! Having never eaten them before, she was noncommittal. And after showing her the one I was borrowing from a friend, she remained apprehensive. “I thought the birthday kids get to choose what they want to eat,” she said sadly.

Despite my certainty that my idea was a good one, I started to doubt myself. Mr. Handsome was no help. “You’re going to make them cook their own supper? Are they even going to want to do that? Wouldn’t it be easier to just feed them hamburgers or something?”

“Oh, come on!” I huffed. “Of course they’re going to love it. They get to sit around and cook. It’s the perfect meal for a bunch of little girls!”

And you know what? I was right! The girls were totally enthused. One of them kept saying, “This is the greatest meal! We get to cook whatever we want!” I think she said that fourteen times. At least.

And when my daughter told them what they would’ve eaten had I not gotten the raclette maker, they said, “That would’ve been good … but this is better.” My daughter was visibly (to me) relieved. I think she was a little nervous about what her friends would think of her mother’s weird idea.

What I gave them to cook with:
Fat: butter, olive oil
Veggies: onions, garlic, steamed broccoli, boiled new potatoes, tomatoes
Dairy: two kinds of cheese
Meat: eggs, chicken, beef, sausage, ham, bacon
Condiments: barbecue sauce, soy sauce, fresh basil, ketchup, S & P
Also: a double batch of breadsticks, which was really smart (if I do say so myself) because it takes a little while to cook and eat, cook and eat, and the girls needed something to munch on while they were waiting for their food. And munch them down they did, every last one of them.

Later, when I was cooking my own dinner, I pulled out the heavy whipping cream. My garlicky chicken simmered in cream with basil and bacon was super-duper lush.

(The next evening, after the house had been cleaned up and everyone had baths, we had a relaxed family meal with the leftovers, of which there were many. The kids are head-over-heels in love with the new discovery. I’m thinking we may need to make an investment…)

After supper was cleaned up, there was the cake and presents.

She had requested a mint-chocolate cake. The dumped ice cream cone was my own personal touch.

Then there was the long night where I slept a little and the kids slept even less, and the next morning there were mountains of blueberry (and plain) buttermilk pancakes, sausages, and milk before the parents arrived to pick-up their bleary-eyed little girls.

I always feel semi-guilty, sending home such exhausted children. Like I should slip an apology letter into their backpacks—something that says, “Your kids are going to be bears for the rest of the day and I am so very sorry. A long afternoon nap and lots of vegetables may help.”

This same time, years previous: bacon-wrapped breadsticks, zucchini parmesan frittata, shrimp with coconut milk, the sex talk, alfredo sauce


  • tori nelson

    Found your lovely site from The Domestic Fringe and I LOVE it! The cake is pretty much the coolest thing I've ever seen 🙂

  • rachel

    I must confess, I have been reading your blog religiously for the past months after one of my sisters recommended it to me (saying, "That woman can never go wrong with her food!") and yet I have never commented.
    What finally prompted me is that delectable cake. I am throwing myself a 25th birthday party in the next month and that will certainly be part of it. I have been pondering about which cake to use and was thinking of using Julia Child's Reine de Saba but a chocolate mint cake is what I will be serving.
    Thank you so much for the pleasurable reading, inspirations and everything else! I really do appreciate it.


  • judy

    I think my going on 3 going on 16 year-old would love this kind of party-she loves to cook,what little girl doesn't but we all agree she is way to young-not according to her which she tried to prove.After being told,shown and everything else she still managed to climb her tiny body up on a stool to the stove when her mom turned her back to attend the baby-sure enough- a big "OUCH " MAYBE ,MAYBE,she has learned her lesson.I have to find my bookmark-someone stole it from my computer cuz I'm such a hoarder,but I am gonna hoard that zucchini bread recipe.

  • Iambrenna

    OOoh, definitely splurge on the raclette grill. We have one and it's a show-stopper. The bestlove's parents shared their borrowed-from-German-friends New Year's Eve raclette tradition with us and we make a habit to pass that food joy on.


  • Margo

    fantastic cake! what exactly are raclettes? I have missed out, clearly, and I don't want to deprive my children similarly. I'm thinking kids that age would be into fondue, also. Now that, I have.

  • Marie M.

    Happy Birthday, birthday girl. Looks like a wonderful, fun party. I'm nuts about the cake. Maybe your mom will share the recipe and "how-to" with us. You are all such creative bunch. I never made anything but a simple cake or cupcakes. *Boo-hoo, hoo.*

  • Amber

    What a perfect girls' party! I would have loved it at that age! And your cake is lovely. You make me jealous of such a cake. My birthday cakes are…. pretty plain looking.

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