May 25, 2011

buffalo wings and baby birds

Last weekend I catered a graduation party for my friends Ross and Jimmy. Their son was graduating from high school and they threw a backyard party for about 60 people. It was my first catering job post-baby and I was a little unsure of how I'd get all the work done, but somehow I did. It was more intense because I had to pack it all in to just a day and half, but having a baby really does make you budget time more effectively.

Plus, I had a little "helper" encouraging me from the sidelines.

I made "bombay sliders"- little mini turkey burgers with spices like cayenne and cumin and a garlic curry sauce. I made them for a party I had a couple of years ago and they were a hit. I didn't snap a picture of them because I was too busy setting everything up at the party when they finally got put together.

But here is the huge pot of meat I mixed up before rolling it into about 100 mini patties.

The one thing the guest of honor requested were chicken wings, a favorite of the high school aged crowd. I had never made them before and am not a fan of them usually, but I found a recipe that had a lot of good feedback and I was surprised at how good they turned out. I bet people went to town on them at the party. A friend who was there raved about them afterward. They were pretty labor intensive but totally worth it. They tasted just like the kind you get in a bar, only slightly better because mine were baked. Calling them healthy would be a stretch (they are dredged in a flour and spice mixture, then soaked in melted butter and hot sauce before being baked), but still better than deep frying.

In addition to the chicken and burgers I made three salads: herb potato salad (from Ina Garten's recipe), a couscous with roasted zucchini and peppers and a spinach salad with cannellini beans and a nice shallot vinaigrette. Again, too busy to snap photos of the finished products, but here are a few of the prep, with June supervising from her chair.

my other companion in the kitchen

I think my friends were really happy with the food and I am sure it was a great party. Now that my first post-baby catering gig went well, I think I'm ready to dive back in. Bring on the parties! If nothing else, I will be cooking for a crowd again next month for June's first birthday party. And I always want to throw a big party for Daniel's birthday but he almost never wants one, preferring instead to go camping or do something small. Boring.

In other news, my little girl is getting ready to walk!

And our screened porch is almost done! Sadly, not in time to beat the terrible storm we had the other night, but it survived. Just needs the door and we are good to go! I will be so happy to have a little bug-free oasis for me and my girl to hang out on.

And lastly, we spotted this mama bird in her nest steadfastly protecting her babies after a heavy rain exposed their home. After the storm, I saw the empty nest still in the tree outside our porch. I hope they made it safely to another location. It's been a pretty wild Spring in Tennessee.

May 11, 2011

strawberry pie and other things to kiss goodbye

like the balloons on our perfect day...

Okay I admit, I am feeling a little down. Maybe it's the unseasonable 90+ degree heat we're having this week, or the fact that my porch is covered in ugly, prehistoric cicadas shedding their skins and flying into the trees in a 13-year swarm. Or maybe it's because it feels like Spring (and our beautiful wedding) are over before they ever really began. It's all over, I think in my more dramatic moments. The Wedding. The party. The Spring. The good weather. The fun. The planning. The waiting. The romance. You get the idea.

this is what I woke up to this morning. yuk.

I am good at complaining about things I can't control--like the weather or the bugs. Both things that make life in the summer in Nashville almost unbearable for me. I love to be outdoors and it is so hard for me to live in a climate that is so inhospitable in the summer. It makes me want to cut and run. Now.

But I'll hang in there and hope it gets better before it gets worse. The weather, that is.

one of my favorite pics of the wedding of june eating her broccoli.

Things that ARE making me happy, on the other hand, lately are my Junebug. She's cuter than ever and happy all the time (unlike me) and very active and vocal. She says Mama, Dada, and Doggie, mostly interchangeably. And she is standing and getting into all sorts of things. It's fun and exhausting and so rewarding all at the same time.

we went to a really fun party on Sun and she crawled all over the backyard.

this is june in yoga class, another thing that always makes me happy, and this green and pink polo romper that I love. I will cry when it no longer fits her.

ad these gorgeous peonies that are growing in my front yard and won't be here for long.

...and this strawberry pie.

I got the strawberries in their prime at the farmer's market last weekend and made this to share with our friends Ellen and Nekos when they came over on Sat. night. I made a simple pasta primavera and this for dessert.

It was supposed to stay together with the glaze I cooked with pectin on the stove and then poured over the mounded strawberries, but it fell apart when I cut it and was a beautiful and tasty mess. I would normally have made my own pie crust but lately I'm lucky if I bake anything at all. I took a shortcut with a graham cracker crust I had in the freezer but it was still good.

On the upside of things, I think we're going to go to a strawberry farm this weekend and pick our own and I'll attempt another jam making session. And today is the first East Nashville farmer's market of the season, to that's something to look forward to. And our bathroom remodel is almost done. That will be my next post. I guess life is still worth living. :-)