Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Culinary Competition

Sometimes I put off a blog post because I know it will be an epic long post with tons of pictures. But I can't avoid it forever. (And neither can you.) To give you some background, June had a birthday a little while ago. This was NOT a friend party year, so we were planning a family activity. But I got to thinking about her class and how this is their last year together in school before they are split up in Jr. High. They have all been together for four years. It seemed like June needed to have a party. I caved and did a Halloween party last year, but this year I told her that if she wanted a friend party, she would need to pay for it herself. And she did.

She payed for everything from the party favors to the ingredients for treats, and it wasn't exactly cheap to buy the treats since we hosted a Culinary Competition. (You may have guessed as much from the title.) I'm not sure where I got the idea, but it seemed like it could be really fun*. We would divide the girls up and let each team make a dessert. Then instead of cake, we could sample all the dishes at the end.

June got busy making invitations (everyone please wear an apron), and I sifted through recipes looking for desserts that would take approximately the same amount of time to make. I compiled a list and then June chose three. (I love that she chose three fruity desserts and nothing had chocolate. Random, because trust me, that girl likes her chocolate. She just likes fruit a lot too.)

But let's start at the beginning of the party. We played the classic game where you tape the name of someone to a player's back and they have to ask other party guests YES/NO questions to discover the identity of the card on their back. I tried to make it easier by making every card an animated character from a movie or TV show. The kids did a great job asking questions and figuring out their people.

June had helped me write the cards, so I secretly wrote one more to put on her back. I thought it was quite clever because I don't let the kids watch this show, but she definitely knows this character.

It took her a LONG time to guess it and it was great when she did. Her face lit up and she said, "OH, I'm Sponge Bob!"

When we finished that game it was time to dive right into cooking. We divided the girls randomly and gave each team a recipe and ingredients. Ready, Set, GO!

TEAM 1: Caramel Crunch Apple Pie
I made the crust ahead of time, but the girls went right to work cutting apples and mixing topping.

They worked well together.

I think their favorite part was that they sliced too many apples. They didn't all fit in the crust. So they were forced to eat the extras. Chefs have tough jobs.

Looks like it is ready to bake. (The recipe does call for peeled apples, but we weren't too picky this time around.)

TEAM 2: Danish Dessert Cheesecake
This team went right to work making their graham cracker crust.

They got to take a small break while their fruit topping cooled in the fridge. (The 4-square court was a convenient hangout for break takers.) But they were back right on time to layer up some deliciousness.

TEAM 3: Strawberry Lemonade Cookies
First up, mix up those batters.

(Take a short break while they firm in the fridge.) Now roll the flavors together.

Make sure you keep it lighthearted and throw some dough around.

Then get a glazed look on your face. Oh, I mean glaze those cookies. (Hmm...how did we end up with all the blondes on one team? Kidding, all these girls are smart cookies. Pun totally intended.)

We had plenty of helping hands. There was this really hot guy who wandered around helping all the teams. Look at him baking cookies. (Mmmmm. Tasty.)

Daisy was happy to help with the dishes. It's always nice to have volunteers.

The desserts were about done and the pie was taking a heat bath, so we played games in the interim. First we did a quiz about June. Twenty questions about the birthday girl. Everyone was thinking hard.

Then papers were switched and June read off the answers.

I think everyone learned something new about June. (She is full of surprises.)

Amazingly there was a three way tie. But Hannah broke it easily by spouting off June's middle name without a second thought. (I guess it is fitting for June's best friend to win.)

Then we played some Three Deep. (Do you remember it from Fete Day?) As usual, there was a lot of noise. There was a lot of scrambling.

And there were a lot of people sitting on each other in odd heaps. I think they had a great time.

The pie was finished and cooling. The cheesecake was nice and chilled. The cookies were glazed and ready. So it was obviously time to open gifts. June got many nice things for her birthday including two cute aprons, which was nice since she borrowed mine for the party. She also got this great earring holder.

Side story here - On the second day of having pierced ears, June exited the shower with only one earring. She was quite distraught. I knew that if it came out in the shower, it was most assuredly gone. I thought she might be able to borrow one of my original earring studs. However, I learned very quickly that they are thicker than earrings now, and her ear was NOT accepting other applicants. Shortly after a painful failure, she found her earring in her room. It seems that it came out while she was sleeping and not in the shower. Her ear had had enough time to close that it wasn't worth trying to push it back through. We waited a good 24 hours and then went in and re-pierced it. So, in these pictures one earring was only a few hours old.

Back to the party. While June opened gifts, the girls watched and did hair. I think this is a fairly normal pastime for girls.

These girls are all such good friends. June has 14 girls in her class besides herself. Some had to come late to the party, but by the end of the evening, 13 had showed up. Impressive. We took this group photo before a few had arrived.

They are quite the characters.

But wait. It is time to eat. Look at these divine delicacies.

They are ready for their close-ups.

I dished up some of each dessert for the girls. And then the best part...taste testing. There was no clear winner. There were multiple votes for each dish.

And then I threw them outside and they played night games for a half hour or so. I would call the evening a roaring success. Who knew cooking could be so fun?

*A word to the wise. This activity worked out very well, but I would not recommend it for children of a younger age. There were only two adults on scene and we helped out plenty, but the girls were able to follow a recipe fairly well by themselves. This sort of activity could be much more frustrating with younger kids.


meganmushrat said...

Oh how I wish I lived closer so that I could participate in some of these fun activities!!!! Of course, I've gone gluten-free again so I wouldn't have been able to sample anything. I DO have some great gluten-free dessert recipes though...

Wright Family said...

Wow that looks like a great party. Would you send me the recipes for all three those looked good. Tell June a Happy Birthday from us way late.