* Between The Sea (the Med) and The Alps -- {Pronounce: ontruh la mair eh lay zalp}

Monday, November 24, 2014

Pre-Thanksgiving, family style

TG II 01Yesterday we had our second of three Thanksgiving dinners planned for this year.  Do you remember the pool party last summer that didn't actually happen quite as planned?  Well, we finally had a chance to make up that missed event with the same two families and all their little people. 

I thought you might enjoy how it all went down in a normally very child-free environment!

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A homespun table
As I've said before, part of my enjoyment in having company is setting my table.  This time was no exception, although I made efforts to keep it a bit less formal.  What I didn't realize at first was that I mostly used items that my own little family grew up with.

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A very retro place setting

My glasses were actually a wedding present that I saved until the kids were mostly grown; thus I still have them!  Both the plates and silverware were acquired right around our first anniversary and were in daily use for my own children's entire childhood (yes, I do still have most of the pieces).  When we lived in Pennsylvania in the late 1970's, we lived near a homespun fabric mill; everybody had stuff from there.  I managed to get some of it before we moved away, so now I have a tablecloth with matching/contrasting napkins/placements, too (yay for versatility).  The newest item isn't very new anymore; we were given a set of German wine glasses by a German friend for our 25th anniversary now 20 years ago!  It all still makes a pretty table, I think.

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Strictly for kids
For this dinner, I had to add a new feature, the kids' table.  We actually bought this extra table for our own family, setting it up in the living room for our kids and their three cousins, while the adults sat more comfortably at the official dining table.  This may be the first time since then it's refound its original use.

Exactly 20 years ago, I was back in the US at this time of year and had dinner with my own family for the first time since I left home.  While there, I watched new programming on TV since I'd left, including a show with Martha Stewart.  She had an episode on not forgetting the kids and showed a really nice and functional way to make a fun kids table.  Although I had no need for any of that by then, I never forgot the concept.  This is probably the first time I've had an occasion to put the concept to use.  A paper tablecloth, a runner that matched the main table, fall leaves, safe candles, and Ronald McDonald plates!  Rather fun and cute, I think.

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Entertaining little people
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Bigger little people

As we have had a childless home for many years now, it was very thoughtful of the moms to bring their own entertainment, knowing what would keep their kids occupied.  I don't think they were ever bored for a minute.  But while Romea has tolerated individual little people quite well, five little people wanting to play was a bit much, and they were not happy that she didn't hang around with them.

We haven't gotten our camera back yet (maybe today?), and the tablet still doesn't like window contrast, so please excuse the photo quality once again.

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Parents getting to be adults for a few minutes
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With the kids happy on their own, the parents managed to have a little time to just enjoy each other, too.

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The hostess was there this time

Unfortunately, we somehow managed to delete the obligatory group pictures, so these are the best we have for the memory file.  However, this meal turned out to be more about the kids, and we have plenty of photos of them.  

Ironically, I'm usually the one who wasn't there; this time there's no Doc Leo.

The kids table started out as the appetizer table, which actually worked out quite well.  We served hot spiced cranberry juice, as well as a healthy raw veggie platter with things I've seen these picky kids eat before.  I made an old American party classic, pigs in a blanket, but I was not thrilled to see them called retro (apparently making a comeback now in reincarnated forms).  I thought those would be very kid friendly, but these European kids mostly passed them up.  The adults didn't leave any, however.  The kids did enjoy the mom-brought chips; so much for party food.

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The bloom looks to be already falling off

I did try one additional exotic item that didn't work out very well in the presentation; I was too rushed to do it right, but there wasn't a crumb left.  As my guests were a Brit/French couple and a Spanish couple who lived a couple of years in the US, I thought trying to show them Outback's Blooming Onion would be fun.

I got a kit to make them after the first time I'd had them on a trip back home, but I'm always too rushed with company to get very experienced using it.  As I love onion rings, I really should make a small one for us just once in awhile!

As we have no pictures to show, I'll just explain our menu this time for those who are interested in such information.  We started off with a leek and goat cheese tart instead of salad or soup.  We had little small hens again, this time glazed with an orange maple cranberry sauce, and rice cooked with little cranberries.  Instead of the butternut and apple soup I made last week, I used the same ingredients but roasted them instead.

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A Happy Meal Thanksgiving style

Being forewarned that these kids aren't too keen on food not prepared just like Mom makes, they were served simple chicken legs and French fries at their own candlelit table. 

As you can see, they ended up quite happy and content.

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Feeling right at home
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Having a good time

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Decadent chocolate mousse
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Deep dish apple pie

As I really stress out making desserts anyway, I had the moms bring desserts they knew their kids would eat.  As it turned out, one of the moms brought kid-friendly dessert for the little people and adult-friendly dessert for the big people. 

She made this lovely rich dark chocolate mousse she knew we liked, and the other mom made a really pretty apple pie.

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Ice cream and cookies.  Perfect!

As for the kids, they had chocolate and/or vanilla ice cream and chocolate chip cookies, to either eat separately or to make ice cream sandwiches.  They were as happy with their fare as the grown-ups were with their own.

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Mine's a sandwich
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I had chocolate
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I prefer a spoon

Next time, we'll be doing our official dinner with a whole turkey (already on order), sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie, all items missing from these first two dinners.  And we'll have some of our own official family coming down from out of town to be with us. 

Meanwhile, I think we are starting to get a little experience on how this house will handle our own small person visiting.  I can't wait!


  1. Alpine Queen... of Warm Hospitality!

  2. II think you're right about the table cloths and mats. I have some my sister in law gave me. I think she bought the yard goods and cut, stay-stitched and fringed.
    Love your parties - can I come? :)

  3. Sometime within the last 2 weeks, I had a demo for crescent rolls and little smokies, and I had to make pigs in a blanket for 6 hours. Not one person during that whole time came up and asked what it was. Every person (with the possible exception of some of the obvious foreigners who did not ask but simply sampled it) came around the corner, saw what I was doing, and exclaimed, "piggies!" There were a few who mentioned not having had them in a while, but people of every age knew exactly what they were. Can they really be retro?

    Also, my quandry for that whole demo: are they still "pigs in a blanket" if you use all-beef smokies?

  4. Yes Sandi - they have to be, what else could you call them! Hee Hee!

  5. Looks like everyone was having an exceptionally great time and eating everything they could get their hands on. I'd call that a completely successful dinner!


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