Thursday, February 09, 2012

My Birthday

Oh what a great day it was! 

Actually, what a great weekend it was. I've typed up a big long description of my birthday twice now, and both times there was a malfunction and everything was lost. Very frustrating, but I have to write it all down again, because it was just that good.

Me at the party

My family threw me a big party in Salt Lake on Friday and it was one of the most hilarious, crazy, inventive, and fun parties I've been to. We were each asked to bring something with us... a mystery ingredient. Kimball and I chose beets.

Other mystery ingredients: lemons, eggs, and
rice paper. The banana, macaroni, and baby food were
just for the kids.

The theme of the night was a cooking contest. Each of the four teams had to choose a mystery basket (my mom had put them together) and a mystery object (the things we each brought), and then we had one hour to create culinary masterpieces with what we had in our box, incorporating the mystery food, and using whatever else we could scrounge around for in the kitchen. 

Leah and Ryan had trout, apples, artichokes, assorted nuts,
Alfredo sauce, and intensely dark chocolate.

Katelyn, Chase & Brittany had salmon, ramen noodles,
avocados, cream of corn, blueberries and cinnamon hearts.

Brooklyn and Ned had chicken, potatoes, pineapple,
onions, edamame, and coconut water. 

Kimball and I had meatballs, butternut squash, green
chiles, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, and granola bars.

Even the little ones got to be on a team. They each had a sauce pan and random ingredients that they chose form the cupboards and fridge. I laughed so hard when I ran past their table (trying to get the can-opener to Kimball as fast as a I could) and my nephew was cracking an egg into the pan which already contained ramen noodles, grape jelly, yogurt-covered raisins, pretzels, and goldfish crackers. The little ones even cooked and ate their masterpieces. So funny.

The little ones had grape jelly, ramen noodles, pretzel
sticks, eggs, goldfish, and yogurt-covered raisins.

The hour of cooking was complete and utter chaos. We were all running around like mad, fighting over pans, sink use, soy sauce, and dishes. It was so funny. We all took it so seriously, and tried really hard to make good food.

We actually chose to use the beets we brought (everyone ended up using what they had brought). We cubed them and cooked them with the butternut squash for what seemed like eternity. My hands were stained red - more than I thought was possible. We pureed the cooked beets and squash together (in the food processor) and topped them with the crumbled (in the food processor) granola bars. We also pureed the garbanzo beans together with the tomatoes and chiles and poured the sauce over the meatballs to bake (this was a general favorite, we all loved it, and we were surprised at how well it turned out!) We had already used all of our ingredients, and the plate looked pretty barren, so I whipped up a little salad at the very last minute made up of chopped romaine lettuce, havarti cheese, mini chilled beet cubes, bacon, and chopped walnuts (which I neglected to toast, and got docked points for). I made a quick dressing out of raspberry balsamic vinegar and Persian lime olive oil. Luckily my mom had great salad stuff on hand!

I was so impressed with everyone else's creations! I love that we all got so into it. It was so much fun. We had a little restaurant set up in the living room, (five little tables for the five teams, including the kids) and we went around tasting everyone else's food and then enjoyed our own meals. Everyone's food was so delicious! I was so pleasantly surprised by the whole night.

Leah & Ryan's rice paper-wrapped trout and wild rice
atop a thick chocolate sauce and a side dish of
artichoke with an alfredo-based dipping sauce 

Brit, Kate, and Chase's cinnamon heart-encrusted salmon
with creamed corn and wild rice, with a side salad of
spinach, hardboiled eggs, blueberries, and avocados. 

Brook and Ned's - I don't even know how to describe it.
It was so good. Definitely had an Asian feel. They had
fried potato disks and delicious chicken, with the cutest
little cups of edamame in hollowed-out lemon halves.
They even had a drink that was made with coconut
water and a capri sun. (They won the prize for best
overall meal) 

Their presentation was soooo great!

So proud of his meal! 

Yeah, we ran out of time and didn't even
bother putting drinks, napkins, or even forks
with our meal. We were rushing. 

Mom and Bruce sat in a separate room with the sample plates (we each had to produce two full meals, and two small sample plates) and judged the meals. They handed out the prizes at the end. We ended up winning the prize for "Best Taste" with our dish. There were prizes for sportsmanship, presentation (our presentation was horrible), and being health-conscious, etc. There was even a prize for best kid's meal. We were pretty proud of our meal though, and we would definitely make it again. (Special thanks to Leah who thought to bring a food processor. We couldn't have gotten by with out it!) 

Mom announcing the awards
Our prize. We also tied with Leah & Ryan for the sportsmanship award.

We enjoyed my cake and ice cream, and I was thoroughly spoiled by everyone's thoughtful and fun gifts. Everyone said what they appreciated/loved about me (which is a great birthday tradition!) and then we started tackling the mess in the kitchen. I was completely unreal! I've never seen a mess so bad, and we have some huge gatherings at our place (My mom and Bruce each have six kids, which means in their joined immediate family there are twelve grown children, eleven spouses to those children, and 16 grandkids with two on the way. That's an immediate family of 41!) Anyway, with the 11 contest participants and the two judges watching, we managed to do some damage. With all of us fighting for counter space, pots, pans, knives, mixing bowls, and serving plates, it seemed like every single dish in the house was dirty (and my mom has a LOT of dishes). We all said we'd like to do a party like that again, but the mess made us all re-think it. We all pitched in, (the married-in boys more than the girls - thank you men! We love you!) and after an hour or so it was back to normal. 

Part of the mess (the workstation Kimball and I used)
Brook and Ned's spot
Leah & Ryan's place
And the workstation of Katelyn, Brittany, and Chase

The next day (Kimball and I slept over at my mom's) my older sister took us all to see Beauty and the Beast in 3D! It was so fun! I loved being there with her little kiddos. They were so funny-looking in those big glasses. I'd forgotten how much I love that movie, too! Such a classic. Thanks to everyone who made this birthday such a great one!

And that was only Friday! Kimball's family spoiled me, too on Sunday with dinner, cake, gifts, way too much (in a good way) Lindt and Ghiradelli chocolate, The Song of the Sparrow by Willa Cather, which is a book about a Swedish girl's journey to becoming an opera singer, (I'm halfway through, and loving it!) and gift certificates to our favorite place to eat: Cafe Fresh... so good.

Monday was my real birthday, and Kimball did not let me down at all! But more on that later.


  1. I love how your posts tend to be in parts, it keeps your readers coming back for more!

  2. Loved this night and am so glad you got a picture of the after. :)

  3. I love your family's themed birthday parties. You guys are so cool.