Preparing for Anjali's birthday party was quite fun. I should have been stressed under the circumstances, but, strangely, I was not. The work got done in its own pace. Husband helped where he could, putting things in order, clearing the mountains of clutter in the living room, etc. But the bulk of the work was in the preparation of the food.
Husband and I had decided that we would make the party a simple one, and just invite the kids over for a bash. Ofcourse, inviting the kids means inviting atleast 20 of them, and there were about 24 children who attended the party. there were a handful of parents, who came over especially with some of the younger children, to help man the kids, and Shree was there to help with the games and play her godmama role.
The food preparations began very early. I had had time to think it out, and knew what I had to do. I had also been trying out varieties of recipes, thanks to Bunica's demonstrations, and husband's purist, experimental soul, and had narrowed down to about three recipes that I could make in bulk without going too wrong.
So the menu was narrowed down to the following
1. Pasta with vegetables
2. Some kind of dessert (husband wanted cheeesecake)
Two days before the event, however, i realized that cheesecake has to be baked in a double boiler, and while I have a substitute for small cakes for family, it is nowhere enough for baking for 24 kids ++ the adults.
the next substitute to cheesecake was pumpkin pudding, and since I make a fairly good one, we decided on it.
Granma kept calling me every four hours for one week before the birthday party. And at the end of each call she urged me to order food from a restaurant. Order noodles and samosas, she would say.
i was adamant. Maybe I was muleheaded, but wanted to see what I was capable of. ofcourse, I told granma that I would order pizze if there were too many people and looked like there was not enough food.
perhaps it was because of granma's suggestions, but I decided to make an addition to the menu and make cutlets.
The night before the party, we put Anjali to bed and began the preparations. About 2.5 kilos of potatoes were boiled, simultaneously with four pumpkins that were being baked in the oven. by the time Anjali went to sleep, the potatoes and the pumpkin were cooked. While they drained, i put together the pudding base for pudding number 1, and baked it, while mashing the pumpkins.
All a matter of scheduling, I thought to myself, as I put together the pudding filling and chucked it in the oven. While it baked, the potatoes got peeled and mashed, the onions and breadcrumbs added to the cutlets.
The pumpkin pudding finished baking, I took it out of the oven, and put the second crust inside. Simultaneously, the filling for the second pudding was prepared and baked. The cutlets were shaped and arranged in two pots. for frying the next day.
Then I had a brainwave. If I fried about a 100 cutlets, it would take me atleast 4 hours, be extremely unhealthy and give me a headache with all the hot oil smell. Why not bake them?
So I went online, chasing husband from the computer, and checked recipes for baking. There were a couple, and they looked good. Arrange cutlets on a baing tray, spoon half a tsp of oil on them, shove them in the oven for half an hour on either side. It would still take me 5 hours to get through the batch, but I could do other things while the cutlets were baking. Did I dare take the risk?
I decided to try a batch and then make the final decision based on the results thereof. Afterall, if they were not good, husband would polish them off anyway, and 80 cutlets were plenty enough.
We went to bed at 2.30am.
The next morning, the cutlets went into the oven while father and daughter went to the pool. The first batch came out perfect. Though they took long to bake. We couldnt resist taking baked cutlets out of the pot as they added in.
The garniture for the pasta was readied in due time, and the pasta itself left for later the afternoon. Then I decided to make a dip for the cutlets. I initially thought of serving ketchup, but husband wouldnt hear of it. So I thought of making a tomato chutney, then decided it was too much work. Finally opted for a cheese, yogurt and herbs dip. I had made about one kilo of cheese for the birthday party alone, to be eaten with pasta and there was enough left for the dip.
At 4pm, the pasta boiled away merrily, and then was mixed with the garniture, annd by 5.30 everything was ready.
This is me, just before the guests arrrived, mixing the last of the pasta with the garniture.
This is Anjali, credded for the party in her new "I big and heavy bulldozer" T-shirt
And this is Anjali's opinion of all the activity that went on in the house during the day.