Wednesday, 2 July 2008

You don't have to be the Queen to have a garden party!

A couple of months ago we got thinking; we've got a garden, we've got friends, we like food and drink, June might have good weather. could be combine all of these things into a cunning plan? A garden party of course! Plans were laid, invites were sent and it mostly went out of our minds. Then suddenly it was the week before, N was projecting the possibility of forty people arriving and I began what I do best: making lists. The responses to the invite clearly demonstrated the difference between our male and female friends. The men replied asking if they could bring anything for the BBQ, the women if they should wear dresses and bring cucumber sandwiches. When men see "garden party" they think BBQ, when women see "garden party" they think garden party!

Since we actually don't have a BBQ - okay, there is one out there, but it's an old gas thing that during the winter months was aptly nick-named "snail city". We weren't going to go there - we stuck to the garden party plan and I began planning and plotting
the cakes, breads and salads that would satisfy a potential group of 40 of our friends.

Sounds stressful and hard work, but truth is I loved it. I love having to be that organized; making lists, choosing
foods, planning recipes, and most of all I love spending an entire day (or in this case a day and a half) pottering in the kitchen producing things to share with other people.

With a lot of consulting with N our ideas looked like this:

Pecan and cranberry loaf

fig and orange loaf
walnut and apricot soda bread
parmesan biscuits
veggie sausage rolls
roasted tomatoes
roasted beetroot and feta salad

mango and bulgar wheat salad

scones with homemade strawberry jam and cream
white chocolate and raspberry tarts
mixed berry tarts

Victoria sponges (two vegan, one normal)
vegan French lemon cake
vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream
lemon cupcakes with lemon buttercream
chocolate cupcakes with rum buttercream
Mini-chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream (child safe just in case)

Not bad eh? I spent all of Friday creaming, whi
sking, baking and icing cakes, kneading, resting, proving and baking bread and then most of Saturday morning (the party kicked off at 3pm) rolling puff pastry, mixing, rolling and cutting scones, cutting and roasting tomatoes and beetroot and generally have a good ole time in my summer frock with N and K (who arrived early and was the best kitchen assistant ever). It was wonderful, and it produced this:

There are so many recipes to share that I won't do it now, instead I'm going to follow this round up with a series of posts about the delicious things we tucked into all afternoon (and evening, and the following morning, and evening and stocked the freezer with and gave to people in goody bags!).

It was a roaring success, the food went down well, the cocktails went down very well and everyone mingled and had a good time and to top it off we got great weather!

The real star of the show though was Sniff. He hasn't been allowed in the garden yet, so the poor chap had to be put in the study so he didn't escape. We also weren't sure how he'd be with other people. He was brilliant. He didn't complain, but lounged on his hug chair and was very compliant with all the people who wanted to visit him. Most importantly he clearly loved K, which is brilliant as she's our on-hand cat-sitter. I think their combined love of cake, cream and sleeping on the sofa helped! When we finally all came into the house and shut the French doors Sniff's door was opened. We were worried he'd just hide in the study and be afraid of all the people (there were still at least 10 of us at this point). How wrong we were! He was slightly timid at first, but was soon out and showing off his goal-keeping skills with a ping-pong ball.

What a little star. That was a cat that definitely got some cream.

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