Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Party Planning

Alex and Cyan both really like to cook. But honestly, I don't let them in the kitchen very often. Well, they help me all the time, but when it comes to cooking their own thing the opportunities are few and far between. I am always working in there! So last week I decided that since we were doing the Farm to Table curriculum, their assignment for the week was to make a full on dinner party from scratch. From start to finish.

Alex was given the heavier load that included the menu plan, table set up, selecting and cooking the appetizer, main and side dishes, and then setting the tables. This included many more little jobs through out the week for him. Such as a grocery list, checking the pantry for supplies, making sure we had the amounts he needed, deciding on a budget, making a cooking timeline for party day, and remembering to defrost/prepare the things needed in advance so they would all be ready.

Cyan's side included dessert and table decorations. She had to pick and read a recipe, get the ingredients all ready and then help put them together.

I did have a couple of stipulations... the budget had to be under $40, the food had to all be from the same culture, and the groceries had to be in season. Other than that though, they were on their own. Alex spent hours pouring over cookbooks and finding the best recipes. He picked one that I thought looked daunting, and I told him so... but he wanted to make it. So I let him choose. He picked Italian American Lasagna from the Joy of Cooking. Which includes making the sauce AND the meatballs before hand. A lofty recipe to start with. Especially when you are responsible for three more courses as well.

The day before I had him sit down and make a timeline for what he needed to do the next day. He checked all the cooking and prep time, and decided that he needed to start by 1pm so that he could be all done by the time our guests arrived at 6pm.

When the day came, we went and I had them get their groceries from Trader Joe's. I had already gotten the produce on their list from the market. Then we got home and Alex got to work. He started off by making the meatballs. He had started to defrost the 1 1/2 of beef the night before, but it was still frozen. So he put it in the microwave on defrost and got it all ready. When the meat balls were done, he realised that it had taken him 45 minutes longer than it should have, and just like any good host... he started to freak out.

At this point, Cyan and Don were making the carrot cake. This was great because it left me free to help Alex. After the meat balls were made, he added the sauce stuff to the pot and let it simmer. Then he cut the lettuce for the salad and set the tables.

He was still feeling stressed, but as things got completed and he was able to focus on setting the table and such, he started to calm down.

Dinner turned out to be about a half hour late... even with his 5 hour head start, but it was DELICIOUS! The menu they picked:

Appetizer: Italian Salad (butter and oak lettuce with kidney beans, Genoa Salami and provolone)

Main Course: Italian American Lasagna with spiced meatballs

Side dish: Fresh baked sour dough bread and steamed artichokes.

Dessert: Carrot cake with vanilla ice cream with fresh raspberries on top

It ended up being a educational experience for the whole family, for my very non-culinary husband decided that he would help Cyan with the dessert once again. Twice in the same day looking up recipes and making them... Banner day for my man. :)

Cyan was very proud of her cake:

And Logan loved Daddy's cream cheese frosting. :)

It was a wonderful learning experience. There were tons of great learning opportunities. I think I may have them do this once a month this year and see how they improve their skills.


Sadie said...

My boys, especially Cale,would love more time in the kitchen. I keep meaning to put it in my written school schedule....but still never gets done.....Looks like a lovely meal!

sarah in the woods said...

What a wonderful experience for everyone. I'm sure Miah would enjoy this kind of thing.

Gardentyme said...

One of the many reasons to homeschool your kids. You are doing an awesome job! There are so many things they learned by doing that and had such a great reward at the end. I homeschooled for 14 years with a one year break. Sounds daunting when I think back on it. But we had so many experiences like this. My older kids are now in college and it is amazing how many of the skills they learned being at home have helped them in the "real" world. I'm crossing over on your blogs! Tricia