I (thats Hannah, by the way, hello!) am part of a large group of friends who have loosely known each other since University (and a few since before then). We have always gotten together to celebrate things like birthdays, pancake day and bonfire night, and we still do so. I love seeing how things have changed over the years. Partners have arrived and turned in to spouses, couples have become families. Now, crockery and glasses vaguely match, there are babies and dogs in the mix, and things are slightly less drunken. We still get together a few times a year for big dinner parties, and the latest one was at Easter. We gathered to celebrate seeing each other, primarily, but also to celebrate the end of winter, the beginning of Spring and the new light evenings. We were also celebrating a new baby two pregnancies in the group! Spriiiing!
I thrive in the days before a big dinner or party. I relish writing lists of everything to cook and buy and do and when I cross them off the list, I picture myself as a scythe wielding farmer, slicing my to do list in to ribbons (um, of course?!). If I start preparing a few days before and have help, I've found that there is little stress. In the days before, I made two types of bread- a plaited Easter bread ring and a sun dried tomato and goats cheese filled Tortana; kale and coconut soup, bacon and mint croutons, a yogurt and pistachio cake, a chocolate filo pastry serpent cake, 12 mini Panna Cottas, and loads of easter egg nests. All of this was done with my ever present toddler sized helper stood on a chair, always willing to do some stirring or tasting; “mmm well done mama, s'lovely, mmmm!”. I wouldn’t have been able to do all of that cooking and preparation if a) my toddler didn’t love 'helping' me, so I’m very lucky there, b) my mister was on ‘house’ duty- bathrooms, bedding etc, so I didn’t have to think about that, and c) My brother in law always cooks the main evening meal. Basically leaving me to do all the fun stuff.
And before I knew it, everyone arrived, and I remembered how awesome and easy (and filthy minded) this group is. First we had lunch which was a simple soup* with bacon and mint croutons, as well as my Easter bread wreath and Tortana, all with a healthy dose of silly puns and dirty laughter. The group (minus me) then went for a walk and ambled around the wonderful charity shops and markets in my town before heading back to ours for dinner later. My brother in law cooked slow cooked oxtail Macaroni with a tomato and red onion salad and an orange and fennel salad. SO GOOD.
It was unbelievably delicious, and didn’t leave people with much room for the four- FOUR- desserts I had prepared (note to self: nobody needs 4 desserts.) Slightly over catered there.
It was marvellous. There was talk of planning an Autumn dinner party before the night had even ended. Which I am very happy to oblige!
*We averted a luncheon disaster when the soup inexplicably tasted gross. No idea what went wrong- maybe dodgy coconut milk? Anyway, a quick dash to the supermarket to buy some soup in tubs rectified things!