My children, they are different.
One child, started planning her next birthday party last month. Her birthday is in July.
The other, just wanted the exact same party she had last year.
Dottie has a more intimate soul.
She loves the routine.
And we love her for it.
Here’s the catch, the next night, we would be hosting our annual Hearn Holiday Cocktail Party.
It’s a doozy of a grown-up party.
And it’s our holiday kick-off.
Plus, both James and I had various business trips that week, resulting in neither one of us being there full-time.
We did a little every day and were ready with time to spare.
Music plan, order balloons, grocery store, food plan, scheduling.
Grocery list: Dough, cheese, sauce, drink fixins.
(I froze the dough.)
Make cupcakes. Set aside.
Put cheese, sauce, pepperoni, sausage, in plastic wrap covered bowls.
Defrost the dough.
Party day! Pick up ballons, give the house a once-over, make the salad,
Buy last minute toppings like mushrooms and basil. Also, ice.
When we picked up the girls from preschool on Thursday, we walked home carrying all the balloons. Dottie wore her birthday crown proudly and told everyone, “It’s my BIRFDAY today!” And if you couldn’t smile at that, you must have some very hard things going on in your life.
We put the frosting in plastic bags for squirting, and then we put the sprinkles and such out on the trays.
(Just like last year.)
Everyone could take a few home in these cupcake boxes — but truthfully, nearly everyone I know isn’t eating cupcakes right now. I’m okay with that.
Happy Birthday Dottie, you make us laugh every single day.
I ran out of time to make a playlist, so we ended up using an 8tracks.com playlist. Those playlists are made by people much more musically savvy than I am. A Pandora station made of music from Celso Pina would also have set the mood fiestively.
We ran out of booze on purpose. The party got happy – meaning, it ran late and was in danger of waking the children. (Won’t anyone think of the children?)
We live near several firefighters, police officers and general upstanding people of the community, and I’d love to stay in their good graces. Running out of booze is an easily forgivable way to gently get your guests on their way home. Good night!
I didn’t take photos of the table, of the foods and the guests.
I was having too much fun.
And I know, I know, in this modern age, if you’re not ignoring your guests while you document ALL THE FUN you’re having (ahem), the party never happened.
Trust me, it was good.
There was a leopard, fireworks and leg wrestling.
(Just kidding about the leg wrestling.)
But on to the food.
Posole is a near perfect party food.
It’s cheap to make, is slow cooker friendly, and infinitely customizable.
Gluten-free! Dairy-free! Cheers!
Helen Jane’s Green Posole Recipe
(adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)
3 pounds pork shoulder — could be bone-in at 4-5lbs, or boneless at 3 pounds, cut into 1-2 inch chunks
Vegetable oil for browning
2 large onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 pound tomatillos, peeled, washed and cut into quarters
3 medium jalapeños, stemmed, scraped and chopped
1/2 small onion, choped
1/2 cup water
2 bunches (5 cups?) fresh cilantro leaves and stems
3 (15 ounce) cans white hominy, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper the pork pieces thoroughly. If you’re cooking in the oven, preheat oven to 300°F. If you’re using a slow cooker, well, I’m not sure you’re supposed to do this, but I preheat my slow cooker. I’m planning to cook it here for 8 hours on low — so it’s preheated on low.
Heat vegetable oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat until shimmery. Add onions. Add a dash of salt. Sauté for a good 4 minutes. Add garlic. Stir through for another 30 seconds. Add pork and brown for about 8 minutes while stirring every 2-3 minutes.
Add the oregano, chicken stock and 1/2 teaspoon salt, scrape and stir until all is heated through and bubbly. Put this mixture into a slow cooker or put a lid on the pan and stick into a preheated 300° oven.
In a blender or food processor or blender, drop in the tomatillos, jalapeños and onions along with a 1/2 cup of water. Let it go until smooth. Enter the cilantro leaves, pulse until well chopped.
If you’re using the oven, take the pork out in 2 hours.
If you’re using a slow cooker, check in 30 minutes before you’re serving.
Stir the hominy through the pork mixture. Shred the pork with two forks until its bite-sized, tender, stringiness is the right size for your mouth. Stir the green mixture through the pork and hominy mixture. In the pot? Serve about 15 minutes later. In the slow cooker? Do the same.
Serve with a ladle into big individual bowls.
Set out all the fixins, so guests can customize your bowl.
(We serve this with guacamole, chips and corn salad.)
Although, lately, I’ve been writing all my moony internet-thinks here, I really do love parties. Even better, I like to squeeze what I can from professional events for entertaining people at my house (win! no babysitter fees!).
It started at the drop-off when horse-pulled wagons delivered us from our vehicle to the front gate. Ratcheting up the anticipation, the wagons helped us mingle with other partygoers.
Learning: Make the welcome memorable. Put your guests at ease.
Cleared out under a giant walnut tree in the vineyard, it was so refreshing to see all of the tables adorably mismatched. Of course it was on purpose, styled and laid out by professionals, but it helped add to a homey feel.
Learning: I don’t need to freak out about everything matching. If I like it, it probably goes together.
Learning: When it comes to friends, I can always increase my level of generosity. Really.
Food trucks rallied to make all the food for the event — all was distributed on several buffet tables. Lamb, chicken, greens, it all came together for some hearty belly-filling food for the auction ahead.