Friday, June 20, 2008

Let's Get Together for Dessert

I'd love to invite all of you over for dessert. If only we weren't separated by the miles we could all share some cake and coffee and catch up on what's going on in our lives. But we can certainly do that in a cyber setting. So join me!

I'll have to admit that I spent many years being terrified of entertaining. But I had a wonderful mentor who told me to relax and enjoy the experience. The secret she said, was to be prepared. And she was right! As long as you're prepared you can really enjoy the evening.

When I'm having a party I make two lists, a shopping list and a to-do list. It's that easy. I get all my serving pieces together and ready to go and I decide what I'm going to serve. The food is prepared as far ahead as feasibly possible. For the dessert evening I decided to keep it simple by serving pound cake, ice cream, strawberries, whipped cream and chocolate sauce. The guests can feel free to put everything together in whatever combination they wish.

But since it's summer I decided to drag out one of my $30 cake pans. I'm generally a frugal person but the devil made me buy this:


After my last fancy cake disaster I decided to spray liberally with PAM and stand guard over the oven. (The last time the oven inexplicably shut off somewhere in the middle of the baking process!)


I've got lots of pictures to share today so I'll spare you the pound cake recipe. Use your favorite recipe. A buttermilk poundcake works very well.


Just when I thought I had everything covered I discovered that the thermostat on the oven was not working properly and I ended up with a very dark brown sand castle. This castle has definitely had too much sun! Oh, and the little porch broke off.


Let's not be deterred by such matters. For those of you who commented about the complexity of a sandcastle's not at all complicated. Here's the beauty of a fancy cake pan. It does all the work for you. And even a very dark brown cake can look a little better if you tart it up a bit. I always use brown sugar or turbinado (raw) sugar for the sand. So cute. But this time I added whole strawberries and lemon slices for color. The flags are just bamboo skewers and a length of wide ribbon.


Early in the morning I snuck into the garden and cut these peonies. Luckily the were still OK. This is probably their last hurrah. In a day or two they will be toast.


The day of the party I set up three stations. The beauty of setting up different stations is that you don't have everyone clumped together in one space. I have so many interesting serving pieces that I decided to let everyone choose what they wanted to eat from. Here are some vintage glass luncheon plates with the space for the matching coffee cup. I love these. I made these pink gingham napkins several years ago and they've been used many times. The tablecloth was $2 on clearance many years ago. This is the first station.


On the table where the desserts will be displayed are some green leafy dishes and pressed glass bowls. (All thrifted items) This is the second station.


The coffee pot is set up in the wet bar area (third station), allowing everyone to help themselves. Remember, I want to enjoy the evening too!


The table is ready. Just before the guests arrive I'll whip the cream and bring out the desserts.


I'm going to be serving ice cream and I don't want to stand at the table scooping. Here's what I devised. Get two bowls, one smaller than the other. This is a trifle bowl and a clear mixing bowl. Put the smaller bowl inside the larger one and fill the space between the two bowls with water. You'll need to put a weight (can of soup) inside the smaller bowl to keep it from floating. Put these into the freezer and allow the water to freeze.


Scoop your ice cream into balls. They don't have to be perfectly round. Line them up on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper. Put in the freezer until time to serve. Put all the ice cream balls into the frozen bowl and they stay cold for awhile.


Light your candles just before your guests arrive. Plug in the coffee pot.


Bring out your food....and enjoy yourself with your guests!! Having a party is also a great motivator in getting your house clean and organized. This party pushed me to do some long overdue maintenance cleaning in this room. I love to entertain and when I follow the blueprint I'm rarely, if ever stressed.


I'm really glad you could join me for dessert, even if it was only cyber!


Jill said...

Wow... what a beautiful cyber party. Great ideas... I like your stations and everything you've done in advance.

PamKittyMorning said...

I'd like more cake.

What I love is that you also have luncheon sets, I have tons, both those shapes and plenty more. And I have leave bowls and plates. And I love pound cake.
Thanks for the invite!

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

How pleasant and wonderful! I would've loved to have been a guest in real life, but this was almost as good. Thanks for all the great tips and the photos.

Those green leafy them!

GemStateMom said...

This was fun!
I love to entertain and have a great 'catering crew' trained up. But I need to follow the boy scout motto and 'be prepared' so there aren't as many last-minute things.

Your frozen bowl for ice cream balls is simply brlliant - serving ice cream is always such a messy, drippy ordeal. I am going to use this idea often, I'm sure!

I, too, love the vintage snack sets. I have 25 - mostly grapevine, but some others too - all vintage. Haven't used them for several years, but I'm thinking it is about time to return them to active service.

On our next trip to IL, you can expect me to just show up at your doorstep. I'll become one of your party crashers! LOL

Cindy La Ferle said...

You should be featured in Victoria magazine. This cake is lovely and I savored every moment of the visit. Your home looks so inviting too. Last night I hosted a dinner party to honor my son's college graduation. There were 9 of us, and I kept it simple, putting the focus on the guest of honor and trying not to worry too much about "how things would turn out." There is nothing more lovely than seeing people you love gathered around your table. My only regret is that I didn't have that gorgeous castle of a cake you made!

Heather said...

I have to find one of those castle cake pans. My girls would LOVE it and how cute to make it look like a sand castle. It turned out adorable.

I have those same rectangle glass snack plates. I love them!!


I second the Victoria Magazine comment. Your event was exceptional. You are so good at this. How do you do it all? I've been away this week, but I have just read all your posts and you had such a fantastic productive creative week! Thank You.

C.C. said...

I looked for a castle cake pan after you posted about it a while back but couldn't find one...even online...

You are a party-throwing goddess! Wow!

lifeinredshoes said...

Will you share your recipe for pound cake?

Anonymous said...

What fun! I think I'll have a party with my dog and cats. Great seeing you today, I need your email addy.
Janine (J-9)

Life on Bonnie Lane said...

What a great idea! I love the sandcastle. You set such a pretty table too. I might borrow this idea sometime. Very creative.


Suzanne said...

Jill - I'm glad you could attend. I love your blog. Your life is an adventure!!!

Pam Kitty - There's lots more cake. OK, no excuse. You've got all those luncheon have a party!!

Vee - I want you to be a guest. If you leave now you can probably be here in two days. Oh those green plates were such a find! My sister finds the coolest stuff.

Paula - I love the fact that you have a built in catering crew. Good for you. Kids need to learn more than reading and writing. The only thing I forgot to mention about the ice cream bowl is to not leave it in the freezer for too long. I'm afraid that the expansion of the water as it freezers will break one of the bowls. I just let it get to the frozen state. Yes, you need to get those luncheon sets out of mothballs. You can crash my party anytime.

Cindy - I agree that having a party shouldn't be a crazy-making affair. Believe me, guests do not notice 99% of what we tend to fret over. They're just glad to get out of the house for an evening and not have to cook themselves. It sounds like your son's graduation party was a wonderful evening. Good for you for putting the focus where it belongs.

Heather and C.C. - I got the cake pan at Williams Sonoma. They have an online presence I believe. They are the premier retailers of expensive cake pans! HA.

Liberty - I've missed you. I hope you also had a productive week. London, right? To quote Neici Nash from Clean House....'How do I do, all that I do?" Number 1-100 - I don't have small children any longer. Many things are possible when you're not engaged in the care and feeding of kids!

Red Shoes - I'll post the recipe tomorrow since it's probably going to be a light blogging day due to yet another PIG ROAST.

Hey J-9 - It was great to see you today and all your wonderful photos. Ladies, J-9 has done a wonderful job redoing the outside of her home, giving it fantastic curb appeal. Great job. I'll send my e-mail address to you at the paper.

KatKit13 said...

Oh someday we'll meet up. Prolly at one of those spectacular barn sales!!

I'll bring the giant cupcakes

btw, use Crisco spray with flour. You'll have better success with that pan. You could also use Baker's Joy. (I prefer the former)

Just Plain Jane said...

I'm full of admiration for how you pulled that party off. No matter how simple it sounds and how far ahead I prepare, the actual affair is always crazy-making for me. I guess I'll have to keep practicing and maybe I'll get it right one of these days.

Pieceful Bits said...

Gorgeous! You planned a perfect gathering!

Rue said...

Hi Suzanne :)

Call me impressed! You really go all out. I would love to be a guest, especially for that cake! I love all your serving pieces too :)

It always helps my to have a cocktail when I'm getting ready for the guests to arrive. Takes the fear out LOL


PS. Stay away from the house and no one gets hurt! ;)

Jessica said...

Beautimous! I love it. Great tip for the ice cream too!

Bettsi McComb said...

Oh thank you! That was delightful! I have those exact snack plates and the pressed glass bowls. The bowls are Wexford and it's getting harder and harder to find anything Wexford at a reasonable price. I really <3 your green, leafy plates. Thank you for sharing all this- it makes me want to host something!