I've tried to make blogging a consistent thing for me, especially with new goals for the upcoming year to stay focused on projects and commitments, but it turns out that stress and things going on really do get in the way. It's been test after test the last week, leaving me without time for cooking, and barely any time for just sitting on the couch to relax.
Usually, I get everything done on the weekend, however last Friday through Sunday each day was filled with jobs to do, and a birthday party one evening! I turned seventeen last week, and for my special day I invited a few of my close friends for a little afternoon tea party. I expected a small little get-together, but to my surprise when I walked in the door, the dining room table was laid with elegant little porcelain teacups and saucers, and two steaming pots of Earl Grey tea - my favourite.
There were six of us seated around the table covered with a red table cloth and a delicious array of mum's gluten-free home baking, from scones with clotted cream and jam to almond macaroons with orange icing sandwiched. There was also a small plate full of traditional English cucumber sandwiches on gluten-free bread - a must for any proper British Teatime.
I was so surprised to see so much baking, and so much delicacy put into my tea party, and it truly made it special to walk in the door to the perfect table setting. It is without a doubt that everyone enjoyed the gluten free treats, and no one hid their shock at everything being gluten free but still so tasty. Instead, the scones, macaroons, and jam filled shortbread cookies, were devoured as cups of tea were refilled continuously, and the kettle remained on for at least an hour.
Just as we thought that mum had been amazing by baking and preparing everything, one of my friends jumped up and pulled something from the fridge - my view was blocked luckily! She hung around in the kitchen for a few moments, before a large chocolate cake was brought over with brightly lit candles and everyone began singing Happy Birthday.
It definitely made it that much more special that I haven't had friends over, or really done anything, for my birthday in a number of years. In the middle of January things always seem to busy to plan a party, and it's usually much easier to pass by another birthday without creating more havoc with the stress of trying to do something. Except, it wasn't like that at all. Mum told me that she would plan the party, and do the baking, and make the tea, and clean the house - "All for me?" I asked.
"Just for you."
The cake which mum made was definitely the best cake I've ever eaten, it was made from real chocolate, and layered with a creamy chocolate coconut icing (we still had a lot of leftover chocolate from Christmas, which everyone was happy to put to good use). I remember when I was little her cakes were always decorated amazingly, one year she made a pink castle cake for a castle themed party, and another made a cake in the shape of a kid in pajamas when I had a pajama party. And this year, because I love chocolate, and asked for a gluten-free party, she made a wonderful, stacked, iced, and decorated chocolate cake that was about as good as you can get. It didn't even deflate after being cooked, and it didn't even crumble.
Everyone was so full after all the tea and baked goods, that we sat around the table chatting and laughing. Mum even said that all she could hear from upstairs at certain points when she took out her headphones was bouts of hysterical laughter, as if we were all caught in fits. We must have sat around that table for about three hours, completely enjoying being around each other and being so comfortable chatting away like gobbling turkeys. Every one of us has known each other from when were at least in preschool, and have grown up together, through elementary school, and now nearly through high school together. It was while looking through my old albums that we realised how close we all are, there are pictures of us all together at my previous birthday parties (the castle party and pyjama party included) and playing at school or at home as well. Each of my friends who came for that tea party found themselves numerously in the albums, and we just laughed more at some of the faces pulled in photographs.
I was in such bliss of being around my friends, all so close to me, and my stomach ached from laughing so hard with them that afternoon.
"Thank you mumma," I whispered after my friends had gone home, "That was the best tea party ever."
Smoked-Cranberry Turkey Balls
Print recipe here.
These were not served at the tea party, but they could be, as a perfect pairing of sweet and sour, these little turkey balls are delicious appetizer-sized meatballs with a cranberry-orange barbecue sauce. Pierce them with toothpicks, and they're perfect for sharing at a party!
Makes 12 turkey balls
1/2 lb (8-12 oz) ground turkey or shredded turkey leftover from Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner
1/2 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs, such as Glutino brand
1/4 minced onion
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup cranberry sauce
2 tbsp smoky hickory or chipotle barbecue sauce
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp gluten-free soy sauce
1 tsp grated orange zest
Preheat oven to 400°F.
In a food processor or large bowl, combine turkey, gluten-free bread crumbs, onion, parsley, egg, salt and pepper.
Form mixture into bite-sized balls, approximately 1 - 1 1/2 inches wide.
Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking oil, such as grape seed, and place the meatballs about 1 inch apart.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until cooked through completely. Halfway through cooking time stir meatballs to brown both sides.
Meanwhile, combine cranberry sauce, barbecue sauce, lemon juice, soy sauce and orange zest in a small pot. Over medium heat, cook the sauce until the cranberry sauce has melted and the mixture begins to bubble, about 5 minutes.
Remove the meatballs from oven, and transfer to a large pot. Pour the sauce over and stir gently until the meatballs are completely coated in sauce.
Cover and summer over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve hot.
Labels: appetizer, baking, cranberry, gluten free, leftover, meatballs, orange, party, sauce, turkey