Burgers, Sausages, Chicken Skewers, Bell Peppers, Courgettes, Onions, Steaks, Chicken, Veggie Burgers, Arms/Fingers of the Grillers
Steak for 6 seconds on each side, Cauliflower
These are the experiments that were conducted at yesterday’s joint birthday BBQ extravaganza.
Partner’s birthday is coming up this Friday and one of the other girls in the Keble MCR has her birthday today, so the two of them combined forces and planned a BBQ to celebrate with all of Keble MCR and a select group of their friends. It seemed that within a week of the Facebook invite being posted, there were 80 people RSVP’d, so legendary is Dan’s cooking skill. And luckily for me, I was quickly requested as a sous-griller and dessert baker (both my parents would be so proud). I love helping people out with big parties, so much more than being just a plain guest. And this party definitely turned out big!
Having planned out the desserts and baking schedule the night before, Dan and I met for breakfast at Greens Cafe before heading off for a Tesco run. Sometimes grocery shopping in the UK can be really frustrating with different names for things and a few basic cultural differences leading to an extra 30 minutes inside a store as you search for sweetened condensed milk and baking chocolate. But we did eventually find everything for the three desserts we needed to make from scratch.
Baking commenced at 11 am and didn’t finish until nearly 3 pm, though when compared to the Super Bowl party, this time around things were super relaxed and went smoothly. Possibly a function of only having to make four recipes instead of the 11 we had for the other party, but nonetheless we have also kind of found a rhythm in the kitchen and got into a groove quickly. First up was the easiest, only no bake item: Rocky Road! Simple enough, melt chocolate and stir in mix-ins before popping it in the fridge for the rest of the day.
Then Dan worked on the two chocolate and two carrot cakes (unfortunately we had to make them from box mixes for lack of time, money, and recipes) while I made a brand new recipe of Oatmeal Lemon Creme Bars. Just in case everything came out poorly, we had a revolving oven of my family’s recipe for chocolate chip cookies cycling through the whole day; thankfully I had frozen cookie dough from my last batch ready to go. I still kind of can’t believe that nothing went wrong. Timing was all perfect, ingredients all available, dishes all simple to clean. Before we knew it, everything was finished and all that was left was for me to frost the cakes while Dan made us lunch. Easy peasy, oatmeal lemon bar squeezey.
It was only 3 and the party wasn’t starting until 6, but there was still tables and chairs to nick from Acland’s kitchens and a sound system to figure out, so we worked on the outside party area for a bit then headed upstairs for reading/relaxation/15 minute cat naps. Dan had to start the grill up all too soon, and it was nonstop from then on.
Four hours in front of a grill…FOUR HOURS! There was no break as people were all hungry and eager for some of the Grill Master’s wares and his assistant’s grilled vegetables (okay that second part isn’t true, but I like to think that people actually wanted the vegetables as more than a TMO until more meat came off the coals). Burgers, sausages, chicken wings, kebabs…the waiting pile of meat seemed to grow of its own accord as people had apparently heeded our notice of not having ordered enough meat to go around.
What we did run out of was charcoal, sending one of our dance team friends on another Tesco run so that we could fire up the other half of the grill and serve our anxious customers. Food was flying off the platter faster than Dan and I could put it on–except the cauliflower. And I still have no idea who thought it was a good idea to grill unseasoned, unoiled cauliflower? Hint: It doesn’t work, sorry cauliflower fans. As for the sides situation, since Dan and I both spent the entire night in front of the BBQ, I have no idea how people fared in terms of sides, but I never heard any complaints so I’m assuming it went fine.
A few times people were kind enough to ask Dan and me if we needed a break to go socialize and get something to eat ourselves, but every time we politely declined. Both of us agreed that we had the best job and the best location in the entire party. Apart from the fact we both love cooking, because everyone went to the grill at one point or another during the evening, we got to meet everyone and socialize with our friends while slinging burgers and sausages, all while hanging out with each other. Was there any better way to spend the night? No, we were both in agreement.
But regardless of my new grilling lessons, I am at heart a baker, and I was really looking forward to everyone’s enjoyment of the desserts we had made earlier in the morning. Of course I wasn’t expecting the reactions I received. Always unsure about a brand new recipe that hasn’t been tested, I was a little anxious about how the lemon creme bars were going to go down with everyone. Were they an adequate follow-up to my peanut butter chocolate cupcakes (which, funnily enough were still being talked about last night as people lamented that they hadn’t known I was baking and so hadn’t requested their repeat appearance)? Based on their quick disappearance and the most common comment after one bite being “Holy shit”, I think I can say with mild confidence that yes, they were well liked. There was one girl who kept dragging over all her friends to get another bar, so afraid that they would be gone before they had a chance to try them! And one of Dan’s friends from his lab has asked for them to accompany Dan’s birthday cupcakes we are making for the Engineering lab on Friday 🙂 All the other desserts went equally as well, people loved Dan’s carrot cake, and the two of us ended the night under the stars smiling over how successful the day had gone.
There really is nothing like spending the entire day with my dance partner baking, cooking, and laughing. Happy Birthday Dan!! So happy that you got such an amazing party 😀