My nephew recently got engaged, and last weekend, my sister threw him and his fiance an engagement party at her house. As I’ve shared here before, I love to host parties … and I especially love take advantage of the gorgeous Southern California weather by hosting outdoor parties. So, I was in absolute heaven at this party, which was an afternoon BBQ, hosted outside in my sister’s gorgeous yard. The whole thing was so lovely, and I got so many great party and entertaining ideas, that I thought I’d share with you all too!
As I shared before in my blog about Passover, I have always enjoyed the rituals, camaraderie and sense of belonging to a community that comes with Jewish Holiday celebrations. Early on in our marriage, my husband and I were lucky enough to find a group of couple friends who, like us, had one member who was Jewish; and we started celebrating Passover and Hanukkah with this group. My life-long best friend Carrie is among this group, but others are friends we’ve made along the way.
As children were born and families grew, so did our annual celebrations. Over the years, even some of our non-Jewish friends have joined in on what has become our most fun and anticipated party of the year. For a while the the parties were HUGE, but as some families moved away, our group shrunk … and now we are typically about 15.
Four years ago, our friends stayed with us while their house was being remodeled. During their stay, my husband surprised everyone by making this yummy and fun seafood boil. Since then, everyone has been asking him when he would do it again. This summer he did!
I love nothing more than the chance to celebrate a holiday, so when my children were young and the fourth of July rolled around, I took full advantage of it. To me, it is the true kick off of summer, especially living in SoCal, where we typically have “June Gloom.”
This past weekend was a bit of a milestone for our family, as my oldest son got married. He and his wife threw a wedding in Mexico; and while I was excited to celebrate with them, as a mother AND a party thrower, it was a little hard to stay out of it. It was hard to not worry what kind of party it would be, or wonder if their planning covered all the bases. I had to remind myself … this was their event. Even when he asked who else he should invite beside family, I said it was completely up to them. And boy, they outdid themselves! It was so beautiful, with every detail thought out. It was such an incredible, moving weekend — a weekend none of us will ever forget!
Anyone who knows me knows I like to entertain. I love to go the extra mile – decorate, make homemade everything, etc. But frankly, it’s a big deal, it does take time and it’s not for everyone.
After my return from New York, where I spent Thanksgiving, I caught up with several of my friends and family; and many of them had the same comments. “It’s just too much work,” or “I didn’t enjoy it because I had to work so hard.” There’s going to the market one day, a whole day of cooking another day, and then cleanup. Then you’re pooped and have to get right back to work. It’s easy to understand why so many want to say forget it.
As I’ve shared before, hosting dinner parties is one of my favorite things to do – they are enhancers of life for me. When hosting dinner parties, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the food prep and forget the real reason you’re there, which is to spend times with loved ones.
Over the years, I’ve learned that one of the keys to a successful dinner party is finding menu items that my guests will enjoy, but won’t require so much attention that I can’t enjoy myself too. One dessert I’ve discovered that fits that bill is this delicious pear tarte tatin. It’s super easy to prepare, beautiful when finished and always a party pleaser!
A few years ago I taught a class at my sister’s cooking school, The Farm School on Los Rios, and showed the participants how to make both my apple pie (you might remember this blog about that) and this delicious tarte tatin. So once again, I’m sharing video from that class so you can see for yourself just how simple it is.