So last night was our fifth annual Epiphany dinner. Each year the event has gotten slightly larger and last night was our largest gathering yet with a total of 26 friends in attendance. I think we are probably going to have to cap it about there--besides begging for people to bring chairs, I wound up sitting at a card table that was in the kitchen.
However, I must say that I think last night was our most successful night yet. I took off Friday. In part this was because this year's dinner was being covered by a reporter from our local newspaper (the story will be in tomorrow's paper, so I'll post a link then!), so I wanted to have time to chat with them and they wanted to get some pictures (and video it turns out!) of me cooking and preparing for the event. But I also just wanted to get everything together and be on top of things with such a crowd expected.
Lucas was a good brother-in-law and did my bidding in Judy's absence--she had to go back to work on Wednesday, so pressed her husband into service in her stead. Last year after the dinner, we made a list of what exactly we should cook for everyone. I got the list out Thursday night and Lucas and I went shopping Thursday night when the stores were empty. When we were done, the little old Polish lady in me broke free and started to get nervous that we hadn't gotten enough food. But I decided to put my faith in the list.
Friday morning, Lucas, Dottie, and I all slept in till 10:30ish. I got up and ran to the Giant to get the few last food items we hadn't been able to procure at Super Walmart. I got back and we had lunch and then Cathy and Pete from the paper showed up and we got going on making ham and pierogi. They were over for more than 2 hours and I really liked both of them so much. They were easy to talk to and very interested in the details of the party. Pete the photographer also commented on my photography, so I really was glad to hear good things about it from a professional.
Judy and Michael got back from their respective job sites and we did the baking Friday night--18 mini lemon bundt cakes were prepared. By the time Friday was over, the hors d'oeuvres were ready to go, the cakes were done, the first main entree was complete, and the pierogi were finished.
Saturday morning I got up to go to Weight Watchers. When I got back, I grabbed the General and we made our first run to the dump. As we got back, Judy was swinging into high gear baking bread. We put the General in charge of Dot and Lucas and I started moving furniture. Pete called to say he was going to have to come earlier than expected since he had a work thing pop up and asked if he could come at 1:00. He was most keenly interested in catching us put the tables together, so Lucas, Judy and I hauled the monster table out from the shed and wound up putting our couch out on the front porch. (With us parking our cars in the backyard later to free up much needed driveway space, our house looked like the redneck house!) We got the tables put where they needed to be and happily took note of the fact that we didn't have to take down the Christmas tree, a very big bonus for us, as we really wanted to keep it up for the party.
Pete came for a couple of hours to take pictures and captured our famous glaze gulp (Judy and I drink whatever's left of the lemon glaze we make for the cakes--trust me, those cakes get frosted VERY generously!) and shot pictures of us setting tables, cutting up kielbasa, etc. He made it really easy not to feel self-conscious and to just go about our business, which I liked. Plus he's of Czech descent so he had a LOT of interest in the party and food.
Somehow, however, all our planning had really panned out. I was able to take a shower and get in a little bit of reading time. Judy managed to get a little bit of time on the Wii. Dottie was cooperative in being a good baby till party time when she started to get fussy, but most of the time was content to sleep on Uncle Mike. Lucas only made 3 runs to the grocery store for forgotten or replacement items.
So the little Alberta Clipper they predicted started up and brought lots of rain. They had predicted snow and ice, which thankfully didn't happen, but one person in Maryland cancelled due to the weather. Melissa arrived early, which I don't blame her for. God only knows what could happen on I-95 when the weather turns lousy. Other guests started arriving at 6:00 and by the time Cathy the reporter was in at 6:30, it was a rollicking time already. As the last few folks arrived bearing chairs (hooray for chairs!), we dished up the food and got everyone upstairs for some food.
Dinner was great. We had lots of delicious food and I got to sit with Lucas and Joe and Joe's new honey, which was fun and interesting. A 'spirited' debate about the U.S. tax code broke out amongst several guests, followed by a 'rousing' discussion of the Israel-Palestine question over dessert. As the men argued politics, the ladies hid in a corner and discussed literature. We distributed the presents that the Three Kings had brought as well, and made a big splash with the kids--giving Jacalyn's boys lightsabers and Little Anne's son Nicolas a Mr. Potato Head that's dressed up like Santa--he loved the hell out of that thing! The grown ups got tower treats and Cathy and Pete were touched that we had thought of them too--Cathy gave me a big hug.
The party broke up around 11:15ish. We worked at cleaning up until nearly 1am, when we were all too exhausted to continue. This is what I woke up to this morning:
And actually, I really didn't think that was too bad for a dinner for 30 people. I emptied out the dishwasher and loaded it up with only glasses, which really cut down on the amount of visible clutter--plates are stackable, so it makes it seem like there's less to do! What made the dishwashing interesting is that, like clockwork, on the chime of 6:00, our garbage disposal broke. So I wound up having to rinse everything into a strainer in the sink and them empty that into the trash instead of happily grinding everything up into the disposal. But oh well, in the scope of other things that have gone wrong, that really was no big deal.
While the dishwasher was running, the General came downstairs to see if he could help, so he and I decided to make a run for the dump. By the time we got done, I was able to do another load of dishes in the dishwasher and then I handwashed all the platters and oversized goodies and got them all stacked. By the time Judy and Lucas surfaced around 10:30, the main things left to do were move furniture and haul things to the shed, and I happily let them do it as my legs and back were KILLING me. I wound up taking a 2 hour nap, which they diligently worked through and by 4:00, the house was in good enough shape that I could sit and work on reading my book.
The party was fun and we really got a lot out of it. It was our historic fifth year, so it was kind of nice that this was the year we'll be in the paper. There wasn't anyone who was there that I would think I wouldn't want back and we are all trying to figure out how to accommodate the people we'd like to add for next year.
I've ultimately decided not to add this event to my "Around the World in 80 Plates" goal because I didn't make anything I didn't already know how to make, so keep your eyes peeled for something new and fun from Eastern Europe in the hopefully not too distant future (maybe around Easter). This will be made even easier by the kind generosity of Elizabeth, who thoughtfully provided me with a brand new Wusthof paring knife so I can no longer claim that my knives all suck. When I opened her gift, I sat on the half of the couch we had put in the kitchen and just stared at it adoringly. So THANK YOU, Elizabeth and Groom! It was so, so thoughtful of you and I look forward to using it soon to create something fabulous!
So with that, Christmas is officially over in the Kosior household. Everything is packed up and put away for another year. It feels good to get back to a simpler existence with all the furniture back where it belongs, but also I enjoy knowing I'll get to do it all again in only 9 more months and in the meantime have some fun things planned. 2009 is off to a great start!