by Lisa

As Ella remarked last week,  while I was making meatballs and spaghetti, and red sauce and a chocolate layer cake, which came after the 3 dozen cookies made for his class, and after the schoolday breakfast of pancakes, but before the Wizard Party attended by 23 five-year-old boys and a few girls, “Birthdays are a lot of work for moms.”

She is right. Because Professor Mumblemore was about to leave for his European tour,  we I had two events to put together in 3 days. It was not fun. Harry Finn had a blast, especially when he was impersonating Keith Richards.

Or Harry  Potter.

The food at the wizard party was very basic: hot pretzels and apples for snack upon the 5 pm arrival; pizza; ice cream cake.  The boys and two girls were much more interested in the magic than the food. And honestly, the party was pretty magical, even if it was very hastily thrown together, and I didn’t have quite enough food for all of the parents who stayed to enjoy the festivities. (I found some bottles of wine, some hummus, some pita chips, some salamis….).

The family dinner took more time:  spaghetti and meatballs, red sauce, chard, garlic bread.  My meatballs are slightly different every time I make them, but this time I made them with 1/2 beef and 1/2 fresh sausage, to which I added lots of minced garlic, chopped parsely, bread, milk, an egg, a little salt and pepper. I make them small, bake them until browned, then finish them in the sauce, which this time was a double recipe of Marcella Hazan’s simple red sauce (large can tomatoes + 1 stick butter + 1 onion, halved; simmered together. Remove the onion before serving) made with the tomatoes I roasted and froze at the end of the summer. It was a winning combination. But I was way too exhausted to get a good picture. Below, the boy’s cake for the family party.

There’s something deeply satisfying at seeing your child transported by joy on his birthday. And while this had nothing to do with the food, and almost everything to do with building Hogwarts out of Lego, people needed to be fed, and Finn got to choose the terms, which is a privelege I’m happy to grant him once a year.