Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam
Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Christmas Chaos: Trout Cookies, Buffalo Burgers, Raw Eggs, Christmas Lights, and Golf

Ellen, here it is.

We got the tree up and decorated, but it took three days in between school and our many other commitments.

I'm the room mom for Steven's fifth grade class, and along with that title comes the responsibility for planning his Christmas party (I guess "Holiday Party" is the politically correct term these days).

For a Christmas/Holiday party, I would expect to be doing something like baking and decorating Christmas cookies, or baking Christmas cookies and taking them in for the kids to decorate, that sort of thing.

But no. Each child in Steven's class was assigned a different U.S. state for a class project they've been working on for the past 6 weeks or so. So, instead of the controversy of a Christmas party, his class had a state party.

Steven's state was Montana. For the state party, each child was to bring in 32 individual servings of a food that represents their state.

It's a challenge to bring food in for this bunch under any circumstances. First of all, they're kids, and a culturally and medically diverse group, vegetarians and severe nut allergies, to name a couple.

Steven wanted to bring in trout, and as much as I would have liked to humor him, I said no to 32 individual servings of trout. Smoked trout would have been good, but I couldn't find it. I was leaning toward finding trout-shaped cookie cutters and making trout cookies.

Doug said trout cookies were a copout so I turned the task of coming up with a good Montana food to him. And he did a great job, buffalo burgers!

We could only find frozen buffalo patties, so he thawed them and re-formed them into mini-burgers. He sliced baguettes and used them for the mini-burger buns. The kids loved them, the vegetarians didn't eat them, but the other kids went back for seconds and thirds and it was the only food item at the party that was completely finished.

Sean and his house

I'm not the room mother for Sean's class, so that party should have been easy, just bring in a treat and show up to watch.

But the room mother for his class was trying to arrange for the kids to make gingerbread houses and decorate them, and I've done this before, for Steven's second grade class.

Luis and his house

I got roped into this one in a big way. The secret to building gingerbread houses is royal icing, a tasteless mix of powdered sugar and egg whites, that, when dry, has the consistency and strength of concrete. Royal icing is used to glue the house parts together and then to glue the candy on the houses.

The problem is the raw whites. Not safe for kids to eat these days, but the icing made with pasteurized or powdered whites isn't the same thing at all, not as strong and much runnier and hard to work with, not really suitable for holding the house structure together.

The room mother was overwhelmed by the task, so I volunteered to make all the icing, 8 lbs of powdered sugar to make 2 batches of frosting, one with raw eggs and one with powdered whites.

Sean's best friend Drew

I put all the houses together two days before with the help of another mother, 26 houses made of graham crackers and glued together with royal icing.

Then we put all the powdered egg white icing into individual ziploc bags, one for each child. We snip the corner and they squirt the icing out of the bag and on to the house or into their mouths.

Sariah and her house

It was fun, but way more work than I had time for last week. This week the kids are off, for us its a relief.

We celebrated on Friday after school by going to the Holiday of Lights, held every year at the Del Mar Racetrack. They fill the infield with every manner of lighted decorations in a southern California style, golfing polar bears, Santas lying on the beach, Santa on the back of a racehorse, in addition to more traditional arrangements.

For the bargain price of $12, you can drive around the track and look at the lights. They even have a radio transmitter so when you tune your car radio to the proper station, you get to hear really bad quality monophonic Christmas music. It's a Christmas tradition that even we can't figure out why we go back for.

Notice the inflatable chimney with the Santa that pops in and out

We have a few neighbors who go in for Christmas lights in a really big way, these houses are a block away from our house.

Steven and Sean played a two-day golf tournament Monday and Tuesdat. Gift-wise we're not even close to being ready for Christmas (we just started yesterday), I haven't done cards yet, and time is running out.

But that's all right. We are just so happy to be here and are full of things to be thankful for this year.

We hope you're enjoying your Christmas season too.

- Kathleen


Anonymous futurefarms said...

Thanks for the fabulous Christmas Cheer....I was one of those room Mothers that spent hours working on parties and spending time at the Elementary school..PTA President and the whole nine that my daughter is in the 7th grade I am having withdrawal...:-) Have a wonderful Christmas and you are all in our prayers....The Hennings

December 21, 2005 11:21 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

What a great idea for the party, but so much work. Buffalo burgers was a great idea. Your pictures were great! Pretty lights and the one of the boys on top is really cute. Handsome boys!

Merry Christmas to you all! *HUGS*

December 21, 2005 4:55 PM  

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