Two days removed from the birthday BBQ (that I annually throw for myself) and this could have been my most successful yet at my house (surpassed only by my big 50th birthday BBQ that I rented a pavilion at the park to use, so big it took two blog posts to relate – this one and this one).
First, the windup:
– My birthdays BBQs are really for me. We’ll explore this as we go on.
– I injured my back somewhere during setup week; timing could not be worse. I still managed to set up the patio and do all the cooking and serving. Looking back, I’m not sure how.
– The day of the BBQ was the hottest day of the year so far. With no breeze.
Next, the pitch:
– I generally run right up against it when it comes to having the food ready on time for arrivals. This year, I was “threatened” by several early arrivals. Fortunately, none actually showed up early.
– Though I bought 2 racks of spare ribs for Chinese style ribs and 3 racks of St. Louis cut for BBQ, I only used two of the three St. Louis racks. Overcooking is a recurring issue for me.
– When they were finished (and I had filched two tiny end ribs to taste), I felt I had made the finest batch of BBQ ribs in my grilling career. I was sad to actually offer them to my guests. I did reserve an extra amount of my BBQ rub to use on that lone remaining uncooked rack, though.
– My new food processor came in ultra handy in saving me time chopping up vegetables and especially onions, to be added to my all-day cooking baked beans and extra chopped onions for the dogs.
– The above was even more useful as I had already sliced open my finger using my still-new chef’s knife. Many band-aids were consumed in the process of the birthday BBQ.
– Painful as the set up was (all my party furniture is in a storeroom at the front of the house and the patio is in the back), I had everything ready well in advance of the first arrivals.
– My elder niece arrived first to get a table and stereo I was holding for her for her new apartment.
– My long-time buddy arrived next and actually helped her carry it to her car as my back made me incapable of lifting.
– My Dad and Stepmom arrived next and actually stayed for a great length. They arrived with my sister (though separately). More on that later.
– Then came my next door neighbors and then some more friends (4 generations worth).
– Finally settled in, I brought the burgers and dogs out to the grill while the rest of the pre-cooked food warmed in the oven.
Goodbye Mr. Spalding:
– Interestingly, despite the suffocating heat, everyone ate outside. That rarely happens.
– The Chinese ribs, burgers and dogs went fast. The corn, baked beans and mac & cheese also were popular and the broccoli was a good add for the little ones.
– Surprisingly, most people stayed away from the BBQ ribs because they believed they were spicy. I said nothing, hoping that trend would continue.
– The chili had a similar impact. Apparently I have solved my fire problem with my chili. My second batch seems to have properly destroyed the stomach lining of those who tried it.
– For the first time ever, the group finished off my home-brewed iced tea. Usually, the sodas and teas go half-finished. I attribute this to the fact that it was awfully hot that day and no one brought beer this time. The apple juice I had in the fridge came in handy for the little ones.
– Dad spent a considerable amount of time talking with everyone. My Dad is the type of guy who can strike up a conversation with anyone and is your basic totally down-to-earth sort of guy. Everyone likes Dad and I was super pleased he spent time with my “family” of friends.
– My Stepmom comes from a European upbringing and is infinitely more reserved, but even she spent some time in conversation. It helped to have children around (6 and 2) as she just melts around little ones.
– I actually had time to sit, but it was more painful to sit down than stand. Go figure.
Rounding the bases:
– There were two cakes at the party, a home-baked pineapple turnover cake and a Publix-bought vanilla buttercream icing cake (my favorite). Even better, most of both cakes were eaten. By others. My waistline thanks them.
– My sister made two take-home packages (her husband and my younger niece) and my elder niece made one for her boyfriend. To paraphrase the old joke, “Take my food, please!”
– For the first time in a while, there were also gifts. I usually never get gifts at my birthday BBQ. I got Cadbury creme eggs (which I was unable to find during Easter clearance), movie box candy, a gift card (to go see movies and sneak in my candy) and lotto scratch off cards (totaling $26 in winnings!). Plus some very funny cards.
– Leftovers were reasonable. The beans, corn and mac & cheese were gone. There were maybe 5 Chinese ribs left, 4 dogs and 3 burgers (no partridges were harmed in the preparing of this BBQ).
– Best results were most of the chili and a lot of the BBQ ribs remained. Hoo Hah!
– No one was injured during the BBQ and I wasn’t further injured, which is a major improvement.
The final score:
It turned out to be a near perfect party for me. Sure, I do all the setup, cooking and cleaning, but the important thing is I get to be surrounded by my friends and family on my birthday. How many people get that lucky?
To have my Dad and Stepmom stay for most of the day was a special bonus. And the leftovers, especially the ribs and chili, were both manageable and my preference, if I got to choose.
This birthday BBQ comes out as a grand slam!