Friday, 28 November 2014

The Blessings. The Food. The People. The Total Blackout.

A month back, we simply came out with a date. We were thinking of either the 28th of November or the 27th November. It's either a Thursday or a Friday as Monday to Wednesday are my working days for this school holiday and I'm not willing to cancel any of my three days of work. The kitchen crew finally settled for 27th November. Two days before that only mi mama realized that the day we picked coincide with Thanksgiving Day. So, just make this a Thanksgiving Day celebration minus the turkey and birthday celebrations. A celebration requires good food and lots of guests to help out with the food. It will be very sad if we have tonnes of food with no one to eat.

Let me write down what I have in mind initially. On Wednesday itself, I did not feel the 'heat' and pressure of hosting a party with plus minus 50 people in the guest list. I don't know how we managed to invite 50 people when our house couldn't contain so many people. Last year's party we had 43 people and the house almost break apart with not enough seats. Amount of food wasn't something to be worried about. So, this year we made some preparations for number of chairs. We ferry those chairs from two other houses. Then, that's it. I can't get myself to start with any preparation. Only one of my students would understand how my mind actually works. This is called the last minute syndrome where only procrastinators who are also perfectionists could understand. It's not for the faint-hearted. Trust me, the heart would stop if you're not a last minute person who could dance with the intense pressure as the clock ticks.
There were to be one cake and two pies chosen by the birthday girls. I was so lazy I refused to read the instructions on how to make the best chocolate fudge cake that was chosen by my pineapple. "Pineapple" is her pet name. It's too long to explain. So, since my precious is done with her SPM examination, I handed the baton to her. She managed our lunch on Wednesday and she baked the cake. The decoration was made on Thursday itself, a couple of hours before the party started. While I haven't even come out with the food menu I have so many other things to consider. I ended up sitting in front of my computer and checking out maps of Penang Island. Finally, I pushed myself to the market and asked the market people to settle for me everything. Most of them know me by now. I can go to the market with not a single cent with me, yet they will let me cart the goods home. Thank you for the trust.
One of the girls, part of the kitchen crew and also my translator for anything written in Chinese language, requested for a lemon meringue pie. I have no talent in making a pie let alone a lemon meringue pie. But it's her request so I will make her one. I started feeling a little bit of the pressure on Thursday morning itself. According to the recipe from the book, I can see that the amount needed to make the pastry wouldn't be enough. What I didn't know was I ended up multiplying the amount of pastry to 5 times more. I totally lose my cool as I just sat there making more and more pastry shell. Finally, when it's done, I had to make the filling and I still have another pie to make. The lemon meringue turned out perfectly. She has tasted one before and she said the taste was horrible that's why I need to make her one to prove that lemon meringue pie tasted good. Actually, I should take the perfect photo when it just came out from the oven but I did not do so because I was too busy. When it was still hot, I tried removing the pie from the pan and the result was it broke into two but we managed to plaster it back temporarily and shove the whole thing into the refrigerator. When the pie tore into two in the middle, my heart and hers just got torn into two as well. This was a last minute photo before I hack the whole thing and send them out. Finally, we said this was the best. Our conclusion was anything that was ugly and spoiled in the appearance tasted the best~! Just like the banana custard cake which I smashed accidentally but we ended up eating it ourselves. That's the best banana cake I ever bake but I was too ashamed to send it out during the long table dinner event.
The lemon meringue pie was forced out of the tin to give way to the fruit flan pie. I couldn't find in my memory box what kind of pie shell that she wanted. I searched through my thousand of recipes but I couldn't find them. I settled for the chocolate pie shell. The shell didn't look that thick at first but after baking them, *sigh* the shell became fat. God knows better than us. Because the chocolate shell became fat, there were less room for the cream cheese filling. Thank God for that because I ran out of cream cheese. I wanted to use only 300g at first but my instinct asked me to use up all 500g. It was just enough to fill up the empty shell. Thank God that the shell expanded to reduce the empty space. So, from the beginning till the end, God and His angels and the Holy Spirit is/are with us. That we simply cannot deny.
Mini McJu was assembled an hour before the party started. My energy level was all time low. Couldn't find the time to recharge my battery. My plan was to get everything done by 3pm then I could roll on the bed. Then, go downstairs at 6pm for the final shot of barking out orders. I'm gonna wear something nice and just sit there and entertain guests. I only managed to do only two things. That's to take a shower and wear something nice. I ended up having to put on the apron to cover my nice-self. My kitchen crew had time to play water balloons last year but this year, only the arrangement of tables and chairs used up all their energy. They went up for shower and a 5-minute nap to keep themselves awake. Looks like age is catching up on everyone.

God is good~! Auntie Suzie came the earliest and after picking the blue pea flowers in the garden for herself, she came in to help me with getting the mini McJu patties done. Then, my kitchen crew aka my translator and also the birthday girl plus mi mama started with the assembling of mini McJu. Without them, I don't think no one will ever see the mini McJu's being served. Everything is only in my head. They always helped to make my ideas came into reality. 

In the photo, there's an aunt carrying a bag of coconuts. Actually we had steamboat. I prepared the soup base earlier but another soup base was only pandan coconut water. In the morning, I bought 10 coconuts and the uncle gave me 3 for free. We invited the uncle and his wife over to the house for dinner. Uncle Wayne, the coconut seller, is rather a sporting one to come to a stranger's house for dinner. I was more surprised and touched by his generosity. That's how God blessed us when we blessed others. The moment Uncle Wayne and his wife walked into the house with more pandan coconuts, trust me, if I'm not that busy, I would crumple to the ground and cry my heart out. I am really touched by their gesture. If there's someone walking into the house at the same moment with a bag of gold, I will ask the person with the bag of gold to get out of my house. Those coconuts are like gold to me because I don't have enough coconut water to be the base for refill later. The extras are what I really needed. And I had to disturb the uncle while he's enjoying the food to slaughter the coconuts outside my house for me. I don't know how to even slaughter a chicken so don't expect me to open a coconut. I know how to open a durian with a knife and my bare hands but that's a different story altogether. Uncle Wayne, thank you... I'm sorry I didn't snap a photo of you.
The first thing I did when I wake up was making the dough for the mini buns. Smart me totally forget to crack an egg and when we opened the bread maker to remove the dough, the surprise we got was priceless. The dough was as dry as the desert dunes. We were contemplating on salvaging the dried dough but in the end, I made a new one while mi mama went to take a nap. The small lettuce and cheese were cut by L.S.Y. I did half of the deep-frying only then Auntie Suzie took over while I disappeared myself to God knows where. I have no recollection of such memory. I think I was trying to play hostess by welcoming the guests. I was telling them where to grab the food from when they cut me off by telling me that my girls have told them everything in detail. Ah, that's why I went back to the kitchen because I was not needed outside.
These are the people who made every big party a great success. From being my kitchen crew last year, where all of us didn't have a proper celebration as we were stuck in the kitchen all the time until people left. This year, they were really good sports. Those two in the middle shouldn't be working because this party was to celebrate their birthdays. And my pineapple shouldn't be working as well, because it's also her birthday. In the end, they stood there from beginning till the end without having a seat at all just to make sure that the party went smoothly. They manned the grill and became the dumpling makers. I guessed none of them had a proper dinner. They stood there eating and munching whatever that they managed to make extra for themselves. Without any of them, I will not have the energy and manpower to throw a party. They did more things than I do. I just make sure that there's food. So, without any of us nothing can be done. I love you all to the max. Once you all are no longer around, you can be very sure that's the time I stop throwing parties. Unless we can find the next generation to take over while we sit and enjoy ourselves. We should have proper celebration next time. Let's go out and eat one day~! Then, none of us need to work ourselves like donkeys.
You see, pity my kitchen crew, that's how they eat. No proper place for them. I think that's why most people would prefer catering so that they don't have to do anything but just eat and be served by others. We are all picky eaters. Yes, I raised up picky eaters who wouldn't simply settle for any simple food. 
This is my precious and my pineapple's classmate. They just graduated from high school so they are now ex-classmates. This girl walked into the house and gave us THE BIGGEST SURPRISE~!
A total blackout. I was in the kitchen with mi mama and everyone groaned,"OOOOOOOOOOOOOooOOOOOOO." My heart sank right to the bottom. Blackout. Just our house or the whole area? My neighbour is at our house. There's electricity everywhere but only our house. So, that girl walked in and the fuse was completely burnt. I thought people would start taking their bags and leave the house as it's really hot and we were in complete darkness. I was thinking how could this happen? It's only natural that we picked someone to blame. And that girl walked in and the house went completely pitch black. The grill and the oven and the steamboats were electricity dependent. 
They were such sporting people. Everyone whipped out their smartphones and started switching on the torch lights. No one walked out of the house and said goodbye. We managed to get one of our students' father to come over to save us from the darkness. The first one we called didn't pick up the phone. Whenever you needed these repairmen badly, they would not answer your calls. Thank God, another one answered and left the house immediately to rescue us. He didn't charge us exorbitantly. He's from the same church but in a different service. While waiting for him, I tried to lighten things up but I'm not a stand-up comedian, so nothing much could be done. I ended up pushing all three cakes out with all sporting people singing the birthday song three times for three different people. When all was done, the electricity has been restored by making a by-pass with wires.
Thank you, Alex's dad. If he refused to come and rescue us, I will have to force the neighbour to open up her house and we shift over to her house. We should just hack the wall in between then it will be very spacious and I might invite 100 people for future parties. Hahahhahaha.... actually while preparing everything and feeling all the pressure, I was very sure this would be the last party. But I don't think my kitchen crew liked the idea of this being the last party. We were hoping for a new generation of youngsters to help out.

My only plan that worked out perfectly. I planned to dress up nicely because all the time when I hosted parties and long table dinners, I had no time to change up. But I ended up in the kitchen most of the time. I wanted to be the photographer for my own event but having the camera around the neck was such a major nuisance. I couldn't even work properly and I was afraid that my camera would ended up swimming in a pot of soup or my camera would have a swell-time licking the cakes or ended up being barbecued. So, I'm pretty upset now that I don't have most of the photos that I wanted. I missed out taking photos of everyone who came. Is that another reason why people would rather hire photographers for home events as well?

That handsome guy walked into the kitchen to help out when the current went off. And he's been a really great helper. That's my ex-student and we were just 7 years apart. You can imagine when I started working. He's not the first batch of students. He's from the 5th batch. He saw the stark contrast between his generation and the generation now. I used to have only boys in the class. Now, I have mostly girls. I never half a balanced gender class. He worked as a restaurant manager until recently as he felt that the hours spent in the restaurant is snuffing him of his freedom. Good to leave, eh... if he's still in the restaurant, he wouldn't be here in my house.
I did one McJu for this guy, a future dentist, who has been craving for it. One only. McJu wants to retire already. I'm very tired.
The high school graduates. My girls are picky eaters and they chose only their good friends to be with them in the house. Choose your friends well, girls. You don't need a hundred or a thousand. Sometimes, you only need one true friend. May the Lord be with you all. Walk in His path and I can assure you all that, none of you would be lost in the rat race.

Through this party, I learned that working solo in the kitchen can kill a person. Thank you for being such wonderful people. Mi mama is the best helper. The hubby has been wonderful in running around to get things done. The rest of my kitchen crew will always be my kitchen crew. I will not let anyone to be around me in my kitchen. Don't worry, nobody will take over your place in my heart and my kitchen. 

Secondly, thank you for being such good friends to me and my hubby for not running home when the electricity cut off for almost 30 minutes. Thank you for staying around in the hot and dark house and not complaining at all. 

Lastly, thank you for coming. The party will not be a party without any of you. I will try to be my own photographer next round to make sure I didn't miss out any photos. Next time, we will all plan something better. 

PS. I don't have most of the food photos. I did not even know what the grill station prepared for the guests. I only heard that they can order the set. What's in the set, huh? How come I don't know anything huh? They have this number system where they need to get a number and wait till their number is called. Only selected people are being served on the table. That, don't ask me how also. You need to have personal relationship with them manning the stations. This is the best party we've every had even with all the hiccups. I still want to sit with everyone and enjoy the meal. I have yet to do that~!!! 

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