When it came down to planning a small celebration for my daughter Naomi’s first birthday, I knew it had to involve strawberries. You see, ever since she took her first juicy bite of that sweet succulent fruit, it has been her favorite. So, incorporating it into her birthday was a no-brainer. The issue arose when I decided to make our strawberry fest an earth-friendly picnic in the park. No one can control the weather (wouldn’t that be nice), and the only rain we received this week was, of course, the morning of the picnic, so we had to think fast! With the help of fabulous friends, our picnic in the park quickly turned into an indoor affair, complete with all the fixins’ and just as fun and memorable as ever!
Keeping in mind that this was Naomi’s very first birthday and knowing that she will not remember a second of it, I wanted to keep it small and intimate – nothing too over-the-top but still reflecting our personalities. Full of thoughtful lovelies (think vintage finds and Earth’s fresh, spring bounty), we were able to create a sweet get-together for our sweet girl regardless of the rain. Since I am constantly thinking of ways to limit our impact on this beautiful planet of ours, I knew this party would be no different. Instead of using unnecessary paper plates and plastic utensils, we took it back to the olden days with pretty dishes, fresh and local ingredients, mason jars and passed-down glassware for sipping, and lovely vintage linens (Naomi wore my old yellow dress from when I was a baby complete with my old strawberry bib!). I do declare a Southern Belle is in the making!
Not only is it better for the environment to go green (even if just a little bit), but I find something so pleasurable in rummaging through local flea markets, thrift stores, and farmers markets to find older trinkets and treasures for upcoming shin-digs. Each piece I find tends to tell a story. For instance, the old patchwork quilt we found at Keller’s Flea Market is about as old as dirt, and I can’t help but to think about where those fabrics were used – probably close to a century ago – before they were finally turned into patches for our new quilt. Something so old having a new, repurposed home in our house – how awesome is that? No worries about it getting messed up or dirty, and I was able to support the local economy by shopping in Savannah – even if I wasn’t shopping brand-new. Supporting local businesses and farmers is not only better for the economy, but it is better for the environment too. Just think of the exhaustible natural resources it takes to pick, box, and transport produce from one place to another (pesticides, anyone?). By supporting local farmers and buying goods locally, I’m able to reduce my carbon footprint while enjoying delectable, organic produce from a familiar farm and a familiar face. What’s not to love about that?
Since I didn’t have to buy anything brand-new for this party, I was able to focus on the good stuff: the menu! To me, something holds more value and is cherished a little bit more when it is homemade, so that’s just what I did! It was all cooked and baked in my kitchen – straight from the farm. The world tastes just a little bit sweeter homemade. Don’t you agree? So let’s get to it. Suzy Homemaker, eat your heart out!
**Although the weather wasn’t very cooperative on the day of the party, we were still able to set up our drink station outside and enjoy good food and fellowship with friends. Isn’t that what it’s all about anyways? ***
The menu: strawberry cake, PB&J wraps, ceviche, guacamole, fruit salad, jello (what one year old doesn’t love jello), strawberry lemonade and sangria!
Strawberry cake – adapted from my grandmother’s recipe:
1.5lbs ripe fresh hulled strawberries sprinkled with sugar
1.5 stick of butter – room temp.
1/4 cup milk
1 Tbs vanilla
2 1/4 C all-purpose flour
2 C sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour two 9” round cake pans.
2. In food processor, puree the strawberries. Place to side.
3. In small bowl, combine all wet ingredients including a little over ½ C of strawberry puree. Save some puree for icing.
4. In mixer bowl, combine dry ingredients after sifting flour, baking powder, and salt.
5. In small increments, mix butter into dry ingredients until moist.
6. Add liquids, a little at a time, until well blended. Pour evenly into pans.
7. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean.
8. Let cool completely on wire rack for 2 hrs before applying icing.
9. I used Paula Deen’s cream cheese frosting and lightly folded in strawberry puree before adding to cake. Yummy!!
Fresh-squeezed Strawberry Lemonade:
1 C water for syrup
1 C sugar
1 C fresh lemon juice
1 C strawberries
3 C cold water
1. Bring water and sugar to boil. Reduce heat. Simmer until sugar dissolves. Stir. Remove from heat. Add to pitcher.
2. In blender, puree strawberries and add to pitcher. Stir.
3. Add lemon juice and cold water to pitcher. Stir. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
4. Serve over ice and enjoy!
Strawberry, Tangelo, and Peach Sangria:
This is one that can be made with whatever fresh fruits you may have in the kitchen. I just so happened to have the above, so that’s what we made! Simply delicious.
2 bottles of red wine (I used a sweet muscadine wine from NC)
1 quart strawberries
1 tangelo, cut into bite-size chunks
1 peach, cut into bite-size chunks
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 C sugar
6oz sparkling water
1. Marinate strawberries in sugar until syrup forms.
2. Pour strawberries in pitcher. Add wine and fruit. Stir.
3. Pour water a few hours before serving. Mix. Chill. Serve!
Although I am only sharing the strawberry recipes right now, I am more than happy to share the others. Feel free to ask, and I hope you enjoy as much as we did! Cheers!
And of course, handmade bloomers for the acrobat!