Tiny Food Party

Scene: Cocktail party. Room full of people trying to schmooze and network with each other. Me, standing in a corner, balancing my drink on a ledge or in my arms, avoiding eye contact with everyone while trying to eat a cheesesteak to prevent the instant drunk that comes after drinking on an empty stomach. Enter: Tiny Food Party, a book that has changed every party I’ll ever host again.

Bite-size versions of large foods are the best for cocktail parties or any situation where there isn’t enough room for all guests to eat with a knife and fork, and are way more substantial than baby carrots. We’re not talking pigs in a blanket, here. But I was still apprehensive about throwing a party out of a book based on small food because: 1) I don’t like following recipes 2) I was afraid my guests would be hungry 3) I was afraid my guests would eat too much and not get drunk (frequent problem among my group) and 4) I was afraid I’d spend the entire party in the kitchen cooking.

And you know, I feel like, in general, the reason people don’t use recipes or cookbooks more is because the recipes are long and involved, and always involve a list of ingredients that either a) I do not have or b) I don’t feel like buying for one recipe. Also? The thing about entertaining is that I like to actually *enjoy* my parties and talk to my guests, instead of being stuck in the kitchen pumping out food and carefully plating things, using recipes I am unfamiliar with. I know my friends love my food, but they love my company even more. So when I was planning my own tiny food party, I did a few things that I believe are successful to any entertaining situation.

1)    Know your recipes: I used each recipe as a general guideline. Why? Because it was easier for me to make my standard potato salad than use their recipe.

2)    Know yourself: Many of the recipes had to be modified for drunk cooking, because hello, I’m not saying sober at my own party.

3)    Know your guests: I took the bacon out of everything. Sacrilege? Maybe. This book is absolutely wonderful in that everything includes bacon (from the BBQ sauce to the muffins), but I had a non-pork eater in the house. She’d never want me to modify my cooking for her, but then she just wouldn’t eat and would end up a drunk mess. Turns out she still ended up slapping my new boyfriend across the face, but whatever, at least it wasn’t my fault.

To test the real functionality of these recipes, appetizers and dinner were served without seating and with minimal utensils. The menu (the photos get worse as the night progressed, deal with it):

Tiny Apple Cider Sangria

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Drunk Cooking: The Best Fall Cider

I call this “cooking” because a pot and a burner are involved, but this is really mixology.

Situation: I wasn”t sure what to do. One of my party guests had brought a kick-ass apple cider, and everyone wanted more long after it was gone. I stood in my kitchen while the guy I am dating encouraged me to step away from the stove and my female guests encouraged me to try to make more. I looked at the clock: 7:30pm. We”re all wasted. Do we need more alcohol? Obviously I am too drunk if I”m even asking myself that question. I looked in the fridge: apple cider. I looked at the liquor shelf: at least 8 bottles. Enough to work with.

I poured a gallon (or s0) of this apple cider into a big pot and set the flame to medium (I think).  Then went in about a cup or two of the only dark rum I had: Appleton Estate VX, leftover from my Jamaica trip. I just stared at the pot, that had to be fine, right? The man friend, realizing he had no say in if I continued cooking, somehow had the idea that we needed something else in this cider. He thrust a bottle of Fireball Whisky in my hands.

Fireball cinnamon whisky is suddenly all the rage (at least in my neighborhood in Philadelphia) and it seems most people think it”s a “new” product. But let me tell you how many times my parents drove our family to the so we could purchase Fireball by the case (not kidding) in the early 2000s. Turns out, it”s also the perfect addition to apple cider since it gives the cider a strong cinnamon flavor without being too sweet. Also, more alcohol.

The Best Easy Fall Cider

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An Easy Way to Eat in Costume: Teensy Pumpkin Pies

“Tiny,” “miniature,” and “small” are probably words you’d never find in a description of ES anything (or ML anything, for that matter). Under normal circumstances, when it comes to food, I’d never recommend downsizing—growing up with an Armenian mother and grandmother meant the house was full of food all the time. Five people are coming for dinner? Better get enough for 20, you never know. Or if you’re at my parents parties…better get double, because everyone’s going to want to eat another meal after they’re drunk.

When I don’t have a big enough portion size on my plate, I get a “That’s ALL you’re eating?” from both parents, plus an intervention about anorexia (come on). However, in my opinion, there’s one exception to this huge rule. Have you ever been to a party (or more specifically, a networking/media event) where you’re given full-size portions of something, and supposed to eat them with a fork, while holding your (full-size) drink and mingling at the same time? Me too, and it drives me effing crazy, to the point where I’d rather not eat instead of not enjoy my food. Which more often than not results in a very drunk ML.

Luckily, Teri Lyn Fisher and Jenny Park have found a solution to this problem with their new book, Tiny Food Party. To test the functionality, I’ll be holding my own Tiny Food Party later this month (recap to follow, if I’m sober enough to remember any of it). As an added bonus, Teri Lyn and Jenny have given me some tiny Halloween recipes, for a flawless (or just fun), cake-pop free Halloween. How are you supposed to eat pie with a fork in a costume, anyway?

Teensy Pumpkin Pies

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Burns My Bacon: Encouraging Cheating

Judging from my friends’ and family’s pantries, I know packaged foods are really all the rage. I know “semi-homemade” solutions are even more popular. I’m only knocking these products a little bit, because you know, if a pre-made sauce gets you to actually cook a meal instead of ordering take-out, so be it. But you know what I don’t like? I don’t like the commercials for these products shitting all over the idea of cooking.

I was laying in bed last night watching re-runs of Friends when I saw a commercial for Progresso’s new product, Recipe Starters. Except in the commercial, some woman is trying to fire-roast her own tomatoes (with a blow torch, but whatever), and some chef-like character comes along and LAUGHS AT HER FOR DOING SO, asking sarcastically “Do you churn your own butter?” and hands her a can of fire-roasted tomato sauce.  You know what, bitch? I make my own mayo. Leave the poor girl alone! She’s alone, single, and if she wants to fire-roast her own tomatoes with a blow torch, LET HER!! She has the time, so get the fuck out of her (my) kitchen. Don’t make fun of her (me) just because she’s doing something she doesn’t have to do. She wants to make her own damn sauce from scratch; yes its difficult, yes its time consuming, but how does this affect you? That’s right, it doesn’t. LET HER DO WHAT SHE WANTS.

I know not everyone wants to cook, but for fuck’s sake, don’t shit on those of us who do, or those of us who are trying. Don’t discourage them. I miss the days when boxed dinners were marketed as alternatives to fast-food and take-out, not alternatives to from-scratch cooking.

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Endless Ice Cream: I’ll Take a Waiver with That

No offense to unsightly and my magnitude of sweet loving friends…but I really just don’t like ice cream that much. It hurts my teeth, it gives me a headache from all the sugar, and I feel like vomiting after I eat it every time (lactard). I’m not saying I don’t enjoy it once in awhile, but normally, not what I go for.

HOWEVER. A few weeks ago when I walked by this ice cream shop in Rehoboth Beach, DE while waiting to sober up from lunch at Dogfish Head so I could drive home, I spotted something interesting. Not only does this unsuspecting ice cream place have some weirdly named flavors, but in order to eat Ghost Pepper ice cream, you have to sign a waiver. I’ve had savory ice cream and spicy ice cream before but…waiver worthy? I read the Ghost Pepper ice cream description:

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The ES College Drinking Dictionary

The last month was back-to-school time for a lot of college students, including a slew of newly 21-year-olds (and their underage friends with fake IDs), who have infiltrated my favorite neighborhood bar with their mid-week miniskirts and five-inch heels. After my dad told me about a new revolutionary way of taking shots (ice luge) last month, I realized it is my duty to educate parents and elders on what the hell their kids are doing at college, and more importantly, the “cool” terms to use while discussing it:

  • shotgun: stabbing a hole in a beer can with a sharp object (usually a house key),  to suck the beer out of it quickly. Best done outside, or if you’re underage, in a bathtub.
  • keg stand: hand stand (don’t worry – your friends will hold you up) on top of a keg while drinking out of the spigot.
  • bankers: one of the cheapest, drinkable bottom shelf brands of liquor. Sold in plastic jugs. Enjoyed ALWAYS with a mixer of some sort. “Enjoyed” is relative.
  • jello shot: jello made with liquor instead of water (or in addition to, depending on strength) spooned out into cups (or cut into jello gigglers) and served at a party.
  • beirut: another name for beer pong. Don’t use this.
  • civil war: a variation of beer pong that includes three people per team instead of the traditional two. Each team member has their own triangle of cups. Instead of taking turns,  shooting is a complete free-for-all and once a player’s cups are knocked out, they are done playing. Used as an excellent pregaming tool. Not recommended while already drunk (injuries can occur while diving for balls).
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Endless Road Trip Germany: Joey’s Pizza

There are few things I love more than pizza and weird food combinations, and Germany has a plethora of both. Forget the schnitzel; you can buy personal pizzas at many of the bakeries on the street or most notably the places in the train stations, the same way you’d walk up and buy a pretzel. They even have pizza vending machines if you’re in a hurry or if the stores are closed. My last visit to Germany in 2010 yielded this weird pizza discovery when I saw thunfisch pizza (TUNA PIZZA), but when your best friend moves there and you go to visit for your birthday, things get wild.

After hearing endless stories about Joey’s Pizza, a chain that specializes in weird pizza, I immediately put it on my “must eat” list for my short, 6 day visit.  I know we have some pretty crazy pizza here in America, but we don’t order it or want it enough to keep an entire weird pizza CHAIN in business. I’m not sure if Joey’s thinks that this pizza is normal, or if they market it as being outrageous  (always hard to tell, with Germans). It was my first experience with Joey’s, but not my friend’s, who orders Joey’s regularly as a hangover cure.  Unfortunately they didn’t have her favorite seasonal pizza (Carbonara, topped with bacon and spaghetti), so we decided on three others:

1. Pizza Bombay

chicken, pineapple, curry sauce (still not really sure what this was)

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