There’s no doubt about it that life in the 21st Century is busy and finding time to spend with loved ones can be tricky. I come from a fairly large family and getting everyone together in the same room at the same time takes a fair amount of planning.
So, a few years ago we decided that we would schedule in seasonal family get-togethers that we could all pencil into our calendars so that we had special events to look forward to. One of my brothers hosts a New Year’s Eve party, another brother has us all round for a Halloween bash complete with fireworks display, my sister arranges an Easter Egg Hunt at Tollymore Forest, I hold a post-pantomime Christmas party and my parents host a garden party in the summer.
This summer, Mum decided that her annual garden party was going to be slightly different and she sent out the invite way back in April for us all to attend ‘The Great Family Bake Off’ on 11 July.
Everyone was asked to bring a sweet and savoury dish and to keep what they had made secret (boxes were provided so that everyone’s looked the same on arrival – Mum really thinks of everything. I think it comes from years of raising 5 children!)
On the day Mum and Dad decorated their garden with colourful streamers and bunting so that it looked really inviting. I was so impressed with the amount of effort they had put in to make the day special for everyone that I just had to take pictures to share on my blog.
Mum and Dad love the fact that they have 7 grandsons and will tell anyone who will listen about just how great their grandchildren are. So, ensuring the kids weren’t left out of the Great Family Bake Off Event they had prepared a Sweet Shop especially for them – complete with little handmade ration books just for the children to enjoy. The boys were all in awe and loved watching the clock for the shop opening times and then queuing up for their treats and ration book stamps.
The grown ups all participated in the competition by bringing two dishes each – one sweet and one savoury for everyone to sample. The amount of time and work that had gone into the bakes was evident (we are a competitive bunch!)
Here are a few snaps of the savoury dishes…
Filo pastry filled with asparagus and feta cheese
Filo pastry tart filled with sundried tomatoes and roasted vegetables
Lemon, dill and feta bread
Potato and sundried tomato swirls
Vegetable curry pie
Vegetable samosas with tomato salsa
Everything tasted delicious and everyone agreed that it was extremely difficult to score them. We had to give our favourite 3 points, our second choice 2 points and our third selection 1 point.
After eating so much it was time to enjoy a glass of wine and some chit-chat before the tasting of the sweet dishes began…
Plum cake with fresh cream
Big Hero 6 cupcakes
Raspberry and blueberry tartlets
Raspberry and dark chocolate blondies
Upside down pineapple cake
Again, it was a real challenge to pick a favourite, and we all scored our top 3 with great difficulty.
While the clean up operation took place the grown ups moved to the ‘Beer Garden’ while the children played on the bouncy castle we had hired for the day. They just love playing with their cousins!
As the evening light faded the children cosied up in sleeping bags inside a huge tent one of my brother’s had pitched and hooked up a television and DVD player to so that the children could enjoy some quiet time.
We all sat around chatting and laughing for hours, wrapped in blankets and snacking on the bake-off leftovers and talking about our ideas for next year’s Great Family Bake Off.
I have to say that I am so grateful for these planned family events. I look forward to them so much, counting down the days on my calendar as they get closer. In a busy world the time together feels so precious.
Mum and Dad created some wonderful memories for us all at this year’s summer party so it was only fitting that Mum actually won The Great Family Bake Off with her Plum Cake – which was delicious! She was delighted with her trophy and bouquet of flowers and we were all so pleased for her. We might even enter her for the actual Great British Bake Off!