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Friday, January 15, 2010

Happy 80th Nanna!

I enjoy entertaining friends. Feeding them when they come around, I mean, not tripping down the stairs in front of them or having a perfect bite of food fall off my fork just before getting to my mouth when out for a nice meal together. Having said this, when my Nanna turned 80 last month it was just a little too soon after Mum's birthday extravaganza for me to think about cooking for more than a handful of people without breaking into a cold sweat and getting anticipatory aching feet. I was therefore very happy to hear that Nanna's birthday was going to be held at the Northampton District Bowling Club for a number of reasons - we would not have to prepare and clean a house for the event; we could enjoy bowling club prices for drinks; there might be some homemade jams and conserves on sale; and all the catering would be taken care of by the lovely old dears.

It had been quite a few years between mock chicken sandwiches and freshly made scones for me, so I skipped lunch in order to take full advantage of the bowling club fare on offer during the afternoon party. Skipping lunch would normally be an impossible task for me, but I was actually driving up to Geraldton through lunch time, had only packed some fresh fruit for the journey and didn't fancy a roadhouse cheese sausage or bag of chicken wing dings (I can't see a roadhouse 'treat' filled paper bag without hearing "if the paper turns clear, it's your window to weight gain!" in my head), so it was remarkably easy to pull off.

Just as well, as the old dears clearly knew how to put on a good old fashioned bowling club spread. I was also quite impressed with the restraint they showed with use of parsley garnishes, only going all out with it on the plates of assorted finger sandwiches. Even greater restraint was demonstrated on the doily front - I did not spy a single one!

From the top: chocolate slice, scone halves with cream, finger sandwiches, chocolate covered profiteroles, pumpkin & leek slice, cheese & bacon mini quiches, more profiteroles, lemon meringue slice, more finger sandwiches (with some more parsley) and finally even more profiteroles. 

From the top: vols-au-vent, sponge cake, meat pastries, creamy pink lamington things, date slice, party eggs, little boys (one about to meet his demise), and finger sandwiches (some with a little bit of crust still left...quick, cover those ones up with some extra parsley)

Cheese & bacon quiche, mock chicken sandwich triangles, pumpkin & leek slice, finger sandwiches and a couple of saucy little boys

 Cream-filled profiterole, half a lemon meringue cupcake, lemon meringue slice, creamy pink lamington bite

Nanna's birthday cake was made by the resident family cake maker, my Aunty R. We have quite a large family, and when my round of cousins were going through our 18th and 21st years, R was pumping out seemingly endless batches of cakes, decorated with all manner of fondant creations and sometimes fresh roses from her impressive garden. I have memories of stealing the birthday candles off my much older cousin's 21st cake to nibble on the icing she used to adhere them to the cake board, and thinking I was so sneaky until I was given away by my black stained mouth.

Nanna's birthday fruit cake, complete with freshly picked roses and icing-adhered candles (using non-giveaway white icing)

Now, I can't comment on the state of the men's, but the ladies toilet in a bowling club is always an impressive place, particularly when compared to the toilets in your standard pub. They are always very clean and tidy (spick and span, if you will), there is always a spacious room in which ladies may leave their belongings and hang their hats and coats, and a place to sit should you need to have a quiet moment away from the riffraff of the drinking area outside or if you have found yourself to be a little worked up over a particularly tense round of bingo. I also noted with interest within these particular toilets that one of the metal hand towels dispensers had an inscribed dedication to a deceased member. I can only assume that the more standard dedication objects had already been bagsed, but luckily there is a second un-inscribed dispenser in there should anyone else need to dedicate something.

Sitting area of the women's toilets in the Northampton District Bowling Club, overlooked by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

A great time was had by all as we celebrated our much loved Nanna's birthday with her, and I'm looking forward to her 90th birthday so we can do it all over again. Happy birthday Nanna! Thank you for all the tea towels, crocheted coathangers and homemade fig jam over the years I've been lucky to know you, and here's to many more years of telling it like it is and making the world's best scones.


Evelyne@CheapEthnicEatz January 15, 2010 at 12:14 PM  

What? no doilies? that is a shame. Looks like a great feats. Can we get the recipe for the pumpkin & leek slice? Happy Birthday Nana!

Iron Chef Shellie January 15, 2010 at 1:25 PM  

awww Happy Birthday Nanna!

Looks like a lovely spread. Gotta love when old ladies get together and put on an old fashioned spread of scones and sangas!
... and as evelyne said... where's the doilies?!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella January 15, 2010 at 6:32 PM  

Aww Happy Birthday to your Nanna! That looks like the best spread of food! Love the crustless sandwiches, slices, scones and cakes (and of course the little boys)! :D

Agnes January 15, 2010 at 6:38 PM  

I'm always slightly disturbed that little boys are called little boys.

The tablecloth is vaguely doily-ish, so you could say that it's one BIG DOILY.

penny aka jeroxie January 15, 2010 at 9:06 PM  

Looks like a lot of sweet and yummy foods. Great to have fun with one big family. I miss that.

Looking forward to seeing you!

Carol Egbert January 15, 2010 at 10:10 PM  

Happy Birthday Nanna. You put together a perfect birthday feast. Well done!

Conor @ HoldtheBeef January 15, 2010 at 11:57 PM  

Evelyne@CheapEthnicEatz - I know, I was expecting doily madness! I wouldn't mind that recipe myself... should have asked for it but was too busy eating.

Iron Chef Shellie - they know how to feed a girl, that's for sure, though one of them did remark on how many times I went back for more, hehe. The doily mystery remains unanswered... maybe there was a shortage leading up to Christmas with people going on doily buying frenzies?

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella - it was a top birthday spread :) oh little boys, they will never not make me giggle.

Agnes - me too, but I also love it :D You are totally right! It's a giant doily!!!

penny aka jeroxie - yes, living away from my family it is nice to get them all together at the same time to catch up with everyone, even though you never seem to have enough time to talk to them all. Me too! :)

Carol Egbert - thanks Carol, the bowls ladies did a top job! I'm glad I just had the task of eating :D

Anonymous January 16, 2010 at 5:00 AM  

Happy birthday to Nanna! What a fabulous feast here!

MaryMoh January 16, 2010 at 6:13 AM  

Happy Birthday to your Nana! That's such a beautiful spread of food. It's sure so much fun to be together and celebrate her birthday.

Janice January 16, 2010 at 4:05 PM  

Happy Birthday to your Nanna! What a wonderful gathering. All the dishes look delicious,

Rosa's Yummy Yums January 16, 2010 at 6:12 PM  

Happy Birthday to your Nanna! That must have been a great party! Lovely food.



Simply Life January 16, 2010 at 8:50 PM  

oh what a great feast!

A cupcake or two January 16, 2010 at 9:46 PM  

Happy birthday to your nanna. I miss mine so much. I think about her all the time. You called little franks little boys too. ehehehe..

Megan D January 16, 2010 at 9:50 PM  

You just made me soooo homesick. I hope to be up that way again for my school reunion towards the end of this year :)

mademoiselle délicieuse January 16, 2010 at 9:53 PM  

Happy Birthday to your Nanna! Please ignore my ignorance and explain mock chicken sandwiches to me??

Conor @ HoldtheBeef January 16, 2010 at 11:24 PM  

5 Star Foodie - 'twas delicious!

MaryMoh - it certainly was, though it's always challenging trying to remember who all the children belong to :)

Janice - it was, and they were! :)

Rosa's Yummy Yums - it could only have been better if we'd all gone out for a spot of bowls afterwards :)

Simply Life - it was!

A cupcake or two - I'm sorry you do not have your Nanna with you. And yes, I cannot help but call them that, it is guaranteed to get at least a few giggles.

Megan D - I can't believe how little it has changed over the years, it's like Brigadoon.

mademoiselle délicieuse - ahhh mock chicken, it's a funny old thing. Quite an old fashioned recipe, a la CWA Cookbook, which really tastes nothing like chicken, but I guess is similar to what Americans call "chicken salad"... but without the chicken! It's a mixture of cooked onion and tomato, egg, herbs and cheese, all cooked together until smooth and creamy. You put it in sandwiches once it has cooled. I think it is called mock chicken as people used to serve it up as a much cheaper alternative to chicken sandwiches? Perhaps? I hope I haven't led you astray with this answer :)

Karen Harris January 17, 2010 at 12:18 AM  

Thanks for your kind and consoling comment on my blog post about my friend. I will miss her terribly. I loved your post, it took me right back to the ladies room at Rushcliffe Bowling Club in Nottingham. It sounds like a good time was had by all. I hope your Nanna had a great day.

pierre January 17, 2010 at 5:21 PM  

i see deserts I love sucha s this lemon meringue pie I would love to bite in it !! thanks conor !! Cheers from Paris ps you must have a great sunshine down under !! Pierre

Kitchen Butterfly January 18, 2010 at 4:42 AM  

Fantastic celebrations....and happy birthday to your Nana

Anonymous January 18, 2010 at 6:43 AM  

What a great occasion! Happy birthday to your nana!

Belle@Ooh, Look January 18, 2010 at 7:05 AM  

Happy birthday to your Nanna! The food looks suitably nanna-ish, with the crustless sandwiches and pink cakes – love it. And you are right about the loos, I’m sure the grey brigade at the bowling club keeps them spick and span (for QE2, of course)

Tasty Eats At Home January 18, 2010 at 9:56 AM  

Looks like everyone had a great time! Wonderful treats!

Conor @ HoldtheBeef January 18, 2010 at 10:22 PM  

Karen Harris - I'm just so sorry for your loss, I hope you find some comfort at the wake. Thank you, I am sure the Rushcliffe Bowling ladies have a tale or two to tell :)

pierre - Thanks Pierre! You would not want as much sunshine as we've been having lately... 43 degrees C is a little uncomfortable. Will send some to you :)

Kitchen Butterfly - thanks!!

Ellie - thank you!

Belle@Ooh, Look - oh yes it's PERFECT nanna food, and you really never know when dear old QE2 might come sauntering around the corner.

Tasty Eats At Home - we did! Thanks!

Maria@TheGourmetChallenge January 19, 2010 at 9:44 AM  

Happy birthday nanna!!

sounds like a fantastic day, and I bet your nanna attributes her longevity to those fantastic scones she makes!!

Trissa January 19, 2010 at 2:17 PM  

You are such a loving granddaughter! You and your Nanna are both so lucky to have each other. And about that lovely buffet of food... fabulous! You all must have had fun.

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite January 20, 2010 at 3:31 AM  

No doileys but some lovely saucy boys there! This reminds me of many a day spent at my own Nana's bowling club when we were very little. Oh for the good old days...

(sorry a little late to comment on this post - my Google reader clearly overloaded and not picking up some RSS feeds - all good now)

Anonymous January 20, 2010 at 4:06 AM  

Happy Birthday to Nanna! May she have many more healthy ones! I love the spread bowling club spread, although I am really disappointed about the missing doilies.

Stacy January 20, 2010 at 6:00 AM  

Aw, happy birthday to your Nanna! What an amazing looking spread!

Rose January 20, 2010 at 12:30 PM  

Dang I want some of those profiteroles right now. I'm gonna have to go out and get me something with whipped cream or custard or both.

Conor @ HoldtheBeef January 20, 2010 at 1:42 PM  

Maria@TheGourmetChallenge - I wouldn't be surprised if that was the secret!

Trissa - thanks my dear, that's very nice of you to say :)

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite - Yes, I'm willing to overlook the doily situation with the amount of saucy little boy action going on. No problem, just happy to get a comment :D

Bromography - I'm so buoyed by the amount of doily love from everyone. I hope they're not dying out. Bring back the doily!

Stacy - thanks :)

Rose - ahh crap, sorry. Good luck on your quest, may it end with sticky fingers and crumbs on your shirt.

Conor @ HoldtheBeef January 20, 2010 at 1:44 PM  

Big thanks to everyone for their lovely birthday wishes for my Nanna, you all deserve a devonshire tea (with doilies of course) and a few little boys :D

3 hungry tummies January 20, 2010 at 8:37 PM  

happy belated birthday to your Nana! You are always having such lavish party!!

Pam January 21, 2010 at 12:21 AM  

What a feast! The bacon and cheese quiche looks so tasty. Happy birthday to your Nanna.

Mr. P January 21, 2010 at 8:41 AM  

Lamington Bites? OMG. Is this a preview?

Conor @ HoldtheBeef January 22, 2010 at 8:17 AM  

3 hungry tummies - thanks :D No, it just seems that way I swear!

Pam - Thanks :) Those little quiches were so simple and delicious.

Mr. P - it's lamington city, baby! Hehe, nope, but the grand unveiling has finally happened......

Chef Fresco January 22, 2010 at 9:45 AM  

Happy birthday to your nanna! Looks like quite the party!

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My love of cooking is surpassed only by my love of eating, though I never quite recovered from the beef I was served at college. I'll try almost anything once, but it takes a very special piece of offal or beef to get me to try it again.

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