Wednesday, April 10, 2013

an evening at the park {tampa food photographer}

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the idea was a kernel of inspiration months ago: how fun to do a family afternoon at the park? each family would come geared up to play old-fashioned games and enjoy generations and ages celebrating the everyday over food and laughter. 

when mccormick gourmet asked if we'd like to host our second "dinner party chain" dinner party for them to feature, it was our chance to make the vision happen!  we invited some sweet friends and the plan began to unfold.

we shopped days before the party.  then to stay relaxed (i may or not be the mom who gets a wee bit crazy-grumpy overwhelmed when i need to rush to "get it all done..."
want a tip my mom-in-law taught me?  lay out the serving dishes in advance, complete with serving utensils.  she'd even put little notes in the bowls so she'd remember what dish went where.  especially important for this outing, because i wanted to pretty it up.  no average day at the park for us.  we hit up dollar tree and bought a roll of pretty kraft wrapping paper and some sweet little vases.  publix had baby's breath (apparently, my daughter is a little deprived in the floral department; she'd never heard the name baby's breath before!)  i had cheap plastic storage totes for the dishes and the white stoneware was packed up for transferring once we safely arrived at the park.

a. is such a natural teacher.  she had the boys in giggles as they measured and whisked.  early on as a mama, i relished my time alone in the kitchen.  though it makes for a bit more chaos, i find that having my children alongside me is not just joy and learning for them, but help i have come to depend on.

prepping the ingredients for each dish in advance helped us sail through preparation and photographing so we'd have the memories to hold on to.

friends around make it even more fun, and making messes is easier to clean up when there are extra hands on deck.  :)

 i'm not gonna lie.  it was a mad dash of craziness bit hectic getting out the door with two huge rolling crates, three coolers (we were packin' for a crowd!), and six kids.  trying to heave all that food without dripping raw chicken juice onto fresh shaved brussel sprout salad and keep track of vases and baby's breath and... well - we really needed everyone on hand.  but having a little bit of elegance and interactive meal was so worth it!

the menu:
i can never leave anything as-is.  we used a beautiful pork marinade from this recipe from McCormick Gourmet to season our chicken breasts, then grilled them on-site along with the corn.  which, by-the-way, would be my exception to never leaving a recipe alone.  make this corn NOW.  as-is.  and don't hate me when you want to devour the entire recipe yourself.

(to be honest, most of us could've made a complete meal of this one. insanely. amazing. side.)

Tina's Zucchini Salad
(such a surprising and delightful fresh salad made with zucchini instead of cucumber!)

a little tip: be sure to use the sweetened, packaged, baker's coconut for this recipe.  we use dried raw coconut that hasn't been sweetened.  4 extra egg whites and 1/4 cup of maple syrup later, we still had more of a savory coconut crouton than a macaroon.  these still managed to all but disappear.  :)

Maddie's Peanut Butter Bars & Cake Pops
(how glad am i that now our kids' friends bake, too??...)

these were so good!  i'll have to ask her for the recipe.  :)

  food always tastes better warmed by spring sunshine and shared with friends.  :)

as our kids have gotten older, we are even more convinced that spending time with every age is a vital part of growing into an amazing person.  we love that our kids have other adults we respect to look to for wisdom, and that they know the importance of serving a little person who needs help.  we're making it a point to carve out more time for just "being" with other families so that kinship builds.

these kids have been prayed for, loved on, and are growing into people we respect as our friends.

"come on, sis... try and beat me!"

it's been a long day.  take me and my full belly home for a hot bath and a bed.  :)

we were all happy-tired when all was said and done.  but friends pitched in together to load cars and caravan out of the closing park as the sun dropped below the horizon.  we can't wait to do it again.

how have you been inspired to carve out your legacy?

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