Sunday, February 16, 2014

Book-Inspired Buffet, Baby!

(Thank you, Alison, at Nancherrow's Fridays Unfolded , for featuring this post.)
My sister, M, and I hosted a baby shower for our niece (sister J's daughter) this past weekend at my house. As an alternative to cards enclosed with gifts, a popular trend right now is suggesting guests bring a book and sign it in lieu of the card. I took the idea a step further:  I built the midday food buffet around children's book titles for the shower's theme.  It was so much fun! This served a few purposes:  it created baby's first treasured library, it still provided a memento from the gift-givers (less likely to be put aside as cards may be), and it made food fare simple.
Taking on a cheerfully spring-like theme, this was the beginning of the buffet line.  "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" was the appropriate start to the buffet line. 
Variously collected, vintage duck cloth napkins were used, along with several other of my collection of serving pieces - some new, some vintage - all collected.  I coordinated a mix of vintage dishes:  Noritake's Reverie, Fire King Jadeite, and some Fiesta ware.  I'll share the tablescape I created in a separate post soon.
"The Tale of Peter Rabbit"  headed up the veggie station.  "Single Shooters" were created in the mini clay pots (Dollar Tree, 3 for $1) lined with colorful, plastic shot glasses (Wal Mart, 12 for $2).  I put a base of Marzetti's ranch dip and "planted" celery, carrots and green & red peppers in the pots.  The remaining veggies were served in my Mariposa wheelbarrow.

The shower guests were entirely family members, so as a nod to my mother's presence, I placed a little porcelain bird trinket box on the buffet.  It belonged to my mom, and inside was the angel brooch used most recently at my daughter's wedding.  (You can see the angel brooch in my post here).  
The mainstays of the food fare were sparked by "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" and "Strega Nona".
"Strega Nona" means Grandma Witch in Italian, and the story is about a boy who gets into pasta trouble trying to mimic Strega Nona's magic spell she casts on her pasta pot.  My orzo salad complemented the book, and the book complemented my family's and my niece's husband's Italian heritage.  
The setup for the remainder of the buffet was sparked by a couple of Dr. Seuss books, along with "Baby Cakes".

"Green Eggs and Ham" inspired the deviled eggs, enhanced with a couple drops of green food coloring, alongside a plate of  finger sandwiches made with ham salad.
"One fish two fish red fish blue fish" inspired the bowl of Swedish gummy fish, a favorite snack of the guest of honor.
"Baby Cakes" was the inspiration behind the sugar cookie fruit cups served (recipe here), as well as the petit fours brought from Servatii's, an Italian bakery in Cincinnati.  Yum!  Vintage Silvercrest serving pieces were used for the desserts.

Our sunroom is just off of the kitchen, a perfect place for entertaining.  We have a stand-alone heating and cooling unit for the sunroom, so it serves us year-round, no matter what Mother Nature tries to bring on (this day was 25°).  I added a touch of spring (come soon, please!) with a few bright colors in the form of quilts, wrapping paper, and flowers.

                 
A tower of baby necessities, made to look like a 3-tiered cake, was made by my niece's sister, and replaced the sunroom's center table flowers once guests arrived.
 I love the bright colors!  Several gifts in the corner also have bright and cheerful colors.
L to R:  my sister J (Nana), my pregnant niece, me, and my sister M
We didn't really play games, but we did have a lot of fun trying to "help" our niece and her husband come up with names for the baby (they don't know the sex).  Everyone wrote down at least one girl's and one boy's name, and we let our niece choose her favorite - something to go with the very Italian surname, Samuele (pronounced Sam u ell e).  One sister-in-law came up some very humorous names, such as Antipasto, Linguini and Anchovie for a boy, and Marscapone and Rigatoni for a girl, lol.  The picks were Mario Nicholas and Collette Marie.  At the end of the shower, we got a group picture of all of us present, taken by my husband (who hid out in our master bedroom the entire time we gathered).
It's always fun to share our home, centered around a fun event with food fare and family. And happy events.

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