Sunday, September 2, 2012

Harry Potter Welcoming Feast

For our "back to school" family dinner this year we decided to have a Harry Potter-style "Start of Term Welcoming Feast."

I read a book recently (that I'd love to review fully sometime if I get the chance) that described the virtues of the Harry Potter books for children.  Most-importantly being that they break down the "nerd" stereotype.  Harry Potter wears glasses, has messy hair, and does well in school, studying and --usually-- doing his homework.  But at the same time he is a star quiddich player, has a great girlfriend, and goes through fabulous adventures to outwit and physically best the "bad guy". That is an empowering role-model for children.

(Also in Jeremy's dissertation research on creativity he came across some research in which children were shown clips from the Harry Potter movie and then asked to complete a creativity exercise.  The ones who watched scenes that contained magical elements greatly outscored the creativity of the students who had just watched a scene non-magical in nature.  So Harry Potter also encourages creativity, and we're all about that.)

So, Jeremy has recently finished a s.l.o.w. reading of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone with Owen, and they  really enjoyed it together.  That may be where we leave it for now, along with maybe some Tales of Beetle the Bard or something.  We won't encourage him too quickly into the later books, but are happy to see his imagination be now peaked with the ideas from the wizarding world of Harry Potter.

There are lots of great ideas for Harry Potter parties around the internets.  We kept ours pretty simple, and mainly a dinner. There were plenty of great ideas for sweet snack buffets, but not so many ideas for actual food.  A great list of foods eaten in Harry Potter is given here, but many of them are just plain-old food like "roast chicken"  So we got a bit creative with some of the food ideas, and ended up with a fun buffet.

(I printed out food labels in this great font.)

We made "Cornish Pasties", little hand-pies filled with a mixture of beef, potatoes, carrots, peas, onion, and celery, with it's own gravy.  They were delicious and we decided we need to make more hand-pies around here.

We had "Herbology Bites", just little slices of french bread with herbed cream cheese and a slice of cucumber.

I also made "Forbidden Forest Fiddleheads".  Though you actually can eat fiddleheads, ours are just my pesto crescents
A good old fashioned cottage pie. It's what we made with all the rest of the filling from the hand-pies, with the potatoes mashed and spread on top.

There's a serious lack of fruit in the wizarding world, so we came up with pineapple slice "Golden Gallions"

Of course no Harry Potter Feast is complete without butter beer.  Ours is a mix of cream soda and ginger ale with a bit of butterscotch syrup.

I decorated the rims of the glasses with golden sugar sprinkles.  I saw that idea somewhere and just loved it.

I like having this annual family dinner.  We really love to invite friends over and throw a big party, but I feel like my children need to know that I will do it for just them as well--that they are worth it to me.  

Then there was the dessert table, "Pumpkin Pasties", "Mincemeat Pies", "Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans", "Chocolate Wands" (Chocolate-dipped pretzel rods with sprinkles, which was what Owen really wanted to make for the night), "Cockroach Clusters" (anything dipped in chocolate), and "Golden Snitch" (Ferrero Rocher or any other gold-wrapped candy).

Really I just set all this out for the picture and then put it away!  The boys were most excited about the Beans, which were actually only regular Jelly Bellies in my old Bertie Bott's sack, but they didn't mind.  Jonas kept telling me that his red ones were tomatoes, and Owen came up with plenty of disgusting flavor names for all the beans he put in his mouth.  Wyatt didn't care what flavor they were as long as they were in his mouth! 

Jeremy and I preferred to snack on miniature pumpkin pasties all night long, and everything else waited for another day (or at least until breakfast). So another semester has begun, back to school for some of us, and not back to school for others.  But the year has begun either way, and we will face it with confidence. 

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