Thursday, October 08, 2009

Roll Out The Red Carpet - It's Birthday Time!

I don’t know about everyone else, but I have a real aversion to kids’ birthday party tables groaning with frankfurts, party pies, lollies, chips and cordial. I think the kids must get a bit tired of it too sometimes. When we were kids, birthday parties were rare so ‘party fare’ was very exciting – a real treat. We didn’t often get to eat sausage rolls and lollies and drink soft drink. These days kids are heading off to birthday parties every weekend and every birthday party is the same. Fast food, fast food and more fast food. For various reasons parents are now seeking alternatives to the home party and the standard of fare in many of these kids party venues is outrageous. A friend recently held her son’s birthday party at a well known sports venue and the menu read like a fast food restaurant. When asked if they could provide a healthy menu, there was much consternation and discussion. Eventually a ‘healthy’ menu was provided which was barely a notch above the standard menu. And this from a sports venue!

I often wonder who is getting it wrong. Is this really what kids want? Are we harking back to own childhoods and thinking how much we loved party food? Are we obsessed with over indulging our kids? Or do we not know what else to give them? I suspect it is a combination of all these.
Kids today are a different generation and a different breed. They often have more sophistication than we give them credit for, so instead of insulting their taste buds, why can’t we pay tribute to kids and put a different perspective on the birthday bash? Why can’t we think about what kids really like to eat and give them the good food they love…?
They adore strawberries (especially if dipped in chocolate) and huge chunks of watermelon, grapes and freshly popped popcorn. They love chicken drumsticks and little pizzas, little pikelets, and cheese and tomato toothpicks, and mini muffins. Kids also love fruit kebabs
with sweet dipping sauce, and will eat anything frozen - so little bundles or bags of frozen grapes, frozen bananas on a stick, quartered oranges or home made icy poles are a huge hit! And instead of cordial, grab their fancy with an old fashioned punch bowl, complete with cups and ladle, and brimming with fruit punch.
Who remembers lolly gobble bliss bombs? That amazing name really sold them back then (what kid could resist?) For those who don’t remember, they were toffee coated popcorn. Here is my version which I made for my daughter’s birthday party a few years ago - the kids thought they were brilliant!

Popcorn Balls

½ cup popping corn
60g butter
3 tblsp barley malt
1 tblsp honey

Make popcorn in popcorn maker or saucepan and set aside.
Melt butter in large saucepan and add malt and honey. Mix well.
Toss through the popcorn a little at a time until it is all thoroughly coated with butter mixture. You may not need all the popcorn.
Using wet hands, quickly shape into golf ball sized balls, squeezing and moulding the mixture together.
Place on a tray and refrigerate until firm.

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