Well, today is my yard work day. There is grass to mow (like seriously if it doesn’t get done today I’m going to have to get goats), rakes to leaf (wait, did I say that right? You see why editing is such a chore for me), a few gardening tasks, plants to water, and bamboo to chop (that is taking over my river bank), and yet here I sit, drawn to the screen of this infernal contraption again like cats to catnip. All I can think about is writing and telling you (that one dear anonymous person out there who might see this post) all about the Fiesta Party I threw for my sister years ago, believing with all my heart that my experiences will be the cat’s meow, soooo captivating to my audience-of-one that you get right to work planning your own Fiesta Party, for Cinco de Mayo in fact, maybe, which is coming up very soon. Prrrrrr (that was Kitty-soft-paws…from Puss-in-Boots –yeah, was it lost on you? Hey, what can I say, I’m a dork!).
Okay, all kidding aside, this really is a fun way to spend an evening with your friends – your kooky friends who like to cook, and eat, and play games. Since I purchased my game many howling moons ago, Decipher seems to have gone out of business and their games appear to be out-of-print, which is truly unfortunate, however, you might get lucky to find a copy at a thrift shop or online. Until then I will share the contents of my box with you and let you improvise.
HERE IS HOW THE GAME WORKS: Have you seen the Food Network show, Chopped? It is a lot like that. You split your guests into two teams (a SALT team and a PEPPER team). These teams play a game against each other to win ingredients from the pantry of groceries you purchased ahead of time. Each team then has 90 minutes to produce a main dish, side dish, and dessert with the ingredients that they won, and recipes that they have stashed in their memories. At the end of 90 minutes, everyone sits down to partake of the created dishes and judge them. Stir Crazy provides the spinner, grocery lists, chef’s hats, aprons, and a cassette tape with audio instructions, and about an hour or so of perfect fiesta dinner music. I’ve included a picture of this for the visual people out there – me, me, oooo pick me.
“How many cooks can you fit in your kitchen?” I didn’t see any way for two teams to be able to prepare their dishes together in the same kitchen, specifically my itty bitty galley kitchen for sure, so I sat up a 2nd kitchen in our den (just off the kitchen) using a long table and electric skillets, an electric double- burner camp stove, a toaster oven, pans, bowls, and utensils, and paper towels. The BBQ grill in the back yard was also available as a third stove. And may I also suggest a wash station be added to this auxiliary kitchen with a basin of hot soapy water, another with rinse water, and a pitcher of water for cooking. It will keep you from having to constantly invade the other team’s kitchen (possibly catching an elbow to the eye) to get water or wash things. Of course what host would mind the imposition (and possible bruising), since your guests are basically making their own supper? Ha!
At my party I announced the time periodically during the preparation, and retrieved necessities for anxious contestants on an unyielding deadline. I ran for drink refills for everybody, and took several pictures. I had to stop and laugh, yes, nearly pee’d my pants a few times, as the interaction between players got pretty hilarious. I heard a husband shouting sarcasms to his wife on the team in the other room, “Who said this was fun? We’ve got to have a party like this!”
The players not only cook the food, they are also supposed to decorate tables within the time limit. Everything they do is judged, everyone votes by secret ballot and prizes are awarded at the end, even a prize for the dish the dog wouldn’t eat.
Well, I guess I can’t vouch for my guests, but I had so much fun with this party. We didn’t end up with a dish that the dog wouldn’t eat, everything turned out yummy, which was an accomplishment considering that no recipes are used. And after supper we found places to sit all around my tiny little house, and played games.
I scanned my copy of the host guide for you and have included those images here. Read through it in planning your own party.
I also have included a copy of the invitations.
Missing of course are the chef hats and aprons, the cassette tape (with the audio instructions for how to play the game, and the wonderful mood-setting music), and name badges (badges? – we don’t need no stinking badges).
Recipes for Snacks and Beverages (provided by the host)
REAL MEXICAN COFFEE
12 cups water
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 whole cloves
1 ½ sticks of cinnamon
12 oz. whipping cream
1 ½ oz. Unsweetened baking chocolate
1 ½ cups coffee beans, ground
1 ½ tsp. Vanilla
In saucepan, boil water. Stir in brown sugar, cloves, and cinnamon stick (broken in half). Reduce heat, simmer 15 minutes. Whip cream into soft peaks – refrigerate. Stir chocolate into brown sugar mixture until melted. Add ground coffee. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in vanilla. Strain mixture through coffee filter. Pour into cups and garnish with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
COLLEEN’S EASY VERSION OF MEXICAN COFFEE
Add a teaspoon of cinnamon and a pinch of ground cloves to the 4 scoops of coffee grounds that you put in the filter of your coffee maker. Pour in cold water and brew . Add 1 oz. Unsweetened baking chocolate, 1 tsp. Vanilla, and ½ cup brown sugar to the freshly brewed coffee in the pot. Let it sit on the hot plate until chocolate melts. Stir immediately, or keep in a thermal carafe. I serve mine with Coffee mate French Vanilla creamer, canned aerosol whip cream, and a sprinkle of cinnamon to garnish.
HORCHATA (pronounced Or-chaw-ta)
Makes about 5 to 6 cups
1 cup of long grain white rice
1 cup chopped almonds, without skin
5-6 cups of water (to taste)
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup of simple syrup or sugar (more or less to taste)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
In a clean coffee grinder (one that does not smell of coffee) or food processor, pulverize the rice into dust. If using a coffee grinder it works best if done in batches.
Combine rice, almonds, cinnamon, and 3 cups of hot tap water in a large glass bowl or pitcher. Let sit covered overnight.
Pour the mixture into a blender and purée several minutes until as smooth as possible. Add the sugar and remaining water and blend again for just a few seconds.
Strain the horchata through a sieve lined with 3 layers of damp cheesecloth, or a tea towel, into a bowl. Pour a little at a time and keep stirring to help the mixture go through the sieve. Once all the liquid has passed through to the bowl, gather the cloth together at the top, give it a twist and squeeze out any additional liquid. Pour the liquid into a clean pitcher. Cover and refrigerate.
The drink should keep several days, refrigerated. Serve in tall glasses over ice. Garnish with ground cinnamon, or some lime zest if desired.
5 large Plum tomatoes (vine ripe) – diced (skin on)
2 medium Garlic cloves – chopped
1 or 2 *chilies – diced (*Chilies of choice: roasted Anaheim, Chiles de Árbol, Pasilla Chiles, Serrano, Jalapeno, Poblano, or Habañero)
2 slices, ½ inch thick, of white onion – chopped
½ tsp. Dried oregano
¼ tsp. Ground cumin
2 tsp. Olive oil
1 tsp. Rice vinegar
½ tsp. Salt
Fresh Cilantro to taste
Lime juice to taste
Pan roast your chili of choice. Dry the frying pan, peel, seed, and de-vein chilies. Pan roast the garlic until just toasted. Toss in bowl with remaining ingredients. 1 Tbsp. of canned tomato sauce can be added. Serve at room temperature with tortilla chips.
COLLEEN’S MANGO SALSA
2 large ripe mangos, peeled, diced
1 cup finely diced Mexican or Hawaiian papaya
2 Tbsp. finely diced white onion
2 Tbsp. finely diced red bell pepper
2 Serrano chilies, minced with seeds
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh Cilantro
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh mint
½ tsp. Salt (or to taste)
Toss all ingredients together gently in a glass bowl. Refrigerate and serve cold, within 4 hours for best texture and flavor. Great served with roasted grilled poultry, fish or pork…but I just love it with tortilla chips as a dip.
I bought a Margarita Bucket from Sam’s Club and to that I added:
Margarita salt (for the glasses)
Limes (for garnish)
And you’ll need Margarita glasses for your guests
A day ahead of your party, add desired amount of tequila to the contents in the bucket and place in the freezer. As guests request, dip and swirl a Margarita glass in the slushy liquid in the bucket and then dip in the Margarita salt to coat the whole rim of the glass. Use an ice cream scooper to scoop out the Margarita slush into the glass. Serve with a slice of lime placed on lip of glass for garnish.
1 Bottle of red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Rioja, Zinfandel, Shiraz)
1 Lemon cut into wedges
1 Orange cut into wedges
1 Lime cut into wedges
2 Tbsp sugar
Splash of orange juice
2 Shots of gin
1 cup of sliced strawberries or raspberries, grapes, and melons
1 small can of diced pineapples (with juice)
4 cups ginger ale
Pour wine into a large pitcher and squeeze the juice from the lemon, orange and lime wedges into the wine. Toss in the citrus wedges (leaving out seeds if possible). Add pineapple, then sugar, orange juice and gin. Chill overnight. Add ginger ale, berries, grapes, melon and ice just before serving. If you’d like to serve right away, use chilled red wine and serve over lots of ice. The best Sangrias are chilled around 24 hours in the refrigerator which allows the flavors to really marinate into each other.
If you would like to make yours non-alcoholic, use a bottle of sparkling red grape juice in place of wine and replace the gin with 2 Tbsp of instant tea.
After Dinner Entertainment
You can make it a dinner and movie night, in which case I would recommend re-watching something like Zorro (with Antonio Banderas and Selma Heyek), or a spaghetti western like The Magnificent Seven, or The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, or the cartoons Rango, and/or Puss in Boots.
In case you are unfamiliar, Lotería is basically a bingo game, except instead of numbers it is pictures. Everyone gets a Lotería card and a handful of pinto beans to mark the spots. Each player antes a dime into the pot for each round. A deck of cards with the same pictures is shuffled and used by a caller for calling the spaces.
And just like Bingo, a vertical, horizontal, or diagonal line is a “Lotería!” The winner collects the dimes wagered for that round. You can increase the ante if you’d like. We were poor.
Everyone clears their cards and pitches in another ante for the next round. It is easy to play, and perfect for mixed-age crowds. The only challenge is keeping up with the caller, who is supposed to keep a fast pace. If you are unfamiliar with Spanish you have to keep watching the caller to flash the card so you can see the picture. It’s a lot like a tennis match (look up, look down, look up…), but it is also enormous fun.
I asked my mom if she would be the caller for our game, since she was the only one that knew Spanish and could pronounce the words correctly.
I love this game. Lots of fun. Players who are unfamiliar will catch on pretty quick. This is a great game to play for hours, snacking and refilling drinks in between sets.
MEXICAN TRAIN (dominoes)
I love this game too. I especially love to play it with JoAnn, although I am sure she cheats with her constant table talk of how she can’t see the dots and doesn’t know if she has any dominoes to play, and then miraculously has none left to play when everyone else at the table is stuck with our stupid piles of double twelves and such.
MEXICO (dice) – see rules at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexico and http://www.ehow.com/list_6720314_rules-mexican-dice-game-21.html
If you want to make a night (or day) of it, I have, on other occasions, set up game tables around my house and split my guests into groups of four players, each group starting at a different table, with a different game being played at each table. After an hour or so I ring a bell to signal them to move to the next table for the next game. When all the players have made it through all the games, its goodnight Irene! Or, Jose! Or Maria! Or whatever your party name is.
It is helpful to have at least one person at each table that is very familiar with how to play the games, so they can teach it to the others who may be unfamiliar.
Allllllllrightythen….I guess that about does it. Thanks for reading and have a blast my amigos and amigas!!! Andale, andale, arriba, arriba! (Please trill your R’s and use your Speedy Gonzales voice, I beg you!) 🙂