Bizarre Foods Activity
Inspired by Andrew Zimmer
If you are looking for a fun party concept, for adults and children a like, I highly suggest the bizarre foods theme. You can take it in so many different directions: bizarre ice cream, bizarre fruits, bizarre vegetables, bizarre processed foods, etc… the list seems endless.
Let’s take a minute and I will walk you through just one of the bizarre foods classes I have had the pleasure of hosting.
I took a trip to my local Asian market. A place that is filled with fresh produce, strange creatures, and amazing fish flavored snacks. If you are looking for bizarre this place is right up most American’s Alley. I filled my cart full of items I was familiar with, but had not yet had the pleasure of preparing myself. This is a win/win for my students and me, as I am a self taught chef.
Class Set up
Before class began we laid our bounty on the table. Displaying items for the kids to walk around, touch, and explore while we waited for everyone to arrive.
We passed each bizarre food around and discussed where it came from, how it is prepared, and allowed the children to ask questions.
Some of the items were familiar like sugar. Sugar in it's raw cane form is bizarre to many.
Taro root and Oroblanco
We sliced and fried taro root, a native of Southeast Asia and India, a food staple in places like Hawaii and the Caribbean .We peeled and divided up an oroblanco. An oroblanco is a sweet seedless citrus hybrid fruit similar to grapefruit.
The Durian, also known as jack fruit, looks like a dinosaur egg and when the kids found out that it was actually a smelly fruit, their little minds were blown.
The quail eggs were a favorite. They are cute, tiny, and the kids were impressed with the fact that they tasted just like any egg, but better because of their size!
Dried fish is a huge part of Asian food cultures and I was proud that every kid was brave enough to take a nibble.
The most bizarre food on the table that day was balut. We explored this food first by cracking open the fetal duck egg and taking a look at it in its raw form. This was a science class for sure. So many questions came from this one food. Why would someone eat this? Where does this come from? What is that sac
Then we cooked the egg and the questions just came pouring on in.
Questions are how we learn! Inspiring people to ask questions and learn helps us evolve and grow. Even if the question is, “What is a Twinkie?”
This activity is sure to impress and will be remember by all involved!
Tin Can ICe Cream
Ice cream is such a simple and delicious treat that many of us take for granted. We pop into our local shops, reach into the freezer, and voilà… ICE CREAM! Well that is good and all, but making ice cream made the old fashion way tastes so much sweeter. It also happens to be the perfect activity for birthday parties, summer BBQs, and camps.
You start with your favorite Ice cream recipe. I have included a simple recipe that uses only four ingredients.
2 cups heavy whipping cream
½ cup sugar
1 vanilla bean scraped
Pinch of salt
Rock salt or ice cream salt
4 large can 12 small cans
Once your mixture is ready you will need to cool it. Submerge the pot into a large ice bath. Once the mixture has cooled you may either place in the refrigerator for later or start the freezing process.
Then place three of the 4oz containers on top of the ice. Next fill the container to the top with the same ratio of salt/ice mixture . Seal the tin with a rubber mallet, rock, or whatever you use to seal a paint can. If it is a coffee can I suggest duct taping the lid to prevent leaks.
The can will start to collect frost on the outside and the ice inside will begin to melt. You may need to drain the cans and add more salt ice mixture. It took our crew approximately 15 min to 20 min for a soft serve dish of awesomeness to be created.
I hope you have as much fun with this process as we did!
WEddings to Funerals
Life is a party with rest and obligation!
We are born and every completed rotation around the sun we celebrate an anniversary of our birth. Then we find the loves of our lives, marry, and celebrate yet another trip around the star that gives life on this planet. It’s interesting how we give so much and so little meaning to these anniversaries. These moments in our lives that mark our passage of time on this planet we call earth. I recently planned one of the most important life events many of us have to deal with, the memorial of a parent, an individual whom has always been a huge part of my life. The death of a loved one, in my opinion, is more important than a birthday, anniversary, or even wedding. It is every single important day wrapped into one final moment. A coming together of all the people that have passed through and all the people still standing. A collection of who you are, who you wanted to be, and how you got there along the way.
How does one deal with such an enormous task of simplifying life into one final moment? It is very personal, that question, and probably has as many answers as there are lives. I can only tell you of my journey and the peace I have found by honoring one of the loves of my life. When people talk about the loves of their lives, most are talking about spouses, lovers, and the such. For me… my loves are brothers, sisters, friends, children, and parents. The people whom you connect with on a level that never leaves you. My father was one of those people and honoring his life and the people who traveled through it meant so much to me. Where to begin is and will always be the hardest part of such a great task. Now…. I specialize in event management (weddings, anniversaries, birthday, and corporate events.) Parties are first nature to me. I couldn’t stand the thought of celebrating life like every other funeral I had been to. All the funerals I had attended were enormously solemn events, and it seemed lately the only time I ever see extended family and friends. I wanted to leave behind in this one final moment a feeling of closure, acceptance, peace, and reconnection. So how do you that? I decided to plan it like a wedding, birthday, or anniversary.
The right venue is so important to any event. It is the stage that your important moment in time plays out. I began with taking a trip to my father’s home town of Marshall, Missouri. I was assisted by a lifelong friend of my parents who showed several possible options in town. We ended up booking a beautiful shelter in the Indian Foothills Park that had two amazing fireplaces. We also decided to book The Knights of Columbus as a plan B. The park was only going to work if the weather held out. I wasn’t too thrilled with the Knights of Columbus, but with the right lighting and décor you can make anything work. The only thing that you need to really remember when choosing a venue is the size. If you book a space that is too big and not a lot of people show up, it will feel sad and lonely, no matter how beautifully decorated. If you pick something too small, well…. I like a crowded party and as long as you have the ability to move around you will be fine. They have fire codes for a reason, and I would take that to heart when it comes to capacity. In the end, the weather did not end up working out for us. No need to freak out! That is why you have a plan B, C, and sometimes D. Plan B was going to be the Knights of Columbus, but then something amazing happened. A childhood friend from Marshall, Leslie Taylor, had friended me on Facebook after she had heard about my father’s death, and as I was looking through her page I realized she owned an event space. Not only did she own an event space, but they play live music there every Friday night, and many of the musicians happen be friends of my fathers. I inquired about the space and not only was it available, but she allowed us to use the apartment above to crash and even setup a space for our children. The 4 Points Civic Center is a gem. With old plank wood floors and exposed bricks, it was just the spot I was looking for. It was the perfect stage. Leslie even went out of her way and printed up posters, which we hung on the walls and doors. Talk about going above and beyond!
I have been working in the restaurant industry for around 25 years and the three most important things when providing food for a party is quality, quantity, and presentation. Oh… and a really good chef: Mr. Ryan Hopkins donated his services to help make the food for this event shine and it also just happened to be his birthday on top of it all. Mr. Hopkins is a true friend, and I am proud to say that I get to work with such a talented, creative, and reliable partner.
Quality: You need to know your limitations when it comes to cost, staff, and kitchen accessibility. If your budget is light and you want to stretch a buck, go with pork instead of beef. If you don’t have a lot of staff, go with items that can be prepared ahead of time. Always make sure you know what your kitchen has available for use. In our case we had a grill and we brought our own burners. Making a few items of high quality is better than over extending yourself and sacrificing the quality of the food.
Quantity: One of the worst things that can happen at a party is to run out of food before everyone has had their fill, especially when alcohol is involved. I had no Idea how many people would show up to this event, I figured around 100 people give or take. So, I doubled it and planned on food for two hundred. I would rather go home with leftovers than have to order pizza, or worse have people leave to go get food.
Food Presentation: How you present the food is my favorite part. I love design and I it is one of the attributes I’m really good at. There are several concepts I always do with my buffet tables. One, I always add height: This can be done with boxes, bowls, cake stands, you name it I have done it. Two, I like to add color in the way of foliage and at times flowers. The season and style of the event determines what I use. The third concept that you need to consider is the table size you plan on using for the buffet. You want it to be full, a sparse table does not impress. I will always pre-set the buffet table before the event starts to insure everything fits and has its place. Then I go back to the kitchen and fill each platter to be put back into place.
I didn’t even contemplate getting up and giving a speech. I knew that I was not going to be able to stand in front of people and talk about his life and what he meant to my family, and not because I have a fear of public speaking. It was simply because I couldn’t even talk about it to close friends, or strangers for that matter without tearing up and almost losing it. A room full of people who were also tearing up wasn’t going to be any better. That Is why I made the decision to make a video with a collection of his moments, his arts, and his music. I had over 2,000 photos, a variety of live performance videos, and loads of original music to work with. I decided the best way to go about writing the tribute was to start with the obituary that my mother and I worked on together, taking it, and expanding it. From there I filled in the storyboard. It is mind blowing how far technology has come and how easy it is to create a video with depth. Amazingly enough many of the applications I used to create the images for this video were done on my phone.
To start the process of collecting pictures I could use for the video I downloaded this app on my phone called “Photomyne.” It allows you to take pictures of pictures, crop them, edit their color, and categorize them into specific albums for easy organization. Staring at all the moments captured from recording light passing through time is mesmerizing and therapeutic. At first you ache, then you start to remember things you haven’t thought of in years. It allowed me to gather my thoughts about who a person is in every stage of life and not just the end. No one likes to talk about the end. For many people it becomes a stripping away of your dignity. You are no longer strong, or quick, or beautiful. For many people sicknesses ravage their bodies and minds. These memories unfortunately can be the last you leave behind. Looking at the moments of my father’s life, organizing them, and memorializing them helped me to return the dignity that cancer stole. Giving life dignity is what every funeral should be about. It should be a time when your story is told, and every single person born has a story to tell.
Trey Clemons Connection!
I was thinking about hiring a videographer to capture drone footage of my father’s home town of Marshall, Missouri. The videographer that I know and use, Karl Bussen of Bussen productions, was booked solid and unable to help out with the project. He pointed me in the direction of Trey Clemons, an amazing videographer who worked on a project for the 2017 solar eclipse and did a great job with his drone footage. I contacted him through Instagram and requested to use his footage. Unknown to me, he not only knew who my father was, but my Dad sang “Dreamers Dream” at his parents wedding. He gifted me the incredible footage, which only lasts a matter of seconds in the video, but adds so much.
The remaining video footage for this project was downloaded from YouTube and incorporated into the final product.
Allie Owens: Allie Hope Photography
My father taught teach music lessons at the Vox Box in Marshall, and when my he passed away they went above and beyond. They donated and set up all the audio and visual equipment needed for the night. Like I mentioned before, this is not my area of expertise and without their help I could not have done it. Having the right AV system is essential, if your audience cannot hear the music, video, or speaker it will ruin your event. I recently did a fundraising event and the AV was so bad that it caused the live auction to be a quarter of what it could have been. Always test and retest these systems and if you’re like me and have no idea what your doing, hire someone that does.
Bringing it all Together
It wasn’t the venue, it wasn’t the food, it wasn’t the decorations, it wasn’t the video, it wasn’t the music, it was everything together, and that is what the celebration of life should be about… TOGETHERNESS. With every event that I orchestrate I bring all of the elements together to create a beautiful moment in time.
Believe in Yourself!
All my adult life I have felt as though I’ve been pretending. That I am pretending to be an adult and at any moment everyone will find out the truth. The truth is...we all are! I am still the five-year-old teaching my brother to read, I am still the ten-year-old playing village, I am still the sixteen-year-old walking through old buildings laying out my vision for their new life, I am still the twenty something building a soap company, and I am the 39-year-old chasing her dream into the sun. The difference in pretending, and believe me it is not much, is simply believing in yourself, setting up a map to reach those goals, and never giving up. If one road closes it doesn’t mean another won’t open. There are so many roads people can take and I have taken many just to get to this point in my life. This is a reminder to all that have dreams, take care of your dreams they may change the world, take care of your dreams they may change, but in the end, it is only the effort that was given and not the reward that you achieved that really matters.
Wanderlust Farms kc
Dreaming Out Loud
Wanderlust: “A Strong Desire to Travel”
From the time I was very little, I wanted to own my own business. I have always been driven to be an entrepreneur and build something from nothing. It is interesting how the things around you in life shape you even when you don’t realize it. I come from a family of Dreamers and Doers. No goal was ever unattainable in our home, and the only way you could fail was by not trying. I was raised in a loving family in a small town where I was allowed endless freedom to wander. We built villages in the woods, never wore shoes in the summer, and enjoyed our dream machine that just happened to be a 1947 greyhound bus. This bus had been parked in the driveway since my birth in 1978. Nearly 40 years later, the playhouse of my childhood is now the foundation of my entrepreneurial aspirations.
The bus belonged to my father, Thomas Estus Nicholas. He used it as a tour bus during the height of his rock n’ roll career. I began with the idea of taking the bus and restoring it to it’s former road-worthy glory, but soon came to the conclusion that economically the idea wasn’t going to work. The cost of getting the machine up and running would be far more than I could recoup as a rental vehicle. So… the next logical progression after one dream dies is to move on to the next. The bus is the thing dreams are made of and represents us as a company and that is where the idea for Wanderlust Farms began. If we couldn’t take the bus to the people, the people would have to travel to the bus, and Wanderlust Farms, LLC is born!
Jessica Lim is the founder of Hound 47 LLC, an event management company specializing in culinary education and unique private catering. She has been part of the restaurant industry since 1992, working her way through a variety of culinary venues. She found her passion for education while teaching her own four children to cook. Always looking for a way to spend more time with her little ones inspired her to start her own business. In 2016 she began teaching kids to cook professionally and doing what she does best, “Throwing Parties.” She considers herself a dreamer with a bottomless well to pull from, and feels most comfortable in life when her plate is overflowing. Her lifetime goal is to open a unique country event space incorporating all of her passions: food, theatre, education, and wide open views.