Monday, April 16, 2012

Boot Camp Birthday: Rations

As promised, here's the next installment in the Boot Camp Birthday series: rations.

We scheduled the party I mean boot camp over lunchtime, partly to take up time--if the recruits are eating, you don't have to entertain them as much.  We served a basic menu that we figured most of the boys would enjoy: hot dogs, chips, carrots & dip, keeping in mind that when you've got eight 3rd grade boys together, they don't tend to want to sit and eat for very long. 

I wanted to serve them baked beans because that seems like a very boot campish thing to do, but I didn't think most of them would eat them and didn't want to waste some perfectly good beans.

We made a lovely army green punch to serve, just using a basic punch recipe: mix together 1 qt sherbet and 1 12 oz can frozen lemonaide concentrate.  Then add 2 L of lemon-lime soda.  I heard that if you use rainbow sherbet, the punch turns out in a drab, army-like shade of green, and we found this to be (sorta) true.  If you're planning to try it, I would suggest using 1/2 rainbow and 1/2 lime sherbet.

The centerpiece of any birthday celebration at the Bluefields' is always the cake.  I enjoy the creative process of baking and decorating a special cake for the special birthday boy.  For this boot camp, MC requested a tank cake.
I used two cake mixes, a butter cake (because the grocery store was all out of white cake in the variety that was on sale) and chocolate.  I used food coloring to dye half of the butter cake batter army green, and then swirled the cake batters in the pans. 

I used a 9x13" pan, a 9x6" pan, and a ~4" round oven-safe soup bowl.  I also made 6 cupcakes for the family to eat on MC's birthday.

Roger "helped" clean up.

After the cakes were baked and cooled, I leveled the cakes and stacked them in a tank shape like this:
See how the cakes are all marble-y and camouflage-y?

Next, I started frosting.  I used vanilla frosting dyed green with food coloring (add a bit of red to the green to get a drab color) and chocolate.
 
If I were to do this again, I would frost the whole cake green first, allow the green to sit for a bit to harden, then add the chocolate on top of the green.  I was afraid I would run out of green, though, so I just kept alternating frostings, trying to make it look somewhat camouflauge-ish.

Next I added the tracks and wheels.  I used Fritzie Fresh Black Bites for the tracks, because that's what my grocery store had (I was looking for Twizzlers.  You could also use chocolate sugar wafer cookies, cut in half, or squares of Hershey chocolate), and milk's favorite cookie for the wheels (because it's also my favorite cookie and they were on sale and I had a coupon--but any black or brown round cookie would work). 

A note on the wheels: you may want to frost the cake a day ahead of time, because it's a bit time consuming, and there may be other things demanding your attention on the day of the party.  You can certainly add the wheels and other embellishments ahead of time as well, but be aware that they may get soggy overnight.  Also, you might want to lay the wheels out before you start placing them on the cake, just to make sure you get the spacing right.  I used 7 wheels per side, but I think I could have gotten away with just 6.

For the final touch I added a pretzel rod cannon (you could use Pirourettes or a black licorice cigar if you prefer) and a plastic soldier gunner (he looks awfully small, doesn't he?  Cheap dollar store army guys...).  At the last minute I decided to cover the cannon with chocolate frosting, and I'm happy with that decision.

And there you have it--looks good enough to eat, eh?

I think the recruits thought so!

Stayed tuned for more boot camp birthday fun--up next: Uniform & Supplies.

This post is the second of four Boot Camp Birthday posts.  Click here to see them all.

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