Birthday month is here again, and I’m going to try a new food-board book; Beautiful Boards has a lot of pretty pictures, and it’s pretty good at explaining how to get the actual looks.
There’s a lot to like, both for the content of the boards as well as the set-up. There is some general guidance for putting together your own ideas, like for X number of people X amount of Y types of cheeses, general timelines for preparing and setting out and serving different types of content, and some other generally useful kinds of advice. There is also no shame in this book for the pre-made ingredients. Buy your own favorite hummus, or make the recipe here; either way it’s fine. There is not a lot of complicated bits t make either; probably the most complicated part is maybe melt those candy choco-melts you can get in the craft store, and dip something in a coat with sprinkles or whatever.
Every board also has a starting point picture with the key parts of the board put on, and the you can use the competed image to fill in as you want. A lot of fun diy themes like football, or princess, or diy salad or bagel-wich boards, etc. Most of these are pretty easily adaptable too, like if I don’t have the heart-shaped crackers for the Valentine’s board, I could get the same general look with standard round water crackers (smaller ones at least).
This leads to me kind of complaint number 1: if you don’t live near a Trader Joes, you can’t do at least half of these boards as originally presented. There’s no consistent brand-naming in the recipes, but quite a few ingredients are identifiably TJ specific, such as dried orange slices (really hard to find anywhere consistently), salty mochi snacks, jelly squares, and so on. If you’re near a Target you might find some alternatives, but not all. I live near neither of these, so I’d really have to be on the look out for swaps. There’s also some inconsistencies with what gets a recipe and what does not; there is no recipe for Birthday Cake Rice Krispie treats, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen that as a pre-packaged option (meaning I’d have to improvise on the Birthday Dessert board. I don’t understand why I’d be expected to want a recipe for pico de gallo or queso, but not salsa verde (Chips and Dips Board). I’ve also never seen a pistachio fig salami in a store (the Vegan board). I could find recipes for this online, but I’ve never seen or heard of this product before.
I also have to question the set-up on some boards; do I really want baby carrots touching my Cheez-its on the Halloween board? That just invites soggy crackers. On the Rainbow board, do I really want to follow the directions and image in mixing strawberry pieces, cherries, red pepper chunks, radish slices, cherry tomatoes, and raspberries? Individually, I’m fine with all those things, but I can just see someone picking up a combination they didn’t mean to, and that’s ick-city.
Lastly, the mommy-blogger introduction was off-putting. Full disclosure: I do not have children myself, but the idea that “put it on a board and your kids will try/love anything!” strikes me as highly suspect and questionable. That said, most of these could easily be projects you get the kids involved with, especially if said kids have an interest in art projects and/or food. If my nieces and nephews are anything to go by, most kids are at some point. I just don’t see it feasible as more than once and a while project.