I know some people love Halloween, but for me it’s always been an obstacle on the path to the holiday season. Don’t get me wrong, Halloween can be fun, especially if you dress up like Romy and Michele and pass out Post-it notes all night as my friend Cammie and I did this year, but I’m always champing at the bit when November rolls around and it’s officially acceptable to freak out about the holidays. Now I’m not the type to snap a picture of my red Starbucks holiday cup, but if you don’t think I’m digging out Justin Bieber’s Christmas album from the dark recesses of my car and blasting ‘Mistletoe’ on November 1st, you have gravely misjudged me.
I know Friendsgiving is not a new concept, but I have yet to partake in one at this level. Our friends really don’t know any other way. After finally settling on a date that avoided scheduling conflicts and football games, the preparations began. And by preparations I mean endless emails, Google docs, Pinterest boards, multiple calls and trips to the butcher by Ryan…you get the picture. Our dear friend Kelsey generously offered her family’s beautiful cabin in Cle Elum, a couple of hours outside of Seattle, which set the scene for a weekend that felt like it was out of a magazine.
Ryan set the stage with the perfect turkey that was not only difficult to procure a few weeks in advance of Thanksgiving weekend, but one that was also brined in a fraternity cooler from his days at Clemson. Dylan, our wonderful friend who happens to also be a cheesemaker, brought the most incredible assortment of cheeses (including the not-yet-in-stores ‘Holiday Cheer’ cider-washed cheese from Mt. Townsend!) with homemade jam. Connor made sharp cheddar biscuits from scratch and Jessica made what she calls cheddar-chilli crackers and what I call the best-effing-Cheez-its I’ve ever eaten. Katie and Curran made a delicious Brussels sprouts and bacon salad along with mashed potatoes, John was on mulled wine duty (after we ran out of Ry’s hot toddies), and Cam and Colleen made a much-needed refreshing arugula salad.
It doesn’t end there…Kelsey did delicious green beans with almonds and chocolate chip pumpkin muffins, and Dylan blew all of our minds with a cauliflower dish served with bechamel sauce that literally was better than mac and cheese. Nathan made this amazing charred broccoli on the grill that would convince any kid that broccoli is the greatest vegetable ever. Connor also did this incredible cranberry dish with ginger and pinot noir that was insane with the turkey.
I made a butternut squash soup with prosciutto that we snacked on during the day, along with my family’s fave caramelized onion and goat cheese spread on baguette. And it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without sweet potatoes and marshmallows so I made Martha’s version of those as well. Last but not least, Jessica brought our favorite macarons from Bakery Nouveau (where she works as a pastry chef). There were pumpkin ones, pistachio ones, and even a new flavor, margarita, that is made with tequila. So, yeah.
Prior to hitting the road on Friday night, my mom (Drindy) told a few of us that we needed to constantly take ‘freeze frames’ throughout the weekend to let all of the sensory details sink in. In true Drindy spirit, all of us tried our best to really be in the moment while we were there. For the most part, phones stayed piled up in a bowl at the end of the counter and we got to really be with each other. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but some of the freeze frames from the weekend were particularly special. The quiet of the kitchen in the morning as Ryan brewed freshly ground coffee and a few of us got started on our dishes. Jessica and I sneaking
bites mouthfuls of her amazing stuffing throughout the day. The crackle of the fire behind Connor doing an incredible Amanda Bynes charade for our team in a rousing game of Celebrity. All of our red wine-stained lips and teeth on display as we laughed and talked late into the night.
Other notable moments from the weekend included finding what I thought was a dead falcon (according to Dylan it was a grouse) and giving it a proper river burial, walks in the wood with mulled wine in hand, John and Nathan chopping firewood in the backyard, and excellent dinner table conversation. As we packed the cars on Sunday, we were all feeling more proud than ashamed that there were barely any leftovers or wine to take home. We may be gluttons, but at least we stop to enjoy it.