I count myself among the incredibly fortunate who are wealthy in friendships. For the past 19 years, I’ve met up with 11 amazing school friends together with their families for an annual ski trip. One year, there were more than 40 of us! This year, we total 25. We’ve explored many of the great ski resorts in the Western U.S. yet we often return to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. In Steamboat we always rent the same house which makes it tradition for all 24 kids that have been born to us during this time frame – ages ranging from 1 to 19.
While it’s the friendship that draws us here, each family arrives laden with ski bags in anticipation of blue skies and fresh powder and all the good cheer that spring skiing in the Rockies has to offer. Some of us snow shoe or take a day off for a trip to the hot springs. On occasion we’ve gone to the ice rink but regardless, at the end of the day, we meet up en masse for our evening meal.
At dinner, we catch up on the latest books read, most interesting work projects, movies, new technologies, and the kids’ latest academic or athletic endeavors. Around the kids’ table there is a plethora of ski hill tall tales about slalom racing and magnificent ski jumps and how hard it might be to get into college. We share stories and laughs and of course, we share a meal. None of those meals have been eaten in restaurants. (Granted it might be difficult to find one that would take our large and jovial group). Our dinner is prepared by friends in the kitchen of our ski house.
Thinking back over 19 years, I remember those moments more than I recall the winter sports. And it isn’t the food despite our stellar culinary talent – it’s the fellowship that we share around the table. Our meals are a way of closing a day and summarizing a year.
With such a large group, we have a diverse range of dietary requirements. Our methodology has been to prepare a vegetarian option that’s easily modified for the carnivores amongst us. All of these meals work well for a large group:
Day 1 – Spaghetti with Salad; one giant pot of pasta with two different tomato sauce choices – one exclusively veggies and one with organic ground beef.
Day 2 – Stir Fry with Salad; one big pan of rice with a couple of options for toppings – one veggies only and the other organic chicken and veggies.
Day 3 – Mexican Make it yourself; leftover rice with black beans and vegetarian refried beans, veggies, grated cheese, guacamole and three kinds of salsa. A crowd pleaser!
Day 4 – Lasagne with Salad; we used left over spaghetti sauces for this and prepared two different pans – one with meat and one spinach based. Both worked great.
How can you use food to draw a group of friends together?