Snowy with a Chance of Kohlrabi

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.

Steamboat 2010 - Great Friends

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?

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  1. Meanlittleboy

     /  March 30, 2010

    Memories are a gift from GOD!!

  2. Lisa H

     /  March 31, 2010

    Friends and Food–ah, they go great together! Our best memories are those, like yours, where we vacation with friends and the meals are always the same. There is comfort in routine and traditions.

    • Share some of your large group meal ideas Lisa.

      • Lisa H

         /  April 2, 2010

        Oh, gosh, where do I start? We love carne asada tacos with black beans. All the fixings are in bowls on the table and we make our own. Leftovers are used the next morning to make omelettes. And then again to make shrimp tacos (OK, we love tacos!).
        During Thanksgiving, our favorite next-day sandwiches are cream cheese, turkey, cranberry sauce on croissants for lunch. Turkey pot pie for dinner.
        The best meals are those that can be incorporated into the next day’s meal (tacos to omelettes, turkey to sandwiches to pot pie).
        I would love to hear how others plan for large group meals when they travel. For us, preparing as much ahead of time (chopping and slicing) makes for a more relaxing day.

  3. I love steamboat! I lived there for a year when I was 19. It was one of the best years of my life:)

  4. What fun! I don’t ski but would surely love a getaway like this, especially with such delicious food to look forward to.

    • One of the things that I love about Steamboat is that you don’t have to be a good skier (I’m not). There is plenty to do.

  5. As one of the participants of those meals, I’ll also throw in the morning breakfast routine. The hot coffee, OJ, fresh strawberries and cantalope, whole wheat bagels with jam, a small selection of cerel for the kids (big and small) — all gets us organized for a day of skiing and other activities. Who’s driving with who, what kids are going where (most likely the terrain park) and of course….where on the mountain we’re meeting for lunch!!! Veggie chilli on a baked potato, anyone?

  6. ozarkhomesteader

     /  April 2, 2010

    What a wonderful tradition, Tammy.

    One of the things we enjoy about our long, group river trips is the communal meals. I like it best when a couple is responsible for bringing the bulk of one meal each, but everyone pitches in to make it happen and then clean up. Many hands make short work.

  7. ozarkhomesteader

     /  April 2, 2010

    Lisa H, our group meals are complicated by the fact that we all travel pretty far (by car) to get where we’re meeting and then will be in the great outdoors, on a river with no electricity or refrigeration, for the next week or more. We do some pre-prep, including pre-freezing all meat products with dry ice. We carry coffin coolers–100 quarts at a minimum per raft. If we prepare well, we can eat almost as well as we do at home.

    Here’s one day’s menu that I pulled from an old email, from a couple who live near the Buffalo River:
    Chips, guacamole and salsa
    Grilled pork loin
    Southwest veggies (black beans, corn, garlic, squash, red or green pepper, salsa and rice
    Strawberry Shortcake

    Scrambled eggs and chorizo breakfast burritos
    Fixins: cheese, salsa, fried beans or potatoes
    OJ, coffee with Baileys, fresh fruit

    The problem for my husband and I is that we don’t eat red meat, but with the Southwest veggies, we easily filled up and got in our protein.

    • Lisa H

       /  April 2, 2010

      Thanks ozarkhomesteader! I love your menu, it’s similar to what we fix for our camping trips. I like to freeze ahead of time, too. I also ziplock items together so they are premeasured and all I have to do is pull out the big bag that is labeled by meal with everything ready to be put together.
      The first year we car camped we totally over-packed both food and gear! I didn’t pre-chop, pre-measure, or anything like that. We were eating late with a ton of dirty dishes! I love to laugh at that first trip, because through the years I have stream-lined the process and meals (always the same plus one new meal). I like your idea of using dry ice, we may have to try that this summer.

      • ozarkhomesteader

         /  April 3, 2010

        For our river trips, we have no choice but to use dry ice, if you want to be safe with no access to stores for 8 days or more, and you’ve got 12-20 people on the trip. Yes, we do the big zippies to organize meals too.

        First-time planning is always hard. I went on one trip last year where one inexperienced person had put together the food, and we had three or more times what we needed.

        (Tammy, I’m sorry if we’re hijacking your post!)

        • Don’t worry. I love the information exchange!

          • ozarkhomesteader

             /  April 4, 2010

            I’m glad!

            I think we served chicken and veggie fajitas with black bean soup and my husband’s apple enchilada dessert, but I can’t remember for sure.
            We can get chicken in foil packs that are shelf stable that really works on long river trips for late in the trip.

            • Lisa H

               /  April 4, 2010

              Apple Enchiladas? Mmmmm. I’m going to have to try that!
              Glad you’re enjoying the chatter, Tammy.

  8. That would be a great trip to plan with friends. You are so fortunate to be able to get together like that.

    Food is always a great reason for a social gathering. Food and wine pairing. International cuisine sampling…all sorts of fun party themes with food.

    • And so many fun after-dinner around the table games. I’m hoping to do a future post on that! Thanks for the visit.

  9. That is absolutely amazing (:

  10. hey, that’s me holding the snowball!

  11. Meanlittleboy

     /  April 23, 2010

    THis is a bad site if your on a diet!!lol darn I am hungry now..cheers mlb

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