At our last dinner group get together, which we hosted in our backyard, we planned a summer meal for the evening. Even though our dinner group met over Labor day weekend, we carried on like it was the middle of July. Well, that is until it got chilly and dark. So dark that it was hard to see what we were eating! Fortunately, by the time it was that dark, we were eating dessert and you don’t need much light to eat delicious homemade blueberry pie and ice cream.
At the beginning of our dinner group gathering, we should have toasted the start of our 9th year of frugal, fancy, and fun get togethers! We started this group back in September 2004 as a way to socialize and share meals with friends who live close by and not spend a fortune on going out to restaurants. But instead of celebrating our anniversary, we were too busy enjoying the food, the gorgeous September evening, and trying to jockey for the spot closest to the fire.
Here’s how our dinner group works. The hosting couple is responsible for making the entrée and choosing the main course, which sets the menu or “theme” for the evening. After choosing the main part of the meal, the host assigns the following dishes to the other participants:
Sometimes the hosting couple will chose recipes for everyone to follow which forces us all to try a new recipe or perhaps make one up. Either way, it’s delicious and everyone in our group is a food-lover so it’s always a tasty – and fun! – evening.
As hosts, we chose my husband’s famous clam bake recipe. It’s a seafood stew that’s a good meal to eat outside. We were covered in fish broth up to our elbows!
It’s spicy and has vegetables and seafood.
Everything goes into a big pot and it gets cooked outside.
Since we had most food groups covered in the seafood stew, our other guests brought pan seared peppers, gazpacho, and bread. I was too busy chatting and enjoying myself to snap pictures of these tasty morsels.
Cooking outside and a clam bake – this was the easiest dinner group ever for me! Yes, I set the table, got the kids organized for the evening, and reminded my husband to stock the wood for our outdoor fire. Our kids made dinner for another couple’s kids in our dinner group and then they all watched a movie. They didn’t need much help – just reminders to clean up the kitchen!
I also fixed up a new chair for the night. This chair was another “free” chair that someone had tossed out. Honestly, I refused it at first because as we all know, I have a chair obsession and I’ve been trying to tone it down. But no – my enabler otherwise known as my husband – put the chair in the back of his car and brought it home for me. It’s super-duper cute and wasn’t too much work to start and finish.
Our next dinner group won’t be outside by the fire. We’ve settled into fall, cold, and rain!
What’s your favorite time of year to entertain? Are you in a dinner group?
Go Gingham related links:
Directions to sew the tablecloth we used – flag day tablecloth
Frugal and stylishly wine charms – easy to make yourself
How to organize a dinner group – why not start one? It’s frugal, fancy & fun!
Last summer’s dinner group gather is here and the appetizer we brought is here
Our dinner group followed Bon Appetit’s menu last fall
Dinner group in spring – well, it felt like winter
The appetizer – white bean dip – brought for dinner group