“Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves,
We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!”
- Humbert Wolfe
This time of year inspires gathering in us. It brings friends and families closer – huddled together for warmth and for comfort. We are eager for an excuse to bring a bottle of wine to a friends house and cozy up around a big table and share a meal. These days are rare. Family dinners hardly exist any more. Sadly, we often opt for frozen meals from Trader Joe's (not that those cant be delicious!) and plop our little behinds on the couch to watch American Horror Story. I am not saying that those are bad choices, because truthfully that is what I want most nights. However, I envy the generations of the past. The friends that had weekly bridge night, town hall dances and Saturday evening cocktail parties. I want to bring those traditions back in to our lives – even if it just a seasonal gathering to enjoy the company of the people you love, and talk around a shared meal.
We decided that an Autumn Harvest Gathering should be had, and we invited some friends and family to share the night with. A few of our attic floor boards were quickly repurposed to make the Harvest table, and some old fleece fabrics were turned into cozy little throws for the ladies cold shoulders. A carefully plotted menu was designed, printed, and painted. We carried our dining room chairs in to our back yard and began to set the scene. Lots of white and some touches of gold, some heather gray and a few sprigs of cornflower blue. We foraged for fall flowers (never buy what you can find in your own back yard!) and lit the tapers in their birch wood holders (have I mentioned how handy and talented my husband is!?). The fire pits were lit, and the cafe lights were strung – we were ready for our gathering!
We had perfect weather, cool and dry, not a bug in sight! The sun was setting, we drank our pumpkin beer, snacked on sausage and leek galettes, and baked brie with fig and orange chutney (just to admit full disclosure – I dropped an ENTIRE baked brie on the ground...).
Because I did all of the cooking, I was constantly running back and forth from my kitchen to the yard – but I loved every minute of it! It was so great hearing some of the people I love most in the world laughing and talking, dancing and eating.
Our menu was simple and rustic, comforting and (mostly!) familiar. I tried to use as many local ingredients as I could, as well as including some classic New England fall flavors like cranberry, pumpkin and butternut squash. I also introduced my guests to eating rabbit – which I adore, but I think it is hard for some people to get past the “Thumper” thing. We also had two vegetarians among the group, so we did keep the meatless options plentiful. I've listed the menu at the bottom of the post for your viewing curiosity!
This night has inspired so many ideas for me - of new traditions I want to start with my friends and family, new projects I would love to teach my loved ones (and that includes you!). It also has inspired me to start thinking like the generations before us, to slow life down a little bit (even tho the preparation for these kinds of things can feel like work- it doesn't have to be work - it can be fun!) enjoy the seasons, the changes that they bring - to enjoy your families and your friends and where your life is now. Enjoy and live in the moment.
I also have to give a little shout out to my baby sister Abigail (who is getting MARRIED next week!?! AH!) because she couldn't be at this little gathering - the next one will not be held with out her attendance. Being the eldest of four siblings, any sort of family gathering doesn't feel complete with out all of my siblings there - and truly all night I was wishing my little sister (and my little brother who is out in Montana for school right now) were there, because then it would feel whole. I know my sister Emily (she is the beer-holding mommas-night-out smiling one in the picture below…) felt the same way - and we can't wait to have all of our family together again next weekend for Abby's big day. So don't fret Abigail - the next one is in your honor. I'm thinking a hot chocolate sipping Christmas wreath making luncheon, perhaps?
Over the next few blog posts, I will be including some of the recipes from this little gathering – but for tonight, I am going to leave you with the simple yet oh-so-scrumptious cocktail recipe for the spiced Dark & Stormy. I added a little fall kick to this one with the addition of some spices and a bit of orange which I think just enhances the flavor, but if you are a traditionalist just ignore those little additions and stick with whats good – rum and ginger beer.
Have a lovely weekend! xoxo
• Spiced Dark & Stormy •
makes one cocktail
2oz dark rum (preferably Goslings Black Seal Rum - it tastes the best!)
a pinch of cinnamon
a pinch of cardamom
1/4 teaspoon orange blossom water
6oz Goslings Ginger Beer
Pour rum, spices, orange water and 6 or 7 ice cubes in a drink shaker and shake them up.
Pour into a pretty glass and top with the ginger beer.
Stir once for good measure, and drink up!
• Menu •
spiced dark & stormy
jack-o-traveler pumpkin shandy
apple, goat cheese & cranberry galette
leek, sausage & apple galette
baked brie cheese with fig & orange chutney
wild mushroom soup
harvest bread with whipped maple butter
warm wheat berry salad with goat cheese, cranberries, toasted pumpkin seeds & baked butternut squash
mixed arugula salad with cortland apples, gorgonzola cheese, toasted walnuts & caramel apple vinaigrette
garlic & chive pappardelle with braised rabbit, blue foot mushrooms, fava beans & white wine cream sauce
cardamom bundt cake with orange glaze
spiced apple cider
french press coffee
bully boy white whiskey
listening to: Somebody Loves Me by Benny Goodman