Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Harvest Dinner Party

Deus Ex Machina, in his never-ending quest to make his work environment more ... pleasant ..., decided it was time for a department get-together. So, he invited his "guys" to our house over the holiday for a dinner party.

The last dinner party we hosted was an Eat Local challenge, in which we challenged our guests to bring food that they had sourced locally. Back then, it was a challenge to find local food, but now, not so much. This time, we just decided what we wanted to serve, and as we were sitting down to eat realized that most of the food was local - without our having tried to make it so.

I'm still all about the local food, but the key difference between then and now is that I find it more difficult to share with as much zeal my enthusiasm for our local diet. For those who are already on the local foods kick, it's preaching to the choir and for those who are not, it's an opportunity to pick fun at my choices. Neither scenario is much fun for the people involved, and so, while we mentioned, kind of in passing, that the food was local (because someone asked about the potatoes), other than that passing comment, we didn't beat the subject into the ground like I would have in days of yore. For us, that most of our food is from local sources is just the way it is, and there are so many other weird things I do that I have to pick and choose so that people don't run screaming away from me ;).

The running joke of the evening was "you might be a redneck if ...", and Deus Ex Machina and I spent the evening discovering how many ways we fit the mold ;). Apparently, raising our own chickens, growing our own potatoes, and brewing our own alcoholic beverages qualified us for the title. Our guests enjoyed our stories about eating roadkill deer and the time we served beaver stew to our girls without telling them it was beaver (they thought it was beef, and thoroughly enjoyed the stew, which was delicious, by the way).

It probably didn't help that when Deus Ex Machina and I were taking food outside to the picnic table and decided to bring some condiments that we realized we did not, in fact, have a salt shaker. So, we made one.

Or that our drinking glasses were repurposed canning jars ;).

And I didn't even talk about my clothesline, but on the way into our yard, most of them had to duck their heads to keep from getting clotheslined (*grin*).

The favorite story of the evening, though, had to be the one I told about when Deus Ex Machina and I were visiting his "kinfolk" out in the rural southwest when we were still newlyweds. From the moment we met and Deus Ex Machina learned that I hailed from Kentucky, we've had a running joke about inbreeding (* Yes, indeed, when I told him I was from Kentucky, he asked if I was inbred ... and I still married him - I must have been too dazzled by his gorgeous smile to pay closer attention to what he was saying ... or something ;).

So, this particular day, we were sitting around with his relatives, and he said something to me about my lineage, which no one else appeared to hear. So as sweetly as I could muster in my very best southern accent I said, very loudly, to him, "Well, you know why I married you, don't you?" Everyone got quiet, and this look of oh-shit-where-is-she-going-with-this crossed his face, but he decided to play anyway, and asked why. Time stood still, as even the Earth seemed to hold her breath waiting for my response.

I said, "Because I don't have any brothers, and the only cousin my age is in jail."

Deus Ex Machina nearly broke a rib laughing. It was probably at that exact moment that he knew his decision to make me his life-partner was the best choice he'd ever made ;).

His family ... didn't think me so witty.

Our party guests seemed to thoroughly enjoy our story, however, and were almost positive that we'd earned the Jeff Foxworthy RedNeck (blue) Ribbon Award.

But the pièce de résistance was when we whipped out the Mora knife and started carving marshmallow roasting sticks. It was then, that our guests determined we had completely wedged ourselves into that peg hole, and the fit was nice and neat.

Dinner was two grill-roasted chickens and a rabbit (from our nanofarm), corn (from the farmstand), and oven-roasted potatoes and onions (from the garden). I served pasta salad, because it was easy. The pasta, olives and dressing were not local, but the tomatoes, cucumbers and cheese were.

The beer and cider were our own, and one of our guests brought his own home-brew ... which was DE-LI-CIOUS!

And the strawberries and homemade whipped-cream on the (store-bought) pound cake were both locally sourced (yes, we have a local farm that grows "fall" strawberries, and every week at the Farmer's Market, the vendor makes sure to save a quart just for me ;).

What's nice, though, is that for this dinner, it wasn't about it being all local. It was about coming together as a community and meeting some of the new people Deus Ex Machina's company has hired recently. It was about enjoying ... and sharing ... the fruits of our labor, and it was about sitting and relaxing next to the fire after weeks and months of stress-inducing craziness.

For me, the most amazing part of the day was my family - who are all incredible! Everyone worked to make ready for the party, cleaning and cooking and chopping ... and Little Fire Faery went outside and started the fire in the firepit - by herself ... and she did an amazing job.

At the end of the day, as the sun went down, our guests had departed, and the fire was burning down to embers, we sat outside around the fire pit and the girls roasted (non-local) marshmallows on sticks we'd whittled for them.

And I took pictures, because {these moments} are the ones I so cherish and that serve as reminders of how truly remarkable my life really is.


  1. Loved the post! LOL.

    Your inbreed joke made me laugh. We have a running joke around here that my husband married me because I was a sure bet that we weren't kin. We live in his hometown and it seems like everyone I meet is a cousin (by blood or marriage) to him. We are going to have to ship our children out of the state when they are ready for marriage. LOL Aye and no worries about the fam not appreciating your joke... The south east humor is a rare jewel that few people can recognize. ;)

  2. Leigh - Love your "running" joke (the inbreeder joke still makes the rounds in our household - but it took some interesting twists after I read the book The Beans of Egypt Maine ;), and yes, the southern humor is a jewel. I'm just (glad and) lucky that Deus Ex Machina got it - although if he hadn't, it would have been too late, because at that point, we were already married ;)!

  3. Nice job getting two moments in this week. I'm impressed! :)

  4. Ah ... but if I post the same {moment} on Friday will you still be impressed? *grin*

    ~~Tallahassee, from Zombieland :D