Sunday, November 7, 2010

An Evening with Friends~~

The love of my life is the "love between friends."

It has become a tradition of sorts~~

Each spring we attend the Ronald McDonald charity gala (click to see that special post) with our friends. We all pool our money and purchase the "private dinner cooked by a personal Chef". Then later in the year (you would not believe how hard it is for us all to get our schedules together!) we meet at the home of our dear friends Bob and Jan to enjoy this wonderful and delectable experience.

Our beautiful table decorations (as created by our friend Bob) for our wonderful evening of fellowship with friends.

Our very special friends Bob and Jan. A joy in our lives~~

Another "Bob" and his lovely wife Brenda. Because we are all such "busy " people - we don't often get to visit - thus making this night all the more special.

Bob and Jan have a beautiful home that sits right on the banks of the Ohio River. I stepped out onto the porch shortly after we arrived for this stunning view.

Within minutes - the evening sun had cast an orange glow all over the world outside. The river and the sky shimmered with that special cast that you only see in the late days of fall, the colors of the trees reflecting beautifully in the slowly moving river~~

We all gathered around to watch as the evening progressed to a brief but stunning display of the sun's reflection against the trees.

This amazing display of colors lasted only a few minutes - but my always ready camera captured it forever.

Back inside Chef Mike Bowen was hard at work preparing the vegetables for roasting later. Mike always tries to incorporate ingredients that are local and fresh. The carrots and parsnips were a late harvest from Bob's garden. He also used fresh sage from Jan's herb garden for our delicious soup.

Waiting on the appetizers and conversing with friends. Constant chatter, wine, laughing, talking about our upcoming travels - (we are all cruising together in February), playing with my new IPAD - looking at travel photos, (me taking more pictures!) - it was a wonderful evening.

Let the eating begin - Chef Mike serves the appetizers. Leek and goat cheese stuffed mushrooms and also a wonderful platter of prosciutto and rosemary wrapped shrimp with lemon caper sauce. (how long do you think these lasted?)

That lemon caper sauce was to die for!

Preparing for the next course - Butternut squash sage and Parmesan soup.

Oh my gosh - this was the most wonderful soup ever. We all agreed - we had eaten butternut squash soup in many varieties BUT this WAS the BEST ever. More savory than sweet - this is the one recipe that I have been searching for ! We asked for the recipe and Mike is such a sweetie - he gave it to us ! (I will share it with you at the end of this post~~)
Pistachio crusted chicken with fig sauce, risotto cakes and roasted root vegetables. The Gardener said this was the best chicken dish he had ever eaten. The fig sauce was out of this world and those roasted root veggies - oh my!
Can't you just tell that we are having a wonderful evening among friends!
Our friends are all "wine snobs". They have immense knowledge about wines and have a true appreciation for great wines. (Me - I by wine that has a pretty label.) BUT this wine was one that we all agreed on - it was wonderful - and quite possibly the best I have ever had. Bob and Brenda brought the wine - selected it from their endless wine cellar - the last bottle they had, (can't remember where it came from !!!) a french wine that now we are all in search of!

And dessert of course~~ a chocolate pecan pie with cinnamon whipped cream - can we just all say ahhh!

I love this guy - for more reasons than I can ever share here. A true friend to me - this man's faith and courage through his battle with cancer has been an inspiration for all of us who know and love him. A true survivor - we are so blessed by his determination and his love of life. He knows I love him - I tell him every time we are together.

The soup recipe! We yelled from the table - "Mike - you HAVE to give us the recipe for this soup!"
Butternut Squash and Parmesan Soup
1 medium onion - diced
2 stalks celery - diced
1 large butternut squash - chopped into small pieces
3 cloves fresh roasted garlic
4 cups chicken broth
2 T cream
Parmesan cheese - fresh grated - to taste
dried sage for garnish
Saute onions, celery and carrots in oil - saute until clear. Add butternut squash and saute for about 10 - 15 minutes longer. Add chicken stock, roasted garlic, and cook covered for about 15-20 minutes. Puree all ingredients then return to pot - add cream. Add grated Parmesan and sage when serving. (Mike says that he prepares the soup the night before so that the flavours mingle together - so you might want to consider that when you make the soup.)
Coming up soon - the Gardener's family recipe for Butternut squash souffle. (It's not really a souffle - but we call it that anyway!) Our most favorite Holiday recipe - and requested every time we join friends and family for dinner. I will try to have this posted in time for your Holiday baking~~


Anonymous said...

I am most definitely going to try that soup. What a delightful evening you had amongst friends and beautiful scenery.

The French Bear said...

Vicki, looks like the night was a huge success! Everyone has such big happy smiles, so nice to see. dinner looks amazing, what a treat...your own chef!!!
Of course you look stunning, gorgeous smile and so pretty!!!
Margaret B

PoetessWug said...

Looks like I wasn't the only one having a great time with friends this weekend. Don't you love it when the food is as good as the company?....Well....almost! ^_^

La said...

Sounds like a fabulous evening with good friends and delicious food...all while helping an amazing charity. PERFECT! La

Dorthe said...

Dear Vicki, I can see, you 6 had a wonderfull evening together,--from the meeting, in the beautifull sunsetting- till the fantastic dessert--and all the plates in between -together with the delicius wine, speaks, of a beautifull evening, in friends compagny- surrounded of love and gorgeus nature.
Thanks for inviting us,too-sweetie,-
Hugs, Dorthe

Her Art Nest said...

I am always so impressed with your posts. What a beautiful dinner! I love that pumpkin centerpiece idea. I am going to try that squash soup recipe. It looks amazing. I love the idea of your own personal chef--how cool is that? Thank you for sharing your beautiful life. Take care, Nancy

Lady Farmer said...

I am not a big fan of squash, but this sounds so delish, I am going to give it a try! Thanks (to you and Chef Mike!) for sharing this recipe!

Deb said...

Hi Vicki ~ the recipe has been copied already and put on our menu plan. I just have to buy the butternut squash, which actually we usually have from our garden; this year the deer tasted it and liked it a little too much!

Looks like a wonderful time with special friends.

Sherri said...

Vicki, what an absolutely wonderful visit and dinner you had with your lovely group of friends! The meal looked fantastic and I could see your friends enjoyed the time you all had together! What a wonderful memory!

Fearless Nester said...

I've never seen the Ohio River look quite so stunning Vicki. (Our last home was 3 miles from the Ohio River.) I can just see the warmth and affection that this wonderful group of friends have for you and each other. A beautiful post Vicki. xoxo ~Lili

Val said...

Beautiful table, and what a wonderful and big-hearted tradition! I love it. :)

SuZeQ said...

As I read this, it's only 6ish in the morning but you got my taste buds into active gear. How fun!

Sandie's Patch said...

Aaah! Wonderful!
I think I am so full after 'virtually' eating supper with you and your friends!
I can feel the warmth and love of your friendships through your pictures and words. Definately a memory to treaure!
Thank you for sharing.
I've just become your 400th follower!

Sandie xx

gigi knits said...

There is nothing better than spending time with Good Friends!! unless it Family!!!

myriamkreativ said...

Hi my dear Vicki,
seems you had a wonderful weekend.... an evening amongst friends is a very special joy. And the view on the Ohio is OUTSTANDING ... I can`t believe it so beautiful. What do I hear? Your are planning a cruise in february *lol* - and the granny-visits and Christmas and.... your hardly at home these days, aren`t you? I hope you will enjoy every single hour.... have a wonderful week Hugs and love Myriam

teach4fun said...

Vicki, THANK YOU so much for posting such a great set of pictures. I knew that you were all getting together but didnt know Mike was coming to cater. Wonderful pictures of everyone. I loved the shots of the trees and the river and of course mom and dad look great!

You are such a blessing to them and to me. Thanks for being there for them in their lives. HUGS, Amy :)

Jules said...

Looks like a wonderful evening. Thanks for sharing the soup recipe - my son LOVES soup so I'm going to give this a whirl as a change to his current favourite of red pepper and butternut squash soup. x

Elizabeth and Gary said...

Such a lovely evening indeed! How fun to have a wonderful meal prepared for you by a personal Chef..and that you enjoyed your meal knowing the money went to the Ronald McDonald House. I love it!!!!.
Gary and I have donated to Make a Wish and its another wonderful charity.
I will have to try the Butternut squash soup recipe.
Have a sweet day and big hugs, Elizabeth

Anonymous said...

Just like reliving the entire evening. Thank You, LU, B & J

Anonymous said...

Well, I had to read the blog again. This is the forth time. You are amazing. The fun of the evening is captured in these pictures and your lovely words.
Thank You so very much,
LU, Jan

Jody Hammer said...

How wonderful!!! The trees were beautiful in all their orange splendor and reflected in the river. What a lovely setting for a lovely evening. It is wonderful to have great friends! I feel very blessed to have the friends that I have, and I know you feel the same way. I have been blessed to get to know you through your blog and am very thankful. You are such an inspiration. You're an uplifting influence on this unhappy world and we are all better for it!!! Thank you for sharing your world with me....=)

Sandie's Patch said...

Hi Vicki,
Thanks for popping over to my blog.
I'm general trained nurs, worked almost my entire career with adults, currently working in a privately owned Nursing Home, the majority of the clients are over 70yrs old.
As I get older though, I crave to do more arty/crafty things but, Nursing is my 'bread and butter' of life!

Have a great week!

Sandie xx

ChefM said...

I forgot to write down the sage, though thyme or rosemary would work great as well. I always enjoy the evening.

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Oh gosh Vicki, how wonderful this all looks. And old friends...what could be better??? I am anxiously awaiting my upcoming time with my best girlfriends. Lots of laughing, crying, and sharing to do.

I started to print the soup recipe and 35 pages spit out of the printer. Yikes.

Sending love, love,

Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

P.S. I have one or two bur acorns. They're huge! And yes, Gift from the Sea is such a soul saver. i sat next to Anne's niece at a history lecture in Maine. I was thrilled. XX

susan jenkins said...

Hi Vicki,
Lovely pictures and fun to be encluded in your wonderful evening!
Thank you so much for the delicious Butternut squash recipe and I anxiously await the souffle recipe!!
xx Susan
So loving my beautiful bird nest!

Rustique Gal said...

What lovely pictures and I feel like I was there with you! The food and friendship and the beautiful scenery conspired to make it just wonderful! I will look forward to making that soup!

The Painted Garden said...

Hi Vicki,

Oh my goodness - what a fabulous idea to share an evening with friends and your personal chef to support a special charity. Your dinner looked amazing and as usual, your photographs are stunning.
Thank you for sharing.

Tarnished and Tattered said...

I had to take a minute to really absorb this beautiful post before I could comment. The whole evening just blows me away. What an amazing, perfect way to spend an Autum night. Ronald McDonald is such a great charity & I think it is so telling of your personality & the people you call friends that you would make this a tradition. Hats off for that. The reward looks well worth it. Bob & Jan's home is a dream, wow that view. The food made my tummy grumble (thanks for sharing the soup recipe)the wine...yum & sharing memories with friends. Awesome! Lisa

Katherine ( Katie) Corrigan said...

What a lovely way to spend the evening. The photos made me feel as if I was there with you. Hugs!

elvira pajarola said...

SO LOVELY and Joyful and what a fabulous idea to have a privat Chef which prepares you a delightful diner like the one you had!!!

...Wonderful to stay together with dear friends!

Ah, this creamy and delicate soup..: I'll try the receipe for my soup-lovers, cara Vicky!!!!

Have a sunny weekend!!!!
ciao ciao elvira