Cooking at the Gathering

So, a couple weeks ago, I didn’t post, because, as luck and joy would have it, I was 1600 miles from home, at my other home for a few precious days. Formally known as The Luthier Community Gathering, this is an annual event held in the north woods of Minnesota. Hosted by Grant Goltz and Christy Hohman at their incredibly eclectic and homey spread, this is several days of companionship, renewed and new friendships, music, incredible house made beer and ale, and of course, food.   

Over the years, I’ve become the official Chef de Gathering, and it is a joy of joys to do. Over the three days of the main event, we feed somewhere around 30 to 40 folks for dinner, and maybe 12 to 20 for breakfasts and lunches. While some folks bring a little of this and a little of that, Chris and I provide the mainstays, (and usually Monica, who couldn’t make the trip this year due to a new job). And rank has its privilege – I get my own incredibly cozy Chef apartment, and an incredible kitchen to work from.


 For such a big crowd, the process is incredibly easy. At some point, we’ll touch base and decide on theme, main ingredients, etc – it rarely takes more than a couple minutes. I say, “Hey Chris, what are we gonna build?” She fires off some options, inspiration takes hold, and off we go. 

 The real joy comes not only from feeding good friends in a great kitchen, but in the gathering of ingredients. Grant and Christy run a Community Supported Agriculture, (CSA), operation on their spread, so the variety and scope of produce is truly stunning, as you can see.  So, picking ingredients means just that; heading out on the trail with basket in hand, and coming back with the bounty. 

  
  
 This year marked the first truly amazing mushroom harvest, from logs inoculated and set up last season – Shiitakes, an almost embarrassing wealth of gorgeous, just picked beauties – I put them in everything I could think of, (and I did say ‘almost’).

  

  
Our mutual friends, John and Lissa Sumption, have a working CSA close by, (King’s Gardens), so literally anything we don’t have right on hand can be had with a phone call. During my visit, Mark, the very talented local butcher, stopped by and dropped off some goodies, for which he took produce in barter. The results speak for themselves.  

  
 Our recent piece on apples contains several of the recipes we did this year. Here’s the recipe for smoked Guacamole – It’s become a must-do for the event ever since we debuted it seven or eight years ago.


The Annual Gathering is open to any and all who love music, good friends, and good food. Here’s a video and a song that pretty well sums up the vibe. It’s held in August every year. This year, a dear friend from my wildfire fighting days, Nancy Swenson, made the trip out – First time we’d seen each other in thirty four years!

September is Hunger Action Month

It is indeed, and we can all play a part.

Hunger is pandemic throughout our world, and right here in the U.S. is no exception. In fact, your home town is likely no exception.

Granted, we should all do our part year round, but this is as good a time to start, share, or emphasize as any.

I don’t generally like being told what charity or effort needs my help, but in something as basic and pervasive as this, I think we can all make an exception. Here are some ideas for all of us.

 

1. Volunteer at a local food bank or shelter. None of these institutions is swimming in personnel, and all of them rely on volunteers too some degree.

2. Volunteers to deliver for Meals on Wheels. It’s a great program and a wonderful opportunity to help.

3. Donate from your garden. Fall is a significant harvest season. If you or someone you know has fresh produce to spare, donate to an area food bank. Fresh produce is almost always the hardest thing for them to find on a consistent basis, so next planting cycle, plant a row or two specifically to donate from.

4. Organize a neighborhood/area/school/town food drive. If your local haunt doesn’t have such services, I’d almost guarantee there’s a need; maybe you’re the one to make it happen. If they do have services, they’ll never say no to a well organized food drive.