Camaraderie by a fire provides such simple yet profound contentment. Whether you are roasting hot dogs and s’mores around a campfire, chatting with friends around the backyard fire pit (also known as a cave man’s TV), or enjoying an indoor fire lit for a party, fires evoke a certain soothing ambiance in any scenario. They offer a primal pleasure from their warmth, the dancing flames, and the dazzling, ever-changing patterns in the glowing embers.
That is, unless Mother Nature objects.
Once at a seated dinner party, as we lit the first fire of the season, an angry family of indignant wasps came hurtling out of the chimney to wage a fierce battle against their inconsiderate assailants. This, in turn, caused a hurtling back of chairs as we all dove under the table, all decorum cast asunder. Thankfully, the stinger-laden insects proved to be sufficiently stunned from the smoke and settled on the tops of the windows, allowing everyone a peaceful continuance of the evening, albeit with an occasional glance up.
Many families enjoy the tradition of teaching children how to make s’mores, and ours was no exception. However, we did have an added complication in that as toddlers, my sisters and I did not initially like marshmallows. Rather than simply moving on to the chocolate, I made myself consume the hot, gooey mouthful and then reach to roast another so I too could “enjoy” this favorite pastime around the fire. I then had the pleasure of witnessing my sisters go through the same familial initiation as 3-year-olds of forcing themselves to eat marshmallow after marshmallow with contorted grimaces until acquiring the taste. Now, as a roasted marshmallow devotee, I must concur with the religious detail described by Jimbo Haynes in “The Birds, the Bees, and Chimney Disease” on page 82 on the proper due process for crafting a true s’more.
For more sophisticated repast in anticipation of Thanksgiving, glean ideas for entertaining with freshly harvested wild game from local experts in “Wild about Game” on page 54. Tired of your usual venison or dove recipes? Try Michael Boozer’s reverse seared venison loin or Ben Myers’ bacon-wrapped dove poppers. Then, for dessert, read Susan Slack’s article on page 42 for creative twists on fall-flavored baking. I heartily recommend her five-spice carrot cake and cranberry plum streusel bars! And for tips on crafting the perfect centerpiece for this incredible meal, look no further than Melissa Andrews’ article on page 66 with step-by-step instructions from Cricket Newman and Sarah Swinson Shell on creating a stunning autumnal focal point for your table.
From your s’mores gathering around the fire to a seated dinner around an elegant white linen tablecloth, we extend you all our best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving!