Monday, February 3, 2014

Best Buds

Big Game Evite

Ever since my son left elementary school, he and his friends from those days have had an annual tradition of gathering at our house on Superbowl Sunday.  In the early years, the parents came and hung out, too.  We'd be in the kitchen catching up, and the kids would be piled onto couches down the hall. Later on, the boys would be dropped off, clutching a two liter bottle of Sprite and a bag of Doritos to contribute.  They'd cheer and yell at the game and the commercials, run out every once in a a while to refill their bowl from the snack table, play a massive game of touch football at halftime, and generally have a total ball.

Westland crew, 5th grade
Some of the crew, in 5th grade.

At first, the boys were still seeing each other fairly frequently despite being spread out over the city at different middle schools, but as time went on, this became the one day each year that everyone would get together.  Despite each and every one of them towering over me, with their deep voices and facial hair, come February, it was like no time had passed at all for me, or for them.

The boys, all grown up
Six years later

Knowing that almost all of them are now seniors, and will soon be scattering even father apart, I assumed this year's event would be even more of a memorable reunion.   I began pestering my son for details.

Me:  So, have you sent out the invite for your Superbowl party yet?  
Him:  No.
Me:  Oh. OK.  Well, we've been invited somewhere else but I said no.  I was thinking of making you guys some homemade soft pretzels, since everyone loved the pretzel dogs so much that time.  Do you think we should bring back the cookie dough dip, too?  And the wings?  They plowed through the wings last year.
Him:  Um...
Me:  I can't believe this'll be the last one. Wow. 
Him:  Can we talk about this later?


Me:  OK, what is going on?
Him:  Mom, my friends are all mostly 18 now.  They want to go to parties where they can drink and watch the game, and I don't want them doing that here.  So, let's just skip it, OK?
Me: [Dying a little inside] Oh. Right. Got it.


Good choice, good choice.

So, when I was hanging out with the parents in the kitchen at someone else's house, and the beer commercials came on, I got choked up and more than a little teary as the lyrics played:

'Cause you only need the light when it's burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go

Only know you've been high when you're feeling low
Only hate the road when you're missing home
Only know you love her when you let her go

Not because of the adorable puppy crawling through the fence*, but because of how the brand behind those gloriously maned horses, and all of its brethren, impacted what were supposed to be lifelong friendships.

Best Buds, indeed.

Baked White Cheddar and Leek Dip

Baked Leek and Cheddar Dip (With Beer)

by Sharon Graves
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes  
Lightly adapted from a recipe by Laurie, of Simply Scratch, this is exactly the kind of dip you need to sustain you through a boring football game and the maturing of your first born child.  It is also an excellent way to use up any beer that might be lying around giving former kindergardeners ideas.  The dip is devastatingly cheesy, tangy from the sharp cheddar and the hints of mustard and garlic, but mellowed with the dark notes from the beer and the sweetness of the burnished leeks.
  • 1 leek, trimmed, light green and white parts only
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 2 small or 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 8 oz. sharp white cheddar cheese, grated, divided (2/3 for inside, 1/3 for the top)
  • 1/4 c. mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard (optional)
  • 4 oz. of good dark beer
Preheat the oven to 375.

Chopped leeks, cleaned and ready
Trim, halve and slice the leek into half moons. Put the leek slices into a bowl of water and swirl them around with your fingers to break them up. Any remaining dirt will fall to the bottom of the bowl. 
Scoop out the leeks with a slotted spoon, drain and pat dry.

Melt the butter in a small heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the clean leeks, and cook until barely softened, about 7-8 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook for another minute or two, until the leeks are fully softened. Season with salt and pepper, stir, and remove from the heat.

Beechers' Flagship Cheese - the best!

In a separate bowl, combine the cream cheese, two-thirds of the grated cheddar, mayonnaise, mustard, and the beer. Add in the cooked leeks and stir until smooth.

Spread the leek dip into the same skillet (if it is oven-safe) or a 1-1/2 to 2 quart baking dish and top with the remaining grated cheese.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly and lightly golden.

The dreaded beer, used properly.Let the dip cool for 10 minutes before serving. Goes beyond well with pita chips, tortilla chips, carrots, a big get the idea.

* Well, a little because of the puppy.  I'm a sucker.


  1. Replies
    1. I was a total mess about the whole thing and I still am.

  2. Oh how touching. What a great story.

    1. I just wish it had a happy ending! Maybe we can get them together for the basketball finals or something...

  3. {Sigh} My son and his buddies are 12/13 years old now.... 7th grade... They too have been having that annual Super Bowl party, complete with the touch football, etc. They too will scatter for high school all too soon and I don't even want to think about after that. This post really struck a chord for me. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Definitely don't think about it, and enjoy every minute with those boys.

  4. Replies
    1. Oh dear, now we're all weepy. No wonder the kids are driven to drink.