This past Saturday marked the 6th anniversary of the Frecker/Lowry dinner club so I thought what better way to commemorate it than with a blog post, since dinner with the Freckers is the root from which all other dinners have stemmed.

First, some background: when we moved to Mt. Washington in the fall of 2003, we moved one street away from the Freckers. The following spring, Monique and Allen invited us over for the first of roughly 72 dinners we have shared together over the past six years. (Really? 72? I did the math on a calculator and it’s true!)

Sure there have been a couple of months here and there we have missed (particularly during the holidays) but then there have been “bonus” dinners thrown in as well. That means each of us has planned and made around 36 dinners. Considering the way we drink, that’s also roughly 1,008 bottles of beer, and about 100 bottles of wine.

We’ve dined through four grills, two smokers, and four different kitchens. We’ve eaten through two dogs and five children (ew). We’ve taken dinner from Thursday night with our dogs in tow (because our weekends were too full), to Fridays because we’d earned a place in one another’s weekends. Then we started leaving the dogs at home and settled on Saturdays with the arrival of children because we now need the entire day to get it together!

We’ve laughed and joked and laughed some more. I can’t say I remember any crying. We learned to appreciate one another’s company and our children look forward to the dinners as much as we do. They play and they get their own meal together, then they go to bed (well, usually) and the adults stay up and party.

It’s something we look forward to every month. I honed my cooking skills over the years trying to outdo myself with every meal. I used to prepare the whole thing from scratch—appetizer to dessert. Now I cut some corners (store-bought!) but I still enjoy planning the menu and executing the meal.

I can’t remember everything we’ve made, and for a while I tried to have every meal be something new. I’m sure over the course of the 36 meals I have repeated myself. Some of my favorites have been salmon with mango salsa, stuffed grape leaves, and seafood gumbo. For dessert, I have made baklava, carrot cake, chocolate soufflés, pumpkin gooey roll, and peanut butter pie.

Monique makes the best enchiladas (almost worth having another baby for) and Allen is smoke master extraordinaire. They always have the bar stocked and in the summer the Starbucks blender comes out for some patio drinks. Nothing says summer like happy hour on the deck with old friends.

Typically, dinner starts with an imprintable toast and ends with napkin-ring monocles (and Allen falling asleep somewhere). In between we tell stories and laugh and laugh. We always sit in the same chairs. And before we moved we always crammed Allen into a seat right in front of our huge china cabinet so it was always funny to watch him get in and out.

And there have been plenty of blunders. All of which we laugh about riotously. We’ve had undercooked pork, bird poop (a dessert), and my favorite, an ice cream pie I made with a topping of chocolate so hard we had to chisel our way through to the ice cream.

When Jay and I moved we went from a five-minute drive home to a 30-minute drive home but we still keep the tradition alive. (And don’t think we don’t comment every time we pull out of their driveway how we wished we still lived just around the corner.)

We talk about putting all the recipes together in a book but now it sounds like a daunting task. One day we’ll get it all together and marvel at all the dinners we’ve made it through. But for now I’ll end with a napkin-ring monocle tribute.

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