I love getting together with friends, but having a baby hinders that plan a bit: especially when bedtime really begins to become a matter of importance. Last night I snuck out to celebrate my friend Diane's 50th birthday party at her warm and cozy ranch house in the country. Thirteen sassy broads arrived bearing casseroles and bottles of wine to usher in the cronehood of one very wise woman. One of her presents was the above pictured bareroot tree with handwritten birthday wishes attached to the branches. Birthdays are a big deal in my community and family, which translates to a calendar near full at all times. This time of year is like the Lent of pot lucks around here. My sisterfriends and I are queens of the Pot Luck on the mountain. I used to think of pot lucks as kind of weird and yukky, probably residual trauma from my aunt Shelly's soggy, lukewarm broccoli/cheddar/rice disaster present at every family gathering of my childhood. When I moved here six years ago, I kind of snickered at the idea of pot lucking. I'm a major convert now due to the incredible flavors that appear at our local gatherings. For my recent nine year wedding anniversary my mom presented us with a handmade piece of pottery with "The Campbells" calligraphied on the side. I am totally pro now and the pack has accepted me as one of their own. I whipped up this super simple yummy dish for last night's soiree: 8 Frozen Vegetable/Green Chile tamales thawed and diced up 2 cans creamed corn (stay with me) a giant wad of shredded cheese including pepper jack, cheddar and monterey a bit of crumbled cornbread from whole foods a few ounces of vegetable broth (to keep it from drying out) Mix it all up and spread it into a 13x9er and bake for 30 minutes at (you guessed it) 350. It makes a Tamale Pie-like thingy that was quite the tasty, fall comfort food. My Stephanie gave me the recipe and it did not call for the last two ingredients, I just threw those in because I thought it could use some muscle. I think it would have been fine without, but if you dig cornmealyness, do it. Domesticity is truly setting in.