Our favorite season ends with a Croatian feast. Živjeli!

In some ways, the best 21-year olds are the broke ones, the whole basement-cleaning, snow-shoveling, sink-caulking, closet-organizing, errand-running lot of them.

For two beautiful weeks we owned a 1992 model and, from the first phone call that heralded the opening of BKH (Broke Kid at Home) season, “I’ll be home on Tuesday. Do you think Grandma has any chores she needs me to do?” to the last clink of the clean dish on the shelf, we enjoyed every minute of it.

BKH season 2013 left our wallets a little emptier, our sidewalks a little cleaner, our appliances a little handier, our Internet a little faster, our shelves a little clearer, and, best of all, our bellies a little fuller.

Our 1992 model, like the 1989 and 1987 models before him, can cook! Man, can they cook!

So, for Christmas this year, which fell too early in BKH season 2013 for any real accumulation of funds, we all received an invitation to a homemade Croatian dinner. “Živjeli!” said we, delighted at the prospect of tasty Eastern European fare.

We gathered eagerly around our dining room table, while our host prepared Croatian cocktails and hors d’hoeuvres. He started us off with a sweet salute to family, love, holidays and all things Croatia while we raised glasses of Karlovacko, Posip and lemonade.

Then we dug in: Salata Kruh:  (Balkan bread (Molly made this), with Kayak spread, Croatian Salad with homemade dressing (Vinnie’s specialty), Burek: flaky dough filled with spinach and cheese, Pecena Piletina ili Cevapcici a blitva sa krompirom: baked chicken, authentic fried sausages, potatoes and chard.

Our Croatian feast highlighted BKH season 2013 and marked the last night home for all six of us – the morning after brought the first sad departure as our home-for-the-holiday siblings began to make their ways back to New York, Chicago and Madison.

We’ve been down this icy road before, the hurried collection of suitcases and boxes, the hugs through bulky winter coats, the doorway wave through frosted panes, the last reminders to “call when you get there”. We know how these seasons go: long cold winters follow Christmas, then comes spring and, with a little luck and predictable disregard for budget, BKH season 2014, the summer version, will be upon us.

We can’t wait. Until then, we waved them on their snowy way…and then we ate the leftovers. Živjeli!

Ziveli! A toast to food, family and college students who come home eager to earn a buck or two!
 A toast to food, family and college students who come home eager to earn a buck or two!
Croatian dinner Vinnie's toast
Vinnie, our host, chef, bartender, waiter, and busboy, started us off with a toast. Vinnie is a fourth generation Vincent and, to a man, each one of them loved to give a toast.
Croatian dinner Burek and salad
Our appetizer round began with a cheesy, flaky Burek and a salad.
Croatian dinner Vinnie cooks
Here’s Vinnie at work in the kitchen. He has made friends with a Croatian butcher in Madison, who sells him authentic Croatian sausage. Delicious!
Croatian dinner my plate
Here’s my yummy, colorful plate.
Croatian dinner leftovers
and look what Molly did with the leftovers — here’s her toasted kale, cheese, roasted chicken and Kayak spread sandwich on homemade Balkan bread.

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