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July 14, 2001
a year ago
two years ago
three years ago

Grilling Party

9:25 pm: A fun-packed day with a lot to do. It all started with blueberry pancakes with plenty of syrup and John made Isabel a pancake for each letter of her name, all shaped like the letters. The adults got pan-sized blueberry pancakes. They were really good, pretty quick, and John also cooked a bunch of breakfast sausage to go with the pancakes. It was good that we had such a huge breakfast, because with everything else that happened, lunch was pretty much forgotten.

I fed Jet right after breakfast, and between getting stuff ready for Jet and for three-year-old Isabel, it took another hour to get everyone into the Baby Buggy and the Passat and off on the road to Boulder. The girls were all in the Passat, and the boys were all in the Baby Buggy. We headed for the Boulder Saturday Morning Farmer's Market.

It's on 13th between Arapahoe and Canyon, and it just takes the whole street and borders the park in Boulder. It has a bunch of the local produce stalls, flower stalls, and food vendors. There were also local goat cheese vendors, bakers, and lots of other stuff. The whole block was filled with stuff to see and peer at and wonder if we wanted to buy.

I turned north on 14th and then left into the parking lot bordering it to the east. There's lots of parking there, and it was early enough that there were slots and people that were coming out of the slots when they were done with shopping. We pulled in and Deirdre got on the walkie talkie to Paul and told the boys where we were parking. The lot is free on Saturdays and there's an hour of free parking on Wednesday mornings. Right as the Baby Buggy came into the lot a big pickup pulled out of a slot and John pulled right in and had plenty of room to get Jet and his stroller and stuff out.

It took a while to unload everyone and everything. Then we went to the right, the longer half of the block, to just walk down and peer at what people had. When we reached the far end we planned our attack on what we would actually get now that we'd seen everything. Paul and Deirdre, along with Susy and Don, Jay and Carole, and Dave and Linda were all really good cooks, who knew about cooking with local, fresh, in-season foods and what a difference it makes in the quality of the food we eat. I kind of miss the gathering we had with them simply from the angle of all that I learned about food with them.

We had a lot of fun buying from all the produce stands. We got green and yellow beans, garlic bulbs still on the stems, twenty ears of sweet corn picked that morning, onions still on the stems, and zucchini and squash. Most of the produce was organic, none of it had seen wax, and all of it smelled wonderful. There were also stands with peaches and cherries, but most of the peaches were from Texas. The local peaches don't really come into season until late July and August. The corn was still really young, with small ears and small kernels which were extremely tender. It was a lot to carry and Paul helped by carrying the whole thing for a while. It got heavier and heavier as we picked more things up. We got tomatoes from the tomato stand and a bag of fresh basil to go with the tomatoes, and planned a raid of Whole Foods on the way home.

I thought about having lunch while we were there, but everyone else wasn't really into eating after all the pancakes. So I decided not to, though the tamale place had nearly no line at al, which was unusual for lunch time. We kept going and went over through the fruit stands and at the end other end of the shops was a place that sold, of all things, ostrich eggs! They had hallow ones, not-perfect hollow ones, and fresh ones that went for $10 and could feed 10! The eggs weighed a few pounds and were about as big as an adult human head. The shell was rippled and thick. They were very clearly built to be large and tough.

I should have asked them how one cracks an ostrich egg.

From there we went to a very crowded Whole Foods. It was not only a Saturday, it was 'Local Vendor Samples Day'. And nearly all the things that they carried that were from local vendors had someone there to give out samples. There were eight kinds of humus, four kinds of tea and chai, a table with Boulder cheesecakes, Haystack goat cheeses, a popcorn vendor with jalapeno popcorn, biscotti guys with five kinds of biscotti they make by hand, Boulder ice cream with six different pints of different flavors, and even grilled samples of local sweet corn.

I guess I did eat lunch, just one bite at a time from all the samples. The local chai was really good, not nearly as sweet as any of the other chai mixes I've ever had, and it was redolent with spices. They even showed all the spices at the tasting table, in a neat little tray with rows of cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves, along with two others I didn't quite get. It was yummy.

So I bought some of that. I also got a bunch of other things just for tonight and for us the rest of the week. It included three flank steaks for tonight. We were just going to marinade them and then grill them, along with foil packets for most of the vegetables. The corn would just go on in their husks, after a short soak to keep the husks from burning. We also got a couple tubs of fresh mozzarella, some of that humus we tasted, and some smokes salmon for some other morning or lunch.

Jet was fantastic through the whole thing. He was just watching things and had been pretty quiet through it all. By the time we were done shopping at Whole Foods it was already three hours since he last ate! That was amazing. So Jet and I piled into the Baby Buggy and headed home. Without the distractions of everything around him, he started fussing in earnest, but about ten minutes into the journey home, he went completely quiet, and he slept the rest of the way home.

That was a godsend. I was able to unpack all the groceries that had to go into the fridge, get the flank steaks into their marinade, and when he actually did wake up, I was ready and got him into the bedroom and we were nursing quietly when everyone else got home. Yay!

After Jet and I finished, we played a while, and then nursed again. This time, when we finished he decided not to sleep, and I really wanted to sleep before the party started. So I handed him over to John and I went to take a nap. It was already 4:30 when I went to sleep, and at 5 folks started arriving, so I woke up and got up and joined the party.

Everyone else had done all the prep for the party, Deirdre had done all the vegetables, and got all the grilling packets ready. John talked over with me the order of grilling things and how to get it all done since it wasn't all going to fit on the grill. We also sat and talked with people and ate the appetizer of the tomatoes, basil and mozzarella. There are some dishes that are made, not by skill or technique, but simply by the ingredients. The more I learn about traditional Italian food, the more I think that it's very much built on the principle that that's fresh and in season is what makes the meal, and the more I like it. The appetizer was the epitome of that concept. Just the fresh ingredients layered together with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and freshly ground pepper. It was delicious. The huge platter of sliced elements was gone within twenty minutes.

I fed Jet somewhere in here, and he fell fast asleep while I was doing it up in his room. So I tucked him in in his crib and he just lay there, fast asleep. I put the monitor on, and got the one from the bedroom to listen in on him while we did the final preparations for dinner.

A thunderstorm came and went near the beginning of the party, cooling the air significantly and making everything wet. John and Paul wiped off the outside chairs, heated up and dried off the grill, and then they started the grilling. I'd soaked an aluminum pie pan of hickory chips and we had them over the heat and the smoke from them really flavored all the food significantly and filled the air with their fragrance.

The steaks were grilling away merrily while Paul and then Bob decided to take a group picture. We all lined up and they took the shots as they wanted. There was a good deal of smoke in the air and Mai had some trouble with that, so I swapped places with her. I could smell the steaks going just a bit too done, and when John pulled them off, there was some char on the bottoms of them. Whoops. I did slice them against the grain, with a diagonal to it to lengthen the pieces nicely. I then piled them into a corningware dish and put a cover on them. The cover didn't stay on long, as everything else was ready. Folks lined up and ate.

The onions in the zucchini packets had turned out wonderfully sweet and tender. The beans were perfectly done, and the flank steak, while it was cooked a bit past the medium rare I wanted, still tasted wonderful and with the slicing, was tender as could be. I heated teriyaki sauce in a gravy boat, and folks drizzled it on as they liked. It was very tasty and everyone complimented us on it. Yay!

The food was all good. At eight, I had to duck away with Jet again, and he ate happily for about ten minutes before getting restless again, so we joined everyone for dessert. Bob and Mai had brought ice cream, so they served it out. Mai was eyeing the box of chocolate chip cookies John had made before our Seattle trip. So I opened them up and offered them to everyone. They're good, and both John and I eat them in the afternoon, but with as many as he'd made, they were starting to get a little stale, and weren't getting better with the wait.

We all ate most of the cookies that were left. I stayed out to say good-bye to the Goodells and then went into the bedroom with Jet to let him eat for a while.

When we were done there we went out and talked with everyone else that was left, and Jet got to see Mai a few more times. She really liked holding him. Then again, all the ladies really loved holding him, and he went with much equanimity with anyone that wanted to hold him. We watched the last of the late sunset and then waved people goodbye. We finally had our last feeding at about 10 'til nearly 11. Jet passed out after his last bottle.

John and I followed shortly after.

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