Jonathan and Rob kicked off Memorial Day weekend by wrestling a muzzle of bees, as you can see above. Our bees had swarmed and were hanging out in a nearby tree, considering their options, when the boys made their decision for them. They cut the branch holding the bees so that most of them went into the bucket. Then they covered the bucket and took the swarm to its new home.
Unbeknownst to the bees, their new home was right next door to their old home. So far, they are staying put, which is great.
Once the bees were taken care of, we turned our attention to our guests for the weekend. Our friend Carrie had come up from Oakhampton with her teenage daughter and entourage of other people’s teenage daughters. I was afraid that they would be bored up here in Hooterville, but as it turned out, they gloried in the unaccustomed freedom. In Oakland, you can’t let your lovely, tall teenage daughter roam free, but in Hooterville, you can and do leave her and her friends at the pond and expect them to make their way home after swimming. They had a little taste of our childhood, when our parents wanted us to stay out of their hair and the ER as much as possible (pretty much in that order). The rest was up to us.
While the kids were playing in the woods, we started dinner. Jonathan grilled up chicken breasts, onions, and peppers, including a few jalapeños*. When they were ready, I put them into a plastic bag so the steam would help in removing the skins and then cut them up while Jonathan was cutting up the chicken. It all went into his giant, weapon-sized cast iron pan, which also housed the paella and Moroccan chicken at family dinners recently:
In the meantime, Megan was grilling raw tortillas left over from Rio’s daughter’s wedding the week before:
She married into a family with Native and Mexican heritage, and the older ladies in the family made these tortillas (and much, much more) for the wedding dinner. Jonathan said it was pretty obvious they had cooked for crowds many times before and made it look so easy. I had never had fresh tortillas before, and I have to say they were a revelation compared to the store bought ones: flaky, light, blistered.
We stuffed the tortillas with the chicken mixture and salsa verde made last fall from ingredients grown in the family estate, as well as estate-grown black beans. While we stuffed ourselves, Jonathan told us the provenance of the giant cast iron pan.
Long ago and far away, he worked on historic ships in San Francisco. He has often deplored how these great sailing vessels were treated and (not) preserved versus the way they are cared for on the east coast in places like Mystic. In this particular case, parts of the ship and her equipment were stowed in leaking warehouses, which led to their inevitable decay, destruction and discarding. One day, he noticed this pan and decided to salvage it, rather than waiting for it to rust and be thrown away. So the pan holding our dinner was doing what it had done for more than a century. It was fun to know that, and good to know that it didn’t end up in landfill somewhere, unknown and unappreciated. Perhaps it could be considered a small act of piracy, but I don’t think anyone would make him walk the plank over it.
*Wiser people than I would wear gloves for that part. The jalapenos stayed in my skin for a couple of days despite repeated handwashing and showers.
A YEAR AGO: The first, but not the last, Junapalooza! A tradition is born.