Friday, August 03, 2007

Family Night

Family night tonight.

Ben is back from Camp OUT, Jake from his week with Allan in Down East Maine, and we are all converging in Ogunquit.

I’m making potato salad with twice as many hard boiled eggs as called for and my mother’s trick- sprinkle the hot potatoes with the juice from a jar of sweet pickles.

Fresh corn on the cob, home grown tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and basil. Hot dogs hamburgers, and cold fried chicken. Apple pie and vanilla ice cream for dessert.

It’s about a thousand degrees outside right now. Don’t’ ask me why I thought boiling potatoes and eggs was a good idea but I did. Something out having everyone come together again- minus Zachary who is still at camp- means good comfort food to me.

I take the hamburger, always 85% lean because lets face it, the flavor is in the fat, and form ¼ pound balls after breaking it up ever so gently. You can overwork ground beef- seems strange considering it’s been ground up but it’s true. Add some sea salt- big crunchy flavor and fresh ground pepper. Mash the balls of beef down just a little bit and I promise you, it’s always a great burger.

My kids like their hot dogs steamed, which I think is blasphemy. Hot dogs should be grilled, with thick dark stripes on them, but I will steam them instead. The buns are always New England style, and grilled with a little butter on the sides.

We’ll all sit on the porch and talk about the camps and adventures, although Jake has already told me he did “nothing” the whole time except go fishing and watch TV.

I think not.

I’m going to send Allan out to buy a quart of vanilla ice cream from Brown’s in York- some of the best homemade ice cream I’ve ever tasted. The pie, I have to admit, I bought at the store. Boiling water is one thing but turning on the oven would be over the top today.

I cheated with the fried chicken, too. I tried over and over again to learn how to make my mother’s fried chicken. Every piece she cooked came out golden brown, juicy and perfect. Her secret was to cook it in bacon grease. The temperature had to be just so and you could not leave for a moment, always checking to see if it was sticking. I finally gave up after dozens of failed attempts, even with her standing right next to me.

I don’t know why the food, the flavors and the carefully set table mean so much to me. We would have the same conversation and tell the same stories without them.

It’s like pulling out a fresh canvas to paint a new experience. I love doing it. I love the anticipation.

I have to go add the dash of dried mustard to the potato salad- almost forgot. Chill the Sancerre and 7 Up.

Not to be had together, mind you.

In a few hours, everyone will be here. The table set, wine opened.

The stress between Jeanine and I will be put away from a night. Questions we raised to each other last night will wait. Tonight is about our family.

I can’t wait.


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