The Only Scoreboard That Matters
If you bear with me while I describe our gathering yesterday, I promise I will neither bore you with “loud guy noise” (thanks, Lynda), nor will I whine about my team coming up on the short end of the stick. I am so over that.
No, what I’d like to talk about is the concept of a few friends gathering, pursuing various endeavors, with a televised event for backdrop, but no energy wasted on worrying about the outcome. I am certainly the most ardent fan of the local team; the others were simply curious bystanders, or even disinterested ones, in which case the sewing machines were available in the newly-completed studio upstairs, so all was good.
However, I was far more interested in the preparations for the gathering, than I was in the outcome of the televised event. I began on Saturday, addressing some cleaning issues in both the kitchen and bathroom, and finished up yesterday morning, removing dog prints once again from the entryway by the back door, even as the rain continues its staccato beat on our metal roof. It is a distant “thrumming thunder” (thanks, Suzanne), blending in with the pulsing wind, which moans in conjunction with the percussion of raindrops. It is a top-ten melody around here.
I wasn’t doing a pre-Thanksgiving Day cleaning; after all, guys watching football, naturally relax those rigid standards of cleanliness, that usually dominate their behavior. However, Annie would have felt compelled to do the cleanup, if I did not, and that didn’t seem fair.
Once the place was presentable, I set about slicing and dicing an assortment of ingredients for thechicken cacciatore. Casey had supplied me with an onion the size of a grapefruit, which had come out of the garden, along with a green pepper, which had not. Later, when he showed up shortly before halftime, he brought salad greens, carrots, kale, beets, garlic and a cabbage, all from the garden, to complement the rice and pasta sauce.
I used six pints of thick tomato sauce, that I had canned on September 10th, 2010, uncharacteristically still available in the pantry. The date is significant, because it is my little sister, JT's birthday. I paused for more than a minute, as I reflected that in September of 2010, the Giants were stampeding towards their first World Series Championship in 54 years. Back to small minds, small pleasures.
The sauce was simmering on the wood-stove well before the start of the game, and I had plenty of time to brown the chicken, in a little sunflower oil, before the contest started. I drained the accumulated, excess oil from the chicken, and divided the tomato sauce evenly between the two frying pans of browned chicken. I wanted it to simmer for around two and a half hours, at which time we would pause the game, and join together at the table for some dinner. The thyme and oregano, that Annie had gathered, from beneath the few inches of snow, accented the fragrance wafting through the house. Because Casey was doing the salad, the only other thing I needed to do, was get some brown rice on, about an hour before dinner. Brown rice takes so much longer than white rice, but with two wood stoves going all day, there was ample stove space.
David brought avocados and cilantro, so I stripped the skins off and mooshed them up, and David used some of Annie’s salsa to make some killer guacamole to dip our celery and chips in. The gals were upstairs, unfathomably able to set aside their burning desire to watch the game, to attend to the more sedentary business of quilting. If you had asked them about it, they would have told you how much they would rather have been cooking, than quilting, but they were trying to cope with it all.
Quick glance at the scoreboard: Mark is cooking the main entree; Casey has the salad under control; David has the guacamole assembled, and Mark has delivered some upstairs to the gals, to ensure that there was some some set aside, before the guys got into the act.
When we returned to the game after dinner, the outcome took only minutes to resolve itself, and life moved on, as guests braved the elements to return home. On their way out the door, the guys were already making plans for two weeks from now, when the Superbowl takes place. Each plans to bring a dish, so that we can recreate yesterday’s festivities.
No one really cares who wins the game, because we are already on the winning side, and that doesn't leave any room for sniveling because some guy on your team dropped the ball, and some guy on the other team kicked the football through the crossbars. Just pass the pasta sauce down this way, and remember that the kitchen staff will be in later, so rinse your plate when you're done eating.