Summer winds on and begins to wind down. The sounds of lawnmowers fill the air, though not as frequently as usual. A cooler summer and the exorbitant price of gas combines to encourage everyone to be less scrupulous than normal about manicuring expanses of green. Weekends are punctuated with nights out in the backyard, "camping out" as the weather permits, trips to "Pooh Bridge" to play Pooh sticks, and bike riding in the park. Tool Guy refreshed the sand in the sandbox and Bug and Princess devote themselves to engineering and excavating new roads and infrastructures to support the necessary castles for HRH. Having a girl among boys presents a curious dichotomy. She is an interesting blend of girly stuff along with the reckless hobbledyhoy. Like when Bug was grooving on all things magnetic. His birthday and Christmas money was spent on interesting magnetic kits and building sets. Princess followed his passion blithely, but insisted that the magnetic marbles for her shopping bag all be pink. So I spent quite a few minutes, sitting on the floor of the educational toy store, picking out fifty pink orbs from all of the assorted colors in the container. Well, at least we don't have to guess which magnets belong to whom...
This has been a particularly busy and eventful summer for us. I think I'm emerging at last from my gestational hibernation. When I was pregnant for Princess, we were simultaneously hit with an exhaustive and exhausting list of IgG intolerances that needed to be eliminated along with gluten. The vulnerability of lacking safe food sources outside of the home, combined with the pressures of pregnancy, created in me a tremendous desire to hole up in the house and go nowhere. I expected that to evaporate after Princess was born, but, somehow, that reclusive drive lingered. Probably due to the dynamic of being contact sensitive to any of the off-menu food stuff and cross-contamination being what it is, every trip outside the house was an "adventure." Picture Snoopy attempting a trek "across enemy lines." That would be us.
This past weekend, we assayed our first participation in our local church's annual picnic. As it would happen, the morning was cloudy and spitting. As we packed up the van and headed out under the blessings of a light sprinkle, Dog kept up a running monologue about how it would be a temporary shower, accompanying the windshield wipers that kept working harder and harder to keep the road visible. I finally put him out of his angst by assuring him that we'd at least stay there long enough to eat, knowing that there was a pavilion where everyone would shelter from the storm.
Under a persistent drizzle, we unloaded the treats of the day and shared a table with another family for lunch. Rain wasn't the only risk of the day...this was a new recipe that I was trying and it was just as much a gamble to serve it to the Hobbits in public as it would be to serve it to guests. (As luck would have it, everyone liked the dish.) As you may recall, I'm in a food funk. My foodie partner has been holding my hand through this pout. She entrusted me with a stack of beloved "Taste of Home" magazines, from which I tweaked Anna Minegar's recipe for pulled pork.
Everything Free Pulled Pork
3-4 pounds bone-in pork ribs
4 cups water
1 cup Breatharian Flames Ketchup
1 cup water
2 T maple syrup or vegetable glycerin
2 t wheat-free tamari sauce
1 T tapioca starch
In pressure cooker, cook ribs with 4 cups water for 25 minutes after the cooker has reached optimum pressure. Meanwhile, dissolve tapioca starch in cup of water, then add mixture with ketchup, water, maple syrup, and tamari sauce to heavy saucepan, and heat until thickened. When ribs are finished cooking, remove and strip meat from the bones, using two forks to shred the meat into fragments. Stir into sauce and heat until warmed. Serve over fresh bread.
When the rain slackened off...and even before...Bug and Princess dashed from the cover of the pavilion and went to explore the delights of the playground. Which included a merry-go-round. Before the end of the afternoon, Princess had assumed the "responsibility" of pushing everyone...all for the joy of "tripping" and allowing the momentum of the equipment to drag her through the muddy track worn down by previous hoydens. Heh. Not a few concerned parents pointed her out to me. One of the matriarchs pulled out her camera and captured the moment for posterity. I still have the princess slippers that did the honors of the day...I haven't been able to bring myself to wash them.
On the drive home, the boys were discussing what they wanted to do when they got home. Dog wanted to read the latest books from the library. Bug wanted to play with his Bionicles. Princess declared that she was going to go and slide through the mud. The conversation turned to food. Dog wanted chicken sticks for dinner. Bug wanted cowboy eggs. Princess declared that she wanted to go and slide through the mud.
If they would just stay five...