Sunday, June 14, 2015
We spent most of today in the backyard, smoking ribs and making homemade French vanilla ice cream for an early Father's Day dinner with the Bear's parents. It was a beautiful day, just this side of too hot, with a mostly-clear sky and a light breeze. We've been having an unusually cool and wet June, to follow an unusually cool and wet May, with the monsoon just around the corner. There have been pop-up storms and showers most days lately, which isn't normal for June at all, it's more of a July-and-August thing. So today felt like a real gift, a whole day without any rain or surprising gusts of wind, a chance to be outdoors doing things we like to do, and some we had to do.
The Bear and I weeded the big planter bed; there was a lot of grass coming up toward the back, under the roses and Jupiter's beard where it's shady and stays fairly wet. Grass was coming in thick there, and we ripped out big handfuls. I pruned roses and we watered everything. We put the ribs in the smoker and got the ice cream machine churning, and then we just hung out. We ate lunch (a hodge-podge of leftovers) on the patio, listened to the radio, watched the clouds. I crocheted. We looked for hummingbirds and saw many.
We don't have a big backyard, but boy, do we use it up. Our property is about a fifth-acre, a deep but narrow rectangular lot. It's only about as wide as the house, which means we have good-sized front and back yards. We have a little bit of everything in the back: a chicken coop (with two hens), lots of flowers and shrubs, two patios, a swing set, an apple tree. We spend a lot of time out there, in every season. It's quiet and safe; the small Bears can even ride their bikes on the larger of the patios. There are things I would change, and eventually I will change some of them, but the backyard is one of the best things about my house, I think.
Later in the afternoon, the Bear's parents came over (they live in our neighborhood during the summer months, when they are not in New Zealand, their permanent home). We visited for a couple of hours while the Bear and I finished cooking our meal. He tended to the ribs outside and I made corn on the cob, baked beans and brown-and-serve dinner rolls. We only make ribs about twice a year; they're a lot of work and obviously not health food, but they are soooo good. The Bear does it all himself, using recipes from a rib expert called Meathead, specifically his Memphis Dust spice rub and Kansas City Classic Barbecue Sauce. We had our homemade ice cream for dessert. My recipe comes from The Best Ice Cream Maker Cookbook Ever (really, it is). I'm particularly proud of that ice cream. I made the custard yesterday morning, to give it time to set up in the fridge. I used our own eggs. I think it's the best ice cream I've ever made. Sometimes my homemade ice cream seems greasy, but this one came out smooth and light.
My kids were gross by the end of the day, after playing in the backyard, hanging around a smoker, and slathering themselves in barbecue sauce and ice cream (twice, if you count licking the beaters after churning, and I do). They had baths as soon as possible. They had an extra-long story before bed (the Bear read to them from The Wind in the Willows). They went to bed tired and full. I'm about to do the same, feeling full in every way.