#240 (no snow fun for us)

Since I was rudely awakened out of a deep sleep yesterday morning, I changed my alarm to NOT sound at it’s normal weekday morning time. I woke a few minutes after 7 AM, made a fresh pot of coffee, and sat down to enjoy a few minutes of quietness and solitude before S and her flock of children arose out of their slumber. 

Prepare meals for the day…

I was working on preparing our slow cooked dinner when I heard S coming down the stairs. She kissed me good morning, poured herself a cup of freshly brewed coffee, and sat in one of the barstools opposite the countertop stove but was facing me.

The menu for the evening meal was a pork butt roast seasoned my way with bay leaves stuffed with garlic and a salt and pepper rub. My plan was to cook it slowly in a crockpot with carrots and parsnips for the entire day so that it would be ready by the time we returned from our second day of having fun in the snow. 

I had just started cutting slits in the roast to accommodate the garlic wrapped with fresh bay leaves, which she thought was a great idea and something she’d never had done or thought to do before. As she continued to sit and watch (and commen), I started doing my salt and pepper rub. 

“Don’t you rub the pork with oil before yo put the salt and pepper on it?” she asked. 

I replied, “I guess it can be fine that way, but I typically pat dry my meat as I want the dry ingredients to stick to the meat itself. I do add oil to a turkey though to give it that golden brown color.”

She responded with a facial gesture that said, “I don’t know if I’d do it that way.”

I reassured her it would be fine. 

The last ingredient which is something I’ve always used whenever I make roast (beef or pork) is worcestershire sauce. 

Well of course S questioned, “wouldn’t that be too vinegary?” followed by a facial expression that said, “I think you made a mistake there.”

I proudly announced, “I guess I’ll just have to convince you. Have you had many of my meals that hadn’t tasted better than you expected?”

She responded, “yes you have surprised me but this one I’m not sure.” and grimaced again. 

I put the roast in the barely big enough crockpot and repositioned the roast several times before the lid set closed. I added a few thicker sliced carrots and parsnips and the wedges of half an onion. I turned the setting to low and began working on our breakfast. S continued to sit and watch. 

I had the routine down as bacon was in the oven baking at 400 degrees, which she later questioned why I didn’t broil it as that is how she would do it. 

Is it me or shouldn’t you refrain from commenting if you’re not helping with breakfast. I said, “I didn’t want to overcook the bacon as I’m also making the country style potatoes as well as eggs.” 

She continued to spew advice from the seat opposite the cooking area. I ignored her comments and changed the subject to talk about today’s ski trip. 

She was off the subject of breakfast and rattled off the weather conditions which I admit I only listened to the last few words and repeated them back to her showing I was somewhat listening to her rambling. I was concentrated on making breakfast and doing a good job of multitasking trying not to ruin the three breakfast items. 

By this time she moved into the kitchen and started making fresh squeezed orange and grapefruit juice to accompany breakfast. I guess that’s one thing S contributed to breakfast. 

As I was almost finished cooking breakfast, I politely interrupted her juice squeezing and asked her to get the kids up and ready for breakfast. She disappeared momentarily to waken her kids, which instead of yesterday’s big brother alarm system of loud door banging, I heard the somewhat gentle calling of each her children’s names as she entered their sleeping quarters. 

Her daughter emerged and began plating her normal breakfast of bacon and hash browns. I’ve learned her daughter is not fond of eggs or fruit. You would think she would be obese but in reality she is extremely fit and wears a size 4. I bought her some Nike stadium pants as part of her Christmas gifts in extra small size. 

After calling on her boys, S returned to the kitchen, finished her juicing project, and began plating her breakfast. I asked, “Are the boys up?”

She said, “I told them breakfast was ready. They snooze they lose.”

Hold the phone…

More conversations were occurring in my head and questioning the actions of S with her children. Now her daughter has well adjusted and moves quickly to action when it comes to food or when it requires them to be out and about. I know this meal must be special as I’ve rediscovered that her mom doesn’t cook breakfast. 

What’s shocking to me is that she fed herself first before ensuring her kids were awake and would have a hot meal before we traipsed up to the mountain for a full day of skiing. 

Again a very different parenting style. 

The cooking of breakfast was done. All had disappeared to get ready for the slopes while I rinsed the breakfast dishes and loaded them into the dishwasher; washed, dried, and put away the pots and pans used; and wiped down the dining table, the kitchen counter, the stove top and the rest of the kitchen to its pre-meal state. 

Then I got myself dressed for the mountain trip. 

Renting equipment…

The second day of our snow trip was underway around 11am with everyone fed and loaded in my truck. The first order of business was to rent a snowboard for her daughter, and to exchange the ski package her youngest rented yesterday for a snowboard package as he wanted to try out snowboarding today. 

The salesperson at the rental place advised us to call the ski resorts before renting as folks have been returning with unused equipment because traffic was taking excess of 3 hours just to the first of many resorts on the mountain. Basically the weather conditions were much improved from last night that everyone in Portland, OR decided to go to the mountains. The salesperson informed that from 7 AM until about the time we arrived, their tiny store front was filled with folks and lines were out the door. 

I took his advice and called the resort we had planned to be at today. I tried several times and could not get through to the resort. So we decided to save the lift tickets for a different day when traffic caused by hoards of people trying to get to the ski resorts were lessened. Instead we took the advice of the salesman to go in a local hike. 

Back to the rental house…

We returned to the rental house and everyone sheared off their skiing and snowboarding clothing and changed into their normal clothes. 

We talked about staying at the rental house for the day and playing games and just hanging out. I thought to myself, “this would be interesting as I’ve never seen all four of them interact as a single family unit without some snide remark or a sharp tongue lashing.”

The first game…

As everyone settled in, they decided to play a card game called “Phase 10”, which was very similar to a card game I played in Texas called “pit”. It’s a little different in that you always start off with 10 cards in your hand. There are ten phases or challenges that each person had to achieve. The first person to complete all ten phases wins. 

The interaction between the four wasn’t bad. I played between the two boys and received discards from the younger boy which meant I discarded to the oldest sibling. The daughter played between her mother and her twin brother. 

Other than the intermittent cursing from the younger son, there were no dysfunctional moments of yelling or arguing among each other. The oldest son won. 

Draw me a picture…

The next game we played was pictionary where  you draw the object described on a card that matches the color block that your game piece landed on. So if your game piece were on a yellow square, you would draw the object described on the card highlighted in yellow. 

I discovered her younger son was a great sketcher. I think I just thought of a great birthday gift for him – his sketch pad with sketch pencils. 

Yours truly won this game. 

Break from game playing…

We took a break from games and S and her younger son went for a hike around the neighborhood. They later informed they followed the Zigzag River up river. It was scenic with trees but nothing else than the river lined with trees. 

Her oldest child retreated to his chosen bedroom to finish homework while her daughter and I hung out watching a movie. During one of my falls yesterday, I bruised my left knee and was a little stiff. Otherwise I would have gone hiking with S and her younger son. 

I didn’t learn more about her daughter than I already knew as she had hung out with S and me on several occasions. This is the child I’ve gone clothes shopping with, as well as eaten out in restaurants with her and her mother. She’s also the child that loves driving my vehicles every opportunity she gets. 

Dinner was served…

I could smell the pot roast as it’s been slow cooking for seven plus hours. I checked and found the roast to be tender. I started on preparing the remaining carrots and parsnips when S returned from her and her son’s hiking trip. The house was quiet (other than the movie playing in the background) up until S and her younger son returned. I’m seeing a pattern emerge. 

I had sliced the remaining root vegetables in a diagonal cut, tossed them in a bit of oil, sprinkled them with salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese. Since this was the last dinner, I wanted to use up all the non-breakfast ingredients so I added the remainder of the partially used onion to this mix. There was also a lime that would be thrown away so I added the zest of the lime to this vegetable concoction. 

S was watching all this time and I guess couldn’t refrain from commenting, “The zest of lime, huh? That’s going to be a different taste.”

“Yep it should liven up the dullness of the root vegetables, but we’ll see.” I said as I put them in the oven and moved on to the mashed red potatoes. 

About 20 minutes later, the root vegetables were cooked as I like them (still a little crispy), the mashed potatoes were smooth and creamy, and the roast was removed from the crockpot and laid out on a platter. The meat pulled away from the bone perfectly.
I guess everyone liked it as there were only a third of the roast remaining, all the mashed potatoes gone, and a couple pieces of the lime zested root vegetables remained, which I ate while I was clearing the dinner dishes. 

Chef and dishwasher…

I noticed after dinner, everyone cleared the dining room and retreated to the places. The boys were in the back room playing a game of billiards, S grabbed a book and was reading in one of the reclining chairs, and the daughter watched TV and texted on her phone. 

As for me, I rinsed our dinner plates and put them in the dishwasher. The only one I didn’t do was the daughter’s as she did that when she was done eating. But the others, including S piled their dirty dinner dishes in the sink as they typically had done in their house. Now I see why there is always an accumulation of dishes in their sink at home. No one bothered to help. 

“Huh,” I thought to myself. “I’m the cook, dishwasher, and mister money bags this trip! Wow!” 

I continued in silence and cleared and wiped off the dinner table, reloaded the dishwasher with the dirtied dishes, washed and dried the crockpot, started the dishwasher, and wiped down the stove and cooking surface of the stove. 

I settled down on the sofa with the daughter to watch TV. This trip has exposed and confirmed a lot of information about S and her family. 

The last game…

We played one last game called nerts. Basically  the setup is similar to a game of solitaire where each player has a stack of 13 cards (called nerts). Instead of having four aces to buil from, you can build off of anyone’s stack of aces. You win by discarding all your nerts. 

Who knew that years of playing solitaire would propel me victorious. The kids and S weren’t happy and I got called a few colorful metaphors throughout the game. I guess that’s just how this family were raised. 

I later mentioned to S that it was fun watching and learning about her family as this was the first time that all her kids were together since we’ve been dating. After searching the corners of her mind, S concluded and agreed that this was the first time in years that they were all together. 

Maybe there would be more of these moments in their lives…

#boardgames #cardgames #familybonding #life

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