Well, folks, this weekend I learned that the weather has a funny sense of humour, and it likes to prove you wrong, especially if you blog about it!
Remember Friday's post, the one where I detailed all the wonderful recipes I'd wanted to make before the temperature got so, so hot? The one where I also explained the changes I'd made to my menu plan because of said heat? Well, Friday morning we woke up to, you guessed it, rain.
It wasn't awful rain, but it was wet, and it certainly wasn't going to be good weather for barbecues, camp fire cookouts, and leisurely cocktails on the patio. But it was still muggy and a little hot. I had visions of the house slowly becoming a sauna.
By the time the first group of guests arrived, the weather had met us halfway. It was still raining intermittently, but the temperature had dropped to a more comfortable level. After a quick discussion, my husband and I decided to proceed with the outdoor cooking plans for the most part, with a few other items thrown in for breakfasts and desserts. So, for night one's supper, I fired up my new Brinkmann Charcoal Grill and Smoker and made souvlaki marinated pork chops with grilled kebabs of zuchini, eggplant, onion, and bread tossed in a herby vinaigrette. This was only my second time using the charcoal grill, and I was a little nervous about how it would turn out. The meal was a great success, and we finished off our supper with bowls of homemade strawberry mousse with thin lemon cookies. After a few drinks and lots of laughter and story telling, we all retired for the evening.
The next morning we woke to rain again, but by the time we finished our pancakes (big breakfasts were back on the table, so to speak) the sun was coming out. We lingered over our coffees while we made plans for the day. Our other guest wouldn't arrive until early evening, so we decided to do some sightseeing. By the time we were ready to head out, it was so lovely and warm that I headed back into the house to change out of my jeans and blouse and into a sundress. It turned into a perfect summer day; warm enough to be out and enjoying the outdoors but not so hot that it was uncomfortable. We took our guests for a drive along the beaches and back-roads of the Kitimat River, where they were able to see how many people crowd the shore with RV's and tents in order to take advantage of the world famous salmon fishing. We scouted out a good spot for the evening's campfire, and then proceeded to drive to another Kitimat landmark, the Giant Spruce. The Giant Spruce is a 500 year old Sitka Spruce (fans of the Twilight books will recognize this evergreen). It is the largest living organism in the Kitimat Valley as well as the largest living spruce tree in British Columbia.
We grabbed lunch at Subway and ate at a picnic table in the City Center green-space. Kitimat was designed to be a "family friendly garden city" and has over 45 km of walking trails and lots of green-spaces. After another quick drive around town, we headed for home to wait for our last guest. While we were waiting, our neighbors dropped by with a real treat; half a salmon, filleted and ready to go on the grill! What great neighbors! We decided right away to serve that for supper the next night, and we were thrilled that our visitors would get to try this BC specialty.
Once our final guest arrived, we had a quick reunion and then packed up the Jeep and headed back to the river for a campfire. A good sized group of people showed up, and hot dogs, smokies, marshmallows, and other treats were passed around the fire to be shared and enjoyed. It was a beautiful evening, and the trout were jumping and putting on a good show. The bears stayed away, as did the rain.
The next morning we had a late brunch of bacon and eggs. Once again, we hung out drinking coffee and catching up for quite some time. We decided to take our visitors to Kitimaat Village, and to the marina. The day started out sunny and hot, and I put on another sun dress. We had a nice drive to the Village, and we stopped at a lookout point along the way where we got out to enjoy the view of the Douglas Channel. We snacked on some sun-warmed berries before heading back to the Giant Spruce, so our newly arrived guest could check out this amazing tree. Then, it was back home to fire up the barbecue.
Now, this is the point where the weather really started to play with me. We were enjoying a drink on the patio while the coals heated up, when somebody commented that it was starting to cool down. And cool down it did! Frosty Pina Coladas were traded for less icy drinks, and sundresses and shorts were traded for jeans, socks, and sweaters. Bundled up, we sat around and waited for the grill to reach ideal temperature.
My plan was to grill some chicken legs and then pop them in the oven to stay warm while I cooked the salmon (since fish doesn't take very long to cook.) We had to decided to try using some apple wood chips as well, since they would compliment both chicken and salmon. All we needed was a nice, hot grill. I was feeling confident after my pork chop success of two night earlier, and so I waited. And waited, and waited, and waited. It just wouldn't move out of "warm."
I tried to be patient, since I knew opening the grill would lose heat. However, after almost an hour, I gave in and took a peek. I could see grey ash, but the top grill just wasn't getting hot. We added some more coals, as well as some dry wood and newspaper, and at first, things really seemed to be heating up! Someone observed that the cold wind was probably making it difficult for the grill to heat up, so we moved it to a more sheltered space. Nothing. Eventually, we decided to bake the chicken in the oven, and concentrate our grilling efforts on the fish. I won't bore you with the exact details, but suffice to say it did take a while, and some experimenting, to get our salmon cooked. But when it did cook, it was so worth the wait! We feasted on tequila habernero glazed chicken, grilled apple wood smoked salmon, mashed potatoes, and sauteed spinach. For dessert, we had Strawberry Festival Cake. By the time dessert was being served, lots of guests had stopped in to meet our visitors, so they all got cake, too! Drinks were poured, stories were told, and, as I said in Monday's post, we laughed 'till we cried.
By 8:30 the next morning, everyone was gone. My husband was back to work, one visitor had headed home and the others had continued on their vacation. The house seemed too quiet, and that peculiar combination of homesickness and loneliness that sometimes comes over me since we moved here hit me hard. As I cleared away the crumbs from our bagels and cream cheese, I felt a lump in my throat and a funny prickling behind my eyes. And so, I did the only logical thing I could think of to make myself feel better; I cleaned the house. I stripped beds, gathered towels, did many loads of laundry and ran the dishwasher. I swept and dusted, mopped and put things away, and by noon, the house was back in order, my spirits had lifted and I was left with the wonderful memories of a great weekend. Everyone had vowed to return, and I can't wait until they do!
Have a wonderful week! If you are having visitors this weekend, I hope their visit is as wonderful as ours was! See you on Friday!