My Carnival of Friends

A day off for Juneteenth. I love where I work. This week was a bit rocky in places and I woke up yesterday in a foul mood. How did I get past that? Well, a little time, AND knowing that our beloved Bill and Carrie were coming over for dinner. We’ve had a few people come by since vaccinations but this was the first time we have had anyone over for dinner or the like. It felt SO good. SO right.

We’d decided to have some Triple S smoked pork chops we had in the freezer and Ernie had bought a bag of cherries that were really nice. Hmmmm. I decided to try a cherry bourbon sauce for the chops. I mucked about online and found a recipe that sounded good. I read up on ways to pit cherries. The chopstick trick seemed the best option but my cherries were too firm so I just went after them with a paring knife and, although it looked like a bloody mess, I managed to get three cups pitted pretty quickly. I screwed up by not reading the recipe carefully enough so threw everything at once but I figured, ‘what the hell?’ We tasted it and it seemed too sweet but then I added the salt and pepper and butter and it smoothed it all out. It was heavenly. Totally won the plate!

We served the chops with green beans and cherry tomatoes from the farmers’ market. They were good but I probably should have cooked them a minute longer and added more salt. Last minute I made some quinoa that I probably should have skipped. It needed some texture. A normal person would have added garlic and onion and it would have been better (not complaining, just analyzing). Overall though, a delightful meal. The company was heavenly. Just heavenly. And it makes me happy to use my Flow Blue plates.

Later, we moved back to the living room and Ernie brought the plate of brownie in. This is the standard brownie recipe I grew up with, that lots of people grew up with, no doubt. When Leo was on a brownie making kick he refined it a bit, adding a little more butter and upping the quality of chocolate. I grew up using two squares of the orange boxed Baker’s Chocolate but now we get Ghiradelli. Ernie, of course, made them, and I asked him to add white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts. He was planning to use gluten-free flour so I could have them but went on auto-pilot and used regular. Oh well. I ate half a one and damned if it wasn’t good. I know this recipe so well from making it growing up that it’s not even written down anywhere. No, they are not Ann’s brownies, but they are still pretty damned good.

Polly and Cynthia’s Classic Brownies
Two ounces unsweetened chocolate (grew up using Baker’s, now we use Ghiradelli)
One stick butter
One cup sugar
Two eggs
One half cup flour
One teaspoon vanilla (good vanilla makes a difference. Long live Penzey’s)

Melt the chocolate and butter. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Beat in two eggs, then add flour, then vanilla. Pour into a greased square pan and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Yesterday we added a half cup white chocolate chips and 1/4-1/3 cup macadamia nuts.

I lay in bed this morning trying to think of the right word for how the evening made me feel. I finally decided on ‘restored.’ I felt restored. And after they left, Ernie mused, as he does after every time we see Carrie, on how much alike the two of us are, and I always feel flattered.

The other day I walked into the media room and Ernie said, “Welcome to my carnival of friends,” as he pointed to Bob, Daisy, Hattie and Rascal all curled up on the couch with him. This song has been on my mind ever since and it seems fitting right now. You’ll see some familiar faces here.

Onward.