Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Grillin' and chillin'

September 5th was Labor Day, which is kind of the official end to summer in America.  Right on cue, the temperatures dropped out of the triple digits and it got almost - gasp - chilly overnight.  Starved for fresh air after three months stuck inside breathing air-conditioning, we spent as much of the weekend outside as we could.

Saturday morning we went for a walk over at Parr Park in Grapevine.  It has a great-looking playground; unfortunately Toby's still a bit small for anything but the swings, and gets easily overwhelmed by big play spaces.  Still, it's OK if you're hanging on to Mum.


In the afternoon he was grouchy.  He has recently developed a scream which has roughly the same effect as a pneumatic drill boring into your brain, and deploys it to good effect.  After a few hours of this Graham and I were about ready to donate him to the nearest adoption agency and flee the country.  Finally he slept, and we collapsed onto the couch and tried not to snap at each other.  As the next best thing to fleeing the country, we packed up a picnic and drove to the Levitt Pavilion in Arlington for one of their open-air concerts.  As we spread out our beautiful wedding quilt on the grass and dug into some pasta salad, the tension began to dissipate.

Boogieing to the music
Melissa Lawson was playing, who, apart from writing some very listenable music, manages to mother five boys under the age of twelve.  She certainly knows what hard days are about.  Hearing a few of her stories and songs kind of put ours back in perspective, and made us glad to be a family again.  Of course, it helped that Toby had stopped screaming.

Always on the move
Monday evening we did what all good Americans do on Labor Day - grill.  We never did get around to buying our own barbeque, but all the parks around here are equipped with picnic tables and grills, so we hung out at Bear Creek Park and cooked veggie kebabs, corn on the cob and bacon, with a few toasted marshmallows for afters.


Tofu kebabs
1 red or green bell pepper, cubed
12 mushrooms, halved
1 onion, cut into chunks
2 zucchini/courgettes, cut into chunks
450g / 1 lb firm tofu, cubed
125 ml / 1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp grated fresh ginger

Thread the vegetables and tofu onto skewers, and place in a large non-metallic dish.  Mix up remaining ingredients and pour over.  Leave to marinade for 30 min or so, turning a few times if you remember.  Grill over charcoal, basting with the marinade, until cooked.  The tofu picks up a lovely smoky flavour.  Serve with couscous.

Isn't this fun?
Aside from the constant vigilance required to stop Toby stuffing his mouth full of dirt and wood chips (clearly he didn't appreciate my culinary genius), it was another pleasant evening.

Exploring the great outdoors - aka hitting it as hard as possible

Son-set

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