We had a doozy of a day, with 40+ people coming for a pot luck with plenty of grilled corn and smoked ribs and John's Jerk chicken and lots of salads and desserts that everyone brought and loved. And then, in the midst of it a thunderstorm just poured down rain until the back patio was an inch deep in water, even though it was supposed to be draining through all the slats. Everyone was good about making themselves comfortable in the house, ending up everywhere... on the floor, in the dining room, and even some ended up on our front door stoop, under the overhang there, just talking.
It was great fun, though, and everyone enjoyed themselves.
The six quarts of hand-cranked vanilla ice cream ALL disappeared. THAT was impressive.
I'd changed my recipe a bit to accommodate our big ice cream maker:
3 quarts half and half
2 whole vanilla beans
1 1/2 cups vanilla sugar
1 1/2 cups regular sugar
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
I heated 2 quarts of half and half, put all the seeds from inside both beans into the half and half, and then dumped my jar of vanilla sugar in along with the old vanilla pod skin in. I took one of the fresh skins and put it into the jar I'd emptied, and added sugar to cover and put it away for next time. The other fresh skin I put into the half and half as it heated. I beat the six eggs with one cup of plain sugar for 3 minutes with an electric beater, and put the rest of the sugar into the pot and stirred until everything was dissolved. When steam rose from the liquid, I beat a couple of cups of it into the eggs to temper them.
Then I poured the egg mixture all into the pot and stirred pretty much constantly until it thickened and coated the back of a spoon. Up here at altitude that was *past* the 180 degree mark that most custards thicken at sea level, it's a weird and tricky thing.
But once it thickened I added the last, still cold quart of half and half, and put it in a sink full of cold water to cool. When it was cool, I added the vanilla and then stuck it in the fridge (with the bean pod skin STILL IN IT). We only sifted the long skin bits out just before freezing. The vanilla perfume of the finished ice cream was just amazing. So both Jet and I were a little miffed that it *ALL* disappeared. *laughs* I guess I can make more.
Nearly everyone left at 8:30, and at 9:15 we went out, and lit the fireworks that John and Jet bought.
I always enjoy the little fountains, blossoms, dragon's eggs, and sparklers than I do the big displays. There's just something fun and visceral about lighting those things and watching fire rain down in beauty. Or just holding a stick with fire streaming from it, the sparklers are so much fun. But I don't tolerate the smoke like I used to. *laughs*
After the display, the boys ran to the park by the pool to watch the city display. Longmont's so FLAT that we can easily see the downtown fireworks display from miles and miles away. I stayed home, happy to be by myself, but I actually talked with people at the party this time through, so I might, finally, be recovering from that last push at work that had burned me out so badly on face-to-face interactions with people.
Tomorrow I get to be liturgist and coffee maker at church.
Yesterday I was struck by the fact that, for me at least, real stories are about choices. People have to make a choice in the situation they're in, good or bad, bleak or fluffy, and the most vivid of stories come from the hardest of choices. I think some of that came from reading Princep's Fury by Jim Butcher, because of the quality of the choices that his characters make in it.
It was very, very odd to read it through, though, with my new eyes. There were three small 'promises' that he made in the story that he did not fulfill, and two very interesting things he just never wrote in it that really struck me.
*okay... SPOILERS AFTER THIS*
The promises included Araris following up on a promise he'd made to Irana, though I can understand why he didn't; however... there should have been something about that. There was just one too many things Tavi ran into in the retreat... feh. And why Crassus survived something everyone said he was going to die attempting for very specific, medical reasons from someone that should have known, I just don't know. Other than well, we LIKE him now. *laughs* I'm glad he didn't die of it; but no real reason was given as to why he didn't.
One was why or if Lord Aquitaine had any reaction to finding that his wife was now serving the Vord, when he had become the Vord's main opponent (or did Amara not tell him)? The second was Amara's near complete lack of reaction on hearing that Fidelas had betrayed the folks trying to kill of Gaius? Or was she just jaded enough to feel that both were just his habit of betraying people? She doesn't *seem* that way to me, but... her lack of reaction confused me.
Bah. Details I NEVER would have thought I'd be able to actually track through a story I otherwise really, really liked; but it's interesting to find myself able to see them now. And the overall quality of the choices nearly all the main characters had to make was really remarkable.