Today E and I got a slow start in the morning after being up so late pinboning trout last night. This turned out to be a good thing: When we arrived at the As’, there were between 40-50 people in the house making flower arrangements, setting up for the concert that evening, hauling things down to the barn, painting signs, or just milling about. We unloaded the car and carved out some counter space and by the time we really got to work, people began clearing out.
My first task was to clean 25 lbs of green beans and 15 lbs of dragon tongue beans. I assumed that “cleaning” meant washing them, but it turns out I misunderstood again: Cleaning means picking off the cap where the beans were attached to the stems. I tried to mask my “you’ve got to be f-ing kidding me” face and then got to work. I was soon joined by three-year old Eva, who informed me that she grew green beans in her garden. I offered her a few, which she gratefully accepted. This solidified our friendship and we saw a lot of each other over the weekend.
After about an hour of cleaning beans with my fingers, I switched to a knife because my fingers were getting sore. I was vaguely aware that I might be taking off more of the bean than I should, but E didn’t seem to care and I wasn’t about to sacrifice speed for precision at that particular moment (E and I talked about it later and my intuition was correct: I was cutting off too much and he didn’t care). After the beans were all cleaned, I sliced the dragon tongues and threw everything into a 100-qt cooler. While I was doing all this, E was of course, running around doing a million other things. He disappeared in the middle of blanching the green beans, so I finished up for him (this involved a pot so tall that I had to stand on a chair to scoop the beans out). When he came back we put all the green beans, plus the butter beans he’d been working on into the cooler and the bean salad was officially done except for the dressing! We cleaned up and returned to the house for a movie and dinner.
Around 10:30 we went back to the As’ and grabbed the trout and headed to New Sammy’s to smoke it. The reason we were going so late was because Charlene’s husband, Vernon, had a really bad asthma attack the last time someone used the smoker and so we couldn’t start until after he left (not to mention they’re pretty busy on Friday nights and we just would have gotten underfoot in the kitchen during the day). When we arrived, Charlene showed E how to use the smoker and they started a fire. Once the fire was hot, E started the smoking process and popped each batch in the oven to finish off the cooking. As at home, I did the dishes. Throughout the process, Charlene told us stories about her life and how she got started (she won a Julia Childs cookbook in a contest and began reading it). We finished the trout around 2:15 am, left it in Charlene’s walk-in and went back to the house to crash.