One weekend, two dinner parties

The dining-room table at the Manse set for a momentous occasion: having our first dinner guests!

Last week at this time Raymond and I were enjoying ourselves immensely at the beautiful and historic home of Elaine and Lud Kapusta – the “Mill House” owned for many generations by Elaine’s family, the Thompsons. Elaine and Lud had invited us for dinner, and it was such a nice time: a lovely meal and excellent company and conversation. (Also on hand were Dave deLang, the photographer whose work has appeared in previous posts like this and this, and his wife, Irina.) We learned about possible solutions to the problem of mineral-laden water staining the bathtub and sinks; neat tools for finding out where heat is being lost in one’s home; the ongoing situation of whether and when high-speed internet is going to be available at a reasonable price in Queensborough; and much more besides. It was an evening of good spirits all round.

A parting gift: seeds to grow pink poppies!

And I left with two gifts, one useful and one beautiful: some citric acid that, Elaine says, will clean up the water stains nicely (but you have to leave it on for some time, she counsels); and pink poppy seeds! Elaine and I both love, and covet for our gardens, pink poppies, so she made it her mission to find us some seeds. As you can see, they have been sourced from a local garden, that of Pat Steeles; I haven’t yet met Pat, but hope to soon. (And of course check out her garden.)

The next night was a landmark one for us at the Manse: we hosted a dinner of our own, for the first time. (Well, we did have my brother John and his friend Suzanne a while back, but feeding family, pleasant though it is, is so relaxed that I don’t think it counts as having guests).

Our invitees last Sunday evening were Ed and Jen Couperus; Ed is a very important person in our Queensborough life, because he is our official keeping-an-eye-on-the-Manse person. Ed and Jen were kind enough to have us for dinner the evening of the very first overnight we stayed at the Manse, when, needless to say, we weren’t very well set up for cooking for ourselves. We had a great time that night getting to know Ed and Jen, and I have to say we also had a great time last Sunday night after we’d finally got up the nerve to invite them over and try serving a meal worthy of guests. It was a very simple meal, mind you; barbecued sausages from the exceptional One Stop Butcher Shop in Madoc (you have to check it out if you’re in the area; excellent meats and the friendliest service), new potatoes, salad, and store-bought dessert. Not exactly five-star cuisine, but our cooking setup is a bit limited. And besides, as everyone knows, it isn’t the fanciness of the food that makes a great dinner; it’s the conviviality of the people around the table. And we really had an excellent time talking with Ed and Jen, who are remarkable people. They are hikers and cyclists and nature-lovers, and they were able to tell us so much about the landscape and wildlife of the Queensborough area. And we chatted about their big project for 2013, which is really something: cycling all the way from the West Coast back home! (And then doing the trip to the Atlantic the following year.) Totally awesome, if you ask me.

Bounty from Ed and Jen’s garden.

The evening ended with yet another gift: cherry tomatoes and a Scotch-bonnet pepper straight from Ed and Jen’s garden. We enjoyed those sweet tomatoes in a salad just last night, another simple meal after a long week of work. But we have to find some special way to use a Scotch bonnet grown right in downtown Queensborough. As you probably know, those peppers are hotter than hot. (On the heat-rating scale for peppers, they are about a bazillion times hotter than jalapeños; details here.) Suggestions, people? When and how do you use Scotch bonnets in your kitchen?

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