Notes From Swan's Nest

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A Summer Gathering

Summer arrived rather abruptly this year when Randy and I drove from our Breckenridge, Colorado home to Dallas a couple of weeks ago. It was 27 degrees with patches of snow still on the ground at 5:45 am as we left Breckenridge. By the time we reached the Texas Panhandle, our car thermometer registered 105 degrees, and still a warm 88 degrees that night when we pulled into Dallas. We went from jackets and gloves to shorts and bathing suits in one day.

One of the advantages of being in warmer weather is the ease of gathering friends together for a casual night of grilling, and that’s what Randy and I did over the weekend. We had invited our good friends Susan and Mark – next door neighbors for 25 years until we sold our Dallas house and moved into a nearby condo last fall – to join us for a relaxed dinner-from-the-grill.

The weather was perfect down by the pool where the grills are located – warm, with a refreshing breeze as we sat in the shade. The four of us sipped margaritas while Randy grilled beef skirt steak and chicken breasts I had pounded and seasoned with a dry rub, plus a metal basket brimming with a colorful mixture of sliced sweet onions, red, yellow, and orange bell peppers, and slivers of jalapeno.

Upstairs, the table was set with a pale yellow cloth, hot pink chargers, colorful striped napkins, two large candles and multiple votives so we could enjoy candlelight at different levels, and a beautiful floral ice bucket our friends had given us as a Christmas gift – the inspiration for my tablescape and now filled with fragrant tea roses. Flour tortillas were heating in the oven, fresh pico de gallo and all the fixin’s for a black bean salad waited in the fridge, as did a bowl of sliced mango and berries to garnish my homemade pound cake, and the kitchen island was ready for duty as a serving area, complete with sticky notes I commonly use as little cheat sheets so I can pre-plan the serving vessels and ensure I don’t forget something on the menu.

We arrived back from the grill and spent a few minutes assembling the black bean and guacamole salads, slicing the meat, topping off our margarita glasses, and filling our plates. As we settled into our chairs, the sun was beginning to set outside the dining room window – proof that timing is everything!