When Sophie Tankersley joined the Midway High School marching band her freshman year, we went from being band parents to being Band Parents — and there’s definitely a difference. As middle school band parents, all we had to do was show up for performances and applaud at the appropriate times.
As high school Band Parents, however, the responsibilities are ramped up significantly. For home football games — which are, to us, simply band performances sandwiched between some football action — Band Parents are responsible for getting halftime show props on and off the field and assisting in any number of ways. For out-of-town football games, Band Parents are charged with ordering meals for the 200 members of the band and color guard traveling party, keeping in mind food allergies and dietary restrictions, and making sure that those 200 meals are delivered to the high school prior to the band and guard boarding buses for the trip. We make sure that four large coolers are packed with 400 bottles of water and ice. And then Band Parents act as chaperones on the buses.
And then there are the band marching contests, both at the Midway football stadium and at stadiums in other towns. For some contests that Midway hosts, dozens and dozens of Band Parents are at the field from before the sun comes up until early the next morning. There are many moving parts to hosting a dozen or so bands, from making sure the multiple buses and trucks from each school are parked where they need to be; to manning water stations for band members and directors, and running the concession stands; to any number of other tasks that have to be done to host an all-day event featuring several hundred high school musicians.
Our volunteer positions as Band Parents have typically centered around food. For a few years now, we (and when I say “we,” it’s really Abby doing all the heavy lifting) have been responsible for making sure that the 200 meals are delivered to the band hall prior to road trips, and we’re in charge of hospitality for the judges in the press box during the contests.
It’s not easy finding a restaurant that can meet all the requirements that are in place for those road games. They’ve got to be able to have the meals either delivered or ready for us to pick up at 4 p.m. or so. The meals have to be within a price range that is set by the University Scholastic League, the organization that oversees athletic and artistic school competitions in Texas; and they have to be able to provide a meal that will be pleasing to nearly 200 high school students and easily eaten on a moving school bus. However, the management at McAlister’s, Jason’s Deli and Chick-fil-A have been great to work with.
As I write this, we’re in the midst of our final marching band season as Band Parents. Brazos Tankersley is a senior at Midway this year, and we’re trying to savor every game and every contest. It’s been a lot of work, but it was through band that our kids found their people, their circle of friends that carried them through high school. So, for that, we’re most grateful. And we’re thankful for the high school band directors — Pam Hyatt, Kenneth Moss and Sarah Moss — who have led with integrity and love and inclusion and dedication to excellence.
We’ve cooked for large groups before, back when we owned Fishes & Loaves Catering, 20-something years ago, but our days of feeding a couple of hundred are pretty much behind us. Still, we sometimes find ourselves needing to whip up something for a crowd of 20 or more, such as when we host gatherings for extended family or have my students over for dinner. For that number of folks, we’ve got some go-to recipes that have worked for us over the years, and one that we recently tried for the first time.
Cochinita Pibil features a well-seasoned pork shoulder wrapped in banana leaves that is then cooked slowly for four hours or so. The recipe says that it makes four servings and leaves plenty of pork left over for other dishes, including the Cubano sandwiches, which is one of our family’s favorites. When we made the Cochinita Pibil, we served it with a light, refreshing Jamaican Spritzer, prepared with dried hibiscus flowers, tequila and grapefruit soda. Get the recipes at wacoan.com and see how to make the spritzer on the next page.
- 1 pork shoulder, 3 to 4 pounds
- 4 tablespoons salt
- 4–6 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon whole allspice
- 1 tablespoon red-chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
- 4 tablespoons achiote-seed paste
- 1 orange, zested and juiced
- 1 grapefruit, zested and juiced
- 1 lime, juiced
- 2 banana leaves, wiped clean
- 1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 habanero, seeded and finely chopped
- Corn tortillas
- Lime, optional
Score the outer layer of the pork, and evenly salt the meat; set aside.
To make the marinade: In a dry saucepan over medium heat, toast the garlic cloves until they’re charred all over, then remove. In the same pan, add cumin, peppercorns, allspice, red-chili powder, cloves and cinnamon. Toast until aromatic. Grind the spices, then mix in a food processor until smooth with the oregano, charred garlic, achiote paste, all the citrus zest and about half the juice.
Place two overlapping banana leaves on a counter and place the pork in the center. Rub the spice paste into the meat, arrange the sliced white onion on top, roll it up and tie with kitchen twine. Place the wrapped meat in the refrigerator for a few hours, or overnight.
Heat oven to 300. Place the meat on a rack inside a heavy roasting pan. Pour about a half-cup of water into the pan.
Bake with the lid on until the meat is very tender and pulls apart easily to a fork, about 4 hours. Meanwhile, mix the chopped red onion with remaining citrus juices, salt and habanero, and set aside.
While the meat is still warm, carefully transfer it to a serving dish. Cut the twine and unwrap the banana leaves. Use a fork to shred the meat, spoon over the cooking juices and mix well. Serve with pickled onions, warm tortillas and limes. Makes about 4 generous servings, with enough meat left over for Cubano.
- Pork left over from Cochinita Pibil recipe
- 1-2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
- Dijon mustard
- Sweet pickle slices
- 8 slices smoked ham
- 4 bolillo rolls
Spread mustard on each of the rolls. Divide the cheese evenly between the rolls. Add 2 slices of ham to each sandwich, then a few pickle slices. Top with some of the leftover pork.
Brush the outside of the rolls with melted butter. Cook to desired doneness using a panini press. Or melt a bit more butter in a skillet and heat the sandwiches for a few minutes on each side, pressing down firmly with a spatula. Makes 4 sandwiches.
French Dip Sandwiches
- 1 boneless beef roast, about 4 pounds
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1 beef bouillon cube
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 whole black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 10 bolillo rolls
Remove and discard all visible fat from the roast. Place trimmed roast in a slow cooker.
In a medium bowl, combine soy sauce, bouillon, bay leaf, peppercorns, rosemary, thyme and garlic powder. Pour mixture over roast, and add enough water to almost cover roast. Cover, and cook on low heat for 10 to 12 hours, or until meat is very tender.
Remove meat from broth, reserving broth. Shred meat with a fork, and distribute on bread for sandwiches. Use reserved broth for dipping. Makes about 10 sandwiches.
- 1 cup dried hibiscus flowers
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 ounce tequila
- Grapefruit soda or sparkling grapefruit juice
- Lime slices, for garnish (optional)
Place the hibiscus flowers in a small pan; add the water. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and let steep for 10 minutes.
Strain, discarding the flowers. While the liquid is still warm, add the sugar and stir until it dissolves. Set aside to cool completely.
To make the drink, fill a glass with crushed ice. Add 2 ounces of the hibiscus tea, then add the tequila, and stir. Top with grapefruit soda, and garnish with lime, if using. Makes 1 drink.