In Remembrance, In Love

Such a long, slow slide from winter to spring this year.  I still haven’t washed or put away all the heavy sweaters yet; the cotton ones don’t seem to be enough!  The winter jackets are in the cedar boxes, but the scarves and even a toque still wait for washing and blocking before hibernating.  The afghan rests on the back of the settee as one’s ‘toeses may frozes’ when watching Netflix.  And while the bedroom window is permitted to be open, an inch or two, and the heat most definitely has been turned off until October, I am not allowed to change from flannel to percale sheets yet.

IMG_0705Some of my bed mates like to be cosy!

Perhaps it is because spring has only inched her way back into our lives.  Perhaps it is the weekly notes and phone calls I receive about another friend, another family member facing accidents, illness, dying.  Perhaps it’s simply another and more obvious sign that I am growing older, much against my will, but there is a wistfulness to this season I don’t remember in other springs.

The hyacinths were lovely, the tulips are slow in developing.  The magnolia trees and cherry blossoms have been brilliantly showy.  The children are thrilled to playing in the streets again.  We are planning our first weekend at the cottage on wheels.  But I am still wistful.

I feel the day zoom to a close even as the early morning robins beat the rising sun to wake me.   I am watching the minutes rush by even as I look for the chestnut tree to finally come into all its leafy glory.  I watch our young neighbour gleefully zip down the sidewalk on motorised scooter even as my mind’s eye sees him pedalling his so-much-smaller ‘race’ car.  I am still wistful.

I look across the breakfast table at my husband of 42 years today and remember every detail from 06:45 to 01:30 of that day and night.  I remember my father knock, knock, knocking on my door and telling me to get up, I was getting married and he was pretty sure my mother, who was still sound asleep, needed me to do something.  I remember running around all that afternoon, doing last minutes errands, nearly being smashed by a truck as I left a parking lot, going to the hairdresser on my own (which was oddly lonely).  I remember arriving back home to find a refrigerator and even the service porch full of food for the reception that was to come in a few hours but absolutely nothing for the bride-to-be (I was told the pizzas were particularly yummy).  I remember a phone call, just before running upstairs to bathe and dress, from US Customs, assuring me we were really were going to be allowed to bring all our wedding gifts into the country, and then asking me when the happy occasion was.  “In about two hours.”  “Oh.  Well, then.  I’m glad I didn’t put off this call until Monday morning!”  I remember every single person who celebrated with us there that evening, and especially those who are not ‘there’ any more, and I remember some who were not there then that I wished then and now could have been, and I remember every single one of the funny and odd and sweet things that happened or were said to me, to us, that day and evening.  And perhaps it is these memories I should credit the most for why I am still wistful.

This spring has made me feel time is moving too fast, even as it moves so slowly to bring sunshine and flowers and fully-leafed trees back to us.  I truly am enjoying what is now, which brings pleasure and even moments of joy.  But I am missing what was then, and so I am, and perhaps in some way will always be, still wistful.


because I carried white roses that evening….





Dear David Lebovitz

Mother’s Day is coming up and my in-law family is gathering for a late lunch/early dinner.  Not as many people as there have been; two branches from the 3rd and 4th generations have other plans, but there will be enough people at my sister-in-law’s home to have fun and, as always, good food.

I tell you this because I am in charge of dessert.  Well, I volunteered because I had just finished a pot of coffee when I consulted with here, and I thought beating and whipping and baking would be fun.  Also, Paul Hollywood & Mary Berry.

When I recovered from the caffeine hangover, I realised I had no idea what to make.  My stand-bys have stood-by often for this group, plus I was already on tap for baking up a batch of my husband’s new favourite cookies.  The batter has many ingredients, and makes a lot of cookies (5 dozen plus, which for two people is A Lot of Cookies) so I needed something that wasn’t going to demand a great deal more of my time, and further empty my baking cupboard.

You don’t know this about me, David – you don’t mind if I call you David, do you? I feel we’re already intimate friends because I follow your blog assiduously – but I was not myself for about 18 months.  I fell ill and in the course of the treatment, I was injured. Recovering from those experiences, plus regaining my strength, and getting my mind back, I wasn’t me.  (Just as an aside, once you hit the Swingin’ Sixties, general anaesthesia is a bitch; avoid it if at all possible, and especially in repeated lengthy doses.)

Not being me for 18 months meant not a lot of time in the kitchen, and what time I was in there was limited.  And so were the cooking choices I made.  Having strength, the ability to read and remember, and just plain joy in being back in the kitchen has lead me to try things I never had before.  I mean, I made a Bara Brith!

So, as I’m trying to convince myself I can do something swish for eight people for dessert for Mother’s Day, your latest blog post crossed by in-box.  It wasn’t about dessert, as you probably know, but it reminded me of where you’re rooted – in the chocolate bar.  Kidding…but I really did love “The Sweet Life”.

So I look up what dessert-y things are archived and I see ‘ice creams’.  And I think about this past Sunday when we went to Churn, which is the ice cream shop attached to Lloyd’s Taco Factory (not really a factory, just a great walk-up restaurant. Also, ‘Lloyd’, for tacos? Loco name, great food.). One of the ice cream choices was a sandwich – homemade cookie, their ice cream – and they looked so good.  I had had my heart set on a cup of coffee ice cream and a churro so I went with that, and it was a delicious choice, but I was already plotting to come back for the sandwich.

Which I still may do but… not until this homemade batch is gone.

Are you bored yet, David?  Sometimes my stories get a little long and meander-y.  When I’d be on the third or fourth detour in my tales, my father used to imitate Archie Bunker when he got frustrated with Edith’s story telling.  Just as funny when my dad did it.  But let’s get back on track.

I found a recipe, your recipe, for the Easiest Ice Cream Ever.  It really was easy to make, and because it doesn’t need an ice cream maker, I could put off worrying about the noises mine is making.  Sort of like a chorus of teeth grinders accompanied by a small cement truck.  So that alone would have lead to me to give this recipe a go, but the combination of chocolate and banana made me smile before I even began.

I bet the ice cream would have been even easier to make if I had thought a little about bowls and cups and booze before I got started.

This is why I brought up being ‘out of it’ because I never would have just started a brand new recipe Before Illness without reading it all the way through and creating the mise en place (which I only do for new recipes & Chinese food).  However, After Illness (B.I. & A.I.), different story.  Sometimes.

For example, the small matter of Bailey’s.  Don’t have it.  Rarely have it.  Also, don’t have dark rum; husband drinks the light stuff.  And I decided to double the recipe because I had two bananas that were perfect for blending, which meant I needed even more of the liquids.  Given that this is supposed to be the Easiest Ice Cream Ever, and given that I was still wearing the t-shirt from yesterday I threw on this morning when the doorbell rang at 8 o’bloody clock and it was spotted with vodka sauce (I make a nice one) from supper last night, and given that ‘Easy’ did not include showering, changing, and going to the liquor store, I decided the creme de cacao leftover from the pear, ginger, and creme de cacao jam I made last fall would work just as well.  Except, of course, I didn’t have 180ml of it left!  I did, however, have a bottle of Grand Marnier hiding in the back of the cupboard so I filled up the required amount with that. And then I thought “…but Bailey’s is creamy, and he’s calling for milk”, so I decided to use table cream, 18% butterfat content, for which I have to go back home to Ontario (Canada) once a month or wait for family to come visit bearing litres of cream, rather than milk.

So I’ve combined the cream and the creme de cacao and the Grand Marnier into a measuring cup, and I’m melting dark chocolate chips (also from Canada because, and don’t tell my American friends, the chips in stores here just aren’t that wonderful), and I’m smooshing bananas in a medium bowl with a fork.  And then I look at the recipe again and see that I was supposed to melt the chocolate in the milk/cream whereas mine is sitting in a measuring cup with the booze.  Sigh.  So I carefully, slowly pour the dairy/booze into the warm melting chocolate, whisking as I go to make sure it blends and doesn’t leave chocolate lumps.  Now it’s time to mix this chocolate mix with the bananas which, I gotta say, David, aren’t willing to just be mixed.

The whisk isn’t doing the job, so I get out the hand mixer, and after putting the beaters in, twice because I never get them in the correct side on the first try, and using the low setting – let me emphasise this, ON LOWEST LOW – I try to ‘mix’ the soft, pre-smooshed bananas in the bowl with the chocolate liquid deliciousness.

Now that I’ve changed my shirt, and wiped off three cupboards and the counter top, and prayed there’s still enough mixture left for the all the ice cream I need to make (eventually) 8 ice cream sandwiches, I still didn’t know how to blend this stuff together.  As I was wiping chocolate spray off my 25-year old immersion blender hanging above the work area, I said “merde”.  I use the damn thing almost every day but today I forget I have it?

Worked a treat.  Leaving me with one measuring cup, one fork, two beaters, one immersion blender, one double boiler, one medium mixing bowl, and a t-shirt to wash up.  Not quite as easy as I might have thought, given the name, but my husband thoroughly approves of the taste.  Even if I did forget the rum.

The mixture is in the freezing now doing it’s freezing thing.  And as soon as I finish this letter to you, I’m going to bake the cookies (seriously, the best-tasting, more-work chocolate & toffee chip cookies ever; the extra time is worth it) so they will be the right temperature for assembling and wrapping the ice cream sandwiches for Sunday.  If you’re interested, I’ll post pictures of the completed goodies.

In the meantime, thanks for your wonderful blog.  I have longed for Paris all my adult life, and you make it seem to close, so vivid, so delicious, I know I must get there. Someday.