Summer is not the time for soup. Broths, bisques, and stews belong to colder months, when snow crunches underfoot and frozen ice crystals hang in the air.
But summer? Summer is not the time for soup.
Except when you’ve been sick for four weeks while your boyfriend coughs next to you and you’re in the middle of moving to a new apartment and just need to sit down and eat something warm despite the hot, muggy air outside and the sweaty hair plastered to your forehead.
And you make a potful. And you savor it while sitting next to the air conditioner, surrounded by moving boxes, smiling at the rebellion of eating chowder in late, late June.
Then, summer is for soup.
Every once in a while (okay, more often than that…) my little sisters will teach me something I don’t already know. Like the biological concept of organ reserve. Or how to make Guinness palatable.
Sometimes they even teach me new recipes.
Pannekoeken is a traditional Dutch pancake, light and puffy and delicious. It essentially looks and tastes like a ginormous popover. Some people top it with apples or bacon. Some (like my baby sister) enjoy it with maple syrup. I’m a plain sort of girl. The salty butter, rich eggs, and sweet ‘n’ spicy cinnamon are enough for me.
My sisters traditionally make this meal in a glass pie plate, but my friend Rachel’s family uses a cast iron skillet. I decided to try it their way, and it turned out beautifully. I guess sometimes I can teach my sisters something new as well!
My birthday always seems to fall smack in the middle of the busiest time of the school year, and this year was no different. Since I had just made a bunch of cupcakes for Gabe’s birthday and was heading out of town soon, there was no reason to bake even more cake for my own.
Until Wednesday night. Gabe surprised me when I came home from the first day of my internship with a delicious dinner and belated birthday cupcakes. And they were my favorite: German chocolate.
I’m not a huge frosting fan, but I could eat this stuff with a spoon. (And I do…) It’s the perfect mixture of sweetness, creaminess, and nuttiness. Since Gabe is lactose-intolerant and it’s a bit of a time crunch to make homemade lactose-free evaporated milk, he substituted coconut milk. It worked perfectly, adding another layer of coconut flavor.
It’s still hard to type these words. I have a sympathy card sitting in my desk drawer, addressed and stamped, but never sent. As if the funeral wasn’t final enough. As if the simple act of writing and mailing this one card would confirm that my dear friend was actually gone.
A year has gone by. The return address label on the envelope is no longer accurate. And still I haven’t sent the card.
My plan for marking the anniversary of Sara’s passing was to create a dish combining two of her favorite foods: tiramisu and popcorn. I swirled together sugar and mascarpone, espresso and chocolate, and drizzled it over freshly popped popcorn. It was beautiful.
Sadly, it did not taste very good. I have to work on my recipe-creating skills. But the sentiment is there.
Sara, I see reminders of you everyday. In card games, cooking shows, the giggles of children, and most of all, in people’s smiles. No one can hold a candle to your mega-watt grin, but I see glimpses of those smiles in others. Especially in your sister. And in my own sisters. And in so many others who were indelibly blessed by your short life.
I miss you today, and everyday. I love you, Sara Nan.