Detachment Part Two, and More Heat Eats

IMG_6111When I stumbled across this piece by André Aciman in the New York Times a while ago, it resonated with me, not only because of the example he gives (his boys have moved out…), but because it made me realize that I, too, tend to try and anticipate what bad things are going to feel like so I’ll be prepared when they happen. But while this type of emotional rehearsal may seem like a valid strategy to any constructive pessimist, it may ultimately prove futile. For despite all anticipation, there will always be stuff you hadn’t reckoned with: Life can and will whack you over the head with Unexpected Things.

Mr. Aciman advises to be thankful and enjoy the good things as they happen. It’s sound advice, too, for these precious moments of joy are the piggy-bank for coping with the times life will give you lemons and throw you curve-balls. img_2907.jpgRemember your first heartbreak? I’m sure you do. One moment you feel loved and happy and secure, and the next you get dumped, and realize that the person you cherished, relied on, and trusted in is yours no more. Long story short, apparently my son’s ex-girlfriend (bizarre consecutive words right there!) has fallen out of love with him over the course of her 3-month exchange in the UK, and ended their 2 1/2 year relationship. He didn’t see it coming, all seemed fine when he went to visit her over Easter, but that’s how it goes with still waters. I also remember how much can change over the course of such a long time. She’s made her decision, and he needs to accept that.

But boy, do I feel for my boy. He’s being very mature about it, for now. He says he’s sad, he certainly seems subdued, but he doesn’t want to talk about it much, not to me anyway. There’s a solid support system of friends. Maybe he talks to them, or he simply lets them take his mind off things. They got him to join a gym, which we support, and of course we also have his back. His baby sister makes him laugh, his cool daddy took him to the Long Night of the Sciences, and we’re going to have more mom and son dates again. Yesterday we cooked, and watched 2 episodes of vintage television, Deep Space Nine, which I can only hope he didn’t just do for my sake. He seemed to enjoy it.

Also, we’ve begun checking out our boxed up old vinyls, and of course I have a back story to each and every one! (The Cure’s Head on the Door album (went to see them live on stage for that tour, and Robert Smith said nothing at all to the audience other than hello, good night, and announcing one song with the words ‚this is the Kyoto Song, I’m sure you wouldn’t understand‘ ;-))! What do you think? Was he always like that on stage, or was he in a particularly weird mood that night? We found The Sonics‘ first album that opened my mind to garage rock with an unforgettable BANG, just listen to this: Psycho; and of course, courtesy of my music lover of a daddy, this hauntingly beautiful Étude by Alexander Scriabin. In the YouTube link, Vladimir Horowitz is playing – the recording my dad had was by Svjatoslav Richter, different but equally sublime. I could go on and on, but I’ll save that walk down memory lane for RL, I think.

So, the detachment business. Here’s what I’m doing right now:

a) Allow my boy to be in pain – I’ve passed on Prof. Pearlman’s advice from ‚Call Me By Your Name‘ (don’t snuff it out, let yourself feel it); who knew I’d need to quote this to my own kid so soon? And what a good thing I just read that wonderful book …

b) Get used to not having sweet St. around any longer, friend-zone or no friend-zone, things are probably going to be awkward for a while now.

c) Trust my son to cope with this by himself, and with a little help from his friends.

I don’t know if it’s even possible for a parent not to grieve by proxy, I don’t know how not to anyway. I know my son will be miserable for a while, but I also know he’ll learn something from this. And of course there will be quite a few who’ll happily console him if he lets them!

And since even heartbroken people need to eat, especially when they’re 16, how about a little comfort food that’s heat wave compatible? Have some

IMG_6121

Gigantes Bean Salad

Usually, I would use a can of tuna for this, but since I had run out and it was the weekend, here’s what I used instead. Sun-dried tomatoes, lemon stuffed Spanish olives and because this is me, capers;-), make for a lovely Mediterranean combination. Olive oil, dash of lemon juice, oregano and black pepper – and you’re done. No cooking required, always a plus when its more than 30 °C.

You will need:

Canned Gigantes beans, cooked

1 small shallot or onion, sliced or chopped

Handful of sun-dried tomatoes, cut into strips

Handful of green olives, lemon stuffed and sliced

2 TBSP capers (recipe also works without these if you dislike the taste)

3 TBSP olive oil

A few squeezes of lemon juice, to taste

Very little salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 TBSP oregano, dried

Combine ingredients in a mixing bowl, season and let steep for a bit. Enjoy with or without crusty bread – from a nutritional point of view, it’s certainly unnecessary, but if it makes you happy, by all means, have some.

Thank you for reading, everyone, and have a good week!

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Heat Wave Eats, Part Two

After two days of massive rain showers, temperatures have evened out to a pleasant 25 °C, and it felt like all living creatures breathed a sigh of relief. One definite upside of the heat last week was that it left the most perfect water temperatures at my favorite lake behind. Usually, I’m kind of squeamish when getting in there for the first time after the winter, but yesterday it was a real treat. Cool but not too cold, clear water, dragonflies buzzing lazily, and the lushest shades of green all over the foresty lakeshore (and since I couldn’t possibly not think about this wonderful summer song as I was typing this particular word, enjoy that: Lakeshore Drive).IMG_E6043And while husband and kids can handle solid food even when it’s 30 °C, I personally had little else but fruit, salad and yogurt over the past week. IMG_6008What you can see above is one of my secret weapons whenever the heat makes it unfathomable for me to even be in the kitchen with a lit stove. The white stuff is a sweet concoction based on our German cream cheese variety, which goes by the odd name of Quark; it’s not as solid as cream cheese, and when whipped up with an electric blender with some whipping cream, it can become as fluffy as a mousse.

Favorite Summer Dessert for Finicky Eaters

500 g Quark (cream cheese would work too if you can’t get it in your neck of the woods. 400 g cream cheese and 100 ml yogurt, in that case)

100 ml whipping cream

3 TBSP sugar (substitute with maple syrup or even Stevia or another sweetener to taste, if you prefer)

Bit of vanilla

Juice of 2 lemons

Bit of lemon zest to taste

Fresh berries of your choice

Put all ingredients (other than the berries) in a bowl and beat them into fluffiness using an electric blender. Put in the fridge for min. 1 hour – this is infinitely better when thoroughly chilled.

Wash berries and serve on the side in deference to particular eaters. Naming no names, there are some at our house who need all foods to be very clearly discernible from each other, and would refuse to eat this lovely dish if I were to add, say, blueberries right away…IMG_6004So while one person might have this, IMG_6007there are some who’d rather decide by the spoonful what they garnish their food with:IMG_6009Be that as it may, this Quark has proven to be a crowd pleaser many times over (it used to be a signature dish of mine when parent-cooking for the kindergarten), and it’s still a family favorite today.

There’s also a nice winter variety that I like to use freshly squeezed orange juice and orange fillets for, also quite good with cubed fresh mango as a topping.

Sorry I didn’t get around to do a write-up of this before. My Friday afternoon was all about new sensations, which I will probably be experiencing on the regular as of this month. It seems, dear friends, that the fates (and my daughter) have chosen to make me a HOCKEY MOM… IMG_6030That was me putting on a brave face of acceptance, sitting in front of the club house, nursing a diet soda and feeling like an impostor. Also a wee bit annoyed by the regulars, some of whom were drinking beers at 4 in the afternoon, I kid you not!, while unabashedly checking out the fresh meat. Ugh! Luckily, I had brought my crochet:IMG_6031Guess I showed them :-))!

Upside is they have WiFi, so this week, I’ll just bring my computer to the bleachers and do some work while the newest hockey enthusiast is having her fun (I’m so glad she chose a sport by herself, actually, and not something I made her try. A very good thing!)

Have a lovely week, everyone!