The dog days of summer seemed to have passed us by this year without ever actually arriving, unless you consider the phrase to have more to do with one’s lethargy than hot, sultry weather. The windows are open, and from time to time, chilly breezes waft through the house forcing me to don a sweater but I acknowledge that it’s worth not having to tolerate the excessive heat everyone else seems to be dealing with this year. I prefer cool weather and this morning, we’re shrouded in fog, with large puffs of it lazily slipping past the kitchen window. It feels more like spring than summer on most days, and so of course daydreams abound and hours pass with much less accomplished than I like to admit. Even cooking has had little appeal, odd if you’re someone like me who measures life in food years. Is there such a thing?
It would seem then, that dinner should be something cool and light to share with those sweltering in a too hot summer. And for me, it should be something to work on slowly as thoughts come and go, with no particular focus. Unlike other tasks begun and left to be finished in a day or so, at least I know dinner will happen. It will be flavorful, fresh, and worth every single bite.
Like a BLT, without the bread.
I thought I’d have more time to write at this point in the year, but I’ve been preoccupied by my youngest son’s graduation from high school, as well as planning for a fall trip to the UK — our first official empty nest vacation. Is there such a thing?
Both events provide me an excuse to spend time at my Mac even though one is rarely needed. Who knew that sifting through 18 years of significant world events, pop culture, family photos and memories could be so time consuming? Each rediscovered piece of a life gives me pause, and I can’t resist indulging myself more time than is necessary to collect this piece or that to add to a collection that will commemorate my son’s big milestone. Memories of my own graduation day and those of my two older sons have me counting the years since, amazed at how truly quickly they have passed.
When I become too maudlin, trip planning commences and the details of deciding which route to take from London, how many nights to spend where, and which pubs might best entice us to stop and sample a pint or two gives me something to look forward to. It doesn’t quite distract me from wondering how it will feel after so many years of having growing boys in my house, to have none.
Oh my goodness.
I’d say it’s time for some ice cream, wouldn’t you? Or what about sherbet?
A friend of mine gave me a bag of small, crisp red apples the last time she came for dinner and somehow, I’d lost track of them. I should have known they’d been sitting in the fridge, waiting for me to get around to making something with Fall written all over it. Would it be apple nut muffins, a new take on a Waldorf salad, or perhaps an apple butternut squash soup? I couldn’t decide until last weekend when I knew I’d be in the kitchen making macarons and decided to treat the menfolk to breakfast. I’m not the one who normally makes breakfast on Sunday, so my offer was met with surprise and instant nods of, “Yes, please!” Neither my husband or son would turn down pancakes even if they had a healthier twist than those my husband usually makes. Besides, I knew I’d get to experiment a bit and it’s always fun to find out just how a particular recipe will end up.
If you have a jar of dulce de leche sitting around, it’s amazing what a little bit of it can do to a nice stack of hot ones on a cool Fall morning. Initially, it was to have ended up filling the macarons, but it didn’t make it past the pancakes.
Yesterday in between segments on the television about who would be slotted into which bracket of this year’s NCAA tournament and my husband’s less than thrilled reaction at the spread being focused on mega conference teams, I decided to make soda bread. I’d spotted the recipe a few weeks ago and turned down the page in the magazine hoping not to forget. No sooner had I put the liberally flour-sprinkled loaves into the oven that he commented like he always does. “Mmm…smells good. What is it?”
“Soda bread,” I answered, smiling because it hadn’t been in the oven long enough to smell like anything other than the flour which had begun to brown on the baking sheet.
“Oh, yah. It is about that time of the year, isn’t it?” he finished, eyes never leaving the television, his Sony perched in his lap, fingers busy filling in the bracket slots for the tournament. Ahh…March Madness. Yes, even I fill out one of those brackets hoping from one year to the next that pure luck will outsmart basketball brilliance and that I will walk away with the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Or something like that.
I didn’t grow up eating soda bread but probably should have since it doesn’t require much beyond flour, milk, and baking soda and would have fit right into our meals. Definitely simple fare. Although I can remember my mother’s corned beef and cabbage, I’m not all together sure we had it for St. Patrick’s Day dinner — but must have because from my own experience it’s not often that I see it at the grocery store at any other point in the year. No, I started the St. Patrick’s Day dinner when we lived at our old house, not too far from my husband’s parents who would come to enjoy it with us. Even though our idea of a corned beef dinner isn’t Irish at all, that’s what we’d have — with soda bread.
Many of the soda bread recipes I’ve tried are anything but light and fluffy. The dough can be fairly sticky and wet and sometimes it never quite got done in the middle as it baked. The bite of baking soda could be noticed in each bite. Not very appetizing.
But I think I’ve found the perfect recipe.
This post has been a very long time coming: about ten months if I’m estimating correctly. Why so long? You know if you’re a dedicated food blogger. You cook, take photos, compare, contrast, and then decide whether “it’s time.” So, it’s time.