October 28, 2010

Girlfriends at the Lake

Posted in Food, Friendships, Knitting, Women tagged , , , , , , , , , at 6:56 am by Liliana

Walking Barefoot

Walking Barefoot

I spent last weekend with my sister Branka and four friends at our cottage near Lake Michigan.

If you are wondering what women of our age like to do on these kinds of getaways, I will tell you.

We slept late in the morning, and then sat around in our pajamas, drinking coffee and talking.

Some of us cooked and made wonderful meals: scrambled eggs, toast, cheese and fresh fruit for breakfast; roasted stuffed chicken with roasted potatoes and salad for lunch; leak and potato soup, chili, and salad for dinner.

Some of us baked: Branka made walnut strudel (ahead of time) that lasted throughout the weekend, even though we had some at every meal; Margaret made delicious brownies and brought candles so we could celebrate Ann’s birthday; Ann made an amazingly rich chocolate cake for her own birthday.

We sang “Happy Birthday” to Ann.

We explored an antique store and each found treasures. Branka and Jelena bought earrings; Ann noticed delicate china perfect for her daughter Erin; Martha bough a little porcelain cow creamer for my daughter Nena; Margaret discovered an elegant silk scarf; I came across a milky white pitcher for my dried flower bouquets.

We stopped at the knitting store and I bought some soft orange wool to make a scarf for Branka. Ann started teaching me a new (complicated!) pattern.

In the evening, we went to see “The Social Network” at the old movie theater. After the movie we stayed up late (well past our bedtimes) talking about it, researching the facts, pointing to each other articles on the topic that we liked or disliked.

The next morning, we walked on the beach. The air was hazy, soft and mild, so we took our shoes and socks off and walked barefoot on the sand. For late October, the lake water was remarkably warm. We walked in the sunshine, Ann took photographs, and we talked and laughed. We sat on an old bench to rest. We saw a rainbow.

We had coffee and chocolate cake before getting ready to go home.

On our drive back, we stopped at the roadside market and bought pumpkins and fresh, crispy apples. Jelena bought chestnuts to roast.

Like a squirrel storing nuts, I stockpiled memories of our weekend. When the days get shorter, darker and colder, I will dig them up again.


August 29, 2010

Long, Hot, Busy Summer

Posted in Holidays tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 3:53 pm by Liliana

Walking by the lake

Walking by the lake

This has not been a summer to sit in the hammock and relax – not for my family, nor for me.

It has been a wonderful, eventful and adventurous summer.

But it has not been the kind of summer I have always idealized – long, lazy days of idling, reading, talking, napping, cooking, swimming, thinking. In fact, I don’t think I’ve had that kind of summer since I was seventeen years old. But I always have it in the back of my mind, a vision to relish and idealize.

These are some of the things we did do this summer:

I am sure that I am forgetting something, but right now, I can’t think of anything else.

The fact is, I am on vacation this week. I am at our cottage near Lake Michigan, relaxing and idling to my heart’s content.

This is how I hope to spend the time.

  • Sitting on the front porch for hours, drinking coffee and looking at the birds pecking seeds from the bird feeder.
  • Walking by the lake in the early mornings or at sunset.
  • Swimming in the warm lake water.
  • Talking to my daughter about the newest books she’s read and the latest songs she’s been singing.
  • Reading.
  • Buying fresh produce at the farmer’s market.
  • Cooking something new and unexpected.
  • Congregating at the long dining table with my family, eating a beautiful meal.
  • Talking.
  • Watching a good movie at the old movie theater, eating tons of popcorn.
  • Walking to our favorite ice cream store on a hot afternoon. Eating nothing but coconut ice cream.

Happy Summer to all!

January 27, 2010

A better day

Posted in Family, Food, Health, Home, Recipes, Women tagged , at 8:11 am by Liliana

Cooking to a good day

Cooking to a good day

Last Sunday, I woke up with a cold and a nasty migraine. Jeff wasn’t feeling well, either. He had to do the bills, and everyone is grumpy when they have to do bills. Sam woke up to tell us that his soccer game was early, and we needed to get moving. I didn’t want to get moving. All I wanted was to sit in a corner and idle.

In the few minutes it took to get coffee going, decide who would take Sam to soccer, help Sam find his things, and get breakfast ready, the three of us had managed to exchange some sharp words. It seemed like it was going to be one of those days.

Well, Jeff and Sam left for the game, and I took my cup of coffee and sat down for a moment of peace. My sinuses were congested and my head felt like an enormous pumpkin. I had trouble thinking clearly. But I knew one thing; I was not happy the way our day had started.

Aimlessly, I wandered into the kitchen and looked in the refrigerator (yes, the old, ugly, but very faithful refrigerator.) I had no idea what I wanted to make, I just knew that something needed to be done. We had some chicken and a bunch of root vegetables. I took whatever I could find and placed it in the sink. I cleaned two onions, and started gently sautéing them in some olive oil. I washed and then chopped carrots, celery, parsnips, celery root and potatoes. I added them to the onions. There was a lovely flavor flowing through my house now. I cut up the chicken and added it to brown with the vegetables. I started adding spices – garlic, salt, pepper, paprika. But I didn’t stop there. I added coriander and turmeric and then some curry powder and Jamaican spice. The flavors took me to a place much more exotic than Michigan in winter. I felt I could breathe better. I added water and some tomato paste. Then I added some lentils, covered up the pot and let it simmer slowly for a few hours.

Soon after, Jeff and Sam came home from the game; they were still stressed. Even though his team had won, Sam got in trouble with the ref for arguing what he felt was an unfair ruling.  But the moment my boys  got a whiff of that exotic stew, they stopped complaining and wanted to know what I was doing. I told them that I had decided to change the course of our day, but I needed some help from my friends. They each gave me a hug.