Just a few minutes ago, while I was waiting for the Instant Pot to do its magic on eight eggs and hard boil them, I noticed that the side of our new kitchen drawers have the manufacturer’s name on them (Medallion) and that made me remember our old kitchen cabinets. When we moved into this house, a friend who helped us move was impressed with the brand of the cabinets (Quaker Maid) and told us that we had some quality kitchen cabinets. Several years later I mentioned that to the uncle of Clare’s friend who we’d hired to paint some rooms in our house. He made some disparaging comment about the brand which implied that they were not all that great. That comment has stuck with me through the years and when I remember it my stomach tightens and I am pretty sure my blood pressure rises.
I thought about how that made me feel, this first day of a new year and new decade and realized that I needed to let it go. To somehow make that comment not bother me any more. It is really silly that it bothered me so much and even sillier that it still does. I mean, this guy was living with his brother and doing side jobs to make a living. His actual home was a double-wide trailer (in Lake Tahoe, but still). Maybe saying that made him feel better about himself. His brother was not much better with the side comments, so maybe it was a family thing. When I spent a week in their double-wide in Tahoe and was asked to share in a rather expensive restaurant bill (which I was happy to do) instead of just paying for the kids and me he remarked that, after all, I was staying in his home, rent free for a few days.
Anyway, I think that this year I will dedicate to letting things go. Memories like the above, things I don’t need/use/wear, and hopefully a few inches around my waist too.
I am not making resolutions, I am not making a list of things I want to learn, I am not going to try to read a book a week and I am not doing a no-buy challenge. I am just going to let some things go.
In 2000 when I graduated from George Washington University with a Master’s degree my mom, and her two sisters pooled their money and bought me a Lenox mug that featured an illustration of a cedar waxwing (by artist Catherine McClung), my favorite bird and my online persona on several forums. I knew that they’d spent a fair amount on it because Mom cautioned me that it should probably not be used.
I heeded her warning and didn’t use the mug for several years but in April 2013 I decided to start using it, a decision I documented on Facebook:
Fast forward to a little over a month ago during our kitchen renovation, when, while washing dishes in the basement, Dean accidentally knocked the mug to the cement floor where it broke in several pieces. I heard it, I knew what it was and my heart momentarily froze and when he showed me what happened, I replied, “Don’t worry about it. It was bound to happen sometime. I got lots of years out of it.” And strangely, that was how I really felt.
Of course I documented it on Facebook.
The responses were heartwarming and several friends tried to help me find a replacement, at least one even offering to buy me one.
I could not find the exact mug and felt that buying one would be cheating. Part of its appeal was because it was from three special people in my life who were no longer with us.
Two days after the mug was broken my brother commented with a photo of the mug and later said it was an early Christmas gift to me in memory of Mom. It turned out that he found a set of four Lenox bird mugs online and bought them for me.
I got them a week or so later and put them in my China cabinet. I’ll use them someday, but not right now.
Kevin buying them for me was such a surprise, but when I think of it, not that much of a surprise. He’s always been a kind and thoughtful person. I’m lucky he’s my brother.
As we near the end of our kitchen renovation (yes, I will write about that here. Someday.) I am going through stacks of papers that we had in the bookshelf of the old kitchen. Today’s item is a ragged, yellowed-with-age recipe for a mint julep that I clipped from the Washington Post back when we lived in Alexandria and had a plentiful amount of mint growing in our yard.
No sampling of bourbon recipes can omit instructions for making a mint julep, a powerful drink that visitors to Kentucky generally find themselves drinking very slowly. A silver julep cup is the ideal vessel for serving the drink as it can be chilled so well, but a glass tumbler does quite nicely in a pinch. This and the following two recipes (not shown here) have been adapted from Marion Flexner’s superb cookbook “Out of Kentucky Kitchens,” published in 1949.
1 teaspoon superfine sugar (or more, to taste)
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon water
Shaved or crushed ice to fill the goblet
1 to 2 ounces Kentucky bourbon
Few sprigs of fresh mint
Place the sugar and chopped mint in a small bowl. Bruise the mint well with a muddler or the back of a wooden spoon, until the mixture becomes paste-like. Add the water and stir into a thickish green syrup. Fill a julep cup or glass half full of shaved ice. Pour the mint syrup and then the bourbon to taste over the ice. Fill the glass to the top with additional ice and garnish with sprigs of mint. Just before serving imbed a straw deeply into the crushed ice and cut it to the approximate height of the mint.
I must have made this recipe. In fact I think I did and decided that I was not a fan of mint juleps. I really should try again. Maybe in early May of next year.