Life Reveals Itself This Way
May 21, 2014
Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. Lot of rushing around to get things done before school is out and young people are in and out of the house day and night. Lot of awards ceremonies and concerts between now and then, and Memorial Day Weekend, and a graduation, too. Busy time. Ordered a cake from the bakery for the Open House after the graduation. Ordered potato salad, too, and a keg of root beer, and spent far too much time searching for the appropriate shade of green plastic tablecloths. Not lime green, not hunter green. "Moss green," my son requested. "You know, a comfortable green."
While the kids were growing up, when I wanted an answer, I generally gave them a choice between two things. Instead of "What do you want for dinner?" I asked, "Pasta or tacos?" Rather than, "What should we do today?" I said, "Swimming or canoeing?" Asking an open-ended question was asking for chaos; giving a choice narrowed things a bit. Added focus. It became, more recently, a road trip game. As I drive along, we ask things like, "Lake or River?" "Banjo or guitar?" "Hip Hop or Blues?" "Jellybeans or licorice?" and so on, and everyone else answers the question and sometimes there are arguments and sometimes we learn something about someone we didn't know before and have wonderful discussions and sometimes there's kind of a silence for a while until someone thinks of something new: "Trampolines or rollercoasters?" "Saudia Arabia or Siberia?"
The color of plastic tablecloths for a graduation open house is, in the grand scheme of things, not all that important. When I asked the question, I was looking for strong feelings my son might have, like "Not Orange!" or "It has to be plain." Something. I expected, "It doesn't really matter, Mom." When his reply was "moss green...a comfortable green", I was caught off guard a bit by his thoughtful reply.
It may sound silly, a conversation about tablecloth color, but life reveals itself this way, in the simple and the unexpected. All along the way, like fireflies in the night, I caught glimpses of the grown man in him. And now that grown man has begun to speak. Such a glorious thing, to meet the adult in your child. It has happened before; it will happen more often now, I imagine, until he's here to stay.
If you're like me, sweets are sweets, whether it's Black Forest Cake from Germany or Poi from the Islands or Greek Baklava. Every region has its own take on what tastes best after dinner, and a rhubarb dessert from Norway is always a delight.
Norwegian Rhubarb Dessert
1½ lbs rhubarb
1½ cups water
¾ cup sugar
½ tsp vanilla
3 T cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Wash and trim rhubarb, and cut into ½ inch slices. Combine with water and sugar in a cooking pot and simmer on the stove until soft. Stir in vanilla. Blend cornstarch with a little cold water to make a smooth stiff paste. While stirring constantly, add paste to rhubarb and cook for five minutes or so, until thick and clear. Pour into a glass serving dish and set aside.
Whip cream until frothy, add sugar and vanilla and whip until stiff. Pipe whipped cream through pastry tube in decorative swirls on compote or simply pour it on and spread evenly with a spoon. I garnish with a strawberry and a bit of nutmeg, but I'm thinking raspberries would be good, too.