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Verses from my Kitchen: July 2011

July 29, 2011

Chocolate Cherry Ice Cream Sandwiches

Picture this. It's summertime. You're outside and have your hand up over your eyes to protect yourself from the bright glare of the sun. You hear kids playing and laughing all around you. A sprinkler is watering the lawn and someone is gardening nearby. Your skin feels warm and, for a fleeting second in time, everything is perfect.

It's hot and slightly humid outside and you start looking for cover. Shade. You find a big oak tree out back and press your back up against it and hide for a moment in the soft cool shade. And for a few short months a year this is yours. All yours.

I often talk about my affinity for summer weather and activities. When I take time to reflect on what it is about summer that draws me in, I realize it's the moments and memories that are firmly attached to a day or time from the season. It's not the heat or warm breeze as much as it is that one thing that can't be duplicated. My summer recollections. They're mine. Only mine.
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July 25, 2011

The Heatwave and The Antidote Cocktail

The muffled voice over the radio called it. I just wasn't listening. It wasn't even spring yet and a chorus of people familiar with weather patterns were talking about a long, hot summer. More accurately they warned of a record breaking summer with temperatures consistently hot and uncomfortable. The kind of summer we haven't seen since forever.

Each weekend morning with the air conditioner working overtime I wake up refreshed and cool and comfortable. Occasionally we get lost in the cool surroundings and become oblivious to the bright sun beating down outside. And these days it's been beating down with the kind of consistency and regularity usually reserved for post office workers.

The first step outside each day is a warning of things to come. It's a friendly reminder than we react to our surroundings. Each day we dress and plan according to the temperature outside, but that's after stepping through that front door to feel it. Really feel it. And for the better part of two months the weather has been hot. Hell hot.
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July 22, 2011

Raspberry & White Cherry Yogurt Pops

It was moons ago now. I had fallen ill at my uncle's cottage and took a turn. One week of vacation spent on the water prior to my final year of high school. It should have been the beginning of one of the most memorable years in my life. It was, but for all the wrong reasons.

The phone rang in mid-August and it was my uncle on the other end asking me if I wanted to stay at his cottage for a week or so. A long overdue visit. The call took me by surprise because my father disowned his family many years before and I had all but lost contact with his brothers and sisters. After a moment or so of silence I said yes.
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July 16, 2011

Grilled Watermelon Salad plus a Watermelon Margarita

Summer. A season of hope and promise and love. It has a way of bringing people together, and often. You can feel her presence right around the time May gives way to June. Right of passage we all expect and welcome. The first break of dawn when you feel the warmth push through your window screen and up against your skin. She's back again. Home again.

There are few things I look forward to more than summer. It's hard to mask her ability to make all of us smile. I watch people and set my watch to their mood shifts that come and go with the seasons. For the few short months of summer we all like ourselves just a little bit better. A little bit more.

I met my wife one October years ago when winter was making an unexpected appearance. Too hard. Too soon. I fell in love with Wendy during the shifts in weather that came for the better part of that year but it was in summer that I really saw all her beauty on display.

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July 12, 2011

What A Week It Was: Food, Friends and Memories

Red Plum Tart
Seventeen months. Six different changes of season. An eternity of restlessness. I was beginning to think my holidays would be limited to long weekends and national holidays, because the last time I took extended time off was for my honeymoon a year and a half ago. Forever chained to my job with a lifetime of waiting.

My wife asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday a couple of months ago. A party? Family get together? I said I wanted a break. An escape. One week at the cottage to spend time with her and relax. Finally. And because my wife moves mountains and parts the sea for me, she made it happen. One week of heaven and a destination for two.

We have a good friend Eugene. Well, Wendy has known him for over ten years and I know him because of her, but I still consider him a good friend. He has a wonderful little cottage that sits on a small property right on the lake. I've been there a couple of times before with her but this time would be different. It wasn't a two day getaway from the stress and hussle of life, it was for a week of food and relaxation.

Beef Kebabs and Cilantro-Yogurt Dipping Sauce
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July 5, 2011

Yogurt Panna Cotta with Strawberries

It's early. The sun hasn't risen yet and I'm tripping over shadows left in the house. Silence is disturbed with every step I take. This is one of my favourite times of the day. Barely dark, so quiet I can still hear echoes of yesterday as life gently sleeps all around me. The brisk early morning rush of life.

The early morning in summer is one of the special moments of life I attack with abandon. Sleep is forsaken for the chance to see the soft yellow sun lift up over the horizon and break free. The colour of the sky is bruised blue-black and covers up all the imperfections that make her so beautiful. I could watch that beautiful beginning every day. And I'm constantly afraid of missing something. Anything.

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July 2, 2011

My Summer of Discontent and a Rosemary Lamb Burger Recipe

It was cause for celebration. July 1st. In this country we celebrate a national holiday and the enactment of the British North American Act. We wear red and white and, for one day, we scream our love for this country and our normally reserved personas step aside. One day of outward patriotism. A day of unity and celebration.

One particular Canada Day resonates within me like no other. It plagues me even to this day. It was over fifteen years ago but I remember it. How could I forget? It should have been the best summer of my life. Instead, it's my summer of discontent. All because one day spiralled out of control and nearly ended with the loss of my life. It should have ended that way.
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