Food, life

Fluent in Food & Love

The pastor’s sermon that day outlined The 5 Languages of Love by psychologist Gary Chapman.   On the way home from church I asked my then eight-year-old daughter which love language spoke most to her.  Without hesitation she replied “Acts of Service” and “Quality Time”.  I commented that I tend to mostly give Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch because those are the languages that I speak most naturally, but I wanted to remember to speak the languages that best float her boat.

An hour later she was up a tree at the opposite end of our courtyard.  I walked over and asked her if she was ready for lunch.  She started to climb down but I stopped her and said, “Stay there, I’ll bring it to you.”  She jumped down anyway to give me a hug saying,  “You remembered, mom, Acts of Service,” and then she scrambled back to her perch.  As I was walking away she called, “Thanks, mom!” Then she yelled, “Mom, that was a Word of Affirmation, you know, saying thanks.”  I took a few more steps and she called out again, “And, mom, that hug was Physical Touch.”

I came back a few minutes later with a picnic basket.  Her face lit up as she chirped, “You made a whole picnic!  I thought you were just going to bring me a sandwich!”  She pulled out her lunch and then asked, “What’s this?”  I told her I was going to join her.  She patted a branch, smiled and said, “Have a seat.”   After a few bites she asked, “Mom, do you realize that this is Quality Time?”

Later I remembered an assignment she had when she was in kindergarten.  She was to complete the sentence “My mom loves me because…” She had written “because she makes crazy bread with cream cheese for me and plays Hands Down with me.”  I commented that Acts of Service and Quality Time were her love languages even back then.

For the rest of that afternoon and evening she gave me a big smile whenever she saw me.  Right before bed she had a big grin on her face.  I discovered why when I went in to brush my teeth.  On the bathroom mirror was a large soap heart with “Love Ya” written in it.  Life doesn’t get any better than that.

An hour ago I was outside checking on my garlic, which, I am thrilled to report, is growing taller by the day.  The hub came out and exclaimed, “It sure is a beautiful day!”  Being fluent in his love language, I immediately translated it to, “Mind if I go fishing?”

So when I said, “Why don’t you go fishing?”  His face lit up.

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He’s been working hard every weekend remodeling our second level.  He’s painted walls and ceilings, replaced moldings, installed hardwoods floors throughout, put shelves in my closet, etc.  His goal today was to get his office and our bedroom put back together.  So he will no longer have to sleep on the family room sofa and I will no longer have to sleep on the living room sofa.  The spare room can wait. He spent all morning moving our desks back into the office, setting the computer back up, etc.

“We can finish the rooms tomorrow after church,”  I said.  “It is supposed to rain tomorrow and the temperature is going to drop back into the 50’s for several days.  Go enjoy sunny and 70 while it lasts.  But first you have to have lunch.”

While he brought his fishing gear up from the basement for the first time since October, I threw fresh basil leaves, walnuts, a few sun-dried tomatoes and a two cloves of garlic into the oskar and gave them a whirl.  Then I added some parm, basil olive oil, salt and pepper and blended it to bits, which I tossed with the leftover gemelli I had in the fridge.  Plum Market had some nice parmigiano reggiano on sale last week so I bought two big hunks.  It’s been all parm all the time ever since.  Lunch prepared in ten minutes flat.

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“This is pretty good,” said the hub as he scooped the last bit from the pan onto his plate.  “It’s the best pasta you’ve ever made.”

That’s what he said last time.  And the time before that.

Wanna’ talk love to the hub?  You really only need two words: fishing and food.

Think I’ll go trim the raspberry bushes and soak up a little vitamin D myself.

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family, Food, life, love

Feeding People

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The hub and I were hunched over the dining room table working one of our annual week-between-Christmas-and-New-Year jig-saw puzzles when my daughter entered saying, “Except for red wine and martinis, Shauna Niequist and I are the same people.” Then she sat down and read this excerpt from Shauna’s new book, Bread & Wine:

“For the record, my last supper meal looks a bit like this: first, of course, ice-cold champagne, gallons of it, flutes catching the candlelight and dancing. There would be bacon-wrapped dates oozing with goat cheese, and risotto with thick curls of parmesan and flecks of black pepper. There would be paper-thin pizza with tomatoes and mozzarella and slim ribbons of basil, garlicky pasta and crusty bread and lots of cheeses, a plummy pinot noir and maybe a really dirty martini, because you might as well go big on your last night on earth. There would dark chocolate sea salted toffee and a bowl of fat blackberries, and we’d stay at the table for hours and hours, laughing and telling stories and reaching for one more bite, one more bite, one more bite.”

Actually, my daughter and I are the same people because I love everything in that list except red wine and martinis, too.

This afternoon I caught her approving smile out of the corner of my eye as I stood at the meat counter of a nearby market ordering – and shelling out a pretty penny for – a Niman Ranch beef tenderloin, trimmed and tied.

On the car ride home she said, “I never really understood love languages until Shauna called food a love language. I always instinctively knew it was one, though.”

“Shauna said food is a love language?”

“Well, not in those words, but it is implied in her book.”

“Maybe it falls under an “act of service.”

“No, because it is the actual food, not just the preparation of it, that makes me feel loved. Remember when Aunt Laura ordered all that really good food for that family get together? She did not prepare it, but it made me feel special because she ordered the best of everything.”

“That might fall under “gifts”, or perhaps the sixth love language would be “feeding people.””

Either way we agreed that nothing makes you feel unloved and un-special like quick and easy. I realize that not everyone has the budget for beef tenderloin, but you can make whatever you can afford special by putting a bit of presentation and pizzaz into it. Nothing ruins a holiday dish like someone saying, “it was quick and easy.” Oh, okay, well glad you didn’t go to any trouble, you wouldn’t want your guests to feel special or anything.

Go to a holiday dinner at my mother’s or any of my sister’s houses and the food will be carefully and lovingly prepared, the table will be beautiful and there will be an aura of special. And that makes my daughter and me feel loved.

Tomorrow night my husband and I are having a couple over for dinner. Now that they are empty-nesters and their lives no longer revolve around their children’s activities, they are trying to reconnect with old friends. So late last summer they invited us over for a barbecue. We are reciprocating with a New Year’s Eve dinner. For those who share my love for food, I will be serving beef tenderloin (which is dry-brining, uncovered in my basement fridge as I type) with homemade horseradish sauce. Along with it I will serve garlic mashed red-skin potatoes, caramelized butternut squash, peas cooked with green onions and a blue-cheese, walnut salad. Crostini spread with triple cream brie and a dollop of cranberry/rosemary/balsamic vinegar/thyme compote for the appetizer.

Dessert will be chocolate pots-de-creme and french-pressed Santa’s White Christmas coffee served with all the accoutrements – cream, whipped cream, mini chocolate chips, rock sugar and cinnamon sticks.

The female in the couple does not cook, does not care about cooking, hates that her mother-in-law keeps giving her gifts from Williams Sonoma (hey, pass them my way if you aren’t going to use them). Let’s see if the love and care and special touches I put into tomorrow’s meal make her feel at all loved, at all special.  I know I’ll enjoy it.

Tonight we’re having hotdogs.

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