This has been our view the last few days. Our new home in Maryland is in a full-service building, and this pool is one of the perks of living there. I’ve never felt humidity like this before, and while I have dreams about taking in all D.C. has to offer, lugging two kids around in the heat is far from my idea of fun. For now, I’m quite content to let them frolic in the cool water while I take cover under the shade of the trees. By day four Isabella joked that I was a vampire. Sorry kid, mama is just not a summer person. Give me spring and fall, and even winter with all its snow. I’d rather bundle up than have to shed layers for refuge.
I do love what summer rewards us with, though. I baked up my first blueberry pie of the season for my guy this past father’s day. And just this morning, I made a batch of blueberry-cherry conserves. I’ve been meaning to write more about conserves, for like, four years now. I got hot and heavy with them in the months just before M passed away, inspired by this recipe in Bon Appetit. One of the recipes I’ve yet to share is for apricot & lemon thyme conserves. It’s one of the last recipes recorded in my journal before August 7, 2011. I have a few of those recipes, the last ones he ever tasted, that I’m reluctant to let go. Part of me feels like those recipes keep him alive in some odd way.
The other morning I shuttled back to a moment about six years ago. I didn’t realize where I was going until I took a sip of my breakfast. Smoothies are a go-to drink in the mornings around here. I love the ease with which they come together, and if you use the right ingredients, it’s a balanced meal in itself. I didn’t have any frozen fruit in the freezer, but that was fine. What I really needed was a boost of protein—peanut butter would do the trick. Smoothies are a no-brainer but they do take some finesse for the right balance of flavors. One thing you might not think of adding is an acid to counter the tartness of the fruit, or in my case, to cut through the heaviness of the peanut butter. A squeeze of fresh lime juice brightens the flavors up nicely.
As I blended all of the ingredients, I remembered M used to take Virginia for morning walks when she was little. He’d end up at this joint on Smith Street back in Brooklyn, and get a smoothie for the walk home. The first time she commandeered a sip, he told me her toes wiggled with excitement. She was still small enough for the Baby Bjorn, and I can almost hear his deep bellow of a laugh, even though it’s been far too many years since I’ve heard it in person. I told Virginia that story the morning I first served this smoothie, in our new apartment, settling into our new life. The wonderful thing about memories is that they belong to you no matter where you go. They offer comfort during tough times, and give hope for the possibilities that lie ahead.
Music Pairing: Good Day Sunshine by The Beatles
I prefer using cashew milk these days, when possible, and the kids don’t taste the difference when I use it in smoothies. Feel free to use your milk of choice, and even pourable yogurt or kefir will work fine. If you want to keep it vegan, swap in agave for the honey). You can also double this recipe, and pour it into popsicle molds for a frozen treat.
3 tablespoons (48 grams) creamy peanut butter
Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lime
1 teaspoon (7 grams) honey
1/2 cup (118 ml) cashew milk
3 to 4 ice cubes
Add the ingredients to the bowl of a blender. Pulse a few times to break up the ice cubes, then blend until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately.