I had been putting off serious thought about the menu for Dan’s memorial this coming Saturday, now exactly one week off. Putting together a video and assembling a play list had been a diversion. I worried, moreover, that if I didn’t get it started, I might have trouble getting it finished. When my son-in-law telephoned, ostensibly just to check in, he also inquired what they could do to help on Saturday, what they could bring. I accepted the offer of a kugeli with the caveat that if it was too much trouble, particularly having to use an oven in this terrible, muggy heat, to absolutely not do it. We talked about whether there was a need for beer (I think probably there is) and if they should arrive a bit early (a good idea because I need help with the business of setting up the video and music).
I begged off further discussion of food until I could sit down with pencil and paper, this system I have used for every gathering—Christmas, Thanksgiving and other—for the last thirty years or so.
Pencil and Paper
I sweated over weeds in the garden for a while this morning, showered and breakfasted. Reluctantly I turned off the news, set aside the papers as I had completed the Jumble and the New York Times crossword, and started making lists.
Dan’s favorite carrot cake. My Granny’s brownies. Blue cheese dip and vegetables for dipping. Pretty much the usual suspects.
One can order on the app of my preferred booze establishment and that they will load your car for you at the Pick-Up door. I knew I needed a case of my favorite cava, While I was at it, I might as well restock my Tattooed Boy’s preferred tipple and the various spirits and liqueurs I like to have on hand. Beer? Why not? Dan choice was Kirin. Besides, if I get it into the house on Tuesday, then it can cool in the mostly empty refrigerator downstairs. I need to replenish my supply of eggs, too, and Willow Valley Farm is right on the way home.
My mind turned to the kugeli. If we were going to have potatoes, we were obviously going to have something that goes with potatoes.
Kugeli. Kugeli. What goes with kugeli. And the weather is likely to be unpleasantly warm. Well, meat, of course, Sausages. Wait, wasn’t there a farm in the northerly part of the county that makes traditional Lithuanian sausage? Google found it. Crooked Creek Farm. I called, because maybe I would luck out and they would be selling at one of the local famers’ markets. Crooked Creek was, in fact, at the Bel Air Farmers’ Market that very minute. They planned to head out at noon—some twenty minutes away—but they had sausages and they would wait for me.
I happen to remember that Dan wasn’t wild about the sausages when we tried them a few years ago, but I thought they were fair-to-middling. They are, moreover, the perfect accompaniment to kugeli. I will put one of the bottles of good vodka we schlepped back from Lithuania in my suitcase in 2015 on ice for a toast.
A Detour On The Way Home
In this morning’s New York Times, there was a recipe for spaghetti in fresh tomato sauce. What caught my eye was the fact that, although intended for four, making a single portion would be simple: one tomato, one clove of garlic, olive oil, basil, parmesan, three ounces of dry pasta. I got to thinking about that and the fact that Brad’s with all their lovely produce was one the way home.
I hadn’t brought my split-oak basket so I reached for one of their shopping baskets. Three tomatoes, probably too many but maybe I will want a salad or sandwich later in the week. A beautiful, smallish zucchini. Can’t have too much zucchini in season. Ooooh, free-stone peaches! LS is arriving Thursday evening from Cleveland to see me through the weekend. Maybe a peach cake or cobbler and a cup of tea for her when she gets here?
I headed to the register with my finds.
And I Still Don’t Remember Her Name
We’ve been regulars at Brad’s for at least twenty years. Early in the season we’d buy flowers when they still did much of a flower business. For a few summers we bought a share in their CSA and were overwhelmed with more fruits and vegetables than we could reasonably eat in two weeks, and so shifted to a half share. We saw them through more than a couple renovations of the barn. This year, they enclosed it entirely and—gasp!—airconditioned it! I am sure the staff are grateful and it probably keeps the produce fresher.
I was greeted with an enormous smile, the predictable “where’s your basket?” and a hug. She knew about Dan, but then, that’s what obituaries published in the local paper are for. It was all so warm and heartfelt and I knew I was on the edge of bawling.
I promised to bring my basket next time and wept my way home. Vegetables help.