Sunday, June 20, 2010

Case Study 65: "The Summer Fleur"

“A man does what he must - 
in spite of personal consequences, 
in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures -
and that is the basis of all human morality.”
-Winston Churchill

We talk a lot about what makes a good man, and I think in general, many of these marked qualities are pretty synonymous with what makes a good woman.  But to be honest, there are just some characteristics that are simply set apart, and I have one reason to hold them high: my dad. 

I could write novels on the places he traveled alone.  I remember as a kid, searching for the smell of his cologne and crispness of his suit during the days, the weeks, the months at a time he spent on business in Venezuela, Brussels, Toronto, and India.  The returns were welcomed by our rugby games and swim meets, the nights watching the Yankees, him in his leather chair and me on the floor, and the fall evenings when he picked me up from swim practice with the top down in the convertible, the heat blasting, and Van Morrison's Moondance on the radio. 

When he started working from home, I thought, who has it better than this guy?  But he wasn't content to keep it at that.  He embraced his Italian instincts, and took over as head house chef, learning first from recipes, then taking flight on his own culinary adventures.  A martini in one hand, a plated feast in the other, and a snarky quip on the tip of his tongue, he paints the portrait of a true man of style and grace, with a kick of perfect inappropriateness.  I remember the one winter the two of us stood outside for hours, teeth chattering, as we made zeppole in our Fry Daddy for Christmas.  Promise we'll do it again, Dad!

"The Summer Fleur" is a dark chocolate and zucchini cupcake with a creamy goat cheese frosting, and a pan fried zucchini blossom on top. The chocolate cake beneath is deep, sweet and swirled with chunks of zucchini, which is offset by the tangy kick of the goat cheese on top.  The blossoms, now in season, are simply one of the most succulent Italian summer delights when sizzled up with a little egg, a pinch of flour and a pan of hot olive oil.  A well rounded cupcake, I'd say.       

I could talk about how my father has a full head of dark hair that would make men half his age shiver in their shoes, how his golf game is a lot better than he'll ever admit it to be, or how he always checks my tires for air before I leave.  But to be honest, those are things that could make a man, well, just anyone else.  
Mother's can be so much more wonderfully irrational and quick to act.  But like Churchill said, a very good man, just gets it doneIn a dire situation, a good man just diffuses all of his hope, his wealth of knowledge, his trust and respect into the matter at hand. He might not say anything right away, and he might speak carefully at first, but when a good man talks, it's stops you in your tracks, and you just know, without even knowing it right away.  

And so, to my big Daddoo, I say thank you for being an honest to God good man. Though you might have beat me during our first half marathon (no biggie!), and sometimes I ask you to keep it down when you are oh-so-passionately serenading us with your amazing guitar skills, you are truly a beacon of knowing light.  And without it, this girl wouldn't be half the woman I grew up to be.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Notes from the Field: Summer Hands and Feet.

Hello there.  

It's been awhile, huh.

In the weeks since we last talked, 
these tired feet have traveled miles

To mostly good places, 
like fields and woods, various city streets, 
and lots of sand.  

But finally this weekend, 
they walked back into the kitchen,
and let the hands take over again.  

And they said, "Let's take it nice and easy, ok??"

And so, the hands did.  

With good old American double vanilla cupcakes. 
The hands will try hard to keep up with 
the feet as they roam this summer.

After all, that's what summer feet do.