Thursday, April 16, 2009

Remembering Mackinac

Paul and I visited Mackinac Island for our honeymoon. It was probably the best week of my life: the weather was beautiful, we were surrounded by the deep, blue lake, and the island was covered with a gorgeous medley of trees and shrubbery. We stayed at the Inn at Stonecliffe in their summer home. The room was substantially large with decor reminiscent of the Victorian era. I was especially thrilled to discover that we had a whirpool in our better way to relax!
We basically spent the whole week running, walking, biking, relaxing on the beach, and EATING. There were so many cute, unique restaurants on the island and we had so much fun exploring (or rather tasting) each and every one. One of the most memorable dinners took place at the famous Grand Hotel. The dinner was a flat rate of 75 dollars per person and was served in 5 courses. The first course was a soup of choice, followed by a salad, entree, side dish, and dessert. All the menu items were written in such a flowerly, fancy manner that they might as well have been written in Mayan. I randomly chose one of the soups, recognizing that it had apple in it. What the waiter brought was one of the most refreshingly delicious dishes I have ever tried. It was, in fact, a chilled sweet apple soup, topped with a dollup of cream and candied walnuts. One taste of the soup and I was in heaven....creamy, rich with a light lemon flavor. The candied walnuts helped accent the sweetness of the apples themselves. I let the hubby sneak a spoonful and immediately after tasting he agreed that it was absolutely delicious. He jealously watched me savor every single spoonful as he poked at his boring French Onion Soup (he ordered it only because it was the only thing he recognized on the menu...he's not too into trying new things). The rest of the dinner was delicious but the taste of the Cold Apple Soup continued to haunt my brain...I just had to have it again!
After the honeymoon, I scoured many cookbooks for a recipe to a soup that rivaled the one I had tasted on Mackinac Island. Several versions surfaced, but all failed to be similar...most relied on the addition of spices to boost the flavor of the soup rather than the simple purity of freshly sliced apples and lemon juice. Finally, one recipe in particular surfaced from the Chef2Chef portal. With a few simple additions, the final product was very similar to the soup from the Grand Hotel!

Cold Apple Soup
Serves: 4
4-5 Granny Smith Apples (peeled, cored, and diced into 1/2 inch pieces)
Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon
1/2 c. Sugar (plus more to taste)
3 c. Water
2 T. Flour
2T. Water
1/2 c. white wine
1/2 c. Whipping Cream (chilled)
Thin Apple Slices, Candied Walnuts, and Whipped Cream for Garnish
In a large stockpot, combine apples, lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, and water. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 15 minutes or until apples are tender. Whisk together the 2 T of Flour with 2 T of water. Add 2 T. of the hot soup liquid and whisk together. Slowly whisk this mixture into the soup misture until it begins to thicken. Add wine. Allow to cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and chill until cold (about 4 hours). Stir in cream and pour into chilled bowls. Top with a splay of thin apples slices, sprinkle with candied walnuts, and top off with a very small dollop of whipped cream. Bon Apetite!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Live, Laugh, Love

I always day dreamed about being married when I was younger. When I was younger, I was a guilty believer in the "happily-ever-after" view of love and marriage. I thought my hardwork would be over once I fell in love and received that bright and sparkly wedding ring. That has certainly not been the case. You have to really work at being married...REALLY work! I love Paul (my husband) more than anyone else in the world...but there is nobody else in the world who can make me so incredibly insane with anger like he does.

We met in the third grade at a Vacation Bible School program in the summer of 1994. I still remember the way he scowled at me from across the room, pouting because the last place he wanted to be during a sunny July afternoon was stuck inside a church basement drawing crosses and memorizing scripture passages. It was love at first glare. I was instantly spellbound by him, but he could not have cared less about me. Every instance I attempted to strike up a conversation with him or even sit next to him during snacktime was thwarted by his silly belief that this shy, slightly awkward 8-year-old girl would give him an incurable case of the cooties! Needless to say, the summer passed us by and I failed to establish a friendship with my newfound love.

Three years later, my parents decided to enroll me in a new private school that had opened the year before. There were only 8 other students in my sixth grade class and one of them was that cute boy I had fallen in love with a few short years ago. Thinking that perhaps he had grown up during the three years we had been apart, I attempted once more to establish a friendship with him. Paul, however, was more interested in teasing me, pulling my hair and poking my spine with pens and rulers. We had a temporary breakthrough one day when, after completing an oral examination, he told me: "You're really smart." Shortly afterwards, I smashed his ego by defeating him in a game of HORSE and the silent treatment began again. By the end of the school year, my Dad announced that he had accepted a new position and we would be moving across the country. A short 2 months later, we had sold our home, packed our boxes, and were driving off into the distance. As we drove away, I wrote in my diary (which I religiously updated daily) that I hoped to see Paul again one day.

Fast forward to August 2004: I was a freshman strolling across the campus of the University of Notre Dame, excited to join the ranks of the "Fighting Irish" and begin pursuing my degree in Biology. One of my friends from high school was also joining me at Notre Dame and I was on my way to visit him in his new dorm room. As I walked down the hallway of Alumni Hall, studying the room numbers written on the doors, I noticed a familiar name on one of the doors. Could this be the same Paul that I had been in love with all those years ago? I had to find out. I knocked on the door, and a handsome, familiar face opened it. Although 6 years older than the last time I saw him, I recognized him instantly. I told him who I was, and he remembered. We became good friends after that...slowly becoming reacquainted with one another through late night study sessions, long walks around campus, coffee breaks at Starbucks, and prayer at mass. Six months later, I became his girlfriend. Three and a half years after that, I became his wife.

Here we are today: Happily married for a young 9 months and living/working in Pennsylvania. I am beginning this blog to chronicle our new life together and to share recipes/cooking adventures with others.