I immediately seized on the chance to get away for the long weekend, when Hub floated the idea of renting a cabin outside of Hancock, NY on Thursday morning. I was eager to take a break from testing and trying out recipes, fretting over deadlines, and the general routine that makes family life functional, but leaves me feeling dull and sanded-down. I saw us spending lots of free-flowing family time together, there’d be a few cookouts too-where someone else was in charge of the food for a change. There’d absolutely be some sleeping in, and possibly cover-to-cover reading time! And maybe I’d even go to Whole Foods to pick up some artisanal chocolate for a special holiday weekend treat (what else can justify charging $8 for thin a slab of chocolate other than that it is crafted by artistes…). “Yes, yes! Great idea! Let’s go away this weekend!”
Hub, spurred on by images of rivers teeming with trout, turned to the Catskill region due to its diverse trout fishing rivers and the possibility of catching a “big, giant brown trout” and imagining the good fight that the wild native fish put up.
All right then, let’s do it, we said. By Thursday evening the cabin had been rented, and I was preparing a platter of schnitzel, great served hot or cold, soy-sesame green beans, rice, and peach kuchen to bring up and reheat for Friday night Shabbat dinner. And that would be my last cooking act for a few days.
I culinary curated the weekend with the word HOLIDAY in mind. Holidays are fun, freewheeling, and flavorful- like a big scoop of pink or blue bubblegum ice cream. I remember a family vacation in Mt. Shasta, CA we took when I was 11. We spent one evening at a Pizza-Ice Cream Parlor/Video Arcade. My brothers were locked in front of the hulking video games, my mother and father were drinking coffee and discussing parent-stuff, and I was sitting near the jukebox spending all my quarters on my favorite pop songs, nursing a root beer-bubblegum ice cream float (?), and perfectly happy in my own space in this loud and bright new scene, with my family. I think of this family trip often. I want to give my kids times that they can happily return to in their memories. And the thing is, it doesn’t take much, after ditching the routine and schedule you’re halfway there.
I kicked reasonable everyday thinking soundly in the butt at the supermarket when I was getting supplies for the weekend. As if under a contact sugar high and with a gleefulness that bordered on mania I threw boxes of cookie crisp cereal, Oreo double stuff’s into my shopping cart. I pitched in bags of bright orange cheese puffs and bright yellow cheese crackers. And finally, a cross-section of regular sized candy bars because the stingy snack sized ones never fully scratch the itch. It was like Supermarket Sweep: The Munchies episode.
Next up- the bookstore. I bought them each a book and splurged on the new hardcover Meg Wolitzer book “The Interestings” for myself. I could not resist getting another cookbook for my collection: The Modern Table by Kim Kushner. I was compelled by the beautiful, large, glossy photo’s. Her recipes are modern in appearance and presented in the Yotam Ottolenghi style: colorful and textured heaps of fruits and veggies and grains assembled generously and artfully, allowing the natural ingredients take center stage against a stark white background. It’s sort of like the slow food/organic movement’s foodie-porn. I had to have this kosher cookbook version, despite it costing almost as much as the hardcover novel. Celebrationist Holiday thinking prevailed, of course.
Then onto Whole Foods, or, Holy Crap, how expensive is this Food?! Where I was so dazzled by the displays of fresh summer fruits that I completely forgot about my $8 chocolate bar. I was swooning over piles of plump heart-shaped Rainier cherries, and beautiful tender apricots.
The car was packed up with our mixed bags of guilty-pleasure junk food, Tupperware containing a home cooked meal, expensive and flawless organic produce. As well as bikes, board games and cards, and fishing rods that reached over the tops of the kids heads. And off we went in the unseasonably chilly rain toward venerable and gently sloping Catskill Mountains.
Scene after opening the door to the cabin:
Rachel (entering the cabin and looking around, right away zeroing in on the clean and modern kitchen area):Yes, this is great….Let’s get the food into the fridge, I don’t want the schnitzels to go off.
Kiddle1 (rushing past Rachel, and bounding up stairs): Look! Look! There’s a loft up here for us.
Kiddle 2 (steps behind): This is awesome! I get that bed!
Hub (to Rachel): Nice, clean… Where’s the heat? It’s a little cold in here.
Kiddle3 (rifling through box of groceries): How many Oreo’s do I get after dinner?
The weekend was slow, lazy, and fun, yummy, and easy. It was sunny and warm on the last two days – so we took full advantage, emerged from the cozy cabin and rode our bikes and rolled around on the grass . We played cards, we read our books, they watched a movie on tv, and played with their devices, we snoozed. The weekend included a root beer float as well as bubble gum ice cream (seems I have passed down my tastes to my children-imagine that!), and me feeding all my quarters into a juke box as the kiddles and hub played in the game parlor of the small town tavern. It was a Memorial Day weekend that celebrated the little pleasures of life; family, food, free-time.