Our favorite cookbook, like everyone's favorite cookbook is worn out, full of scribbles and some of the pages are stuck together.
On the first of April, 2006, my sweet Sven made quite a mess in our kitchen and he came out with, Fish Chowder a la Monique.
How can I possibly know this thirteen years later?
Whenever Sven spends any time in the kitchen it ends up a complete disaster.
And, I just read the review on page sixty of our favorite cook book.
Sven: I liked it. Though correct recipe may have been better.
Millie: HORRIBLE!!!! Only because I don't like seafood anything. Broth without seafood was a 5. Crackers with butter. Priceless.
You see, in February of 2005, my parents and Sven and I boarded a plane on a gray, frozen, Madison, Wisconsin, morning.
A few hours later we landed in sunny, blue skied, Florida where we met my brother, older by one year, Calvin and his wife, Sherise, who'd arrived from Louisville. The six of us found a bar and grill for some lunch to top off those mini bags of pretzels the stewardesses had handed us earlier. With stomachs full we went to find our Fort Meyers condo for the week.
On February 7, 2010, Sven tore up our kitchen for Cabbage and Blue Cheese Soup.
Sven: Super Bowl - Good game so far. May the best team win. Good soup. Some sort of spice is missing - I think. Not sure what. Probably garlic. Ha!
Millie: Love it. No fish in it. Quite tasty and no need for lots of spices. Had Marques' 30th birthday dinner last night. It was fun!!! I am so tired. The Saints are 1:27 away from winning Super Bowl XXXIIIIV. Dakota is recovering from his ear and toe surgery. All is good.
You know how vacations are.
They have that wonderful beginning with baby soft skin.
Upon arrival there is that state of elated euphoria as you unpack your bags and get all settled in.
4/3/2006 Broccoli Cheese Soup.
Millie: It was good, but a little salty.
Sven: Appearance 2 - Looks like puke but tastes better, I imagine. Texture 4 - Rather thick. Not well defined. Taste 7 - Good. I liked it. Though, not as good as fish chowder.
The place had a couple Spanish arches thrown in as an afterthought.
Our two bedroom apartment in the three story unit faced the road rather than the water.
The pool was also roadside.
The wrought iron table set that was out on the patio by the pool was uneven.
Or else the patio was.
4/3/2010 Chinese Egg Soup with Beef or Chicken.
Millie: Tomorrow is Easter. Pier is in at cottage. We cleaned it too, earliest ever. Soup is excellent except too much chicken. I used rice noodles from a Chinese place. Very good. Would make again. Sven really likes this soup. He can't stop eating it.
Sven: Very good. Less chicken. Maybe more vegetables. But very good soup to experiment with.
Once we were settled into our new surroundings Sven and I went for a walk on the beach.
We love to walk the beach.
After dinner that evening we six congregated on the rickety patio chairs and talked smart, well into the night.
On January 12, 2008 Sven chopped our kitchen into oblivion as he made, Bean and Sausage Soup.
Millie: Best Packer Party ever!! We won!! 42-20. Soup was great. I'd have it again for sure. Maybe a little more spices. Maybe we are on to Super Bowl?
Louisa: (sister) Great tasting soup. Great Flavors. Great for digestion. Blockage you didn't even know you had! Packers beat Seahawks!
Sven: Very good, though I might eliminate Lima beans and maybe use Polish and Italian sausage next time. And more garlic.
Sherise loved to sleep in.
My mom and I preferred to soak up the morning sun.
And the guys?
They liked to play golf.
On November 25, 2007 Sven demolished our kitchen for the creation of Sauerkraut Soup with Sausage
Sven: Great food for anorexics. 3 bowls should get you to obesity. Tastes great and each bowl is better than the previous bowl. Eat up and go to the gym in the morning.
Millie: Sean was born 9 days ago. We had Thanksgiving here. Adri came. We had turkey, haha. Got my 1st rejection of Best Seller today. This soup was by far the best soup we've made from this book, or maybe ever. More calories than a Big Mac for sure.
It's hard to imagine what the other guests in the beach condo thought of the aroma that day.
It wafted in the air and through the walls to the pool on one side and out to sea on the other.
"It's your brother's favorite," said my mother defiantly. "He never gets to have it anymore."
We we swirled our potato dumplings around in delicious homemade pork gravy with Sauer Kraut, in our elbow to elbow, air conditioned kitchen.
We could always walk it off on the beach.
On January 4, 2014, I prepared, Soupe Bourguignone.
Millie: Well, Sven looks like death warmed over and it is not because of the soup. He has the flu. I think this is very good. But next time I will be sure not to fuck up at the grocery store and forget the mushrooms and replace with frozen broccoli.
Apparently Sven had nothing to say.
We settled into a neat little pattern there in that weird condo.
Magazines, books, good food and good times ruled that sweet little morsel of our lives.
Our party of six had that rickety little patio set to ourselves next to passing headlights under the stars, every evening.
And each night to the glow of a muted TV, I spent the wee hours propped up by pillows on the living room sleeper sofa next to my sleeping husband, writing a murder, suspense, thriller novel, Best Seller.
11/18/2017 Lois' Meatball Soup.
Millie: Not bad. Needs more spices. Could be the general mood of the atmosphere. Lots of not the happiest times here. Hunter refused to lick the pot. I think it was the garlic.
Our numbered vacation days effortlessly wove one into the next.
Sun, salt and chlorine.
English muffins, peanut butter and pens.
Golf clubs and carts.
Magazines and murders.
10/9/2010 Indian Soup.
Millie: AOPP - Attractive older people party at P & M's. The party was better than any of the soup or food because how often do you get together with so many attractive and fun older people? Soup? A 10.
Mom: Good soup! Great company. Also Chicken tandoori. Dinner was fabulous. Warm. Super night on the deck.
Pitter: (brother)This particular soup rocks. I'm in wherever it is being served. Seriously. No bullshit.
Louisa: (sister) Good soup. Loved it.
Marguerite:(sister-in-law) Served the soup at the annual AOP Party and it was delicious!! Loved the consistency and flavor. Great.
TeeJay:(brother)Soup 9/10. Company 10/10. Even Jeanne Lynne liked this. (But she still thought it was a little hot.)
Jeanne Lynn:(sister-in-law) Loved it! Good with sour cream. Maybe try plain yogurt too.
I woke up Wednesday morning to another dazzling sunny sky and popped half a muffin into the toaster slot, ignoring the impending doom.
Vacations have endings.
You know how people say things like, "Oh. It was a lot of fun. But I was ready to come home."
I don't have that.
1/3/2015 Avocado Mushroom Soup.
Millie: Great weekend. Great day. Had a date with Sven last night. Indian restaurant and The Hobbit Five Armies at the I-Max. Lunch today with Rene and RZ at Olive Gardens. Took down the Christmas tree and made this soup. Smooth and really good with Bacon and croutons. Hunter gives it a 2.
Sven: Good soup. Liked it straight up w/o bacon or croutons. Though good with those additions. Potential to be an 8. Could use garlic.
And then it was Thursday.
Son of a bitch.
4/26/2018 Cream of Brussel Sprout Soup.
Millie: Happy 100 year birthday anniversary Leola. Your son is still the best. Thank you for a job well done. And his soup, as in this one that I am critiquing, is pretty fucking good.
Damn it to hell. Friday came.
2/29/2008 Italian Bread Soup.
Millie: Leap year 2008. Good soup. Great company. A thank you dinner for Mom and Dad and Louisa (sister) and Pierre (brother-in-law). I'd make it again.
Louisa: (sister)Good Tanqueray. Great evening. I don't like green peppers. But, love ya.
Mom: Great soup. And wonderful stroganoff to top it off. Must have been salty, cuz we're all swelling up. Thanks for a great night!
Dad: Tasty stuff. Nice time.
If you have not already done so, you must shop. Because you cannot go home from your vacation without a souvenir.
It's the law.
So, we crammed into the car and drove to Sanibel Island that Friday after lunch.
Sherise said there were lots of shops there.
1/31/2010 Red Pepper Soup.
Millie: Easy to make and worth it. Mellow and good. Skied at Mirror Lake today. Mom and I won $40 at Lakeside.
As I daydreamed my way to Sanibel, staring out the backseat window I saw the shadow of a whale under the water. Biggest fish I have ever laid eyes on. And I don't care if a whale is a fish or not.
Nobody believed me anyway.
2/19/2019 Velvety Tomato Soup.
Sven: Has a lot of potential. I give it a 7.5.
Millie: The name velvety tomato soup caught my eye on this very blue day. Too bad I am a shitty grocery shopper. So, the tomatoes were canned and I hadda use dry red wine. And I never measured anyway. So.
We strolled around Periwinkle Place like perfect tourists loaded down with shopping bags.
I don't recall what I bought for myself. But I am sure that inside one of those packages was something that sparkled with my name on it.
12/17/2011 Eggplant Crab Soup.
Millie: Yeah. Not so much. Close to terrible. Not as bad as the worst soup I have ever had. Sven is starting to like it.
Marques: (son) The chicken was better.
Sven: Good soup, if you are hungry.
My dad popped out of a parlor and stepped back into line with the rest of us on that memorable afternoon.
He never missed an ice cream cone opportunity.
1/14/2019 Chicken Cous Cous Soup.
Sven: It's OK. Doesn't hold a candle to my fish soup. Good for the depression we are in.
Millie: Just registered for the Kortelopet. Getting back in the saddle. But don't really care. I like the soup. It's like cream of wheat with jalapenos.
We stopped for dinner on our way back to our beach condo and ate on the deck of a restaurant.
2/2/2008 Cream of Artichoke Heart.
Sven: It was good. Not as good as my fish chowder, but good. Half of blend mix was best. Great for a broken leg.
Millie: It's ground hog day. Going to be an early Spring. Wonderful!! Went to Winterfest. Sven via a wheelchair. It was perfect except for that homeless guy. I wish he could enjoy a soup like this that he made. I just hope he is okay. Top ten list of soups.
And then we gathered at our wrought iron table to talk smart well into the night, one last time.
That is where Sven was first spotted flipping through the pages of his new purchase.
"Who in the hell buys a cookbook on their vacation?" I said, sporting my new T-shirt, sunglasses and tan lines.
"What's wrong with that?" he says.
"It's just weird. It's like that time we spent the whole weekend at the Mall of America and the only thing you came home with was a bottle of habanero sauce."
"That's not true," he said. "I also bought a hat."
3/25/2019 Mushroom Green Pepper Soup with Potato.
Sven: Good Soup - Must like Mushrooms.
Millie: Great Soup - Don't have to like mushrooms.
The flight home then next day was rather scary due to a high winded landing at a gray, frozen, Madison, Wisconsin, airport.
Today with only memories of my parents, our favorite cook book, as in Sven's Florida souvenir, is sitting on the kitchen island.
It often stays there.
Sometimes it lands on the coffee table.
It does not like to be in a spot on a shelf.
Sven has it opened up to page sixty-one.
Mussel Chowder with Saffron.