The week before Christmas is always such a neat time. The hustle and bustle of trying to get things done, hearing from folks across the country and eating yummy things.
When I was younger, I used to love the week before Christmas because it meant my sisters would be home from college. I lived at home with Mom and both my sisters went away to college.
I think I liked how our lives seemed to be back into a routine. We had a definite list of things that we bickered about such as phone use, car availability and who would call for the pizza. (It was always me and still never got the type of pizza I liked.)
Our places around the kitchen table would be found and we would laugh and babble the stories only sisters can share. Mom did an incredible job of not reacting with the exceptions of bursts of laughter and an occasional head shake.
We grew up very close in age but all were growing into very different women. Our roles seemed to be embedded in us from our early days. Cheryl (the oldest) is the beautiful one who has the most caring heart and wants to be the peacemaker. Mary (middle) is brilliant, takes risks and is not afraid to share her opinion. I was the baby. I probably would be labeled as the funny one or the attention seeker. Some of it came naturally due to my time being ill and some of it is just the gift of being silly.
I honed being a pest to an art form. I knew what to say to embarrass them or how to exactly tick them off. I would do things like jump out at them from behind doorways, put my ice-cold hands on their bellies and give them a bony butt dance if they sat in my favorite seat on the couch. (The bony butt dance never caught on in the mainstream but it consisted of me jumping on their lap and digging my tailbone into their thighs until they moved.)
I also looked up to them as little sisters do. I wanted Cheryl’s ability of making people like her and Mary’s confidence of not really caring if people liked her. Cheryl was the one to put a Band-Aid on to make things better and Mary was the one who would defend me against bullies. Cheryl would be the one to hold my hand on the first day of school but it was Mary who would make sure I knew my way around.
As a teenager/young adult, I knew that these were times that might not last and I was right. Things happen, lives grow and we can find anger in small things that if we truly look back are extremely trivial. The college years of sister time seems like a distant memory banked away for nights I feel sentimental or times I need a laugh at some of the ridiculous antics.
My memory bank was opened this past week when I was at Cheryl’s house picking up my niece for lunch. I came in and saw bits of our childhood together in her furniture, knickknacks and Christmas tree decorations. (I was not snooping because I am too grown up for that.)
My niece handed me cookies my big sister made me and I did what only little sisters area allowed to do….I jumped into Cheryl’s bed, grabbed her favorite teddy bear and ate cookies leaving just enough crumbs so she will think of me that night. It felt great and made me miss my sisters so much
We haven’t had a holiday together in years or even the time to just have a silly visit. No one’s fault just the choices and roads that lead us out of each other’s physical lives. None of us are perfect (except me) so it is just the way things play out.
Writing this post made me think that these times in our lives are like a nice warm bowl of soup. There is nothing in this world that compares to the comfort I used to have when the sisters would come home. (The sisters makes it sound like they were nuns….trust me…they weren’t!) It was a warm feeling and brought me great joy. Every now and then you would burn your tongue but those times fled by. The only thing that would remain was a happy belly and a fullness in your heart.
So here is making a bowl of soup and taking a moment during this busy season to warm back up to fond memories.
Baked Potato Soup (Inspired by Alton Brown’s recipe)
1 tbsp butter
3 green onions, white parts, finely diced
7 baked potatoes (This is a great use for leftover potatoes or an excuse to make extras so you can make some soup.)
3 cups vegetable broth
1 ½ cups buttermilk (The buttermilk is from an Alton Brown recipe.)
½ cup Parmesan
Optional toppings: Crispy bacon, chives, green onions, and cheddar cheese
In a large soup pot, melt butter over medium low heat. Add green onions and sauté until they are soft and translucent. Add broth and let simmer about 10 minutes.
While green onions are cooking, scoop the potatoes into a big bowl and mix them with Parmesan cheese and buttermilk. You want to make a slurry. If you want a super smooth soup, use your immersion blender. I like some chunks so I used a potato masher and wooden spoon.
Slowly whisk this slurry into the broth. It should be slow enough that you remain in a slight simmer.
Cook another 5 minutes.
Taste for seasoning. I went easy on my salt because I was garnishing with some super salty bacon. I only did a twirl of fresh ground pepper.
Alton Brown used leeks and sherry in his recipe. Given I had neither of those items in the house, I made do without. The soup was delicious. I liked the buttermilk instead of regular milk and will probably make it this way again.
I guess even potato soups will change over time but the one thing that remains constant is that you love them….kind of like sisters.