One of the first French meals I cooked for Mom and Dad was Julia Child’s potato-leek soup. This very simple soup is so hearty and delicious, and the texture thick and creamy. In one big pot I boiled cubed potatoes, rings of carrots, and sliced leeks, yellow onions, and green onions, with a spot of butter, a shake of pepper, a sifting of salt, and a spray of aromatic herbs: thyme, bay leaf, parsley. With the vegetables soft, it was time to puree them in their juices with a wand blender, adding cream to the perfectly pureed consistency. Chopped spinach and sautéed mushrooms were the last to join in, adding color, flavor, and nutrients. The soup turned out perfectly. Mom, Dad, and I enjoyed every delectable sip from the spoon, together with bites of crunchy buttered sourdough toast. Thanks Julia!
We drove around the block to the church at 5:30 p.m. for the annual pot luck Chili Chocolate party. I had assumed we would not go, what with the difficulty of walking, etc. But Dad had announced the day before that he was making a crock pot full of chili, and reminded us the party started at 5:30. I placed the chili crock pot and the chocolate pudding cake in the back of the faithful Suburban and drove the short distance. The church cultural hall was already crowded with smiling costumed families. Several long tables boasted two dozen pots of all variety of chilis and chowders, with another table for corn breads and several more for chocolate desserts. I met a few more neighbors, including Kolani, Joshua, Lacey, Heidi, and Zane. I fit six sampler cups on my plate and filled them with six soups. My favorite was the creamy salmon chowder with potatoes and corn. A neighbor did what Dad did not want me to do: she brought him a plate with filled sampler cups. When I thanked her, she quipped with a grin, “I just decided to barge in and bring him a plate.” Carolyn, sitting next to us, asked me to dish up a cup of Dad’s chili for her. I found the crock pot empty and announced that Dad’s chili apparently was very popular—it was all gone. Dad was obviously pleased, both that he had brought the chili and that people liked it. As usual, I ate a bit too much and felt very full. And I was powerless at the chocolate table, although I only nibbled at the six desserts I crammed onto my plate. As I retrieved our empty crock pot, Rick asked me if I had brought the chili in our crock pot. “Nelson did,” I answered. “It was my favorite chili of all,” he enthused, “just like my mom used to make.” I reported that to Dad, too. Mom said gratefully, “Thanks, Nelson, for making the chili and taking us there tonight. I enjoyed myself!”