Memory is an interesting thing. Some things we remember because they are so epic, and some things we remember exactly because they are so simple.
Food memories naturally follow along those routes. I’m sure we can all recall particular meals that fit into the upper echelons of our experiences — maybe the most complicated dishes, the fanciest plating, the most expensive ingredients. Sometimes it’s the epic setting that makes the food even more memorable; I’m thinking of family Christmas dinners as a child in my grandparents’ basement, where the festive table, the platters on it, and the faces gathered around it seemed to keep going into the next county. As far as large gatherings go, it’s hard to come up with a much more distinctive setting than a goat roast in the middle of the Kenyan desert for Brian’s and my honorary wedding feast. I’m sure our real wedding reception Chipotle-style buffet was great, too, but honestly everything else was so distracting that I don’t really remember the food at all.
Yet we have the other side of the spectrum, the meals neither monumental nor dramatic. Summer’s tomato sandwiches and “bruckle soup” are the farthest from foodie or fancy, but memories of my childhood are incomplete without thought of those. Sunday suppers together as a family couldn’t be considered epic, but they were simple and ordinary: and that’s precisely why our giant bowls of popcorn and tall cups of Orange Julius are so memorable.
I’m writing on this because I keep thinking of a cup of ice. In fact, I wrote about this particular cup of ice two years ago — even shared a recipe for it.
Yes, it’s exactly as simple as it sounds. The ingredient was ice, and the preparation instructions were to “Place in a cup, and then with a spoon, savor a few crunches.” Not my best addition to the culinary world, I admit (although, to be fair, it might be preferable to some of the other recipes I’ve shared).
This cup of ice was served in a sort of epic setting, but not in a good way; this was two years ago and I was writing from my husband’s room in a cold-on-so-many-levels surgical intensive care unit. I don’t know how many of you have been following our story for that long, but he had just been in a horrific farming accident. It was his body that was crushed, but I felt it in my heart.
Through incredible grace he survived the initial trauma, and kept surviving along the others that came our way over the next months. This styrofoam cup of ice, not even half-full, was the only thing Brian was allowed to eat or drink when I wrote that first week from the hospital — little did I know at times he wouldn’t even get that for the next month. I had no idea this cup of ice wasn’t the step of progress we hoped and assumed it was. Things got much harder.
But that doesn’t change how thankful I am for that simple cup of ice, or how incredibly grateful Brian was for every tiny bite I was able to give him. It was the daily grace we needed for right then.
October 23rd marks the day it all started; as dates roll around again and memories pop up again, I think often of that “cup of ice” recipe.
It will always be a reminder of how God continued to meet us in the sorrow and pain of the days to come, and it’s a symbol of the gratitude I feel for the incredible way people chose to walk alongside us. I wrote, “The friends that are bringing me and Brian’s family food are feeding our souls, nourishing us with community and support. We feel weak and in need of help, which is uncomfortable — until we forget that because the level of generosity we are being given overwhelms us in gratitude.”
Memorable food indeed.
Cup of Iced Coffee
While hospital rooms are still stark in my memory, they also feel so removed from our life now. While Brian wasn’t able to eat anything for forty days, everything has been back in fully working order for over a year. Now Brian’s beverage of choice most days is iced coffee (although it may not be quite as common as the cold weather settles in), and if you meander around the dairy at all, you’re sure to spot his cup hanging out somewhere. It’s not like he has a recipe or anything, but he does have a certain way of making it.
Prep tips: we usually have leftover coffee poured in a jar and stuck in the fridge, but of course you could make and chill coffee on purpose for this — or do cold-brew, which is his favorite. He doesn’t do decaf or flavored coffees, but I would.
1 cup strong cold coffee
1 [3.3g] single-serve packet of Starbucks Via coffee (or 1 Tablespoon instant coffee)
1 cup whole milk
optional add-ins: a good spoonful of sugar, vanilla extract, a splash of creamer
Pour coffee into a large cup, or preferably an insulated travel mug. Stir in instant coffee until fully dissolved, then pour in milk and any additional ingredients. Fill the cup up the rest of the way with ice. Sip on it all afternoon.
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