our newest addition

jackson the maine coon | the merry gourmet

Most of the time, I’m a very rational person. I tend to make decisions quickly, but always with forethought and confidence in that decision. I am sensible, logical, and deliberate.

At other times, I just trust my instinct and go with what feels right.

Six days after my father died, and the day before his visitation, I opened an email from a cat breeder whose email list I’ve been on for several years. Her email announced that she had a litter of Maine Coon kittens available for adoption, and included were photos of them. The fourth photo was of this little guy.

funeral food, and a recipe: lemon buttermilk pie

lemon buttermilk pie | the merry gourmet

It took me three days to make a pie last week.

On the first day, I diced the cold, unsalted butter into cubes and stored the small nuggets of butter in a plastic container in the refrigerator. I think that was the day my sister and I went to my mom’s house to meet with the minister, to plan the details of Dad’s funeral.

On the second day, I carefully weighed the flour and measured the sugar and salt. Using the pastry cutter, I cut the butter into the flour and drizzled in ice water, finally using my hands to pull together the piecrust dough. That was the day we took Mom shopping for black dresses to wear to the funeral. The dough, in two plastic wrapped discs, waited patiently on a shelf in the refrigerator next to the bagels and cream cheese.

On the third day, I floured the large, wooden breadboard I keep stored upright in the pantry. I unwrapped the butter-speckled dough, and once it warmed up a bit, I rolled the dough into a large circle. It wasn’t a perfect circle; it never is. When the dough felt tight beneath the rolling pin, I paused and let it rest, lifting the edges to scatter a bit more flour underneath. When the dough relaxed into itself, I took the rolling pin to it again, shaping it under gentle pressure.

the most interesting man in the room

my father

My father was born on December 4, 1935, in Louisville, Kentucky. His father was a typesetter for the newspaper, and his mother finished cabinetry for television sets. Later, his mother stayed home to raise her sons. Dad’s parents were both deaf and mute, and because of this, he learned to sign before he learned to speak. My father was the first-born son, and two more boys were to follow over the next eight years. My father was a tough kid who grew up in tougher times.

In 1954, he graduated from high school. He later attended college at the University of Louisville. At some point, he moved to New York City and studied marketing at Columbia University. He might have graduated with a degree from one of these universities, or he might not have. Throughout my life, those details were never important to me. What mattered to me were his stories of living in Greenwich Village in the early 1960s.