But allow me to say this: Watching a parent succumb to Alzheimer's Disease is heart-breaking. The tears, the anxiety, the little scraps of paper in her pockets as I empty them to do her laundry takes a piece of my heart every day.
I speak of course of my mother who was just beginning to show hints of frailty when I began this blog six years ago. The last three years have been a challenge as my sister and I tried to balance her needs with the demands of children, spouses and jobs. Just over a year ago, we moved my mother to an assisted living facility. Her neighbors there are the parents of my friends and former coworkers. The staff is kind and caring, but my mother is lonely and confused. She is no longer able to make friends. She can barely marshall the resources to sit and try to remember the past, which is becoming dimmer now, dimmer than it was even six months ago. Sometimes she knows me, sometimes she forgets my father, but always, she wants her mother.
We children do what we must do, because that is what is needed, and no one complains. She dried our tears and tied our shoes and much much more, and we do that we must. It's part of the circle of life.
Once I leave my job at the end of September, I will also begin the sad and arduous task of preparing her house for sale, and while I share this with three siblings, it will be an emotional undertaking, for this was the house my father lived in as a young man in those heady days after World War II. My parents bought this house with my father's GI loan and let my father's parents live in the house while they rented other houses in other parts of town. It is in the old cattle trader's neighborhood near the original town center, a historical detail that is lost to all but my generation.
Life is, well, life and therefore not always easy.
My husband, as good husbands are, is a source of comfort.
The times we spend at home after a demanding day have become extremely precious this past year, and cooking together is now a pressure valve. Mr. FKIA handles the meat, mostly, while I organize the salads and side dishes.
Saturday night I used a coffee rub on two very thick and juicy pork chops which Mr FKIA placed on the grill. The ingredients include coffee, brown sugar, sea salt, paprika, black pepper, garlic, onion, sugar and coriander.
The lone accompaniment was a red-skin potato salad with Greek olives, goat cheese and roasted red peppers. For this you need:
- 10 small new potatoes
- 10-12 Greek olives, chopped or sliced
- 1 small red pepper, roasted and chopped
- at least 1 tablespoon unseasoned chèvre, crumbled
- 2-3 green onions, white and green parts chopped
- dash sea salt
- generous dash herbes de Provence or Mediterranean herbs (a generous dash)
- about 2/3 cup of dressing, mayonnaise or mayonnaise blended with yogurt or sour cream
Wash the potatoes and place in a good-sized pot or saucepan. Bring to a boil and remove from heat after about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside in cool water while you are preparing the other ingredients. (Feel free to use red peppers from a jar on a hot day; I did not, and I paid for it!) Once the potatoes are cool, toss in the other ingredients in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least two hours.
The salad was a gamble. (I had already tested the rub on a barbecued chicken we had on the Fourth of July.) The salad's tanginess and sweetness were a perfect foil for the rich dark flavor of the chops.I've sad it before, potato salad is like chicken: It's a blank canvas and you can dress it up or down many ways. Some people prefer the classic, but I like to think of potato salad as an entire category of food.
Here are several other versions I like:
- A classic with bacon, from Elise at Simply Recipes.
- Here's another one with bacon from Penny at Lake Lure Cottage.
- How about a warm potato salad with fennel from Lydia at The Perfect Pantry?
- Terry from Blue Kitchen checks in with this one.
No matter how you prepare it, potato salad is a summer taste to be savored.