What a wonderful impromptu weekend we had. My in-laws swung through Houston on their way to South Padre Island. They rested up at our house during the weekend for an upcoming week full of busy house-hunting as their dream continues to unfold - of becoming snow birds on an island soon.
So I prepared them for the change in culinary choices they will have in store for them along the Gulf by preparing a dinner full of fresh seafood and then a dessert full of bright sweet tropical deliciousness - mango sorbet.
I made "Salmon en Papillote". First, thinly sliced ribbons of summer zucchini and squash are gently folded on the parchment paper. Then, fresh salmon, lemon slices, thyme and butter are nestled on top of the vegetables. The parchment paper is sealed up into individual packets and steamed in the oven to melt all of the delicious flavors together.
Trying to decide to relocate after 35 years in one location is a soul searching life jarring process that is leaving their nerves frayed on one hand, but their minds open to big beautiful dreams on the other hand.
We sat back over the weekend, tucking into salmon en papillote and platters of fresh summer melons, while listening to their hopes, plans, worries, and dreams.
Patrick and I couldn't help but play the game of "if we could move anywhere...". We often talk about how fun it would be to move again...outside of the U.S. We always have our ears and minds open to the possibility of it.
But, if we could really choose where our hearts desire, where would it be? For me, that's fairly easy. Anyone who knows me, understands my passion for anywhere in France. I am third generation American from french relatives and sometimes I feel the culture, food, and lifestyle of France tugging at my soul. But then Ireland beckons with its sheep dotted lush emerald hills and craggy wind swept shorelines...And, lately I find myself dreaming of grey, rainy and windswept Scotland, and stepping foot on the remote Skye Island.
I can fairly self assess that I'm not the tropical island sort but rather the brooding remote landscapes of Jane Austin's novel locations...sort.
I was curious to know where P. would choose if work did not dictate living in our current city. Whereas I am a fall/winter personality, he is more of a spring/summer type of guy. New Zealand was quickly and decidedly named as his dreamy destination of choice.
I thought of two blogs that I follow that hail from New Zealand, @Down Under and Stuck in Customs. Their photography is distinctly different from each other. One is a food photographer and the other more of a landscape photographer.
However, neither of them are native to New Zealand. One is from France and the other from Austin, Texas. Life, dreams, and opportunities led them to the beautiful country of New Zealand. I often visit their blogs and am always impressed by the stunning scenery of their adopted country.
Always up for a market day outing, we decided to take my in-laws across town to Houston's huge Mexican market. I was in search of fresh corn, vanilla beans, and a mortar and pestle.
The market was throbbing with shoppers this Sunday afternoon. The atmosphere was filled with the wonderful market chaos of choosing and sorting through piles of fresh mangoes, prickly cactus leaves, colorful peppers, and little pale green tomatillos.
People were carrying whole coconuts with straws poking out of the top while sipping the natural juices inside. Little bags of mangos and watermelon chunks were sold as snacks and some were sprinkled with a layer of chili pepper.
The market was boisterous and crowded with families doing their weekly shopping. We moved through the throngs of people slowly trying to take in all of the sights, sounds, and smells of the market.
The heat of the south eventually took its toll. Eyes and ears full of beautiful produce and bustling activity, we indulged in sweet creamy frozen coconut and pinã colada bars to cool down from the heat as we made our way through the maze of Houston highways back home.
Big juicy hamburgers were on the menu for the weekend as well. There is nothing like the smell of BBQ burgers on the grill with fresh corn on the side sending up waves of smoky goodness into the neighborhood.
After starting our first week of school last week and being locked once again into a daily routine, it was such a treat to have a very relaxed weekend full of conversation around the table and summery dishes to enjoy.
Dessert for Sunday Supper was definitely my favorite of the weekend. Creamy sweet Mango sorbet was not only delicious to eat but so richly hued as well.
Sorbets are my new discovery lately. I've been experimenting with lemon/basil...trying to get just the right balance of tart and herbal flavors.
This weekend, with my in-laws in town, mango sorbet was up for trial. Getting the proper cutting technique down of the mango fruit with its huge seed dominating the inside was challenging but fun.
The beautiful hue of sunset orange makes a wonderful summery choice for dessert. I picked out some apricot Linzer cookies from the bakery to nestle on the side of the sorbet.
My in-laws are off on their adventure to the island, making their way down to the Gulf. We're back to work, books, and classes here on this Monday. But, a seed surely has been planted. A seed I hope will take root and slowly grow and grow over the days and years to come.
"What if we could pick up and choose our next adventure..." For now, we'll only daydream the big dream, but what if we could make it happen? Will we play the game of "could we? should we? would we?" someday, too?