Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.
- John Ed Pearce
The first morning, my mother and I sat in her kitchen cleaning out the cabinets as we awaited news of my wayward suitcase, which chose to remain in Paris as I flew off to Florida. First thing emptied was her large, state-of-the-art oven whose existence has been relegated to storage rather than baking. I pulled out box after box of cookies, candy bars, overly-sweetened, chocolate-studded treats trying to pass for granola bars, sweetened oatmeal and more cookies. I yanked open the tall pantry cupboard and unloaded can after can, many expired, of baked beans, tuna, soups and corn and stacked them on the counter. Out came more boxes of cookies, granola bars, cookies, sweet cereals and, yes, cookies.
"Where did all of that come from?" she exclaimed? "Did I buy all that? See? I forget what I have." she said as I opened the cabinets above and below the oven, above the pantry where her cookbooks had once been stored before I decided to hijack them, carrying them off to France. And the cabinet where her Tupperware was stored, her pot-and-pan cabinet and the drawer in which her dishtowels were tucked away. Cookies and more cookies. Piles of them. Enough to feed a small nation.
So, while we clean out her kitchen cupboards and prepare sacks of canned food and bags of cookies for the local food bank, we deal with her forgetfulness. I line up all the remaining food and snacks in one single cabinet and will make her find what she wants every day during my stay until she gets used to going directly to where her morning cereal, her lunchtime can of soup and afternoon cookies are. I am serving her breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday so she gets used to eating three meals a day, even small ones, again. Habit. A woman cannot live on cookies and ice cream alone.
Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke,
or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration.
- Charles Dickens
She keeps her refrigerator stocked with sodas, juices and drinks and, after a discussion with my friend Jenni of Pastry Chef Online about making panna cotta from Yoohoo (my favorite childhood drink, icy cold from the soda machine in the elementary school cafeteria during summer rec), I decided that her bottles of Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino would work just as well. And will be carrying them over to my brother and sister-in-law's house for dessert tonight.
YOOHOO/MOCHA FRAPPUCCINO PANNA COTTA
Prepare 4 – 6 cups, glasses or mugs.
½ cup cold whole milk
2 ½ cups of your favorite (or your mom's favorite) chocolate/mocha drink
1 ½ - 2 tsps unflavored powdered gelatin (less will allow a creamier texture, more will give a firmer texture)
Heavy cream for whipped cream to serve
Pour the ½ cup of cold milk in a clean saucepan big enough to hold the total 3 cups of liquid. Sprinkle the gelatin over the milk and gently press layer of powder below the surface of the milk. Let the gelatin sit to soften for 5 minutes.
At the end of the 5 minutes, add 1 ½ cups of the chocolate drink into the saucepan and place over low heat. Heat through – never allowing it to come to a boil, simply slightly steaming and hot – and let sit (keeping it from bubbling), stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes before adding the last cup of chocolate drink and heating through. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool to tepid or room temperature.
Divide evenly between the glasses, cover each with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, overnight.
Before serving, top with whipped cream - I find American bottled chocolate drinks a bit too sweet (now) so top with very lightly sweetened whipped cream (but you can sweetened it to taste with either granulated or (preferably) icing/confectioner's sugar), dusting with either cocoa powder or chocolate sprinkles and serving.