My parents have been out of town this week, so I've had to plan meals not only for Mike and me but for my Granny too, since she's at a point where she can't really cook anymore. She'll put biscuits in the oven, sit down to wait, fall asleep, and wake up 30 minutes later to burnt biscuits. She can't stand long enough to mix anything up or even watch a pot, so she relies fully on meals we provide for her not just at dinner but also for her lunches, when we're all at work. And her memory is a little fuzzy, so she'll forget we've left her a plate in the fridge or not realize it's lunchtime and go all day without a real meal. It's frustrating for us having to take extra measures to be sure she doesn't starve or only eat snack food, particularly when my mom and I are both trying to get ourselves ready and out the door in the mornings, but mostly it makes me sad. Growing up, whenever Emily and I spent the night with Granny, she'd cook anything she could think of that we might possibly want. She would make huge meals for the whole family, all by herself, and never complain. She loved it. She still tries to be that person, offering to help in the kitchen and always asking "what can I do?," but she's just not capable of doing most of what needs done. I know she'd give anything to feel like she was contributing, and she can't stand feeling helpless or uninvolved, so I try to be patient and find ways to include her. I'll take all the help I can get, but when it takes 20 minutes to cut a bell pepper it's hard to classify it as 'help.'
She's also become a lot more blunt in recent years, making disapproving faces when she doesn't understand something we're making or hears that we're having any sort of pasta or chicken. (She does NOT like chicken, which she will passive-aggressively remind us of by saying "we've had enough of that lately!" when she hasn't had any in weeks. I guess maybe it doesn't have any taste for her so she's not interested.) She'll start eating from her plate the second I put it in front of her, even though nobody else has been served or seated and we haven't said the blessing. (Mike will attest that this sends me into a rage. OMG SO RUDE.) She struggles to breathe when she's eating, so meals are always a smack-y, noisy affair, and we can count on at least one bout of coughing and choking per meal. She takes pills with her meals but often forgets to bring them and will ask "did you remember my pills?" or say "we need a supper pill" and tap the piece of table where she wants them to be, as though it were anyone else's responsibility but her own and how could we be so stupid? And no matter how much is on her plate, she will finish every. single. noisy. bite. and then give us the "where's dessert?" face. Sometimes it's a lot like having a 79-year-old preschooler. I love cooking and I really love eating, but those tend to be the most stressful, tense parts of my whole day when Granny is involved. When I do get frustrated, like I was last night, I try to tell myself that she has done way more for me than I will ever do for her, and she doesn't WANT to be this way, and then I feel like a huge jerk for being short with her and give her extra ice cream with dessert and aim to do better next time, because when she's gone I don't want to worry that she so much as entertained the idea that we'll be better off without her.
Anyway I started writing this to tell you about the dessert I made last night. It was so awesome. I got the recipe from Deb over at Smitten Kitchen. I bought blueberries on sale last week without a plan for how to use them and I didn't want them to go to waste, so I was really excited to find a recipe that wasn't for scones (so time-consuming) or pancakes (so blah). It's got pretty much the best name I've ever heard for a dessert, and it is delicious beyond my capacity to convey deliciousness. We had it with ice cream, because I was worried it would be cake-y and rather dry, but I wound up eating most of it by itself because it just didn't need any ice cream. And then I had more for breakfast. And I'm wishing I'd brought the whole pan to work so I could have it for a snack and lunch and then another snack too. Seriously, make some.