Love Soup

I’ve been wishing lately that I could cook dinner for everyone that has been so kind to me. It would be quite a party. We’d all squeeze around my imaginary 100 foot long table.  Candles would be lit, we’d be outside under our clematis-covered portico on a rare warm Portland night and the blend of all of your voices would be the soundtrack to the evening.

These old game piece letters adorn my bedroom door. A daily reminder!

The conversation would be rich, with languages and accents from as far away as Iceland and Shanghai. Amazing stories would be told. And we would laugh. A lot. My crazy, wonderful, extended family would be right in the middle of it all. And, strangely, I think you’d all pretty much get along.

Aside from the Jasmine that’s in bloom, you’d be greeted by the aroma of home made bread…I would talk my close friend Heather into making an extra big batch of her famous Challah, which often finds it’s way to our family’s bellies on Friday nights. I’d prepare as much Sockeye salmon as I could, somehow air dropped fresh from my fishing pals in SE Alaska and cooked just till done on the grill with lots of lemon and some great sea salt from The Meadow. Then I’d serve an enormous salad filled with lovely produce from the farmer’s market and some really good stinky cheese.

My girl Heather of Challah fame. Holla!

And for dessert? Pie. I’d make at least 25 marionberry pies and serve them with vanilla ice cream (a marionberry is known as the “Cabernet of  blackberries” if you didn’t know and was cultivated in Oregon.) A constant flow of great beer and wine would also bless the table.

The other Marion Berry.

My deepest and best memories are wrapped up in meals and I’ve learned over the years how powerful food can be.

“Comfort” meant being woken up at 10pm to the waft of cinnamon rolls and my mom welcoming us down for a soft, gooey roll and a glass of milk, even on a school night. She was a single, working mom so this was her time to unwind over the stove. Lucky us!

Mom cooks a mean cinnamon roll!

“Nurture” was eating a giant bowl of cooked spinach that I helped pick from Grandma Betty’s garden (with just a splash of vinegar and a sprinkle of salt).

Tucking into a big bowl of Grandpa Hoyt’s homemade banana ice cream tasted like “safety” to me. I can still see the 50’s style brown pattern on the rim of the dishes that were brought out just for this family ritual. All the grandkids would be lined up on barstools in Grandpa’s soft white undershirts, which we always used for pajamas.

“Adventure” had the flavor of Dad’s latest Bisquick creation baked in a cast iron pan and served with a rootbeer float, of course. Or a pizza and an Italian soda from the joint uptown, where he would parade us on his weekends with “the girls.” (we hopped on a ferry every other weekend to see him on Vashon Island while we were growing up).

“Healing” tasted like a soft boiled egg, with well buttered whole wheat toast and a cup of granny tea (black tea dosed with lots of milk and sugar.) This was the standard home-sick-from-school meal, even when we were faking it with the ol’ warm the thermometer up on the light bulb trick or just needed what my mom fondly called a “Mental Health” day.

And at the side of my Grandma and all the aunts, my sisters and I learned to make the aforementioned pie. Pumpkin, apple, berry, mincemeat (does anyone really like this?) and my all time favorite, cherry. They used lard then but now the Hoyt girls have evolved our pie crust to include a mix of butter and shortening — always mixed generously with love.

My life is well seasoned by love these days too, thanks to all of you.

Love tastes like the seven dollar Whole Foods chocolate bar that Anna sent me overnight when she heard I had a rough day (damn that’s good chocolate girl!).

And the doughnuts that Danny bought for Hadley and me on Alberta Street when I first heard the news and needed this dear friend.

Delicious home cooked meals from beloved friends grace our table.

Or the amazing meals my Sellwood family all cooked for me during the early chemo sessions.  And the special one that Dawn dropped off in her zippy convertible.

Love found it’s way into the weekly box of tasty organic produce from W+K that I gladly conquered each week and the New Season gift card from my girlfriends. (I was going to say “old” but one might take that the wrong way :-)

And the Pepito’s Mexican enchilada lunch that Ricky bought me the day before my dreaded chemo #4.

Love definitely was baked into the really tasty banana cream pie that the Facebook team had delivered to my door.

A girl can eat some comfort food too! (Hadley and Emma agreed.)

But equally so in the totally “raw food” meal that my yoga instructors Savonn and Bill had prepared for the family by chef Andrea (pad thai noodles made from zucchini… “key lime” pie made from avocado. Seriously!! It was incredibly great.)

Or like the anonymous cookies that showed up on my doorstep with no note just yesterday.

This meal was entirely "raw" and entirely delicious.

And now love is tasting like the catered organic meals that my Nike family is so kindly sending to me as I see my way home through my treatments and on to surgery.

I’m lousy at phone calls (sorry mom. sorry dad). And even lousier at proper thank you cards. I never was good at this but these days my energy is just zapped. But please know that I do feel (and taste!) the love, people. It’s powerful stuff and I am so lucky to be in the care of each of you that has taken the time to send me your support and are keeping me in your hearts. With words, poems, songs, a gentle hand, thoughtful gifts, beautiful flowers, fun surprises and great big hugs, my cup overflows and I am grateful.

There’s one last dish that I would make for our fantasy dinner party. It’s called “Love Soup” and comes from a cookbook called “One Bite at a Time, Nourishing Recipes for Cancer Survivors and their Families” by Rebecca Katz. Otherwise titled ‘Magical Mineral Broth”, this recipe is a healing potion. Dress it up in a lentil soup or just sip it alone when you need a boost. I promise it does wonders for the body and the spirit.


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  1. Leah
    Posted August 9, 2010 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Hi KHP! You’ve been on my mind and I know you are inundated with fans/followers but Marley and I would LOVE to come and see you some Friday if you and the girls are free….big big kisses!!! Leah

  2. Terese Jackson
    Posted June 19, 2010 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Kerri, let me know what I can bring to the party! The marionberry pie is my favorite…but all the food sounds great. I hope you are feeling more and more everyday like doing a little of your gourmet cooking. I wish I could do something more to help. Love, hugs, and kisses (even if figuratively…don’t want to pass any germs) to you, Dan, Hadley, and Emma.

    PS I’m blown away with how much Hadley is looking like her mom these days. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen any of you.

    Love, Terese

  3. Anna C
    Posted June 19, 2010 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    I am drooling like a dog thinking about a treat. I can picture that dinner party now and again, more drooling!


  4. Erin
    Posted June 18, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    I forgot all about wearing grandpa’s tee shirts to bed or my dads for that matter! Thanks for the reminder of that-it made me smile. I agree with Ian, the blueberry pancakes were good. Also, his peanut dispenser by the mirror and the hidden snickers bars hidden in the pantry cabinet to the right. I remember being “timed” and to sneak past grandpa to give them to my dad- ha! Good memories.

  5. Ian hoyt
    Posted June 18, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Kerri, Banana ice cream was good but don’t forget About the blueberry pancakes. They were like a reward for waking up after sleeping on a couch listening to Dewayne saw logs. The fresh corn and peas couldn’t be beat. I actually have grandmas creamy new potatoes on my menu they never come out quite as good but I think of her every time I serve them. I have to confess I plagerized your crimini mushroom prosciutto crostinis or was it Kellis recipe either way it’s also a big hit. Save me a seat at that 100 ft table of yours.

  6. Kathleen
    Posted June 17, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    This is your Gramma Betty spending the day with your Mom. At 97 years young, I send you my good thoughts and remember you and all the grandkids out in the garden eating peas off the vine, raspberries, strawberries and picking that spinach that you and sister, Kelli, so loved to eat. Happy cooking and spend time getting well. We love you. Grandma Betty and your Mom, Nancy.

  7. Dalla Johannsdottir
    Posted June 16, 2010 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Hey Kerri, thanks for mentioning Iceland, we´ll sure be there for the party. Everything sounds delicious!
    We promise not to bring any rotten shark or other icelandic delicacies!
    I´m hungry after reading your post, off to making dinner…
    Love, Dalla.

  8. Ed Tam
    Posted June 16, 2010 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    If there is one thing that I can do well (other than a decent comms plan) is cooking. I’d cook for you any day KHP. Wait until I get to PDX.

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