THIS THIRD WEEK OF AUGUST HAS BEEN a night on Nashville’s walking bridge, traffic whooshing by on the distant interstate, a ferry boat passing beneath, my head against Tim’s shoulder while I tell him, “You know, if I lived a thousand years on the planet all by myself, I’d never figure out how to build a boat like that,” and us moving to the other side of the bridge to keep watching it, following it, mesmerized by the turning showboat gears like little children looking at a train; a twilight picnic next to soccer practice, SUVs dropping off and picking up preteens, moms calling out I love yous to their running kids just as the golden hour fades; spiders’ webs so big, constructed around our back door overnight, that I shriek when I see them, even though the streets are sleeping in the early-morning sunrise; long-distance phone conversations with wise voices; surprise hydrangeas; oven disasters that send us to share dinner on the front porch (also covered in spiders’ webs, for the record, because those spiders! they are something!); and, along with these things, a whole lot of good meals to eat.
We’ve had Kathryn’s buckwheat almond cake (but with peaches!), smashed potatoes to use up our pantry stash, Erin’s brilliant einkorn tortillas, fresh tomatoes on homemade bread (recipe soon, we hope!), peach crisp adapted from the brilliant David Leite, pesto to use up our basil, cucumber water to use up our cucumbers, and, this morning for the third time in the last few weeks, this berry date smoothie.
We’re calling this a berry date smoothie with a kick because it’s the kind of smoothie that starts off sweet and then surprises you, almost burns you, as the hot, hot kick of cayenne hits the back of your throat. You want to reach for a glass of water when it hits, but then the rest of the smoothie comes instead, and then you want to say, “Do it again!” and so you take another swig.Like a lot of things in life, it starts off good and then gets bad and then it’s good again. Life’s full of ups and downs, my friend Jacqui texted me last week. Ain’t that the truth. Friends who love you, friends who betray you; new opportunities, new losses; ups and downs; highs and lows; the crazy burn replaced by the sweet, sweet comfort.
A Berry Date Smoothie with a Kick
Makes four-and-a-half cups of smoothie, for about two large or four small servings
All metaphors aside, feel free to adjust the cayenne to your tastes—Leave it out if you like. But even if you’re brave with spices, start off slow and add more. You’d be surprised how far a little heat can go.
4 cups raw goat’s milk (or 2 cups kefir, 2 cups milk; or your milk of choice)
6 medjool or 8 to 9 deglet noori dates, pitted
Just under a cup of blueberries
Just over a cup of strawberries
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (even 1/8 will give a kick, so only go higher if you like spice)
1 to 2 heaping tablespoons of cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
2 probiotic capsules, (optional)