I don't remember a single meal at my grandparents house - either set of them - at which dessert was not served immediately after the dinner dishes were cleared. In my Meme's kitchen, a treasure of a lady, but not so much a fan of cooking, it was often nothing more than Gifford's French Vanilla Ice Cream with Grapenuts cereal mixed in, which she ate every single night whether there was company or not. We adored it, sitting around her kitchen table, waiting for the ice cream to soften the Grapenuts just a bit. More often than not, she had her dessert with a very small glass of white wine (with a single ice cube) that I swear (despite my quick Google searching coming up with nothing) was made at the Von Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont, where she stayed for a visit annually (she had a little bit of an obsession with The Sound of Music, my dear Meme). She was a wisp of a thing - just 5'3" and rarely topping a hundred pounds - and despite how sophisticated to me (and everyone else) she always was, I remember eating dessert with her at that table on so many nights, her knees tucked under her on the chair, almost like a child. It felt like grown-up girlfriend time, being invited to her table to share in her nightly ritual. And despite how full the table was, as it sometimes was with cousins and friends, it always felt so special. And oh, that simple dessert was absolutely delicious because of it.
In my Nana's kitchen, cooking was something she delighted in, particularly on Sunday when the house was always open to and usually full of her children and grandchildren for an early Sunday dinner. An avid vegetable gardener, it was always a seasonal treat that was served, and very often, from her own backyard - strawberry shortcake, blueberry crumble and apple crisp. In the winter, we had canned peaches over ice cream. There were often so many of us that the kids would eat first, a gaggle of cousins gathered around the table enjoying her treats before retreating to the "rec room" in their house for chinese checkers, coloring and television while the adults lingered over their dessert.
We certainly didn't have dessert every night at my own house growing up, but often enough. Mom's chocolate chip cookies, with a glass of milk, was the perfect ending to lots of days, I remember. Asking my sisters this weekend what they remember, and how we each now do it in our homes with our own children - the answers ran all across the board from "every night!" to "hardly ever!" to "once in a while." Here, I suppose we fall into the category of 'when we feel like it'. Which is hardly ever night or even every week. But in celebration of something, or just because one of us feels inspired to make something.
Which is all to say (!) that we had a most delicious butterscotch pudding last night, just because. I used this recipe by David Lebovitz and was so pleased at how it came out. After a game of family wiffle ball, followed by dinner from the grill, we cleared the dinner dishes and commenced to enjoying our pudding dessert. Still plenty light out, and with a lovely late summer breeze keeping the bugs away and everyone comfortable. I've written before about my love for our Sunday dinners, my favorite meal of the week. And I'm thinking, I just might have to add dessert to those special Sunday dinners. In doing so, I think those special meals become even more a weekly celebration of our family. I do love that.