Finding Comfort…Poached Pears With Sumac And Creme Fraiche
We had a rough week and an even rougher weekend. Our 17 year old coolie-sheltie got really sick one night and was diagnosed with a terribly fast spreading tumor on his liver. Within two days, it had taken over him almost entirely and we had to say goodbye this past Saturday. We had hoped to spend a quiet weekend nursing him and getting us all ready but after another rough night, he just put his head in my hand Saturday in the wee hours of the morning and I just knew. He was telling me it was ok to let him go. We had had him since we was barely one year old. Within these 16 years with us, we had developed such a strong bond him and me and I just knew. As much as I was trying to fight the inevitable, I knew it was his time.
He has been part of every move, every major decision, every event that marked my adult life. He was there for the joys and the sorrow. He was a tough one. Beside one major gum operation when he was 10, we were blessed with an incredibly resilient dog. Last November, the vet marveled at his blood test. And then, a silently killing tumor brought him down. I could not bare to let him endure pain. He deserved more than that. He deserved we stayed by his side as he was taking his last breath.
Every moment once we came back from the vet was the first without him. A torture. Bill and I spent the weekend reminiscing about Tippy. The fun frisbee catching dog, the "belly rub thief" as we called him, the older days when he was still jumping and running, trying to keep up with our other pup, in spite of his arthritis. He was not one to be defeated. But this thing, attacking about every organ in his body was just too much.
We got angry, we got sad. We hugged on each other and on Bailey, our young lab-pitbull. We texted with friends who had met Tippy and it was so comforting to hear how touched they were by the news. We had 16 incredibly lucky and fulfilling years with him. He made us better as a couple and as individuals. For those without pets, I know it’s a bit hard to comprehend, I get that. I just know that there will be other dogs after him, just as there were others before him, because that’s what I know to do.
Along with comforting words and emails, I cooked a lot of comforting meals. Chicken with harissa and chickpeas, makeshift Pho, green fish curry and I made again the Poached Pears with Creme Fraiche and Sumac I had just made the weekend before.
Very few things say comfort, calming and peace than the smell of pears poaching on the stove with a bit of honey and vanilla bean. I wanted to add a citrusy tart note without adding more lemon so the idea came to my mind to sprinkle a little sumac of the creme fraiche accompanying the pears. I was right, it was just the exact touch to elevate this dessert. Sumac has a flavor note that I can only compare to what pomegranate seeds, dried and powdered would add to a dish. A little tart, a little floral and yet, it is a spice of its own.
We sat in silence at first, the soft pears giving away under our spoons, the hint of sumac and tart creme fraiche following. In between bites, we slowly took turns remembering our years with Tippy, all of our married life so far, all the runs, trips, all the things he chewed up, his love of sleeping in the middle of our shoes. We mended our broken hearts for a brief moment with a few chuckles and lots of laughs.
This dessert was definitely good for the soul.
Poached Pears With Sumac And Creme Fraiche:
4 Bosc pears
1 vanilla bean
juice of two lemons
1/3 cup honey
1 cup creme fraiche
2 teaspoons sumac
Peel, and cut the pears in half. Place them in a large saucepan with the vanilla bean (split in half), the lemon juice, honey and enough water to cover the pears. Bring to gentle boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium and cook, partially covered for about 15-20 minutes or until the pears are just tender. Remove from the liquid and let cool a little. Place two halves (warm or room temperatures) on a serving plate, add a little creme fraiche and sprinkle with a little sumac. Repeat for the remaining servings.
Sally Ellison March 10, 2014 um 11:51 pm
Know that my heart knows how your heart is at this moment in your lives. Many Blessings as you heal from this loss of a truly best friend.
Winnie March 11, 2014 um 2:49 am
How truly wonderful that you had 16 years together, but I am so sorry about Tippy.
The pears looks scrumptious…the addition of sumac is lovely.
Chatelaine March 11, 2014 um 6:00 pm
I'm so sorry to hear of the loss of your sweet Tippy. 16 years together is wonderful. He was truly loved.
Chloe @ foodlikecake March 12, 2014 um 1:23 am
Those are so beautiful and look so good!
Gaby March 12, 2014 um 4:55 pm
I'm so sorry for Tippy. It is so sad when we lose our beloved little pets. I've already went through and I know how painful it is.
Mary March 13, 2014 um 5:13 pm
My face is streaked with tears for you.Your dog with his face in your hand is exactly how my last cat was when I had to take him to the vet to be euthanized. You know your dog and my cat were grateful and thankful for such loving "parents". You wrote it beautifully. Merci, encore.
Mary in Oregon
Unknown March 13, 2014 um 6:00 pm
My heart goes out to you. It's always so hard — and you are right, they really have a way of letting you know when it's time. Wishing you the best on your collaboration with John @ Lana — definitely one of my favorite places in Charleston.
Unknown March 13, 2014 um 6:02 pm
My heart goes out to you. It's always so difficult and you are right, they really have a way of letting you know when it's time. — I wish you the best with your collaboration with John @ Lana — one of the Charleston restaurants I really miss.
Anonymous March 14, 2014 um 1:52 pm
I'm so sorry for your loss. I grew up with a border collie named Tippy. Pets become your family & it is so hard to say goodbye. It sounds like he knew he was well loved and had a very full, rich life.
Bella March 15, 2014 um 4:42 am
Your story touched my heart. As a doggie mommy to two wonderful doggie boys, I dread the day when we will have to endure the pain of losing them. Thank you for sharing in this time of mourning and remembering your sweet Tippy boy 🙂
Liz @ Floating Kitchen March 15, 2014 um 11:03 am
So sorry to hear of the loss of your friend. 16 years together is wonderful. Hugs.
Aqiyl Aniys March 16, 2014 um 6:16 pm
I am sorry for the loss of your dog Tippy. Hold on to the wonderful times you have had together. I am glad you found some comfort in making the pears. They look delicious.
Lauren March 17, 2014 um 1:49 pm
I am so sorry for your loss. Losing our friends is incredibly hard. Many blessings to you, your husband, and Bailey.
Nicole @ With A Lil' Twist March 18, 2014 um 6:40 am
sorry to hear about your loss! i can't even imagine 🙁 just found your blog and i love it! i've always wanted to try poached pears!
Our Neck of the Woods March 19, 2014 um 4:15 pm
My heart is breaking for you. I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. As a lifelong animal lover, I understand the pain and grief when you finally have to say goodbye. It is agonizing and I am so sorry you guys are going through it right now. We recently had to say goodbye to our cat. He struggled for a few days then gave me a look that I knew he was saying goodbye and it was time to end his suffering. Such a hard thing to do, but one of the kindest acts we can do for our beloved animals.
le petit chef March 19, 2014 um 6:44 pm
I'm so sorry Helene, losing a pet is truly a difficult tragedy to endure. My thoughts are with you and your husband, and here's hoping you have an abundance of friends, family and food to comfort you during this time.
Lucy March 19, 2014 um 9:11 pm
My heart is so broken for you. Pets are family and they can cement a bond like nothing else. I am so sorry for your loss.
Anonymous March 30, 2014 um 2:37 am
I wish you peace and love. And for Tippy, safe journey with love.
Kristi April 2, 2014 um 2:33 am
Your pictures are amazing! They inspire me to make mine better. Thanks for sharing.
Penny April 2, 2014 um 12:36 pm
My heartfelt condolences. Your Tippy was a good dog. It is so hard to lose our beloved pets. Your poached pears must have been a comfort.
Courtney April 6, 2014 um 5:08 pm
I LOVE Lodge. Just this morning, I bought a Lodge griddle at the store and made awesome blueberry pancakes for breakfast. I can't wait to read this book!
Unknown April 8, 2014 um 3:52 pm
Wonderful to hear how much you love your work. Your passion shows through in all your photographs!
Chelsea Lords April 13, 2014 um 11:58 pm
Hey Helene! I have admired your blog and photos forever! Gorgeous work. Can I ask where you found your wood cutting board? Love it!
Helene April 15, 2014 um 11:52 am
Chelsea: found it on etsy.com years ago.
Brooke May 7, 2014 um 11:51 am
Rest in peace Tippy. I love this dish. I must try. It looks very classy in the photos. Hopefully I can get close to that. Thanks for this great post.