August 10th is National S’Mores Day, opens a new window! I thought I would honor National S’mores Day by counting down my top three favorite summer moments that included (of course!) making s’mores.
#3 Great America
Unlike my other experiences this summer, which were with my entire family, this trip to Great America, opens a new window on an unassuming Wednesday afternoon in July was exclusively a mother-daughter trip. I had already taken my five year old, Olivia, to Great America the summer prior, but she was a few inches shorter then and much more intimidated by roller coasters. So I knew this summer’s visit was going to be special as she was now tall enough to ride a few more ‘coasters alongside me.
The summer prior, our favorite ride together was Logger’s Run, which was a log flume ride that took you up a short ascent and then plummeted fairly steeply so that you get soaking wet by the ride’s finish. It was my favorite ride growing up and fortunately my daughter was old enough last year to have experienced it. She loved it so much last year that we went on it four times in a single day. She was super excited about visiting it again this year so imagine our disappointment when we saw that last summer was its final summer at Great America (it closed October 2017).
Even though our favorite ride was no more, my daughter and I created new memories on attractions neither of us had experienced before. She loved Boomerang Bay, which we hadn’t visited last year. We spent much of our time at the park in the lagoon where she played with other kids. She told me, once we got to the lagoon, that I was to sit and watch her from a lounge chair. I was not to play with her or get inside the lagoon. I have to be honest, that was a hard thing for me to do emotionally since I wanted this park visit to be a mother-daughter bonding opportunity. I wanted to go inside the lagoon to play with her! But this summer activity wasn’t about me having fun exclusively, it was about making memories for her to look back upon and cherish. So, I forced myself to take a seat and just enjoyed watching her play freely with the other kids in that lagoon. That, in itself, made for a beautiful memory and was a chance for me to practice letting go so that she can grow and learn without me always at her side.
#2 S’mores on the Stove
As important as they are, family dinner nights do not come easily during the summer. Usually either myself or my partner are working late, which means dinner comes at 7:00 PM and bedtime directly follows at 8:00 PM. There is little time to really enjoy everyone’s company for longer than the 60 minutes or so that it takes to make, serve, and eat dinner that late into the day.
One night, when the four of us were all home for dinner (being myself, my daughter, my partner and his son) early at 5:00 PM, we decided it would be fun to make s’mores for dessert. The one problem was that I don’t have a grill so we had to improvise on how to toast the marshmallows. We decided to try and do them over the gas stove, using the open flame of the stove and wooden skewers soaked in water (so that they wouldn’t catch on fire while being held over the open flame).
There was a clear difference regarding the skills and ability to toast marshmallows between myself and my partner. I went for the “it’s not burned, just charred” approach that rarely melts the inside of the marshmallow, while he went for the slow and steady caramelized torching of the ‘mallow that made for a squishy s’more but took double the time to achieve. While the kids ate both versions, they ultimately voted that Dad’s were better. I lost the s’mores making challenge that night.
I didn’t feel bad about my terrible s’mores making abilities. I remember looking up and watching everyone eating their s’mores with a smile on their face, with 'mallow and melted chocolate dripping down their chins, and thinking that this was one of my favorite moments due the simplistic beauty that sugar can bring.
#1 Buck’s Lake
My partner's parents planned a family trip up to Plumas National Forest, opens a new window, specifically Buck’s Lake, opens a new window. They rented a cabin near their friend’s house (which is on the shore of the lake) and for five digital free days they enjoyed the presence of their grown adult children, their wives, and their grandchildren (four kids in total).
It was here, at Buck's Lake, that I was able to redeem myself regarding my s'mores making abilities. We made a fire that night at the cabin we rented and used the metal skewers other families in that cabin have used before us, to toast our marshmallows. This time I was toasting 'mallows under ideal conditions - a low flame and the slow burning heat from red hot coals. I sat in front of the fire pit and showed my daughter, niece, and step-son how to toast the 'mallow without getting burned.
Finally, with a whole lot of patience and the slow burning heat of that dying pit fire, I was able to toast the perfect 'mallow that melted perfectly between two graham cracker squares and a bed of milk chocolate. I took my first bite, and the 'mallow dripped down my chin and onto my shirt. I had three more that night and I could not contain my joy when my daughter turned to me and said, "Hey, you didn't burn it this time! It's perfect mom. Mom, you make the best s'mores now."
And that right there was my favorite memory of the entire summer.
But don't stop there, check out all of these other books on marshmallows and s'mores!
Tell me about your favorite way to cook s'mores and how many you cooked up this summer!