This month’s “Inspiration Station” is built around “The Fault in Our Stars.” I tried to wait for the movie mania to die down a bit and now feel like this is an appropriate time to revive one of the summer’s biggest hits.
Augustus tells Hazel that he’s using his wish on a trip to Amsterdam by taking her on a picnic filled with all things Dutch, including cheese and tomato sandwiches. So maybe this Inspiration Station isn’t a toughie to prepare, but it doesn’t make it any less satisfying. I used heirloom tomatoes for this and instead of turning this into a grilled cheese (which is always my first instinct), I added mayo and left it cold so it would be more true to the movie and actually suitable for a picnic. I did a Wikipedia search for Dutch cheese and decided to go with Parrano. It’s a semi firm cheese that’s not too strong. The mildly nutty flavor worked well with the sweet and juicy tomato. When the tomato is firm like that, it’s a perfect stand-in for meat. I was lazy when it came to slicing the tomato and cheese so it’s not the prettiest, but it still tasted great. Using an actual cheese slicer would solve this problem…I just couldn’t find mine. I mixed a little dill in with my mayo and the herb made me feel like I was outside even though this picnic was, sadly, on my couch.
- One of the reasons Hazel likes “An Imperial Affliction” is because it’s a cancer book that’s not really a cancer book. Since her favorite novel doesn’t exist, I recommend reading Carole Radziwill’s memoir, “What Remains.” Yes, her husband dies of cancer, but it’s about much more than that.
- Augustus uses cigarettes but refuses to light them so he feels a sense of control over cancer/death. Instead of buying real cigarettes, do the same thing with candy cigarettes. I’m not sure these are p.c. anymore, but I don’t really care.
- Instead of breaking trophies or throwing eggs like Isaac, I think a great way to handle stress is by screaming into a pillow or throwing the pillow against a wall. No damage done and I find it quite cathartic. Might as well use a cute pillow while you’re at it. I like this one from Urban Outfitters with it’s empowering message.
- Augustus’ parents hang inspirational quotes all around their house that they call “encouragements.” I’m a big fan of fun phrasing, especially when written in fun typography so they don’t look like cheesy, guidance counselor office art. Etsy is a great place to find pieces that will brighten up your day.