I’m shrugging back into an old routine, I’m pulling it around me and snuggling into it like a comfy old sweater. It’s a small thing, but I’d not realized how much I missed it. I’m talking about cooking. It’s not that I haven’t made dinner in the last couple of years, but Tommy and I almost equally share that chore…and that is truly what it has felt like, a chore that just must be completed each day.
Anyway, even though I’ve been home full time since the twins were born, I’ve been so all consumed in baby and toddler care that getting anything more into our weeks has felt impossible….No, that’s not exactly it. It’s more a feeling of being stretched so that we can do just enough. Nothing more, nothing less. I’ve been at the just enough stage for so long, that I’d forgotten the simple pleasure of taking an hour to cook an entire meal.
The other night I made crispy potatoes. It’s one of my very favorite meals, maybe mostly because it reminds me of the family dinners of my childhood. Anyway, It felt like utter luxury to walk into the kitchen (that was pretty much clean), and wash and cut the potatoes one by one. Our family’s appetite has really grown since the last time that I made that meal…could it really have been nearly a year ago? So I ended up making 5 whole pounds of potatoes.
I sliced all of the potatoes in half, and put them face down into a very shallow puddle of olive oil, salt and pepper. I did it with leisure and enjoyment putting love into every movement. This wasn’t about hustle, it was pleasure. After I slide both pans into the oven, I slowly cut up the broccoli and put it on to steam.
Tommy takes all four children out front to play, and I’m left in the quiet house…and okay…the kitchen is hot, but I’m left with myself, and the sizzles and smells of our meal.
It feels good to cook something that I only know how to make from touch, feel, smell, and memory. Gravy is a little tricky. Getting the flour to brown, but not burn. Making sure there is enough olive oil, but not so much that it will turn greasy. Knowing the proportions and the consistency is key, and it felt good to exercise my cooking muscle in a way that I haven’t in so long.
If this dinner is a dance, normal weeknight dinners have felt like a mosh pit. I don’t dare attempt a dish that takes more than a few minutes, or can’t be stopped in the middle. That has meant no gravy.
Tonight, the gravy thickens perfectly, and then thins as I add the water and seasoning. I put the corn on to boil next. This meal is perfectly choreographed. I know the order of events perfectly, and I know that I have the perfect amount of time to make all of the sides and toppings as the potatoes bake in the oven. The only thing missing is the garden fresh tomatoes… Perhaps we will get a very small late summer crop, but not for this meal.
The broccoli is done, and it’s time to add lemon butter sauce to it. Now it’s time to set the table. This is usually a job that Gracie and Ava do, but the house is so quiet with everyone outside playing that I just start on it myself. I have the table mostly set when it’s time to turn off the corn. The potatoes are ready, and the gravy is perfect.
At this very moment our whole brood bustles back into the house, and the girls get the silverware. I feel grateful as we sit down for a meal that everyone loves and appreciates. It feels like we’re closer to the “back to normal” feeling that every parent looks for after adding someone (or some-two) to the family, and I know there will be more hectic days to come, but it’s amazing the medicine that there is in this feeling, in this dinner. I savor every bite.
What makes you feel like all is right in your world?