(With a Couple of Detours Thrown In)

November 2009

After we turned the clocks back an hour because of the annoying concept of daylight savings time, it’s so dark in the front of my house that I’m fumbling to even put the key in the lock to let myself in.  The house is dark and strangely quiet.  Suddenly Rachel tumbles down the stairs having fallen asleep after school to announce that she needs to go back to school in four minutes for a club meeting.

I sigh, then I yell.

“Why didn’t you tell me earlier?”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t know,” she answered. 

She knows the rule. I will take her anywhere (well almost anywhere after work) as long as I’m still in the car.  I usually call her when I’m in front of the house and she usually jumps in for a ride. Ok, so maybe I’m picky but once I get in the house, I like to stay in the house.

Ok, so she apologized and told me she would get ready.  Getting “ready” for a soon-to-be-16-year-old female could mean 10 minutes or an hour and 10 minutes.  I figured I had time to change, read the mail, open a bottle of wine, take out the chicken (yes, again!) and maybe even peel some veggies.

Tonights chicken dish: my version of coq au vin.  I took out a package of pancetta and fried up some slices, washed and sliced up some mushrooms and a large onion.  Once the pancetta was fairly crisp, it was removed and some oil was poured into the pan, chicken pieces (thighs and breasts on the bone) were added.  Salt, pepper and lots of paprika were sprinkled on top.  A large casserole dish was retrieved just about when Rachel was ready to leave.

I turned everything that was simmering on the stove off and got back in the car to give her a ride.  I came back a few minutes later and proceeded to finish cooking the chicken, then added the mushrooms and onions to the pan.  I realized I only had ONE BOTTLE OF WINE left in my wine fridge downstairs (nearly a traumatic event in our house) so I scrambled for something else.  How about a generous pour of that icky $12.00 brandy no one could force themselves to drink.  (Hint to brandy lovers, it’s $12.00 for a reason.) 

Under the category of “don’t try this at home,” I had forgotten that unlike wine, brandy really flares up on the stove (as in flames shooting up to the kitchen ceiling) which is why duh, when you order something “flambéed” whoever is selling you this pyrotechnic piece of entertainment with your meal wants to make sure whatever is flaming, is in fact a mini-fireworks show.

I didn’t panic, but I did kind of move away from the stove wondering where we had stuffed the fire extinguisher the last time we had moved things around in the basement.

The fire eventually went out and the brandy scented and flavored mushroom onion mix was added to the chicken.

This is when my cell phone rang.  It was Lynn, the husband.  Actually I was shocked to hear his voice.  You see, Lynn never ever calls me.  He is solely an email and texting kind of guy.  He was muttering something about his key not fitting into the car ignition.  (And no he didn’t stop for a couple of drinks on the way home).

“Are you sitting in the right car?” I tried to ask him sweetly but when I heard myself, I sounded well, kind of bitchy.

I imagined him actually getting out of the car to look at it.  Hint: he shares the car with the son, Nick, and Nick put a Munich license plate on the front next to the New York plate.  That alone should have been the clincher.

He got back in the car. 

“I can’t get the key in the hole,” he said.


“Is your key broken?” I asked

“Can you bring your key here so I can try it,” he countered.

I turned the oven off (again) and got back in the car and went to meet him.  Sure enough, I tried my key and it too wouldn’t fit into the ignition.  I didn’t know if our car manufacturer had some sort of “road side assistance program” but I figured we could at least call the dealership and find out.  Sure enough, road side assistance was available and someone would be there in 40 minutes.

I left Lynn in the car and I decided to go back and try to finish making dinner.  Once home, the oven was turned back on.  I started thinking about a side dish and settled on making some spinach noodles I found in the pantry.  I put on a pot of water to boil and thought about a veggie.

I went through the fridge and found some white carrots I had picked up the week before at a farmer’s market and proceeded to peel them along with some regular carrots.  After washing and slicing them, I coated them with some olive oil and herbs and put them in a roasting pan in the oven.

That’s when my cell phone rang (again). Rachel was ready to be picked up from school.

Sigh.  I went to get her, dropped her off at the house with a quick explanation of why dinner would be late and where her father was (sitting in a cold car in the dark) and went to keep him company.  When I got there, the tow truck was already there.  Luckily, the driver had managed to simply “wack” the side of the steering wheel forcing a piece of metal that’s in the ignition to realign itself and voilà the key went in.

I drove back to the house where the carrots were stirred to keep from over roasting and the chicken pieces were basted with the brandy-flavored juices. By this time the spinach pasta was also done, half a bar of butter and a little olive oil was added back to the pan along with some freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Everything was taken out of the oven and we all sat down to eat.  Passing the veggies to Rachel who has suddenly taken a dislike to carrots and other root vegetables in particular, she shook her head no.  I couldn’t resist teasing her.

“If we went to Jean-Georges* and they served you this, would you eat it?” I asked

Rachel looked at me and didn’t bat an eye.

“If Jean Georges served this to me I would even lick it off his body.”

Lynn and I looked at each other.  Maybe after the evening we just had we should be watching the shows she’s watching at night.

Note to self: this evening in particular fell into the category of how in the hell did dinner even get on the table.

*Technically Rachel hasn’t ever eaten at Jean-Georges but Nougatine, the restaurant that shares the space in the front of the house. 


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