THE BOYFRIEND’S ON VACATION
Rachel graces us with her presence at the dinner table at least four out of seven nights during the week. Come the weekend however, she eats out, or has dinner at a girlfriend’s house or increasingly, the boyfriend’s house. This works extremely well for me. I only have to cook for two and since I’m trying to get my husband Lynn to um, slim down a bit, I’ve even scaled back on the dishes I prepare. He and I can easily make do with a roasted chicken and a salad, a piece of fish or a simple plate of pasta.
Imagine my surprise when the boyfriend goes away for 17 DAYS and all of a sudden I’m thrown back into full-blown kitchen duty.
On the first day he’s gone, Rachel stands in front of the refrigerator for a good 10 minutes. She looks inside then closes the door, then opens and closes the refrigerator door again. Why do teens do this? What exactly are they looking for? Yes, everything that’s in the fridge needs to be “prepared” but there’s also fruit and cheese and yogurt, (yes, healthy stuff) to snack on. She doesn’t want a snack however she wants a full blown meal! She wants courses!
Picked up some baguette, cheese and fish on the way home from work. Opened a can of chick peas and put them in the food processor with some garlic, fresh parsley and tarragon from the garden. Turned on the food processor and added some freshly squeezed lime juice and olive oil. This becomes my version of hummus. Cut up some tomatoes and put them on a plate. Put some fresh mozzarella balls in the middle.
Went out to the garden and picked some fresh basil to throw on top. Saw my first batch of green beans were coming in so picked a few and blanched them and added them to the tomatoes and mozzarella. Washed some spinach for a salad, fried some pancetta and crisped it to crumble on top. Made a quick mustard vinaigrette and poured it on top of the salad, threw some freshly grated parmesan on top.
Heard some thunder in the distance so ran outside to put the swordfish and salmon on the grill but the grill wasn’t really hot enough. Then it started to pour so I brought the fish inside, took out the grill pan and finished the fish in the pan on the stove. Sliced everything up, plated it and brushed the sliced fish with some olive oil with some fresh tarragon and chives (also from the garden). Unwrapped a piece of Italian taleggio cheese and put it on a plate. Pulled out some grapes from the fridge, that and the baguette I had picked up earlier were an easy dessert plate.
Around 5:30 after working all day, I managed to put in three whole chicken breasts (at a little over $2.00 a package, how cool is that?) in the oven. I sprinkled them with paprika and olive oil and salt, cut up an onion, opened a jar of artichoke hearts, poured some white wine and water on the whole thing and put it in the oven.
I thought I’d make some pesto to put on fresh linguine. Went outside and grabbed some basil leaves (not that great this year I have to admit, the bugs seem to be chewing them up) brought them inside, washed them and put the leaves in the food processor. Also added some fresh parsley, a garlic clove, a handful of almonds (I usually use walnuts but didn’t have any) and poured in the olive oil as everything was mixing together.
Went to the downstairs fridge to retrieve the pasta when I realized we had already eaten half of the fresh linguine at a previous meal. Since Rachel and I were both pretty hungry and her father is always hungry, I opened a bag of dried linguine instead and put the water on to boil.
Rachel went out after dinner with a girlfriend. Maybe I’ll get a reprieve from cooking tomorrow night?
My reprieve was granted! No big dinner to make! I slap together a quick vegetarian chili – kidney beans, white beans, red beans, onions, parsley, spices. Grate some cheese, slice some green onions. Done.
Lynn made lasagna. Rachel fell asleep the minute she got home. I make a salad. I wake her up to eat. It’s all good.
Throw some pork chops and boneless short ribs in the oven. Slather with BBQ sauce. Think about making mashed potatoes but decide to roast some potatoes instead. Think about making fresh coleslaw but realize Lynn and I will be the only ones eating it.
I make a pasta salad with curry (ziti, mayo, curry powder, fresh parsley, scallions) that everyone likes. Dare I mention to go with it we have roast chicken again?
Lots of blueberries have me making blueberry muffins and a quick berry/pear tart. Do you think they’ll be happy with just dessert for dinner?
Make a pasta salad (this version with tomatoes and mozzarella) and a mushroom and cheddar quiche. If anyone is around this weekend, that’s what they can nibble on.
Besides Rachel being home, her brother arrives with girlfriend in tow. Not only do they want to go to the beach, they want food, too. I make oatmeal cookies and brownies. I boil some corn. I make hamburger patties and then go out to buy hot dogs, buns and “Boca” burgers for the vegetarian contingent. I boil eggs to put in the potato salad. I make the potato salad. I make a bean/corn/tomato/onion salad. I make a regular green salad with a mustard vinaigrette. I slice up watermelon. I wash some grapes. When all is said and done they want to know why I’ve made so much food! When they all leave early (7 p.m.!) to watch the fireworks, I pour myself a very large vodka.
I make pasta carbonara. Instead of traditional spaghetti carbonara, I once had ziti carbonara (pancetta, egg, freshly grated parmesan, lots of coarsely ground black pepper, NO CREAM) at a wine bar/trattoria in Soave, Italy . This has become my favorite way of preparing this dish.
I get a break. Lynn makes chicken cutlets and French fries. My contribution? I slice up some tomatoes for a fresh tomato and parsley salad.
The plan is to stuff some peppers. Rachel’s not particularly fond of stuffed peppers so I make her a quick meat sauce and she has that over rigatoni. Lynn and I eat the peppers and sneak some of her pasta, too.
Didn’t we just have chicken? Throw a chicken in the oven with some sage from the garden along with some carrots and onions. Moisten with olive oil, white wine and water and bake for a good two hours. Decide to make my own potato gnocchi which is cheaper than buying it. Boil two small potatoes, mash, add egg, flour, some water, blend together. Cut into four pieces, roll pieces into log shapes. Cut log shapes into smaller pieces, put in boiling water. When gnocchi rise to the top, put in baking dish, top with butter, bake in oven. Run out to garden and get fresh chives, sprinkle chives on top of gnocchi. Grate some parmesan cheese on top.
Rachel goes out to eat.
Rachel is invited to a birthday party.
Rachel is invited to a friend’s house for dinner after spending the day at the beach.
THE BOYFRIEND COMES HOME!