Thursday, February 7, 2008

One chop at a time

Sometimes cooking can feel so overwhelming. When I have writer's block in the kitchen, I just take it chop by chop. Sometimes I will stop after that first onion and that's okay.

Today, I didn't feel like cooking anything. The dishwasher still had to be unloaded and the breakfast dishes were in the sink. The kitchen was the last place that I wanted to spend my nap break.

I like to do my cooking when Mikey takes his nap. Today, one hour into his two hour nap, I hadn't done anything to prepare for dinner and had zero energy. Mikey and I were going swimming in the afternoon so if I was going to feed my family dinner, I had to come up with a plan now. In this frame of mind, how did I end up with two lentil and rice casseroles, potato leek soup for eight, and pasta with homemade tomato sauce before 7pm?

I started by chopping an onion. I decided to start with the lentil and rice casseroles. I cut the onion. I thought that I'd only have the energy to do this one task. I figured at least I'd have one less thing to do tonight. But I kept going. Now with the hardest part of the recipe done, all I had to do was throw the rice and lentils into the baking dishes and cover them with stock. I finished and put them in the oven. Unfortunately, they require 1.5 hours of cooking and we were leaving for the pool in one hour. I decided that I would keep moving ahead and just turn off the oven before we left and turn it back on when we got home. Mikey would be up any minute, I kept moving forward. I chopped the leeks for the soup and softened them in butter and olive oil on the stove.

"Mama, mama!" Mikey cries from his bedroom.

I turned off the stove. The leeks were done.

When we got home from the pool, I boiled water for the pasta. The casseroles weren't going to be ready in time. Mikey was already yelling, "bread, bread" over and over. When he gets bored of that he moves on to tinkering with everything in the house that he knows is a "no, no." It's shocking the mess that he can make in the 20 minutes that it takes me to get food on the table. This is why I do most of the cooking at nap time.

While I was waiting for the pasta water to boil, I washed and cut up the potatoes for my soup and covered them with broth in a saucepan. The potatoes boiled while we ate our pasta with the leftover tomato sauce and freshly grated raw parmesan cheese. While Zack got Mikey ready for bed, I took a hand blender to the soup and it was done before I went to snuggle and sing songs before bed.

Phew! Another successful day.

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