I made dinner tonight. Ribbon squash and chicken with mushrooms, carrots, celery, and green onions in a cream-red wine sauce. Sadly the light had gone and since I don’t have a good way of lighting the food (I’ve thought about one of those light boxes, but I should probably have it at school instead of home) the pictures I attempted did not really work out, or even do the food justice.
It was all inspired by watching Julie and Julia, which I have seen at least five times in the past four days (no judging!) and at one point the character Julie makes chicken and mushrooms in port cream sauce. I went to Smidget’s gigantic recipe collection and found her falling apart edition of Mastering The Art of French Cooking. Speaking of which, does anyone by chance know a place in Anchorage to get books fixed? I couldn’t find the exact thing Julie was making, and maybe I just didn’t really search enough or whatnot, but I did find a lot of crazy sounding stuff that I didn’t have the patience to make/deal with tonight. Like “mushrooms stewed in butter” and the like. So I decided to wing it!
The carrots, celery, and green onion came into play because of this farm share thing that Smidget signed up for at her school. I’ve mentioned it before, but didn’t give it enough credit for how cool it is. The school that Smidget teaches at has a farm far off campus and I’m sure there are connections with environmental studies majors and other similar majors that work and deal with the farm. In the summer they have a lot of fresh produce and have decided to offer the food to those willing to pay the rather large fee. So Smidget signed up, and each Monday we get a huge bunch of fresh food, usually greens such as various lettuces and so many bags of mesculn mix we don’t know what to do with it all, but some times rare gems sneak their way in, like beets or this week carrots.
In order to use some of these fresh ingredients they became part of the mix. But, I was so eager to start cooking, to eat, and really just to get off the couch that I started cooking before Dad called and said he was on his way home. It’s just him and me right now since Smidget is, once again, in the Lower 48. I knew to start things slow since it would be a good while before Dad came home, so at about 4 I started preparing the ingredients so that by 5:30, when Dad usually calls, I would be all ready to go and start cooking.
Well, with everything prepared, I waited for a phone call. I couldn’t wait much after 5:15 or so though, when I decided to start the stove up and Dad would call soon and it would all work out. Not so much. He called at 6, not saying “in the parking lot!” or “heading home!” as he usually does, but instead “still at work. have you started cooking dinner? am I in trouble?” Bingo. See, oddities of all oddities, my dad can’t eat on an empty stomach. Plus he’s been working to control how fast he eats, something our entire family has an issue with, ya know, not really tasting the food just eating it. So I knew that it was going to be a problem when he came home and dinner was all good to go because he wouldn’t have eaten anything, and therefore he would be hungry, and therefore he would eat too quickly. So I attempted to slow down the cooking. I hadn’t done the mushrooms with the wine and cream yet, which was going to be the final stretch.
I put everything on low burners and waited. Finally, after the movie was over, seeing the newest Cupcake Wars and watching Chopped, I had to get moving in the kitchen again. With Alton Brown’s dulcet tones coming from the TV, I melted butter and added the mushrooms. The garage door opened, the cat meowed, and Dad walked in the door. The mushrooms were stewing away (not the right word though, maybe saute? I don’t know, they were doing something in the pan. It may have been the macarena.) and it about time to add the rest of the ingredients, not enough time for Dad to even munch on a few crackers.
With everything coming together, the whole thing was done less than ten minutes after Dad walked in the door. He hadn’t even changed out of his work clothes like he was going to, when dinner was ready to go. Surprisingly, it all went well, and we both enjoyed it although I think the panic and long time spent between the stove and the TV waiting must have worked on my appetite and made it practically disappear.
But there was something else that got to me, Dad fixes himself a bowl and, like every dish he is ever handed that is not in a restaurant (aka anything Smidget or I make) he has to ‘season it’. This means he adds salt and pepper, usually without asking if it was used in cooking, and almost every time without tasting first! I find it is one of the most annoying things and it is something that is known and should not bother me, but really? Can you taste it first? It’s not done on purpose or as a subtle hint that our cooking isn’t good enough, I don’t think, but it sure does feel that way.
Do you have any issues with this? Seasoning before tasting? That feeling that your food always has to be fixed before it’s even tested? Annoying little gestures in the kitchen? Anyone? Someone? Please?
On the plus side, Dad got tickets on the way home. Tickets to what? Why the Summer Encore of the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Carmen. Our local theater has found a way to get the past season from the NY MET onto the big screen every Wednesday night and Tuesday morning. So far my family has seen both La Boheme and Turandot, Puccini, a definite favorite. So tomorrow night, I shall be at the Opera and reminiscing about taking voice lessons and being part of choir…oh how I long for those days again, if only I could actually get into voice lessons at school…