Friday, February 25, 2011

What I Made for Dinner: February 25, 2011

Chicken and corn fried rice.

Josh has a friend over and they're having so much fun they asked if the friend could stay for dinner.  I said of course, but I was already making dinner and I worried he might not like what we were having.  Joshy and Alex are used to eating my weirdo cooking.  Their friends, maybe not so much.  Most kids like to eat familiar food. 

He ate enough to be polite, and he said it was good.  He's a really sweet kid.  They're watching Doctor Who DVDs in the basement.

Next time we'll just scrap my dinner plans and get a pizza.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What I Made for Dinner: February 22, 2011

Potato-leek soup, cheddar cheese toasts, mixed green salad.

I made this beautifully simple soup last night while we watched college basketball.  The plan was to get home from work and heat it up--but I stayed too late at the office and I realized I'd need some help.  I called home for Josh.

I'm impressed:  He's been learning to cook just a little, most notably last weekend, when he made some very nice scrambled eggs.  So now he knows how to turn on the (gas) stove and regulate the flame.  He said he'd take care of it, no problem, and I hung up the phone.  Then I had the rest of my drive home to consider the possible outcomes:

A.  I enter the house to perfectly-warmed, fragrant soup.

B.  The soup spills all over the place on its way into the pot, and I enter the house to no dinner and a hysterically-crying ten-year-old helper.

C.  He turns on the gas but the igniter fails, the house fills with gas, I enter the house to find everyone suffocated, whereupon the house explodes and burns, taking the neighborhood with it.

I needn't have worried.  He did a great job (and Deanna supervised closely).  Delightful soup on a chilly night.

Potato-Leek Soup (adapted from David Lebovitz)
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
6 leeks, white and light green part only, washed and sliced
several sprigs fresh thyme, a handful of fresh Italian parsley, and two bay leaves, tied into cheesecloth or wrapped in a paper coffee filter and tied with a string
1/4 tsp ground cayenne
3 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cubed (I used klondike rose, and I bet yukon gold would be good)
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
3/4 cup heavy cream

1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat.
2. Add the leeks.  Cook the leeks over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until they’re completely soft and wilted.  Don't brown them.
3. Add the broth, water, cayenne, herb packet, and potatoes.
4. Cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender when poked with a sharp knife, about 30 minutes, depending on how small you cut the potatoes.
5.  Remove from heat, remove the herb packet and puree the soup (I used my trusty immersion blender).  Stir in the cream.  Taste and stir in salt and pepper as needed. Serve hot.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What I Made for Dinner: February, 7, 2011

Lemon and rosemary roast chicken and root vegetables.

The next couple of weeks at work will be packed so I'm trying to cook a lot when I can and leave myself some leftovers for easy, super-fast dinners.  A good-sized chicken with potatoes, carrots, and onions will give us a couple of meals for about $15.

I have been so busy with work lately because this semester, I am trying out a full-time schedule.  It's an adjustment.  (Working all the time is hard, whine, sniff.)  

I have been working part-time for ten years, ever since I went back to work from my maternity leave with Josh.  Before we had kids, I was a litigator and I loved it, but I knew I would never be able to keep up with that workload after we had children.  After Josh was born, it was clear I had been right:  There was just no way I could balance full-time lawyering with full-time parenting. 

Does writing that out loud, in front of God and everybody, mark me as some entitled brat?  I hope not.  I think it marks me as sort of, well, limited.  People with kids usually hold full-time employment as well.  I will always count it as something of a personal failure that I couldn't figure out how.  But at any rate, I torpedoed a promising career and went to part-time law practice, eventually quitting entirely when Alex was born a couple of years later.

The funny thing was, when Alex was a toddler I glimpsed my future and cringed a little.  Josh was starting Kindergarten; before long, both boys would be out of the house all day and then what would I do with all that time?  Not only was I unable to balance family and law practice, I was also unable to visualize my relevance as a stay-at-home mom to kids who wouldn't stay home with me.  Damn kids, with their constant up-growing and ceaseless education-needing and continual mom-dumping. 

So I could see I would be stuck, neither here nor there.  And the economic pressure to get back to work was growing, along with my own nagging sense of urgency not to waste--what? My education, my potential, my earning power, something. (Something that doubtlessly, once articulated, would make me sound like an entitled brat.)  Clearly, I needed to go back to work.  Work outside the home, work not with my family, work I had to shower and dress for, work someone hopefully would pay me for.

The part-time teaching job I found when Alex was two, and continue in, has been just an unbelievable stroke of good fortune.  Along with our fantastic nanny, my job has allowed me to hit that balance between being present for my children and devoting myself to interesting, productive work in the wider world.  It even seamlessly accommodated the addition of Eli!  This semester, though, a colleague is on leave and so I picked up an extra class.  So now I'm busy, because working all the time is hard

All of this seems like a long way around the barn to explain why I roasted a chicken on a Monday night. Really, it was just for the leftovers.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What the Hell I've Been Doing for Three Weeks: January 12, 2011-February 1, 2011

 I have been making dinner.  Almost every night, actually.  I've been baking, too.  But I've also been writing a bunch of stuff for work, and then I don't want to write anything else in my free time.  I'll get back to it in a little while when my work project is done.
Last time, I wrote how it would be stupid to own things like snowshoes because we usually have dry winters here in Dinnertime's little part of the Great Plains.

 It turns out, that was a stupid thing to write.

 Stay warm, y'all.