Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Conversation with the Chef

     This morning I've fought the requisite naval battles.  I built my boats.  I focused on color combinations in my ship construction, while Arden went for structural ingenuity.  I lost all my men.  Twice.  I've discussed the Pilgrims' naming practices.  If you're seven, a boy named Love is cause to giggle.
     Now I'll show my mettle as a cook.  There will be eleven of us around the dinner table tonight.  We'll have the leaves in, and two kids will crowd together on the old hope chest pulled up to the dinner table.  I don't have a table cloth long enough so I'll have to use two, a multicolored approach. Nor do I have enough plates in one set to create matching place settings.  Orange mums are just starting to bloom in the yard; I'm considering what sort of vases will be suitable.  And we'll eat.
     We'll eat meatloaf.  I've adapted Julia Child's recipe for veal.  Plain old ground beef is affordable.  I'll borrow her seasoning suggestions and pop it in a loaf pan (or three), like usual.  Last time the meatloaf had too much basil, so I'll use a little less.  When Bryan and I watched the movie "Julie and Julia," he thought it would be funny if I tried to do the same thing: cook through Julia Child in a year.  It would be Julie, Julia, Bria and four kids.  It would not be funny; I'd be exhausted.  The food wouldn't taste good; I've seen some of those recipes and I'm not eating them.  And, frankly, we can't afford it.  Still I love Julia Child's cookbook and the process of adapting it for our table.  When I made "Julia's" green beans, which still only involve salt, pepper and butter, the family complemented them.  Which leads me to believe Julia knew what she was doing.
     We'll eat potatoes.  Real potatoes, not the instant kind, because our Irish guest knows the difference.  I've also hoarded my last two real English tea bags for her and I'm hoping she appreciates my sacrifice.
     We'll eat salad and rolls and apple crisp with vanilla ice cream.
     Today we'll cook.  We'll clean.  The dining room floor is covered in crumbs, dried soup and pomegranate seeds.  I'll try to order my day so that I have time to sit with the friend I've invited to come early and teach her to knit.  I think it will be a good day.  I'll be tired at the end, that's okay, it's one proof that I've done what I'm meant to be doing, and my kids have joined me in the work.

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