Over the last couple of years, it has far more likely at our house that I will be out of town and Bill will be home. But last week he went skiing with friends.
We are long past the days when his being out of town sent me into a tailspin. Mostly, the boys are pretty easy. (At the very least they can feed themselves, go the bathroom by themselves and sleep through the night.) Even though I fix something most nights (fixing being an entirely different thing than cooking), when he goes out of town I am happy for us all to exist on cheese and crackers. The boys, not so much.
They make a big play for going out and they usually win, but five days was just too much. Friday night I told them they had to come to consensus on something they would all eat. After a short meeting they came back and proclaimed, “Steak! And French fries!” I feel sure this was planned to make me give in to carry out. I stood firm.
I peeled. I sliced. (I poured a remarkable amount of oil into a pot.) Double frying, it seems, is the answer to frites and I figured any error I made on step one would likely be covered in step two.
A few years ago someone had told me that Roast Chicken had the best Steak au Poivre recipe, so I slid it from the shelf. I ground peppercorns and sifted off the powder (“too hot”) and pressed them into the fillets. Handling raw meat is one of my major issues with cooking, but that night it didn’t bother me a bit.
The boys were distracted and rather than cooking in a rush, as a chore, I cooked for pleasure, moving easily from sink to cutting board to counter. A rhythm developed and I felt completely in the moment and released from it at the same time. It was a revelation, and I wondered if cooking without Bill here held less pressure. The boys pronounced the meal, “delicious.” A rarity, indeed.
Sunday I reverted to baking. Noses were upturned at homemade muffins because the blueberries were “too squishy.” “That’s because they are real, not freeze dried like the icky ones at the grocery store.” “When does Dad get back?” they queried of the buyer of the grocery store muffins.
He returned last night with tales of watching basketball and watching the Oscars and of the most amazing kitchen island in Dwell built of Legos. And everything fell neatly back into place.
Image, last, from Dwell, photography Celine Clanet.