Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Thursday Night Kitchen Supper - Baha-Style Fish Tacos

I was making the bean dip for last week for our Thursday Night Kitchen Supper and Lucy asked to make it herself. “Make it myself” is a phrase we use often around here. So I hoisted her up onto the kitchen counter and gave her the can of black beans. She held the can opener while I turned the can and then somehow got her ring finger in under the handle and when I pressed the can opener down, I completely squashed her finger.

It wasn’t hospital-worthy but it turned several ominous shades of blue. There was a lot of crying and screaming (mostly her, although a little wimpering from me) and the bean dip-making came to a grinding halt. Edie had been staring at this scene with some curiosity and decided that this might be a good time to play with her sister’s toys, which worked out well for me until she got bored, realized Lucy was getting all the hugs and sweet words and proceeded to cling to my leg in agony and chimed in with some ear-splitting wailing of her own. It was 7pm. No husband. Guests arriving any minute. No bean dip. No pressure.

By the time David walked in the door, both of the kids had conked out in my arms, which I thought might be a sign of them going to bed early but turns out they just decided to take a tandem 7pm nap. I had prepped the Baha-style fish tacos during the afternoon. I diced the tomatoes, thinly sliced the green cabbage, sauteed the onions in rice vinegar, sugar and salt, marinated the fish in lime, cilantro, oil and salt, made the crema with mayonnaise, sour cream, lime juice and salt and got the tortillas ready for heating.

I found out too late that the Gourmet Magazine “quick kitchen” recipe was not entirely quick and not do-able in 45 minutes of active time as they promised (bastards), unless of course you are some kind of Ginzu knife expert. It has so many moving parts that it is not a great recipe for prepping while children are around – case in point - Lucy enjoyed throwing the cabbage into the air to make cabbage “rain” in the kitchen and Edie sat in the corner of the dining room stuffing little fistfuls of cilantro into the gaping hole between the legs of her stuffed bunny. That bunny still isn't right.

By the time the guests arrived, the kitchen was cleaned, I wasn’t wearing anything stained, everything was ready to fire and the kids slept like small, lazy angels. The bean dip turned out great – So simple – black beans, diced red onion, diced tomoatoes, fresh cilantro, garlic, generous squirt of lemon and a dollop of sour cream on top. Bowl of chips next to dip – Voila! It all started so flawlessly. That is until, the pain in Lucy’s finger woke her up and she started screaming, which then woke up Edie and she started screaming. Both of our children wailed. David and I pushed a bottle of wine into the uncomfortable hands of our guests, Nat and Charna, and slid the bean dip their way. That seemed to do the trick.

We excused ourselves and disappeared into the bedroom, which must have seemed like some horrible chamber of torture to Nat and Charna, neither of whom have children, and probably think that children only scream when they are being dragged out back to the shed to be whipped with a shaving strap or something. Little do they know we are loud when we are happy and sad.

Our other guests, Rachel and Jaffer came with their 18 month old daughter Hidaya, so I knew they would understand that dinner might have to be aborted if we needed to take Lucy to the emergency run or force a hit of Motrin down her to help her with the pain. I wasn’t so sure about the childless people. Dinner prep stopped until we could get the kids in good sorts. Finally, Lucy and Edie saw Hidaya and realized they could be having fun in the toy room and giggles and jumping off the couch replaced tears and slumber.

I got dinner on the table, but I made it a “make your own” Baha-style fish taco instead of fussing over presentation. Bottles of wine were killed and we got to know each other as we scooped crema onto our hot tortillas and lime and cilantro-infused fish. Oh! And the onions cooked in vinegar and sugar really worked with the taco – the tangy taste was a great contrast to the creamy sauce and mild fish.

David and Jaffer stood around monitoring the children and chatting with wine glasses in their hands. Rachel drank too much and had a little hangover the next day. Nat and Charna were funny and they had opinions and insightful things to bring to the conversation, which is always a joy...and they didn't seem at all phased by having to talk over the kids tearing through the apartment. The kids didn’t get to bed until 11pm.

We fell into bed tired and happy.

xxxooo Kim


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