Monday, May 16, 2011

It's All Australia's Fault

David is in Australia this week on business, and even though the girls and I are keeping ourselves busy with birthday parties, our very first real, over-night, sleep-over with our best friends, back-to-back play dates all weekend, and turning a spare closet into a cozy, pink, secret clubhouse strung up with pink lights and tons of pillows, we're still very aware that something, someone, is missing.

We are a group, us four, and when one of us isn't around, well, things can be good, and fun, and even exciting, but they're also just a little off. And things have been a little off without David, for sure.

I mean, not one person has left their dirty, black, balled-up socks on the floor. Weirdly, I miss that. And when I tried to make coffee in the French Press yesterday, it was runny, brown, coffee-tinged water. And no one has read my writing this week and told me that it reads like "the rotary club year book." That was harsh, but true, and I think it might be the best piece of literary criticism I've ever gotten. And the orange sweater? I even, I don't miss the sweater. Not at all.

I miss the sex, but no wants to hear about that here, and there's a new episode of Friday Night Lights I'm dying to watch, but can't because we watch it together. And David takes the kids to school every morning, so I ready for that little piece of hell to be over, and he does the laundry, and so I'm wearing dirty clothes. Also, the cats won't sleep with us because David isn't here. I found out this week the cats hate me and only tolerate me because I feed them and come with the marriage. And I think I might be on the verge of menopause.

It's all going to shit around here. I blame it on Australia.

I haven't spent much time in the kitchen this week either and that too, I think, is Australia's fault. My main kitchen responsibilities seem to be keeping juice cups washed and also retrieving beverages for small children. That's really all I do. When David's home, I cook longer, more complicated, more deeply textured meals, because I know he appreciates them, because we appreciate them together. The girls, on the other hand, for all the good food they eat, would be just as happy eating pizza every day. And so, when we are going it alone, there's no sense in making a big elaborate dinner because they eat like tiny field mice. It's a lot of effort for not a lot of results.

So, I’ve been making simple dishes: one or two pans tops, under 15 minutes from prep to table, and things I’m sure the kids will wolf down without too much shouting and dismay. Even though it's not pizza. Or noodles with butter. I try to avoid that moment where they look into the bowl, realize what's there and then make some kind of stink face. I don't want to see that stink face until David comes home.

Yeah, that's the one.

Here's two easy meals for people who are really pissed off at Australia...

xo YM


Cold Shrimp, Guac & Chips

This is one of the girl's favorite meals and it feels more like a fun snack than dinner.

Buy the shrimp cooked and peeled and you save a ton of time. Put the shrimp in a bowl and add a couple good squeezes of lemon, a handful of chopped cilantro, a pinch of salt. Mix it all together and chill in the fridge for a few minutes. Make the guacamole - a couple avocados, a squeeze of lemon, a little salt, chopped cilantro - mash it all up with a fork. Put the cold shrimp and guac on a platter with some chips and serve.

Herbed Lamb chops with Sautéed Broccoli & Bacon

The broccoli in this dish is really for me. But the kids like to eat the chops with their fingers like lollipops. In the end, everyone is happy.

For the broccoli: Chop bacon into slivers (the bacon in the pic is home-made) cook until crisp, let drain on paper towel, set aside. If there’s too much bacon grease in the pan, pour some out. Add a handful of chopped green onion or leek to the remaining bacon grease. Add a hunk of butter. Let the onions get soft, about 5 minutes. Add broccoli florets sauté for another five minutes over medium heat, until just starting to get soft. Salt and pepper to taste. Add bacon. Mix everything together.

For the chops: Put chops in a bowl, add olive oil, salt, chopped garlic, and herbs, thyme, rosemary, sage, tarragon, chives, whatever you have. Here I used thyme. Let it sit in fridge all day, a few hours or a few minutes, whatever you’ve got. Heat a pan and add a little olive oil. When the oil is nice and hot, add chops. Let them sear on one side for five minutes, check for a nice brown color and flip. Cook 5 minutes on the other side. The meat should have give when you touch it. You want it medium-rare to rare. Take it off the flame and set aside for a couple minutes. Let it rest. Serve with or without the broccoli.



Nancy Cavillones said...

I wish my kids would eat shrimp... one of them used to but doesn't like it anymore. Anyway, this is a wierd question maybe but were you at the Bronx Zoo before David left? Because I was sitting next to a family in the picnic area that looked remarkably like yours.

Barbara | Creative Culinary said...

I am chuckling and reminded of how much I used to love it when my husband went out of town for a week. Less pressure on preparing meals and not once, ever did I miss his socks being strewn around the house.

Thinking now that was portends of things to come? He's my ex. :)

I just love the pictures of your girls...those crazy, beautiful girls.'s Barb. You know VinoLuci? The new me!

Christine said...

Oh man, your kids have such angel faces and even with her tongue sticking out, Edie's is in full effect here.

Hope that the rest of the time flies and that David is home before you know it. (We love lamb chops, thanks for the reminder to hunt for some)

Two Minute Takes said...

Again, I just love the way you write. Your dinners look yummy (no pun intended) and the photos are adorable. I'm just wondering if David combs your daughters' hair too because I sure wouldn't want to have to try and get a brush or comb through what came out from underneath that blanket! LOL
Hope the *much missed* 1/4 of your family arrives back safe and sound and soon.

CallieK said...

Too funny! My partner tours frequently and I have mixed feelings everytime he leaves. On one hand I get to make all the things that he dislikes for dinner (anything with tomato sauce, artichokes, eggplant) but half the time I end up eating chips and dip for dinner anyhow because I can't be bothered to cook for one. And I always think I'll get the whole house cleaned and it will stay that way but in reality I'm so bored I end up watching movies or reading to distract myself and the house is worse when he gets back.

Kimmy Bingham said...

I love this. I have to admit the first couple of days my husband is gone are usually glorious. Filled with time for myself, late night glasses of wine... but I don't have kids yet, just the pugs. Then by day 4, I miss him taking them out in the morning... and then I miss him like crazy trying to make him laugh.

Go ahead, blame it on Australia, and then get the wine out!

Nuts about food said...

This sounds so familiar. When husband was away last week, three of us just felt out of sorts. Meals were extremely simple (yes, they eat pretty much everything, but in the end you know they would be happy with noodles every evening) to avoid scenes and to save precious energy I would needed to deal with the bedtime routine alone. This week my 5-year old is on a nature trip with her school for 5 days. I kid you not. Yeah, that is what I thought, isn't it a little early? She has never been away for even a night really and my heart feels it every minute of the day. She, however, is having the time of her life so I distract myself cooking for husband. hehe

Karen said...

I used to love when my husband went out of town. The first few days were bliss, filled with time only devoted to me and it was great. But after a few days, all of that changed to missing him. I loved your story. It's very funny, heartfelt and sweet. And thanks for sharing it...

Oui, Chef said...

Now THERE is a stink face raised to high-art, its a beautiful thing. Thanks for the lamb chop inspiration, they'll be on the table tonight. - S

Mairi@Toast said...

Love the stink face :) And the prawns & the guac looks delicuous...may rustle it up & pretend it's Summer!

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