Friday, April 23, 2010

Where's the lamb?

A couple of months ago on a cold Sunday afternoon I sat down with my family and watched Julie and Julia. It reminded me of how much I love cooking. In my life I cook almost daily, and I enjoy it, however, it has been a long time since I have tried anything more involved than risotto. After the movie I decided to try cooking a more difficult meal each week. That never happened. I did do eggs benedict one Sunday morning, I'll count that as one meal in two months. Now that I have five children in my home,and one of them in that dreaded senior year in which the time it takes is only outpaced by the amount of money it costs, I spend a good part of my time in the kitchen. Did I really want to try anything too taxing?
On a feild trip to Topeka last week I read an article in Food & Wine that included three Morrocan recipes. Surely I could do these. Sunday night while on my bimonthly shopping trip I picked up the few ingredients I needed. Everything I would need, except for the main ingredient for my Lamb and Noodle stew. The week before Easter I had bought a beautiful lamb roast at Dillons, so I had not expected any trouble. I had roasted the lamb right away with a simple garlic and salt paste rubbed on it, why hadn't I saved it? Sunday at 11:00 pm there was no lamb to be found in Liberal. Not to be detered I pulled a beef arm roast out of my deep freeze to make Beef and Noodle Stew.
Wednesday was to be the day. The weather was forcasted to be cool and windy, so I would not want to be outdoors, and I had nothing else planned. Of course work got in the way. I worked a half an hour late in the Elk office and needed to put in a couple of hours at our local office. I made it back into town at five and decided to put off the local office until I had put the girls to bed. I didn't read the recipes thoroughly before I started, which is unusual for me, normally I visualize the whole thing to help make a plan. Diving right in I did not notice that the noodles were to go through a longer process than simply boiling them. I started with the eggplant dish since it seemed to take more time. While the eggplant was charring in a stainless steel pot, not the cast iron cassarole, I started the beef dish. The recipe called for a cilantro bundle. For a second I stared at the cilantro thinking it would just be easier to chop it and toss it in. "Are you going to do this or not?" I asked myself. Had I really become such a lazy cook that walking into the next room and cutting a piece of string was too much for me? I tied the cilantro and tossed it in the pan. It was not difficult. I put the saffron into a skillet to toast for ten seconds. I pressed it with a wooden spoon and started counting. Miss Universe walked in with Huggy bear. I grabbed my tea and walked to the sofa to talk with her a second. While we were talking the fire alarm went off. The saffron was black. I started over with a new batch. The eggplant dish was finished earlier than I expected. I put it in the oven which was still warm from toasing the almonds. It was then that I noticed that the noodles required two forty minute steaming sessions before they went into the water. As I reached the point where the lamb was almost done I stressed out and started to think about skipping one of the steaming sessions. It was already after seven-thirty, I needed to get the girls in the shower by eight-thirty. They were outside jumping on the trampoline with Huggy bear and Sebastion. I decided not to skip on the noodles. I started the pear desert and made myself another cup of tea. By the time I sat down to drink my tea I realized that I was almost done. The noodles would need a two minute boil and the pears could poach while we ate.

The dinner was delicious. It took three hours for me to cook it, but I think I can cut that down to one and a half next time. The girls did not get into bed until ten, which meant that I didn't finish up at the local office until midnight. It was good though, and it made great leftovers on Thursday.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Here we go again.

Just when I quit expecting it Drama Queen had a crisis. She is in rehab, and the girls are back living with me. It is always amazing to me how we manage to fit two more kids in our three bedroom home, but kids are like tupperware, they stack.I was worried about how hard it was going to be to bring them back at the end of the school year. I was afraid it would be especially hard since it was a promotion year for Beezus and she would have to miss her field trip and the ceremony. They are troopers though and have not complained at all. In fact they seem cheerful about the whole situation. Yesterday I was up on my roof working while they ran around the yard in their swimming suits playing in the numerous mud puddles. Ramona said 'her first day of school was excellent, thanks for asking' before anyone could think to ask her how school was. She added that the food was better here than it was in Wichita. I will have to tell Anna that. since she is cook at our school.

*I have picked new names for the girls now that they are not really babies anymore. You probably noticed from context they are Ramona and Beezus.