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.