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(post, Trisha Coffman)

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I don't know why I insist on making dinner. Surely there are more pressing uses for my time, my hands, my energy: the pile of laundry on the bed, research for a story I'm working on, mail in the to-be-sorted basket. 

Our evenings have changed. They used to hold leisurely dinners, a few bath times a week, three bedtime stories, and kids asleep by 8. Now we've joined the ranks of families whose dinners are wedged between French class and soccer, between homework and work brought home. 

Tonight I may have a 6 o'clock appointment, but I also have a butternut squash in my pantry and mixed greens in my crisper. The cooking part of my day is compulsory, but hardly feels obligatory. If nothing has simmered on my stove or roasted in my oven or even been gathered into a mixing bowl, I feel a little out of balance -- no matter how many fifth grade vocabulary problems I helped with or what I went through at the gym.

I may only have 30 minutes to my name, but that's enough to figure something out. Enough to whisk and reduce a warm vinaigrette from cider, vinegar, olive oil and shallots. Enough to turn the butternut once, to divy greens among four plates, to pile them high with squash, golden raisins, chopped pecans and the slightest scatter of sage and Parmesan. 

It's dinner. It's together. And that's enough.