Top | Views from the Carrot Condo

The Pampering Chef

(post, Trista Cornelius)

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A few months ago, I heard a woman explaining that she and her husband make dinner together every night of the week.  Every night?  Yes, she said, and explained that she felt it important for them to have time to reconnect after a day apart, to talk, relax, and enjoy each other’s company.  I turned away as if looking for something in my book bag because tears threatened to spill.  This happened to be only a few days into my caffeine withdrawal, so everything felt a tad dramatic, but these were also the days when my man’s and my lives followed opposite paths.  Mine kept me comfy at home with the day open to however I chose to plan it.  His kept him on the road or behind a desk from before dawn to well past my bedtime some nights and definitely past dinner time other nights.  I missed weeknight dinners with my man more deeply than I could express.  

Now, our lives have flip-flopped, and as my obligations heat up, his cool down.  Lucky for me because he’s started to spend much of his free time in the kitchen.  Maybe he missed the nourishing time together as much as I did, maybe more because I know I didn’t treat him this royally when I held down the domestic front.  Now, rather than coming home after work, hurrying to the kitchen to get dinner started so it can be ready to eat before 8pm, I open the door to the smell of dinner well on its way.  Not only that, in the mornings when I come home from yoga, rather than throwing oatmeal into a pan to simmer as I shower (or worse, pouring boiling water over it in a thermos and trying to slurp it down in the car on my way to work), the scent of breakfast-at-the-ready greets me.  

Corncakes one morning—thick, golden pancakes made with fine, soft cornmeal and flour.  He makes them on a smooth griddle and drops three huge frozen marionberries into each one.  I pour maple syrup over mine and slouch in my chair as the sweet warmth hits by ravenous stomach.  Normally, I’m hungry a few hours after breakfast.  These cakes fortified me well into the afternoon—spiritually and physically.  

One night—sliders!  I don’t know where this word comes from, but sliders are tiny hamburgers.  At least, that’s what we know them as.  They’re great, because you can eat a whole bunch, and their diminutive size gives some cute appeal to a rather machismo food.  For the “hamburger,” he used garbonzo beans and homemade seitan (a meaty substance made from wheat gluten—much, much better than it sounds, I assure you).  He made whole wheat dough and shaped round rolls that he cut in half to make the buns.  Some lettuce, tomato, vegan mayo…d-lish!

The last couple of weeks have included:  perogis and ravioli constructed from homemade dough, individual pizzas inspired by our visit to Delancey and covered in kale and caramelized onions with marinara made from our homegrown tomatoes, and a simple beans and rice dish turned rich and elegant just because of the time and pleasure he took in making it.  

Dusk is one of my favorite times to walk around the neighborhood because people have turned the lights on inside their homes but not yet closed the blinds.  I love glimpsing scenes of kids hunched at the dinner table over their homework, or an adult leaning over the kitchen sink peeling something as a savory scent wafts out over the sidewalk.  I like to imagine how my man and I look to someone like me walking by, the two of us huddled together at the same end of our dining room table, our cheeks rosy like the Campbell Soup kids.  

I try not to dread the day when daily breakfast and dinner with my man won’t be possible, not only because I’ll have to remember how to cook again, but because I’ll miss the fortitude these shared meals give me, a strength that propels my day and gets restored just as it starts to wane at the end of each day.