Three weeks into the teaching quarter, my first head-cold of the season well underway, a house mostly moved into, the homework struggle with the oldest at an uneasy détente, and finally a dip into lower temperatures and a spot of rain here and there... And what do I have to write about? My dinner for tonight.
I know, what I'm making for dinner tonight is not earth-shattering news for anyone. However, for the first time in weeks, maybe even months, I feel at home with my dinner routine tonight. I have a nasty cough and still a sore throat but I took comfort and, dare I say, pleasure, in pulling out my big 6-quart dutch oven this afternoon. White beans simmer in broth, onions, and garlic, flecked with rosemary and a bobbing parmesan rind. Carrots and kale from the market wait to go in towards the end; the chicken andouille sausage is browned and drained, also waiting for the beans to become tender enough to add. I'm not trying to be poetic, I'm just so glad to have a little return to routine.
I love making meals for my family. However, spending time in the kitchen has just not been part of my life lately. My husband has happily shouldered a lot of the meal preparation in the past few weeks as I have tried to adjust to teaching two classes a day, four days a week. I've spent an awful lot of time napping and grading and prepping the next day's class. I like the napping part, don't get me wrong. Frankly, I don't mind the grading or the prepping either. But I have really missed being in the kitchen, especially in my new kitchen that, instead of being galley-style, is square with lots of cupboards, lots of counter space, lots of room. I have half-heartedly baked cookies, assembled salads, and thrown together countless crisps during the whole move-in process. Making dinner as part of the usual rhythm of the day, however, has been conspicuously absent of late.
It's the meditation of chopping onions and garlic, sweeping aside the paper skins, arranging the carrots for later, and the smells of the herbs and spices, the gentle simmer of soup in my bright red pot--this is what has been missing from my life since before I left for Alaska in June. Adjusting to my homemaker life has always been a slow process upon my return from Alaska but this year it has taken that much longer due to the move and the new teaching load.
I've missed it a lot, to state the obvious.
I'm still not baking bread. I have had to make peace with buying loaves of bread at the store. I hate buying bread. But I can't do everything right now. I'd like to think I'm Superwoman but, well, we all know that kind of thinking leads to lunchtime martinis. Just kidding. I'm not baking cookies all the time, or knitting dishcloths, or practicing my banjo--wait, this is all starting to sound like the last post... clearly I need to address these holes in my life, too. One step at a time, though, starting with my White Bean and Kale soup.
The class prep can happen later.