Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hot, Tired, Hungry

Since the Era of The Kid (EK) began, my time in the kitchen has shrunk. We get to the end of the day, the baby's in bed, the most urgent chores have been done, and we have about 45 minutes to cook and eat before our foreheads start drooping table-ward. But I hadn't realized exactly how much things had changed until recently.

The other day, feeling that the man of the house deserved an extra-good dinner (I don't remember now what feat of domestic heroics he had performed--they tend to run together these days), I made one of his old favorites from the Era Before the Kid: Pasta with Kale, Sausages and White Beans. This is a fairly straightforward recipe, and I used to make it all the time, EBK. But going back to it after more than a year, I couldn't believe how long everything took. You par-cook the sausages, then slice them thinly at an angle, then brown the sausage slices (on both sides!), then take the sausage out of the pan again, then deglaze, then saute the garlic, then put the poor beleaguered sausage back in, along with the kale, which had previously been blanched and chopped, and the beans, which are easy. Good god. Now I know what I did with my time before Cleo was born. Apparently, I spent the last ten years cooking dinner.

But, by this spring, I had pretty much come to terms with the new normal, and had some good standbys: pizza, curry, chili, soup, and pasta-with-stuff, all of which could be cooked mostly if not all the way ahead, and so I could make a bunch of dinners at once. This routine worked well all the way through a cool, rainy early summer, but then the weather changed. The last few weeks have been hot and humid and sticky and horrible, and while we've coped fairly well during the day (wading pool, one window AC unit, and, if all else fails, The Horrible Mall), dinner is a challenge. I don't mind eating something warm for dinner, but I draw the line at standing by the stove while it gets that way. All my best summer recipes are from EBK, and so involve a lot of labor and/or a lot of farmers' marketing. So I'm at a loss. This is not one of those times when I recount a dilemma and then recount my solution. No, this is one of those times when I say, "Help! What do you make for dinner when it's hot, you're exhausted, and you have 20 minutes until plate/table contact?" Extra credit if you chime in in the next two hours, and you suggest something that uses only ingredients currently in my fridge.


Muslim Hippie said...

I have no recipes for you for I am pretty much in the same boat (plus one more K). I am merely here to admire your originality-- (EK) and (EBK)-- brilliant!


lauren said...

Pasta with beans and kale is delicious! I made it last night.

Sorry I didn't get there in time to recommend dinner. But maybe Mark Bittman can help next time?

Nev said...

Quesadillas (you do have to heat a pan, but they take 5 minutes) with store-bought salsa.

Canned black beans, feta, chopped scallions, tomatoes, peppers, oil, vinegar, s&p.

Cantaloupe soup with ham sandwiches. Throw cantaloupe in food processor. Add just a touch of pepper. Serve with lunch meat sandwiches. 5 minutes to open all the packages, scoop out the melon, and blend for about 2 secs.

Boxed mac & cheese, frozen edamame. Prepare as directed on package.

Rotisserie chicken. Pick off a hunk of meat, shred with fingers, put over prewashed lettuce, add bottled dressing.

p.s. Lauren, do you think these Bittman things actually take only 18 minutes? I usually have to double however much time a recipe says.

Carl said...

Easy summer time only dirty one pan dish. BLT... ok my wife makes me make it with turkey bacon. Oh and its now a salad not a sandwich. But it still tastes good. Ok... Ingredients: Bacon your choice turkey or THE REAL STUFF, tomatoes chopped to bite size, lettuce[we use romane] and some slices of bread. Ok cut bacon into small bits.. no need to be neat, they just cook faster small. I use 1/4 or 1/3 of a package. While bacon is cooking take 3-5 slices of bread and cut into cubes.[note if you use turkey bacon you will need 2 Tbsp olive oil for next part] When bacon is done add bread cubes to pan, if Turkey B.. add olive oil. When bread is warmed and possibly crispy on one side toss on to sliced lettuce and tomatoes. Viola Bacon Letuce and tomatoe salad. Sara makes a wonderful dressing with rice wine vinegar to go with. Love your So Cal Cozin

Nev said...

I like kale, so do cabbage worms,damn worms. We have no kids and we can barely manage to get real food on the table. Though Nev has completed 1.5 of 2 soups tonight in a binge of weekend cooking. My faves for quick food are:
cold tomato sauce over hot pasta-basically make gazpacho with more tomatoes and less green peppers
grits with fried ham and eggs.
Do you like grits? I forgot.
Nev's other half