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.