This Friday morning I woke up determined to get back in the saddle. Four weeks of utter chaos (aka “vacation”) left me yearning for some good old routine. The queen of toddlers is back on track, in daycare and away from indulgent grand parents influence, my husband is back at work. Now its up to baby Tom and me to keep up (or clean up?) the fort. In case you were wondering how a typical day in the kitchen looks like with baby in tow, I shall now demonstrate.
Friday sends me automatically to the kitchen. Ignoring the unpacked luggage, the kitchen “rearranged” by our well-meaning house sitter and the endless piles of laundry, I cheerfully set out to plan a dinner party. A quick glance at the clock tells me that I have some 90 minutes before the rise of the baby. So begins the mad race against the clock. Tripping over toys, I reach for my food processor. With help from this trusted friend, I quickly slice cucumbers for my heirloom Hungarian salad. Post slicing, it is time to sprinkle salt and let the juices drain away. Thinking about it, I never understood the need to discard the vegetable juices, only to be replaced by plain water later on. Pushing rebellious thoughts aside, I stick to the recipe and move on to trashing the peels, gently placing them on the heaping garbage bin in an arrangement that will surely win me some prizes in a Tetris convention. Overlooking the fact that our party includes us two, my non eating toddler and my eternally slim friend that competes with said toddler, I conclude that meat loaf alone is not enough. I now logically proceed to unfreeze some chicken. Having someone living underfoot in your absence has the pleasant side effect of surprise ingredients you will never think of buying. I eye the unfamiliar jar of honey-garlic sauce and quickly pour it over my slow cooker cradled chicken. There. Done.
swift search of the fridge wins me a handsome basket of mushrooms. Velvety soup come to mind. The trouble with all this blog hoopla is that instead of inventing new ways to tango with produce, I often fall back on winner recipes I already posted, like this cream of mushroom soup. Clock is ticking. I opt for the good old soup. Just as the soup starts to smell insanely good, my countdown is up, and so is baby. Desperately trying to win myself more time, I shove my wiggly love in his swing and hand him over a biscuit, thus buying peace for 15 more minutes. Shamelessly pleased with my time management, I play Tetris once more on top of the bin, consciously ignoring the stern lecture that will surely come from my long-suffering husband.
All in all it has been a very fruitful morning. The cucumber salad hibernates in the fridge, my soup is patiently waiting stove top, meatloaf has been prepared the night before and chicken legs are simmering away in the crockpot. The clock has yet to strike 10:30 am. Groovy. I rule the clock.
Friday hurries by and the hour grows late. When I finally find the time to sit and write these words it is nearly midnight. I begin, as my husband likes to say, “to hammer nails” with the top of my head. I would like nothing better than to retire to my bed. Wearily I begin my nightly journey. Gather a few last dishes from around the house. Place in dish washer. Place soap tablets in appropriate cavity. Turn on the beast. Pick up stray toys. Swear quietly over an overlooked coffee cup and a piece of cheese supposedly eaten sneaky toddler. Go downstairs. Transfer laundry to dryer. Pass the deep freezer on my way to my toddler’s bedroom. Freeze in my tracks. Return to deep freezer and dig a pack of something for tomorrows supper from its jaws. Continue to toddler room. Gently turn the knob until I feel the telltale resistance. My daughter is stubbornly curled up against the door once again, nesting on a stolen pile of her baby brother’s clothing, sound asleep. I gently pick up my precious package to her rejected bed, cover her carefully then quickly retreat , not before placing her milk cup and favorite stuffed animal in arms reach. I am now ready to enter my own bedroom. In the darkened chamber I notice that her equally stubborn (6 months old) brother has managed to wedge himself in an impossibly tight spot in his vast crib. Smiling, I turn the baby clockwise until I find his legs. I better his covers and finally climb in bed, only to realize that 25 minutes have passed by since my departure. Not so groovy. The clock has evened our score.
Heirloom Hungarian cucumber salad
6 mini cucumbers (or 1 very large English cucumber)
about 1 Tbsp. salt for sprinkling
1 small onion
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp paprika
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
1. Slice cucumbers and onions as thinly as possible, preferably using food processor , mandolin, grater or the likes. I like to leave the cucumber peels on. My father takes them off. It’s up to you, really, I dig the extra fiber. I also tend to slice my onions by hand using a very sharp knife, in half-moon shapes.
2. Once sliced, place vegetable slices spread on a plate and salt generously. Let drain for about an hour (of course you can cheat, 30 minutes work also).
3. In a serving bowl or your salad container, put water, vinegar, sugar and paprika and mix until sugar is completely dissolved. Squeeze vegetables and add to bowl. Mix well and check for seasoning. You can always add some water-vinegar mix with some sugar or salt if necessary. Place in fridge for a few hours. Over night is even better.