Indeed, this is the life. 8:30 am and the garden is weeded. Coffee is in my hand and chickens are at my feet. I have a list of things to do today, but right now I just don't care. I will care later, when the coffee cup is empty and the sun gets too warm on my shoulders. Then I can worry about the rest of today, or tomorrow, or what have you.
That's how the day started, and in some ways that's how it ended as well. Summertime is always a busy time here, but maybe a little busier than normal for us this time around. The kitchen is in chaos, and will be more so by the weekend. Somewhere between running out for toe kick heaters and faucets and such it occurred to me that I could be ever so slightly better prepared for the days ahead when there is no kitchen - because those days are coming - and maybe sooner than I thought (please God).
The last time we did a kitchen remodel, as I recall, I lived primarily on canned tuna and coffee. Gene mostly starved, and the kids ate vast quantities of cold cereal, peanut butter, yogurt, and things from the microwave. They were probably the only happy ones. Convenience food? In OUR house? A miracle! And I do not mean that in the holier-than-thou, "Oh, we don't eat thoooose kinds of things!" way, either. I mean it in the "I'd rather spend a month of Sunday's grating cheese by hand than pay one cent extra for a package of the pre-shredded kind!" way. Last time, there wasn't much time to prepare. Things moved very quickly from decision to finished kitchen. This time, things are moving faster than I'd expected, which is good. BUT I really wanted to be smarter this time - I wanted to plan ahead, make meals-for-two in advance and freeze them in tidy little containers. I wanted, in short, to be something I never, ever am. I wanted to be Organized.
Well, if you can't be Organized, you can sure as heck fake it! And that's what I've done. In two days I managed to put into the freezer - par cooked and ready for finishing in the toaster oven - 5 containers of lemon olive chicken, 5 of turkey mole, 4 of fish pie (plus a big fish pie in my little casserole for supper tonight and leftovers tomorrow, because I love it) and 7 of mini eggplant lasagna, 5 meatloaves and 5 pairs of vegetarian enchiladas. I should probably write that down for later.
Lemon Olive Chicken cooling - love how the watermelon is wearing a sombrero!
Jamie Oliver's Fish Pie - Oh How I Adore This Stuff!
Mini Eggplant Lasagna - all veg from my garden
First, use from your recipe stash (or find on the interwebs) ONLY things that you know you and your loved one/s will consume. It would do me no good at all to freeze up a batch of Dal or Tandoori chicken because Mr. Wonderful won't touch it. Similarly, anything beef- or pork-based is out for me. I went with vegetarian, poultry and fish dishes that I know we both will eat.
Second, prep ahead. I wish I had done this. Trying to chop onion for the chicken while mustering mole from the oven while searching for a space for the cooling fish pie among the disassembled cabinetry and absent counter top was not at all enjoyable. If the onion had been chopped before I ever started, things would have moved along with less stress. At one point I drafted Gene, who's home sick, into grating cheese for me. I figure at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, whatever germs he has will die in the oven, right? And if not, they'll get it in the deep freeze!
Third, plan your time well. I literally decided at about midnight to do this today, and so I went from weeding the garden to grocery to car place to that toe kick heater purchase mentioned above to chopping veg and de-heading and de-veining prawns in a matter of a couple of hours. Bad plan. The result is that I am now rather tired out, sipping a glass of Malbec, and patting myself on the back while simultaneously kicking myself in the butt for poor planning (remember - organized I am not!). At one point I was attempting to cut through partially frozen chicken. An ounce of preparation is worth a pound of exhaustion and a gallon of blood spilled from knife wounds.
Fourth, wash as you go. It was really wonderful as I pulled the last batch of whatever from the oven, to turn around and see a spotless kitchen and a dish drainer piled high. Truly a thing of beauty, that empty sink was!
Oh, I forgot one last thing! Dress for the occasion!
Nana's Garden apron bought for my mother a billion years ago and never worn. Till now!
In the beginning I was all "it's too hot in here, all I need is a sundress, who cares, what's a little spillage?" That lasted about ten minutes. Apron. Lots of food, lots of mess. Apron.
The best part of this is that if I croak tomorrow, Mr. W. now has a month's worth - more if he eats half - of food to sustain him during his difficult time of mourning (one hopes it wold be a difficult time).
Now for the rest of the week, encapsulated version:
Made placemats! out of twenty-ish-year old discarded quilt scraps. I made a quilt top in these colors and then decided I hated it and never finished it. Instead, on our last move it went into the trash - or more correctly it went into a bag of scrap fabric that got given away. I found some remnants the other day, and now here they are. A scrappy mat for me and a tidy stripe mat for Mr. W.
Tormented dogs! This is my favorite time of the day! Every morning the boys have to sit and wait (or in Yoshi's case "stand-up-and-be-bad-but-leave-it") when the chickens come out of their house for the day. On occasion the birds fly right up into their faces, no joke, and they never, ever snap. After, they celebrate - Bradley, by spinning in wild circles and Yoshi, by allowing me to pet him for five seconds. Sometimes, if I am lucky, he even wags his tail for me.
Got Healed! That's right. Apparently, if you are unwell, achy, feverish, sore and generally poorly, one good cuddle from Bradley will set you more or less right. Or at least you'll feel well enough to sit upright and prepare a couple dozen par-cooked meals for your freezer.
Chilled! Yes! We spent a day at Lake Compounce - and I bought a mug (featuring a blueprint of my favorite wooden coaster within 100 miles). We have issues with this place - or with Boulder Dash anyway. Blame Bill Childs. He started it. Best wooden coaster for many a mile. Best seat? Dead last! Bought a season's pass and I am going to milk every coaster-loving second out of it, for sure!
I hope your summer is treating you as well, because this is THE life!