I’ve written before about how I got my start with cooking and baking during “snow days” – days off of school for inclement weather where I grew up in Wisconsin.
The likelihood of my own kids getting a snow day here in Houston is pretty slim, but today we had a rain day. Their school and my office were closed for dangerous flooding around Houston. We are very grateful to be dry and safe, and quite frankly, glad for a day at home. The idea that clergy families don’t have any expectations, or only have expectations on Sunday mornings, is a load of hot manure. Sure, we’ve signed up for most of it, and it all goes with the territory. But we all needed this day to just … be.
We needed this day to reconnect, to sleep, and to just hang out together. The best part might have been sleeping in, after we sorted out the work and school details before sunrise, as the storm was rolling through. My instinctual response to natural disasters is to sleep … hard. I would not last for a hot minute in the wild. (Where’s the chatty female human? Sleeping? Ah, leave her.) In my mid-morning snoozy state, I had a dream that Neil confessed to being irritated by the same people who irritate me. That was really the best dream I’ve ever had, and easily the best part of the whole day. This is marriage, people.
The next best part, after reading and cuddling with the kids and having some nice quiet time in our pjs, was reconnecting with the kitchen. I had one other weekend about a month ago where I cooked a lot of food to be eaten throughout the week, and then that Sunday I got horribly ill, and so we had to pitch everything. It was damn near tragic. Over the winter break, I tackled the pantry and reorganized the whole thing, but this week our refrigerator was screaming (almost literally) to be cleaned, and I cooked and baked throughout the day, too.
You should have seen it before. If I didn’t take a photo of it, it might not count. There were multiple cleaning products, boiling water, and a lot of elbow grease involved. I’m so proud. Now, nobody go near it.
First, I made the kale parmesan chips from Make It Ahead. I’m probably the only one who will eat these. They’re good, but I’d actually prefer the smitten kitchen’s kale salad, which is my favorite way to eat kale. I think there are probably two types of people in the world: those who don’t like kale, and those who convince the other group that they should like it. I’m trying not to be in the latter category, because I really don’t care what you eat. But if you *want* to like kale, try the smitten kitchen’s salad instead of Ina’s kale chips. The kale chips are OK, but they’re not all that. (But I have to say, the kale is what got me started on the fridge-cleaning rampage, so I owe it a debt of gratitude for that.)
I also made the zucchini basil soup from Make It Ahead, and it was delicious. Two thumbs up from both Neil and from me. It was easy and surprisingly good. I found myself thinking at several steps during the cooking process, “Well, I’d eat that,” just as it was, without continuing. But I’m glad I kept cooking. It was delicious, even though it might look like fancy baby food. I went rogue with the directions – Ina warns that you use an immersion blender instead of a food mill at your own peril, risking the texture of the zucchini. I was willing to gamble with those odds, because the food mill and I don’t get along very well. The shaved parmesan and olive oil at the end made it extra good.
I also made Alton Brown’s oat waffles – a double batch for the kids to eat all week. This is minus the mini-stack they each ate for dinner. We add a little vanilla extract as our secret ingredient. Ben helped with these, which made them extra delicious.
I made hard boiled eggs for weekday lunches and snacks while cooking the soup. Not pictured: a filet of salmon we ate with the zucchini soup, a roast chicken and sweet potatoes to eat for dinner tomorrow, and two loaves of the smitten kitchen’s oat wheat sandwich bread. The dishwasher is earning its keep this week!
I’m still calling the clean refrigerator my biggest victory of the day. I keep on looking at it because it’s so pretty, and it was so gross before. That, and that glorious dream about Neil’s irritation with the same people that irritate me – I’m still basking in that.
Back to the grindstone tomorrow! We’ll have lots of good food to get us through the week!