My girls are heading off to college – one this Sunday, the other a week from today. Smith and I will be on our own – just the two of us (not counting dogs and cat) – for the first time since 1996. We’ve never been alone together for any kind of extended time in the house we live in. Which is kind of crazy but not cause for concern. We really like each other – I still find him handsome and funny (especially when the jokes are new), he still seems to find me cute and funny (especially when my jokes are surprisingly raunchy). We are going to be fine, after a bit of adjustment.
It’s the adjustment though – I keep thinking about my girls being far away, I keep thinking about two empty places at the dinner table, I keep thinking about weekends that will only be busy if Smith and I decide they should be. There’s some bonuses – the kitchen will look the same in the morning as I left it the night before. Ditto the family room. That may be it. I can’t think of other benefits (for me anyway – so many fabulous benefits for our girls).
Well, there may be one more. Food. Since they were babies the girls have, for the most part, dictated what I served for dinner. Not because they were overly picky or unadventurous, but because of allergies, convictions, a general concern over certain textures. I’ve never been one to push my food agenda on my kids. I give them new things, they try them and they either enjoy the new or they don’t. They really are adventurous and easy-going kids in that department.
But I’ll cook differently when it’s just Smith and me at home. And maybe I’ll cook very little. Way back when Smith and I still lived in our little apartment on Bethune Street in the West Village we often came home from work/graduate school and ate cereal or a bowl of popcorn. Or nothing – depending on what lunch had been like. Eggs were a big favorite. Before Smith came into my life I often made myself a dinner of brown rice and frozen peas with a little olive oil a pinch of salt and a lot of pepper. I still make that for myself for lunch pretty frequently when I’m home alone. Who knows what we will eat – who knows how “the adjustment” will affect our appetites. Will we be those people who eat a quiet bowl of cereal in front of Jeopardy every night? All signs point to maybe.
This is where my brain is this morning – anticipating “the adjustment”, avoiding the syllabi I need to finish up, avoiding the cleaning of the house, avoiding going to the attic to look for the extra-long twin bed sheets.
When I am full on avoidance I do like to cook. This morning I made myself a verypretty breakfast,if I do say so myself. Monday I was flipping through SmittenKitchen.com looking for dinner inspiration and came across this recipe for chicken milanese and escarole – which I made for us – with the following adjustments – I left the parmesan out of the breadcrumbs and shaved parmesan on top of just Smith’s and mine. And, I forgot to pickle the onions in enough time for them to truly pickle. Instead of the pickle I squeezed a 1/4 lemon on top of everyones – oh – wait another adjustment – I did not make the escarole salad either (hazelnuts a major allergy here) – I just threw some baby kale on top of the Milanesed chicken and then I added lemon and a quick swirl of olive oil. Salt and pepper, of course.
But I had pickled the onions – and so there they sit in my refrigerator – until I took them out for breakfast. And this is what I assembled for myself this morning:
Here’s how I made this:
Fried two eggs and toasted and buttered an English muffin. Topped the buttered English muffin with eggs, topped those with pickled onions, sprinkled all with sea salt, topped with baby kale, swirled a little olive oil on top and finished it with a spoonful of the pickling brine.
What can I say, food is a great comforter. I do not feel old enough to have two girls going to college. Aren’t they still six and four? Aren’t they still riding their bikes in circles in the driveway?
I can see I’m going to have to bake some bread this afternoon.
Today’s playlist –
The Decemberists: The Crane Wife
* it’s a bad idea to listen to “Clouds” when you’re kids are moving on to college. I know that now.