Empty Nesting

Willie is very sad today, because he doesn’t have anyone to play with.

Today is the first whole day of an empty house. I do not hear children. I do not hear childrens’ television programming. I do not have to run the dishwasher twice a day, and I do not have to read a story each night. Some of those things actually make me a little sad. For example, it wasn’t until the last night that I managed to convince Alia that we could read my old Berenstein Bears books, and she insisted on the “Going to the Dentist” when I really wanted to read “No More Junk Food.” And it’s way more fulfilling to read to a child than to read Berenstein Bears to, say, Chris. But here’s something I don’t have to do, either–eat vegetarian food. That’s right! I’m back on the meat wagon and rarin’ to go.

Here are some observations from the last week:
1)Tofu in curry is edible. It is not as good as chicken.
2)Pasta with pesto is uninspiringly bland without the addition of chicken broth.

3)Vegetarian diets are, by nature, incredibly fattening. Unless you are a huge fan of lentils, chickpeas, or other such things. And I am not.
4)There is no such thing as “Kobe Vegetable.”
5)If my grill is neglected for too long it gets mopey and runs out of propane.

So last night, in a childish showing of rebellion, I countered a week of veggies with meat, meat, meat! An entire LOAF of the stuff, actually. And I saw the meat loaf, and it was good. I coupled the meat loaf with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and made sure to add some chicken broth on principle. Paired together with a delightfully blue-collar sauce of ketchup, brown sugar, and Frank’s red hot, we had quite a meal. We followed it up with cinnamon roll ice cream over milk chocolate/white chocolate chunk cookies.

The cinnamon roll ice cream was a leftover from two nights ago, when I invented a dessert combo that should be recorded in the annals of history. Jazz apple crisp (or as my family calls it, for reasons that I have been assured do not include mental instability, “Apple Crunchy Wunchie Wunchie Woo), served hot, with a homemade ice cream that tasted EXACTLY like cinnamon rolls. I have this baker’s emulsion from King Arthur Flour called “sweet dough.” It’s a kind of citrus-y, vanilla-y, yeast-y flavor extract that makes regular dough taste more like the kind of dough you’d have in a cinnamon roll. I added a tablespoon to the ice cream. Then I put in a touch of melted butter and a heap of cinnamon and sugar and voila! Ice cream that tasted and smelled like the inside of a Cinnabon. When placed with the apple crisp, it was two delicious things making one delicious baby. I imagine it’s a lot like the offspring of the Jolie-Pitt union.

And I was having one of those culinary magic days yesterday. You know the ones I’m talking about, right? The ones where everything you make seems to turn out awesome by magic. The kind where nothing can go wrong, even if you make a mistake. Like when I forgot completely about the boiling potatoes while playing with our puppy and then remembered in a panic, thinking I’d have a pot full of dissolved potatoes (this happens to me more often than you think). But no, they were perfectly fork tender and ready for mashing. The same thing happened with the cookies. I lost interest in baking by the second set of trays and forgot. When I remembered and looked–cooked to perfection. And the meat loaf, which I will ONLY eat in the context of having made it myself, was really, really good. And I had put some bizarre stuff in to clear out the fridge. Like carrots. And green chiles. I wanted to call Chris and gloat, but if you speak aloud that you’re having a “can’t go wrong” day, the universe tends to descend upon and bitch slap you into humility. The dog would have eaten the meatloaf off of the counter, or I would have dropped the bowl of mashed potatoes on the ground or something. It would have been bad. But now that it’s all been eaten, I’m free to gloat. It was awesome.
OMG, Rachel Ray is on the television expressively peddling one of her culinary abortions, so I have to go change the channel before I start saying shit like “Yum-O” and having to kick my own ass.

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