Although I adore writing the longer pieces for Mothers of Invention, they’re a lot of work – interviews, drafts and whatnot. I’d like to start throwing some smaller pieces into the mix that speak to the kind of everyday creative parenting many of us do so well (or adequately, at least – yeah, let’s just stick with adequately).
Like last night. I really wanted olives. I was craving them. And garlic. And lots of lemon. Though I’m a fan of eating as a family and everyone eating the same thing – as opposed to salmon at this end of the table and chicken nuggets at that end – I also occasionally like to eat something more flavorful than an everything bagel.
So my game plan was this: Arriving home from violin lessons at 5:15, I started the bathtub and stuck Tobey in while Bella decorated her bed (a current obsession of hers that has nothing to do with me, I assure you). I turned on some Billie Holiday, poured myself a glass of red zin, and started pitting and chopping olives. (I’m reading Peter Mayle’s Hotel Pastis right now, which probably explains the craving for sunny flavors … and sex…). I’d already boiled two chicken breasts earlier, so I shredded the meat while cooking up a pot of couscous.
Next: Minced two huge cloves of garlic and heated it in a little olive oil. Added thyme, oregano, and some fresh lemon peel. (Yelled up to the kids to change places in the bath.) Another sip of wine. Added couscous and a tad bit of cooking water from the chicken. Then the chicken, olives and some salt. A bit more liquid. Cleaned off some lettuce leaves and put them in the sink to dry before going upstairs to remove pruned child #1 from bath and dunk child #2.
Returned to set the table and make two plates with couscous in one corner, chicken in the other (NOT touching – mon dieu!), salad in the middle, and a few apple wedges. Ran back up and finished the bath cycle. Topped my glass. Lit two candles. Scooped up my olivey yummy mix and squeezed a little lemon on top, next to a mound of garlicky fresh salad greens – which were, indeed, touching – and VOILA!
“To candles” Tobey said, raising his glass happily.
“To baths,” said Bella, clanking her water glass gustily.
“To Mama!” I joined them.