Thursday, June 29, 2006

Domesticity



I call Abby early in the work day, early for any day. My body has decided to wake itself up at 5:30am, pretty much regardless of bedtime. I'd spent a week or two trying to force myself back to sleep, but it's fitful and thin, so the new policy is to leap out of bed upon awakening and head to work. This, so I figured, would teach my body a lesson. If you want to wake up early, you're going to tire early. Tire yourself out for a few days and the early rising will become less of a factor.

It backfired. I have the kind of job where as long as I do my 7.5hrs I can come and go as I please, and of late I have been materializing at 7:30am and becoming extinct at 3:30pm. As was today. Abby's early morning call asks her to drown some of the frozen chicken breasts in enough white wine to aleviate their suffering and marinate them on a countertop as they thaw.

Survive the day. Lunch with Burton at the pub, and watch the skies turn from black and raining to pale and raining, with that strange sepia light that lets you know you're in for one hell of a storm. Head home early and find Abby making curtains, pale linen to match the couch (bought recently at a trip to everyone's favorite Nordic furnishings establishment with the caveat "These are cheap, you couldn't buy the fabric for this little", and she would know).

Matthew stirring. The young gentleman chewing his fingers and attempting to relay the fact that teething, once forgotten, is different than teething as we speak. I put him in a teetery play-saucer and perch him in the kitchen to watch me turn the chicken breasts into something diabolic.

Literally. The recipe I'm using has thousands of variations. It's simple and this one is vaguely French - Poulet à la diable. Or call it whatever variation you want in the language of your choice, since the breadcrumbs or flour or corn meal that coats the chicken is liberally dosed with black pepper, or cayenne or chipotle or whatever is hot enough to be associated with the devil in that culture at that time.

This batch gets paprika and cayenne. The devil could be Eastern European or Portuguese this evening. I mix a few healthy spoonfuls with a cup or so of breadcrumbs with a chopstick (smaller, mixes the spice into the crumbs faster than a spoon). A few eggs are cracked and whisked in a separate bowl. The young Matthew cries- the sight of Dad cooking this evening holds no appeal.

A brief experiment with a puppet and sing-along DVD does equally as badly, so, fine; I pack him into a back carrier. You want to be close, young man? Your wish is granted. He looks confused at first, then content, leaning over my shoulder as dishes are washed, lettuce is torn, soaked and spun dry, carrot shaved into strips and dropped into the salad. A lime is squeezed into olive oil and black pepper, a few grains of sea salt.

Time to relieve the chicken from its winey grave. I drain the wine, pat the chicken dry. Two large breasts, one on, one off the bone. They both get slit up the middle. A cursory glance through the fridge finds a hunk of baby Romano a few slices of smoked ham. The ham is wrapped around matchsticks of Romano and stuffed into the chicken. The chicken is closed with toothpicks, covered with dijon mustard, dipped into the egg, dropped into breadcrumbs, and baked for 45 minutes in a hot oven.

I take Matthew out for a stroll to the local dog park. It is loaded with Black, Chocolate and Yellow Labradors, a fat Pomeranian, a scruffy Wolfhound, and a pair of whippets, tall and supernaturally thin.

We come home. A brief consultation takes place between Abby and I, where we decide that the young Matthew would benefit from a pre-bedtime nap. He goes down with little protest at 7:45pm and stays down for the rest of the evening.

Calabrese rolls thawed from the downstairs freezer. Olive oil for dipping the bread, and the chicken is removed from the oven, browned and crispy. We eat it in the sun room, with an after-rain breeze blowing past the curtains.

Dessert- a blueberry in a frozen shot of Moskovskaya. The rest is the scent of ironed linen and the occasional sigh from the sleeping Matthew. Father Ted on DVD, and the quiet of an evening filled with as little as we can manage.


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1 comments:

alice in newyorkland said...

You do know that Mitchell's fabulous new cookbook is out, right? It's called Kitchen Sense and it's on Amazon.com (and probably Amazon.ca) and it's the new Joy of Cooking (only there are no squirrel recipes) and you should check it out, Mr. Diabolical Chicken Breasts. You would like it.
My sisters, btw, swear by the teething rings where you can put ice inside. Also the ones with soothing meds, but that's a different story.

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