04 November 2009

How to Cook With One Hand

I don’t read many food blogs (though I do think Gluten-Free Girl is about the best writing you’re going to see, whether you’re a foodie or not), but every so often a few of the blogs I read post favorite recipes. Often they include lovely photos of each step of the process.

For me, reading these kinds of posts are like reading a fantasy novel. One reason is the rather unique demands of my family: my gluten-free diet; my husband’s and daughter’s pickiness (and are they picky about the same things? of course not!); and now, Katrina’s recent diagnosis of fructose malabsorption.

The other reason is my darling baby. Annika is 16 months now. I love this stage. Until I try to actually DO anything—like cook dinner. Without further ado, here is my step-by-step version of Burgundy Chicken…a dish the whole family enjoys, which is a rarity.

  1. Set baby down and attempt to distract her with toys so you can sneak into the kitchen.
  2. Get out 2 onions, 3 carrots, some celery if you think you can sneak it in without someone complaining, the olive oil, and the garlic.
  3. Pick up baby and haul her out of the pantry, into which she crawled while you were getting the onions. Close the door to the pantry and step over her while she throws herself to the floor and wails at the closed door.
  4. Get out the cutting board—quickly, before baby notices and comes to rummage in the cabinet.
  5. Chop the onions, carrots, and celery while baby worms her way between your legs and the cabinet, pulls herself up by grabbing around your knees, looks up at you, and screams to be picked up.
  6. Croon, “It’s okay, baby,” while bending at an odd angle to keep from knocking her against the cabinet and continuing to chop carrots.
  7. Curse self for not doing chopping during naptime.
  8. Finish chopping, rinse off hands, and pick up baby.
  9. Set her down on the kitchen floor with a big bowl of wrapped Halloween candy and a paper bag. Hope that putting candy into and out of bag and bowl will keep her occupied for a few minutes, like it did yesterday.
  10. Yeah, right. Wailing again.
  11. Get out big frying pan—quick, before baby gets to the cabinet door.
  12. Pour in some olive oil, then add carrots, onions, celery, and some garlic. While that is sautéing, open the freezer and get out the chicken.
  13. Move baby’s hands out of the freezer.
  14. Pick up baby and move across the floor (as she wails) so you can close the freezer door without knocking her over.
  15. Try to give baby a snack and/or a sippy cup of milk. Anything to stop the wailing.
  16. Baby takes two sips of milk and then flings sippy cup across the floor and starts wailing again.
  17. Put the tea kettle on to boil, because you need to make some chicken bouillon broth.
  18. Pick up wailing baby and settle her on your right hip. Grab a spatula with your left hand and stir the carrot mix. Angle body so that baby cannot touch hot pan, no matter how far she bends forward, going “eh! eh! eh!”
  19. When the carrots et al., are softened, open the little bag of diced ham (hold baby on hip with right arm, grasp bag with right hand, and pull out the ham with left hand.) Add ham to frying pan with left hand while keeping it out of reach of baby’s hands.
  20. Set baby down on kitchen floor (WAH!) to reach up to spice cabinet over the fridge. Grab chicken bouillon and bay leaf. Oh, wait, can’t find the bouillon. Need stepstool in pantry. Open door to pantry, pull stepstool out, and close door before baby gets there. Climb up one step, and find what you need.
  21. Baby is still crying on kitchen floor. Pick her up again.
  22. Carrot/ham mix is done. Debate relative merits of putting baby down to pick up hot pan versus spooning the food into the bowl with the spatula. Stand for several minutes with baby on right hip while spooning sautéed carrots into dish with left hand. Give up and put baby down (WAH!) so you can pick up hot pan and scrape out the rest.
  23. Put more olive oil in pan, and then add four skinless, boneless chicken thighs. Brown on both sides.
  24. Baby has opened cabinet with plastic storage containers and is pulling them out onto the floor. Let her do it because at least she has stopped wailing.
  25. Tea kettle is whistling. Add one cup water to the chicken bouillion and let it dissolve.
  26. Baby has lost interest in Tupperware cupboard and is wailing again. Pick her up and wonder why the hell hubby is not home yet. Then realize it’s only 5:01 pm.
  27. Once chicken is browned, add half the chicken broth, half a bay leaf, and round about half a cup of red cooking wine. Add a few extra glugs…it takes two hands to measure and only one hand to pour straight from the bottle.
  28. Turn down heat and cover. Let chicken simmer. Carry baby to family room and put her down (WAH!). Sit on floor with her and play with her sorter (giggle! smiles! cuteness!). Ask older daughter to TURN DOWN the TV!
  29. Remember that you need to cook the noodles.
  30. Get up and go back into the kitchen. Ignore crawling, wailing baby as she follows you (WAH!slap, WAH!slap, WAH!slap).
  31. Get out two saucepans and fill with water. Put on stove to bring to a boil.
  32. Wrestle baby to close the cabinet door before she gets to the glass lids.
  33. Decide you have a beef with Gluten-Free Girl, who has a toddler just a few months younger than yours and yet makes cooking sound relaxing. Take picture of kitchen while holding baby on hip.
  34. Carry baby on hip into pantry to get two kinds of noodles—regular and gluten-free.
  35. Hubby is home! Everyone says “hi,” and baby waves charmingly from her perch on your right hip.
  36. Start ordering hubby around, as it is easier on everybody’s ears than putting baby down and doing it yourself.
  37. Hubby checks chicken and deems it sufficiently cooked. He adds the noodles to the boiling water and adds the carrot/ham mix back into chicken pan.
  38. Ask older child to set table. Ask again. Go over and turn off TV yourself and then TELL her to set table.
  39. Put baby in high chair (WAH!) and scoop some carrot mixture onto her tray. (The wailing stops!) Go in search of milk cup that baby threw earlier. Rinse off and give back to baby.
  40. Finish setting table and serving food with hubby’s help.
  41. Decide that you would really, REALLY like a glass of wine with dinner.

I don't know WHAT Mama is complaining about. Does this face look difficult to you?


Wendy said...

Yep - that's about how all of my dinners are cooked, as well. May I add an addition to step #27? After pouring some into the pan, take the bottle and put it to your mouth and take many long gulps. Might help with the rest of the steps. I used to run home and prepare stuff and then go pick Tay up from daycare, but I felt guilty leaving her there those extra 20 minutes. Crazy, right?

Sarah said...

Wendy...you beat me to it. I thought the same thing... a LOOONNGGG pour down the gullet of the sainted cook is long overdue.

She really shouldn't have to wait all the way to step 41 for some solace!!

Fabulous writing...we want more, Jennifer! ;)

Jennifer said...

Oh, yeah, I forgot a step: Notice leftover Halloween candy in the big bowl on the floor. Pick up a "fun pack" of Hershey's kisses, unwrap, and cram into mouth before either child sees you.

The cooking wine wouldn't taste so good. We don't keep red wine around because hubby can't drink it, so I keep a bottle of cooking wine just for this recipe. Dinner wine is usually white Riesling Spatlese.

Anonymous said...

I'm with everyone else on when to crack open the sauce, as in alcohol. Char

Roopa said...

This is how iam currently cooking (except mine hasn't crawled yet, He is 9 months, looks like he is gonna skip it altogether lke I did) , lovely write up :)