Monday, May 26, 2014

Secret Recipes

They say the shortest way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Well, I guess I heard that first on some daytime talk show after school, sitting with my mom on our living room sofa, in all its stiff-wool blueness.

So I suppose it's no wonder that Chris romances me with food. He knows that his taking on the household duties always elicits a positive vibe from me. Dishes, floors, sink, counters ... and cooking. There's nothing tastier than a meal someone else cooked instead of me.

So now that Chad has returned from his self-directed journey and my kids disappear every other weekend, we're alone. For the first time in forever, it feels like. Because twice a year is nothing compared to twice a month. It's not as hard as it was the first time around, I suppose becuase Nik and Nat are older; Nik is almost outside the age to be held to a schedule, and Nat, well, Nat refuses to let anyone tell her what to do, so she is getting what she wants.

But it's still darn quiet when they are gone. And that's hard for me. Chris plays music, but the rockiness in our own relationship makes that rarer than it had been. Hopefully over time he will return to it -- because he is right, music is just to the left, in our own heartbeats. (Peter Gabriel said that, and Chris endorsed it.)

So he also fills the house with strawberries, cream, rootbeer, vanilla ice cream, and my favorite, white chocolate raspberry yum Tillamook. Yum! And we have shrimp and butter, but I don't need to tell you how to make that -- well, it's obvious, right? heat the shrimp (covered to stay moist), melt the butter, and enjoy. Microwaving at its finest.

He thinks about me all the time -- he says -- and at times I believe him. Chris worries a lot, though, and it's not always about me. So it's more that he's trying to tell me I've been on his mind, when he says that, rather than his children or an ex or a friend or a work partner ... or the economy, politics, sports, the cars, the house, the yard, the dogs ... yeah, we have very full lives.

I will give him this: he does pay attention. Every time we have Breakfast for Dinner, I know I walk around all bouncy and happy. The dichotomy of turning a day on its head by eating breakfast as a last meal, a startfast rather than a breakfast, just hits me in the funny bone. All those breakfast dishes just taste better at day's end, after I've worked and earned the calorie load, I suppose.

So tonight that's what we had. He made it extra special with his secret pancake recipe. Which of course I wheedled out of him, being a lover of recipes. It starts with a general pancake base... mix your wets, a cup of whole milk, 2 eggs, a tablespoon of corn oil, and a tablespoon of honey. Then mix your dries, 1/2 cut white flour, 1/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup masa (corn flour) or buckwheat flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, pinch of salt, and 1/4 cup granola (raw or cooked, muesli, or just oats if it's all you have). Grate an apple into the wet and stir it in. Then Whisk the dry into the wet until just blended. Let it stand 10 minutes while the griddle heats.

Chris and I both love butter, so he melts some on the griddle when cooking pancakes. He pours hungry-man sized pancakes, lets the first side cook until the edges start to look dry, then flips them and cooks until both sides are lightly browned.

These pancakes would have been delicious on their own ... but of course we put more butter on top and real maple syrup. Yum!

And you know what made it even yummier for me? these were yesterday morning's leftover pancake batter. Sure, I'm odd, I get a strange thrill when leftovers actually get eaten in our house rather than delivered, too old to consume, to the chickens to be turned into eggs. Not the most economical eggs, but at least the food didn't end up in the trash. And to have someone else do it -- wow! There was a third bonus here too -- the overnight stay in the fridge thickened up the batter, making the pancakes even fluffier than the breakfast pancakes Chris made the day before, topped with fresh strawberries and whipped cream.

All in all, I am being well taken care of in my child-less weekends. And feeling very fortunate that Chris and I have always managed to resolve our differences -- painfully at times, but we get through it. To be taken care of like this is very meaningful to me, having taken care of my children for 7 years with an absent dad, far from my own parents. No-one takes care of me, I take care of them. That was just a statement of fact, the way things are, or rather, were. It's nice to feel loved, to be taken care of. That's why I'll be making the coffee tomorrow morning.