Thursday, August 02, 2012

to cook

I once cooked like there was no tomorrow. And I thought -- as kids become adults and move on, with more time, I'll only cook more. Following my divorce (seven years ago), I moved to an apartment where I thought I would cook my way through an endless stream of dinner parties. It was an open space loft plan and I imagined my friends would come and I would cook. And cook. And cook.

Thinking back, I have to admit that I wasn't altogether sane. People came, I cooked. Some cooked back. Most did not. And anyone who has cooked for crowds will vouch for this: it's time consuming and expensive. Perhaps that's not reflected in my posts of those years, but money was seeping out a whole lot faster than it was seeping in. 

And then, too, along came Ed. Ed is not a dinner party kind of guy. I don’t think he understands why anyone would willingly want to sit around a table and talk into the night, unless they had something they needed to get off their chest or were looking for help figuring out how to change some pipe on a car or install a heating system into a writer’s shed.
I would say – you get together with friends -- isn't that the same?
He would retort – only when we do things together. Play tennis. Sail. Fix motorcycles.
That’s not true. Friends come over and you like that.
That’s different. 
You can't argue with "that's different."

Over the years, I have backed away from big meal preparation. When I moved to the farmhouse, a new but not too large refrigerator was purchased to meet our daily needs, with a little room to spare. But not much room to spare.

And so it was really interesting to come home today after a marathon shopping trip and look for room to stash 9 bags of greens, a dozen ears of corn, 7 tins of blueberries, 5 lbs of apricots, 8 baskets of raspberries, 8 containers of strawberries...several dozen eggs, milks of various fat content, yogurts – and that’s only to meet the needs of side dishes and desserts. It doesn’t even take into account these, from the garden:

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Oh, you think that’s paltry in terms of peaches from our peach tree? Well, there are also peach parts (and there are many bowls of those) – for things that don’t quite call for a nice peach presentation (chopped off are parts pillaged by beetles before we could shake them off).

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Whereas most weekends require only a brief piecing together of a Sunday family meal, this weekend is going to be different. And because it is so unusually different, I am greatly looking forward to it. As I see it, I have before me, in the space of three days a lunch for 26 (I’m getting help from my little girl on that one), a possible brunch for some unknown number, a dinner for six, a dinner for five, with some filler meals to think about in between (meaning – I can’t use all blueberries for dinner and lunch because I need some for breakfast as well). What spurs this sudden return to more serious cooking? I'll tell you as the days unfold.

In the meantime, I ask Ed to mow the lawn before the great stampede of guests  and the poor guy tries, but the John Deere balks and so he spends many days under that engine attempting to, well, according to me, rebuild it. It’s a 1969 tractor. It looks ancient. It sounds ancient. Maybe he’ll get it working by Saturday. He makes no promises.

Let's focus on the more positive aspects of farmette life. These are some of my favorite drought and freakish hot weather survival stories:

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 (And once again, the rose, because she is such a trooper...)

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The blooming period is over for much of what I planted. These are exceptions (cajoled by hours of watering and sweet talking). Note the grasshopper who shares my enthusiasm for the last of the lilies.

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In the evening Ed and I go to the Fitchburg farmers market. You’d think I couldn’t possibly handle more produce purchases, but I need to think of dinners for the two of us for the next couple of nights. Even simple meals need – ingredients. Potatoes, green beans, tomatoes from the garden, cooked eggs, mustard dressing. Oh, and corn on the cob. Because it was there, at the market and it looked splendidly recovered from the drought.

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