Sometimes things just need to click. So much has happened over the past six weeks and, although I am quite happy about all of it, sometimes it scares the crap out of me. I've had several random moments when I've suddenly stopped dead in my tracks because my inner voice was screaming "What the hell are you doing? Have you lost your ever loving mind?"
And then I calm down and I wait for the clicks.
The first click came when he mentioned that he liked to keep the extra toilet paper in the built in hamper in the bathroom. He did it very nicely but my first reaction was "NO THAT'S THE HAMPER IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE HAMPER AND WILL ALWAYS BE THE HAMPER AND FOR CRYING OUT LOUD DON'T YOU KNOW THAT THE EXTRA TOILET PAPER SHOULD BE PERCHED PRECARIOUSLY ON THE TOP SHELF OF THE HALL CLOSET WHERE IT WILL FALL DOWN AND HIT YOU ALL THE TIME BUT IT WON'T HURT BECAUSE IT'S TOILET PAPER AND DON'T WORRY YOU'LL GET USED TO IT AND NEVER MIND THAT THE HAMPER DOESN'T HOLD ENOUGH FOR ONE OF US NEVER MIND BOTH OF US IT'S A HAMPER DAMN IT!"
Before all of this came out of my mouth, it clicked. Guess where the extra toilet paper is living these days?
The second click came when he said "It's just a little pet peeve of mine."
"PET PEEVE! YEAH WELL THEN WHEN DO I GET MY PET PEEVES? I'M A HUMAN BEING! I HAVE PET PEEVES TOO!"
The great goddess of shutthefuckup was definitely looking over me again as this sentence never made it out of my mouth. What did occur was my that this entire house is full of MY pet peeves. There is no habit or system or really anything that is not one of mine.
The third click was, I think, the biggest so far as it stretched out over the course of two weeks. You see, we both really like to cook. And both of us are really good cooks. So one of the first things that we did was inventory the freezer and the fridge. For some reason, he seemed to believe that the last time I went grocery shopping was some time during the Clinton administration and was sure that everything I owned was spoiled. (Okay, there was a 10-year-old bottle of steak sauce but at least it was unopened. I let him throw it out.)
After a few tense moments, and a serious scrutiny of expiration dates, pretty much everything stayed. However, I got a hrumph and a eyebrow lift over the tupperware container full of gorgeous duck fat that I keep in my freezer.
Flash forward a few days and come join me in the kitchen. We've gotten home late and are both hungry and--lucky for us--had had the sense to take some pork chops out of the freezer that moring. At this point in the story, I need you to understand that I have never met a pork chop that I didn't like and that I make really, really killer pork chops. It's really quite simple and much more of a technique than a recipe. Put a drop of olive oil about the size of a half dollar in a skillet that can go in the oven (I've lectured enough about the beauty of cast iron so I'll let it go this time). Salt and pepper both sides of the chops and, over a mediumish flame sear them on one side for about 5 minutes. Flip the chops and pop the whole pan into a 350 degree oven for 20 - 25 minutes. Let them rest for about 5 minutes before you serve them and you will have perfect juicy pork chops every time. (Note--these times are for center cut chops. If you have the really thin ones, start checking them after 5 minutes in the oven.)
So there I was, getting everything ready and a voice comes from behind me saying "What are you doing with those pork chops? They need liquid. They'll dry out!" So I just said, "Leave me alone I'm cooking." I said it very softly and I think I may have scared him a little bit so he went grumbling to the couch. I heard a few grousing "If they're dry I'm ordering out" comments but I ignored them.
And now, of course, I had to prove a point. So out came the duck fat. A little thinly thinly thinly sliced onion. Two thinly sliced potatoes and some salt and pepper. All into another skillet. In no time flat they were beautifully brown and crispy and perfect. The chops came out and went on a plate. Some white wine and lemon juice went into the skillet and back on the stove. Boiled for a few minutes then finished with some butter. Outrageous.
I plated it and brought it out and he looked at it and immediately apologized. He ate three pork chops and all the potatoes.
But guess what? That's not even the click part. The click part came a week later when he asked for the same dinner. No problem. As you can see, it's a quick easy meal so we had a lovely supper.
The click part came the next night. I had been down to pick up our CSA bags for work (we get two bags of wonderful fresh veggies for our employees) and the farmers had overharvested herbs that week so they had gorgeous, tender thyme, rosemary and parsley to give away for free. I couldn't resist accepting a few handfuls and stopped and picked up a whole chicken to roast for dinner.
When I got home, I realized that there were still two pork chops left and I couldn't let them go to waste so we decided to hold off on the herb roasted chicken for another night. And here's the part where the clicking starts.
Here's what I heard from the living room. "I'll leave you alone in there but could you make the duck fat potatoes again?" Cl... Sure. Sliced the chops and heated them up in the gravy. Delicious. Clic.........
A few hours later when a certain someone got hungry again (have I mentioned his metabolism) he started poking around the kitchen looking for something to eat. He emerged 20 minutes later with meat ravioli served in the last of the pork chop gravy and finished with a handful of the herbs I had brought home.
It was such a perfect moment. I know this is a really long story to get to such a seemingly silly thing but it was the first time our cooking came together like that. He's made things. I've made things. We've made things together. But this time, there was serendipity and intuition and connection in the kitchen even though we weren't in there together. When we've made things together before, it was intentionally "our food". This time it was naturally "our food" and that's a big difference.
P.S. There should be great photos of the food in this post but home computer is still down. And it's not going in to get repaired until Mercury gets the hell out of retrograde.