1 a.m. and The Husband is de-spine-ing collard greens for one of the holiday meals tomorrow. Smoked turkey legs are cooking in a chicken/veggie broth.
Already, we've blanched pounds and pounds and pounds of asparagus to serve chilled with a sun-dried tomato basil butter or sun-dried tomato basil yogurt. That's for the afternoon meal with friends.
In the morning, he'll make sausage gravy while I expertly craft biscuits from a tube and slice kielbasa. That's for brunch with my family.
It promises to be a weekend narrated through food. Buffets for supper and breakfast in Amish Country, exotic local sandwich meat (trail bologna) and cheese (butter cheese) for sandwiches, then chicken from the parking lot BBQ for supper.
Back home this evening, The Husband and I have had our requisite Bickering in the Kitchen, complete with me doggedly refusing to understand why an 8:1 ratio of ½ oz. sun-dried tomato mix to 2 oz. of mayo did NOT translate to an 8:1 ratio of 1 tablespoon of powder to 1 stick of butter. Midnight, and he tried so hard to explain to my sleepy peabrain the difference between volume and weight in measurements.
Not helped, of course, by my refusal to ever cook with the lead in his lead-flour example. No, I am NOT going to put in a tablespoon of lead when it calls for 1 ounce – I will make a different recipe!
We laughed at ourselves. Then I played with the powder to taste (3x my calculations, 1.5x his) and we decided to revisit the flavor in the morning.
I like our bickering. I wonder if it's disconcerting to others. For us, it's a healthy exchange, an exercise in debate. Good for both of us.
This bold return to our under-used kitchen followed a spell of dinner prep at my auntie's last night. Ben and I wanted to round out the parking lot chicken. Along with chop, chop, chopping for coleslaw, I made simple roasted potatoes and onions and my aunt steamed asparagus.
For dessert, she served vanilla ice cream with strawberries, which had been cooked down and frozen last summer. So good. So perfect and simple.
My dear auntie is such a loving, generous soul.
One time, during a visit when The Husband was The Boyfriend, she told me that in a relationship, you make the decision to love again and again. It's not just a gushy feeling, but a commitment. She was eloquent. I am not.
Our visit came to an end, only to have another good one today. When we made it home, wonderful friends had us over and cooked us amazing burgers. How are we so fortunate to have such kind and generous people in our lives?
And how am I so fortunate to have a story around each meal this weekend? That is the joy of meals and cooking, of long weekends and gathering with family and friends – groceries gathered, meals prepared, stories told, our lives shared.