Whenever you spend time with good friends, I think, there’s an unwritten rule of the universe that dictates that you will think about those people continually for the following several days. I know that’s certainly been the case with me; after being lucky enough to have a nice visit on Saturday from my best friends, C. and J.W., and their twins, I’ve spent the past couple of days finding that they spring into my mind at odd times. Because of this phenomenon, I can say with all affection and good humor that they are partly to blame for the disappearance of my Sunday, which fell down a never-ending rabbit hole when I entered my kitchen.
It started innocently enough. After Sunday School and church activities were over for the morning, J. and I brought the boys home and had lunch. J. then set out to do some mundane errands, and I settled the kids for a rest, then came down to the kitchen to putter a bit for the upcoming week. I had a plan, I swear (don’t I always?), but somehow things veered drastically off course. I entered the kitchen at approximately 1:15 p.m., and I finished at…well, I’m not sure. I think it was 9 or 9:30, officially. At any rate, it was very late for what should have been a relatively simple plan of attack.
The White Rabbit that started the whole thing was the spinach quesadillas. On Saturday evening, before C. and J.W. packed their kids up and headed home, we made quesadillas for everyone. C. had mentioned to me that her twins are not, currently, doing very well with eating veggies — especially the green ones. (I hear all the heads out there nodding in agreement. Obviously, I could sympathize with her as well as anyone.) Since my guys actually tend to be pretty good with spinach, I figured we’d throw some spinach into some of the quesadillas and try all the kids on them, possibly giving C. a new avenue to explore with her two boys. The short version of events is that her kids actually liked them; L. refused to eat anything (he was all keyed up from the excitement of the day), then devoured two pieces of the spinach variety after everyone had left; and P. refused the spinach ones outright. You never can tell, with kids.
But of course, P.’s refusal of the spinach got me thinking, and on Sunday, in my kitchen, preparing to do other things, I paused and pondered his intake of green things over the past week or so. Determining that it was low (by low, I mean minimal, and by minimal, I mean pretty much nonexistent), I decided that the responsible thing to do would be to make something P.-friendly, and green, along with all the other things I’d planned. So following the happy little White Rabbit of green veggie temptation, I pulled a bunch of lovely Zephyr Farm broccoli out of the fridge and proceeded to whip up some dough for Broccoli Focaccia pizza (recipe coming tomorrow).
While the dough was rising, I wandered to the refrigerator to start putting together the ingredients for a carrot-apple snack cake, making a mental note along the way to give the broccoli recipe to C. for her kids. And in the funny way that these things happen, once C. and J.W. and their family had entered my mind, I flashed back onto another conversation from the day before that stopped me in my tracks. J.W. and I had been chatting in the kitchen, over a cup of coffee, when he spotted the long pie pumpkin from Blue Skies Flower Farm that was silently hunkered next to the coffee pot. He remarked that he couldn’t tell if it was a pumpkin or some other gourd. We had a brief exchange about making pumpkin pie from scratch, using an actual pumpkin, vs. pumpkin from a can. And suddenly, on Sunday, as I stood before my refrigerator reflecting on this conversation, I realized that I was just going to have to try the pie thing or remain unsatisfied.
Carrot cake aspirations diverted, I retreated to the counter to hack open the pumpkin and roast it into puree-able form. Now headlong down the rabbit hole, I had no choice but to fill the 40 minutes or so that it would take the soften the thing, so I started preparing the compound butter and root vegetables for our Sunday Roast Chicken dinner. Somewhere along the way, J. came home with groceries that had to be put away; the children woke up and were cuddled and tended to; some laundry got done; but all I remember is a great blur of activity that took place mainly in the six feet or so of space between my prep counter and my oven.
Because, you know, a pie pumpkin yields a lot of puree.
And that much puree yields a lot of pie filling.
And once you’ve mixed up a large amount of pie filling, you don’t want to waste it, so you’ve got to find a way to use it (and no, I wasn’t going to make four pumpkin pies). That White Rabbit kept running ahead of me, and I kept following, piling up dishes in my wake. So by 4:30 p.m., the rundown in the kitchen looked like this:
–Two chickens in the oven, roasting with fennel-orange butter;
–A bowl of olive oil dough rising on the back of the stove (technically, risen already, but I hadn’t gotten around to using it yet);
–A pan of fennel, beets, and carrots awaiting their turn in the oven for dinner;
–A chopping board full of steamed, diced broccoli on the counter;
–12 miniature pumpkin pies with graham cracker crusts, cooling next to the stove;
–and me, standing over a griddle, ladling out batter for two dozen Pumpkin-Cider Ricotta Pancakes (the vast majority of which are probably going to end up in the freezer; two dozen is far too many pancakes for even my kids to eat).
Not to put too fine a point on it, but clearly, I was far from done. A butternut squash puree, some cous cous, the finishing of the beet medley and the carving of the chickens got us at least to the dinner table, but the baking of the broccoli pizza — which had started it all — had to wait until we had finished eating. And between cooling things, cutting things, storing things, and washing things, all the while performing my famous Mommy juggling act with bedtimes and stories and tooth brushing and quality time spent, I did not officially leave the kitchen and turn off the lights until quite a bit later than I had planned. By that point, I was hallucinating — so many things squeaking, “Eat Me! Drink Me!” — and just thankful to have found the end of the rabbit hole. I collapsed on the sofa.
My darling husband turned to me. “You know what I could go for?” he said, innocent eagerness written all over his face. “Some hot mulled cider.”
Groan. Next time, White Rabbit, all I ask is that you bring something with which I can spike the cider, please.