Life in my kitchen starts at about 8:30 PM the night before. There is a need for coffee in the morning. Good, hot, strong coffee. This means filling the Mr. Coffee with water and grounds and setting the delayed start so that at 6:00 in the morning the coffee will brew. If it is a hot humid summer night the ceiling fan is left on at the lowest setting to give the cats a breeze to sleep by. Felix the Cat is known to sleep on the kitchen floor in the summer. His other favorite locale is the upstairs bathroom rug.
Morning comes and I wander down the stairs in search of caffeine. Get out the half-and-half from the fridge and cups for coffee. I have a lot of coffee mugs. These have been gifts to me and from my children over the years mostly from places visited such as Puerto Rico, California, Cape Cod, and more. After the coffee is poured the meowing cats must be fed their ½ can of cat-food. Squeaky, also known as Little Kitty, is very loud until she gets her dish. Felix hangs around but is often more interested in going outdoors first. The kitchen door is the one most traveled between the home and the world at large.
The kitchen also houses a sink full of dirty dishes from the previous day, or days! In this household it is the man of the house’s chore to wash dishes. This is fabulous! Doing dishes has been the least favorite housework chore all my life. As a single parent for ten years I was blessed to live in apartments that had an automatic dishwasher. Sometimes when I sense that my husband is feeling overly stressed and tired I will wash up the dishes. Lately they have piled up because the morning routine was changed when we rehabbed our upstairs bathroom and now shower upstairs. For ten years in this home it was the ¾ bath off the kitchen that was used. This allowed my husband to be downstairs before dressing for work and he could do dishes without getting water on his work clothes. So when I observed that this had changed, he, like the wonderful husband that he is, has been making it a point to take care of the dishes each morning. I usually am in the kitchen before him and put away the dishes from the drain.
(How do people write to make these tedious activities sound interesting?)
The protein shakes are whipped up, my workbag is packed with crackers and fruit and the latest book. Sometimes the kitchen serves as a workplace for me and my laptop. I check my email; I pay the bills and balance the checkbook; I write an essay for my new blog adventure or just play solitaire. The last of the coffee is drunk and the kitchen is left alone. In its solitude it keeps watch over our food and our kitty. It is visited by Little Kitty who comes to nibble at the canned food in the two bowls, to lap up the water, and to jump through the pet door to the basement. Little Kitty entertains the appliances by chasing around a moth or a piece of onion skin it finds on the floor. (I may not be the greatest housekeeper.)
I return at the end of my work day. I commute three minutes each way. I should walk but that means packing up my workbag differently. I could bicycle but that means packing up my workbag differently. And I have too many totes and handbags to take into consideration so when I settle on one for the month or season I need to stick with it. For at least a week or so.
Back to the kitchen…The cook book with the eggplant recipe is sitting open on the counter where it has been for the past three days. Big Kitty (Felix) comes in with me looking for more food. The hook on the basement door awaits my bag and purse. There are no dirty dishes this afternoon. I pour a glass of iced tea and re-read the recipe. I have 53 cookbooks in view in my kitchen located on various shelves. In addition there are several notebooks that are filled with recipe printouts and clippings. There are a few books on food science and housekeeping in general. Sounds like a fifties housewife! This cookbook is a Better Homes and Gardens collection. I have liked their selections/collections over the years. Lately they have moved away from the canned soup ingredient dishes which I appreciate. I assemble food from time to time but don’t like using condensed soups anymore.
I bring the cookbook with me to the fridge to get the eggs and milk, cheese, and wheat-germ. That will make an interesting breading for the eggplant. Don’t forget the eggplant. I have stored them in the fridge but am not certain that is the best place for them. Hmmm, I’ll have to look that up. I like kitchen windows. I do not have one over the sink which is what I prefer, but two nice sized ones over the worktable that keeps the breadbox, the beautiful red embroideried catchall, and a large old-fashioned scale from my husband’s childhood kitchen. Here I stand peeling and slicing eggplant. I bought the eggplant at the farmer’s market because it was local and in season. Now I needed to use it so as not to waste it. This will be a meatless dinner but should be filling. Baked breaded eggplant with a tomato sauce topped with freshly snipped basil and feta cheese. It turns out nicely. After slicing the one small eggplant and one largish fingerling eggplant I will dredge them in the egg mixture and coat them with a mixture of ½ cup parmesan and ½ cup wheat-germ with some dried basil in there. This recipe is from the book Home for Dinner, 170 Family-Favorite Weeknight Recipes. It is a Better Homes and Garden collection from 1998. I picked this book up for $4.97 way back when from a Service Merchandise type store, now defunct. Bake the eggplant slices on a greased baking sheet for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees until crispy. And they do turn crispy. Serve topped with tomato sauce. I made my own as I don’t use jarred sauce anymore. I put 1 cup canned diced tomatoes and ½ cup tomato sauce in a small pot, added Italian Seasonings, and simmered. Before that I sautéed one clove diced garlic in the pot. After breading the eggplant I had cheese/wheat-germ mixture leftover and I added that to the sauce. I forgot to put in the red pepper from the recipe but it turned out just fine. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Before putting that in to bake and leaving the kitchen to its own devices. I went out to the backyard and sat with a book waiting for the husband to call saying he was on his way home. He calls me every time. It’s sweet. The call comes and I return to the kitchen. I put the baking sheet in the oven. I make a small salad for each of us and set the table. We will eat at the kitchen table tonight. Often we eat in front of the television or sometimes outside in the nice weather. The table is cleared, dessert is eaten, and we again leave the kitchen to itself.
That is most of the activity in the kitchen. I do not have a dessert to bake as there is still carrot cake in the fridge. We will not sit at the table to parallel play on our laptops this evening because we are too tired to think. Before bed the coffee pot is set again, my book is laid on the table to remember to take with tomorrow, and we take turns calling for Felix to come in for the night. He finally does.
Tomorrow it begins again.