Monday, January 10, 2011
Sunday dinner and beyond
I was feeling better (probably more energetic than I really was) and decided to cook Sunday dinner for Bill who was coming over after Mass at the cathedral. I swiftly regretted not taking a photo of the main course. Mind you, it was mostly rather simple.
Pork roast, already marinated by Costco and sealed in a cryopac. I took that out of the freezer on Saturday. Mashed potatoes (with cream cheese, butter, milk, white pepper, salt, and nutmeg) - more on those in a moment. Green peas taken out of the freezer and microwaved. See? Simple. Oh, and a sauce.
The supermarket had some lovely sweet peppers and I bought a nice orange one and roasted and peeled it. (Roast directly over the gas flame until it is charred all over, then put in a moist brown paper bag to sweat for ten minutes. Remove and peel under running water.)
The sauce began with about two tablespoons of finely minced onion and an entire small package of crimini mushrooms (they call them baby bellas now, but I mean the brown ones) chopped, sauteed in butter and oil. I added thyme and freshly ground black pepper. Then I tossed in the chopped roasted orange pepper. When those were partly caramelized I set them aside and deglazed the pan with white wine. To that I added some beef stock and about half a teaspoon of demi glace (you DO keep that in your fridge at all times, right?). I cooked the liquids down to about one third their original volume then added the onion-pepper-mushroom mixture. Bill tasted it and it did not need adjusting. The sauce was done except for adding some pan juice from the pork roast at the end.
Not long after Bill arrived I was running about doing this and that and doing what I do best in a kitchen: schvitzing like a behayma. As I frantically wiped my brow with paper towels and tried very hard not to bump my nose in the process, with only mixed success, Bill volunteered to mash the potatoes, which he did and I could calm down.
As the meat rested I microwaved the peas, reheated the sauce, warmed the plates. Then I sliced the pork and served up. I used my mother's china because it was Sunday dinner. The result was pleasing to the eye and even with my impaired sense of smell it tasted great. Since I was winging this without recipes, I was relieved and pleased.
There were fresh flowers on the table and ironed napkins.
You can see the salad course above: mixed greens tossed with canola oil, white balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Topped with chunks of pear, toasted pecans, and dried cranberries.
Dessert was slices of fruit cake and small glasses of port.
I did very little cooking in the period 2002 to last year but have begun to cook more. I hate cooking for myself. Sunday was a nice excuse to do up a formal meal. It wore me out but it fed my soul.
Last night (Sunday/Monday) I slept through the entire night. This was the first time in a week and I am greatly relieved and encouraged. Sleep has been segmented and inadequate as I have been recovering. Although I did not go to work today, and won't until next week, this felt like a Monday. The only accomplishments were cutting my hair and riding the exercise bike but I am beat. I managed to go seven hours between painkillers, which was really stretching it further than I should have. Anyhow, I am clearly recovering.
Last week I was too out of it to feel cabin fever. I think it is setting in now in week two. I could not help wondering why I have to spend this week home also but I have realized over the weekend that my number one job right now is to protect my nose. It is tender and fragile, even though it looks just like before surgery on the outside. It is incredibly easy to bump it, nudge it, wrinkle it up, etc. in the course of unconscious daily life. I must be mindful, night and day, to prevent that from happening. I must wash my face and shave very carefully. I cannot rub my nose, scratch it, blow it, etc. I cannot sleep in my favorite positions. I have to pay attention even wiping my brow. My upper lip is badly bruised on the inside from the trach tube and this makes some drinking awkward and can cause sudden sharp, but mercifully brief, pain. Which can trigger a sneeze. That I can't wipe as usual. Bottom line: I can't resume habitual behavior just yet. And I am still pretty much a mouth breather. Most unattractive.
Thanks for letting me share another meal with you all. If I cannot gather all my online friends around my table and feed them, I can at least share the memories. Hope that's not too much of a tease.