Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Ellie Cooks. Margaret Eats. There are Toads.

Everyday, I stop teaching at 2:45, rush upstairs, whisk Ellie away from her entertainments, pack her into the car, drive to pick Margaret up, take Ellie out of the car, loiter around the entrance to a preschool for a few minutes, hoping that Ellie behaves near the stairs, put the children back in the car, run any errands that need running, go home, give the children a snack, and then start to think about dinner.

One slight hitch is that both Margaret and Ellie are tired turnips by this point, and they want to have undivided attention and be doing 7 or 8 things that they are not supposed to, and on top of that, they want dinner to be ready yesterday, but we can't eat until Leo gets home, because family dinner prevents teen pregnancy, and darn it, we're going to have a family dinner.*

Anyway, it makes for a frenetic afternoon, where I am trying to be at least 2 and frequently 3 places in the house all at once.

Recently, small Ellie has decided that her job in this afternoon maelstrom of activity is to help me with dinner.  I really appreciate the impulse, and in a year or two, it may actually be help, since she is a tidy and biddable child (sometimes) who does things like pick up after herself.  But right now, she is a terrifying liability in the kitchen.

The other night, I made Toad in the Hole.  I like Toad in the Hole.  All decent, right-thinking people like Toad in the Hole.  No one thinks that it's what you would call healthy, but it tastes marvelous.  It's a sort of crispy, sausagey bliss on your plate, and it's easy to make, and after eating it, no one could ever think that they were hungry, possibly for weeks.  It's the sort of food that you feed to a man who goes every day to work in a mine, because it tastes like meat all through without having very much meat in it, by means of trapping every possibly calorie that might have made a break for freedom in a greasy, fluffy, crispy shell.  It is amazing.

And Ellie helped.  She stood under my feet while I fried the sausages, saying "Up.  Up.  Up. Up. Up. Up. Up. Up. Up. Up. Up. Up. Up. Up."  I tried to explain that I was cooking sausages, which occasionally get mad at me because I am burning them, and retaliate in a suicidal manner by squirting fat at me.  But she didn't listen.  So I picked her up and twisted away from the stove and stirred with my arm stretched out as far as I could.

And then she stirred the batter.  Not well, but she stirred.  With a 'poon, I need 'poon.

Then I banished her (oh, the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeths) while I put the parts together because it involves very hot grease and a very hot oven.  These things do not, if I get to choose, mix with Ellies.

Finally, she watched it cook.  First she had to see where it was.

Then she had to push the stool into position, and climb aboard.

And then she watched.


Finally, we served it.  Margaret was dubious, because "Mommy, I don't want to eat toads.  Frog would be sad."

Ellie was just squirrelly, and was certainly not going to eat this with a fork.  Which she told us about.  At great length.  Which is impressive, when you consider how few words she knows.

But then she told us what she really thought of Toad in the Hole.  Not much, as it happens.

*I'm not sure what the causal connection is, but I'm assuming that having dinner with your parents every night has a dampening effect on adolescent libido. That's probably it.

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