Days 3 and 4: “Go sit down”? What do you mean?
As promised: washing the dishes.
As someone who enjoys cooking and baking, I’d better be ready to clean up after myself, right? Besides, for two years I was in living situations where we rarely used the dishwasher. We just got in the habit of washing things by hand. So, if nothing else, I should at least be used to it by now.
I have two perspectives when it comes to washing dishes. Determining which one wins out often depends on context. Point of view #1 is the responsibility viewpoint: “If you made this mess, then you should clean it up.” It makes sense – it’s a general rule of thumb that goes with being an adult and taking responsibility for our actions. Point of view #2 is the more democratic approach: “You worked hard preparing a meal for me, so I will return the favor by washing the dishes for you.”
Guess which viewpoint I prefer?
I don’t really think of myself as an “Acts of Service” kind of person, but when it comes to the kitchen, feeding people is my way of showing that I care about them, and when someone else volunteers to wash the dishes for me, it really makes me feel cared for in return. Maybe it’s the model that I’ve grown up with. After 30+ years of marriage, my parents have their routine down: my mom cooks dinner pretty much every night and, after dinner is over, the first thing my dad does is wash the dishes.
That being said, I would hate for you to think that I went in and out of the kitchen during the 4th of July weekend like a whirlwind, leaving a mess for someone else to clean up every time. No, I washed plenty of dishes over the course of the weekend, and cleaned up many counter-top messes. But those times when someone else would step in and say “I’ll take care of the dishes for you” were music to my ears.
Which viewpoint resonates with you?
On Saturday morning, I had to make a difficult judgment call. I had come across various doughnut recipes designed to imitate gourmet doughnuts from an apparently famous doughnut place in Austin, Texas called “Gourdough’s.” To me, it sounds like the Austin version of Portland’s “Voodoo Doughnut” or Campbell’s “Psycho Donuts.” Which I love.
I thought it would be super fun to try making the imitation version of the “Flying Pig” – a candied bacon maple donut. I had my heart set on making a batch of donuts at some point during the weekend. But it turns out that donut recipes are intense: I wanted to find a recipe where I could 1) bake the dough instead of frying it, 2) not have to use a special donut pan to mold my donuts, 3) not have to wait 1 (or more) hours for the dough to rise. Then, I would make these magically easy donuts and top them with the maple icing and candied bacon per the actual original recipe that I had found.
Alas, I had no luck in finding such a recipe. Instead, I surveyed the kitchen and reflected on the poppyseed bread, the cake batter pops, the brownies, and the cookie dough-stuffed cupcakes that I made so far, as well as the blueberry muffins I was planning to make later. I decided to give up the ghost of the donuts: taking everything else into consideration, I didn’t feel like I was flaking by not making doughnuts. If anything, I was probably doing myself and my family a huge caloric favor.
Side note: for those of you who have noticed and wondered why I keep alternating my spelling of “donut/doughnut,” it’s because I think both spellings are correct and I can’t decide which one I like best. Thoughts?
Anyway, on Saturday my parents went to an Indian wedding. It was a Sikh ceremony and was actually a three-day event. But they only attended the third day’s events, which involved a morning ceremony (and by “morning,” we’re talking 8:30 am to about 2:30 pm), and then an evening reception. So, they were gone for most of the day with a brief afternoon intermission. Although our family is accustomed to regular YOYO nights (“You’re On Your Own”), Mom had asked if I would make dinner on this night so that my grandparents could spend some extra time with their visiting grandchildren (If I haven’t already mentioned it, and you didn’t already know, my grandparents live with us). I was already planning to make this honey and pecan glazed salmon as the main dish, so I was happy to take on the rest of the meal as well. My brother-in-law came to the rescue as my sous chef, and everything actually came together nicely. I served the salmon with quinoa on the side, peas seasoned with oregano and butter, and a tossed salad.
The salmon was a hit. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I love it when easy recipes turn out to be delicious recipes as well! Even my grandpa made a point of telling me that I had gotten the fish just right. Culinary compliments from Grandpa are a rare thing to be treasured since he tends to be picky about his food.
After dinner was over, my sister and sous chef brother-in-law insisted on cleaning up and (glorious day!) doing the dishes for me. The only problem was that I didn’t know what to do with myself. I had spent so much time in the kitchen for the past three days that I felt lost when I was suddenly no longer needed in there. I kept puttering around, trying to help. My brother-in-law kept telling me to go sit down. I was confused. Sit down? Really? And do what? I left the kitchen and eventually wandered back in. At one point I just stood there aimlessly while they were washing and drying the dishes. Then, I realized that there really wasn’t anything for me to do at the moment so I finally (truly) left and sat down.
After they had finished cleaning up, we went for a (much-needed) evening walk through the neighborhood. My brother-in-law took us to a park nearby that I never even knew existed and we got in touch with our inner children on the swing set until it got too cold and dark to play anymore.
So then we went back home and I made them cake batter martinis.
(Good night for now inner children!)
We had an ambitious plan to watch “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” Parts 1 & 2 when we got back from our walk. We ultimately had to settle for just Part 1 that night because those movies are super long and it was already getting late. So, we put the movie on and I made blueberry streusel muffins. That’s what normal people do at 10 o’clock in the evening, right?
I wanted them to be ready to go for breakfast the next morning.
Confession: this was the only recipe over the weekend that I had already tried before (except for the cake martinis). I actually thought my first batch of muffins turned out better. They had these awesome muffin tops going on, and the streusel topping was somehow “moister” so it caramelized nicely on top of the muffins. This time around, there were no muffin tops for some reason, and the streusel did not seem to melt into the muffins as much.
Sunday was my dad’s birthday. I had one final recipe in mind that I wanted to make for the weekend and I had planned to do it Sunday morning to go along with the blueberry muffins, so that he could have a nice birthday breakfast before church. I wanted to make these bacon and egg toast cups. They looked super easy, so I figured it was a reasonable goal. Of course, that was before I stayed up until past midnight making muffins and washing dishes. When my alarm went off on Sunday morning, my barely-awake self started rationalizing all kinds of half-formed reasons why it was a better choice for me to stay in bed than to get up and make this last recipe. For a while, it seemed like sleep was going to win out over one last recipe. But eventually, I rallied myself awake and stumbled into the kitchen for my final hurrah.
Here’s the finished product:
I discovered after the fact that my family evidently buys extra large eggs instead of normal-sized eggs. This explained why the egg kind of took over the cup. Extra protein, I guess. The results were not as aesthetically pleasing as the ones pictured in the recipe. But they tasted fine and were a good counterpart to the blueberry muffins. In the end, I was glad that I had made the effort to follow through with making these.
Up next: concluding thoughts on my 4th of July weekend cooking project and…. leftovers!