Sunday, March 15, 2015
She leans on the counter because she is exhausted. For the past 3-4 years she has not been sleeping well, her family suspects her cluster of hospitalizations, strange schedules and strange medications have altered something in her sleep patterns. Last night contained less than 3 hours of sleep. The day spent in the sun was productive and special since the family was together. But as she prepares dinner her normal method of preparing dinner (open a box) combats with her desire to create a special meal. But she will stick with her plan to make a meal she has prepared for her husband for nearly 52 years. On special occasions and on nights when life was routine and ordinary.
Every part of the meal is from scratch. She recalls times when she and her husband were in a hobby farm phase and even raised their own chickens. Short of milling her own flour, which she will never, this is one of the most labor intensive meals she makes.
She washes and dries the chicken, boneless breasts, the canvas for her masterpiece. As her daughter peels potatoes for tonights mashed potatoes and homemade gravy (her specialty) she applies an egg wash then flour and herb breading. The blend of spices is magic and unique; she knows there is no mix or packet that will be as good. With a balance of rosemary, basil, nutmeg and a few spices she hasn't shared with anyone, she performs the trick most cooks wouldn't think of. Second verse, same as the first. The chicken is double dipped, egg and coating start to glue up but she knows this is part of the magic.
She fries the chicken in olive oil slowly at first to cook the chicken throughly; Phil doesn't like raw chicken. As the dinner hour is imminent, she will increase the heat for a crisp, caramelized coating. Each person will want at least two pieces.
Lastly, the icing on the cake, the gravy on the chicken. Ten minutes before she will feed her family this special meal, she plates the chicken so she can transform what other cooks might throw away. Her daughter, the foodie, would call the brown crumbs, residual oil, and chicken juices "fond", as the French do. With milk, the herbed flour, and constant attention, she creates the gravy. Phil always says he'll stay married to her because no other woman can make gravy like she does. And she never plans to share this recipe, not even with her children.
Time for dinner.