In all the chaos of the past few months, I was struck by a lightening bolt moment of clarity. And, gee, no surprise, it was at the dinner table.
Deep into this conference experience, there was a rare night when it was just Jeff and me at home. Alone. Unexpected. And I made us dinner. And it was good. Thus spake Zarathustra, that sly Ubermensch, delivering his sermon about evolved humanity.
With all the intriguing restaurant dinners, hastily grabbed meals, take out and delivery, we were losing our personal social mooring. Gobbling food in front of a computer does not a dinner make. Shared meals matter and it wasn’t until I was making this dinner that I realized how much they matter to us. What’s that silly pop song? “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone?”
That’s not to say, I wasn’t a bit rusty in the kitchen! My timing was off. Normally I’m pretty good at managing when to start the water, heat the pan, pull the vegetable from the heat. There is a little dance that goes on when you cook (which is an excellent reason to have good music on in the kitchen). And was my dancing was creaky that night!
It didn’t matter, what mattered was simple, tasty food, with no other obligations. Besides sautéed mushrooms always make things better.
In our house, there is a ritual to making, eating and cleaning up dinner. my gift is making the dinner. We share the eating. Jeff’s gift is cleaning up. It’s not the best way, or the only way...it’s just our gift to each other ritual.
If you have kids, or presumably you were once a kid, you know the value of a bedtime ritual. It means safety and comfort and imparts an all-is-right-with-the-world security. Why shouldn’t we recognize the value of a dinner ritual? If marketers were able to convince the world that convenience and speed trumps home cooking, couldn’t a different set of marketers help us ‘discover’ the value of home meals?
This is something we should be discussing over the dinner table, isn’t it?
And here is my go-to, can’t really mess it up, Sautéed Mushroom recipe.
A mix of mushrooms is best, but white buttons will do
There is no real need for quantities here. The recipe scales and is forgiving, so use what you have on hand.
Wash, drain and cube the mushrooms. Mince 1 clove of garlic for every cup of cubed mushrooms. I prefer the dish to be about the mushroom flavor and not overly garlicky. You make them the way you like, ok?
On medium heat, warm a saute pan big enough to hold all of the mushrooms. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil and a small pat of butter. Let the butter melt and the oil warm up. Now add the mushrooms and garlic, cover and let the mushrooms simmer and lose their water, approximately 3-5 minutes.
When the mushrooms are bubbling away in their own juices, remove the lid and let the moisture reduce. When the pan is just about dry, this should take about 5 minutes, add a shot of sweet wine and mix well. Reduce again until the pan is nearly dry.
Add another small pat of butter, a squirt of lemon juice and a generous grind of black pepper. Mix well and serve in a warm dish. Garnish with the minced parsley.
Catch y’all on the flip side, cuz’ we’re heading back to the old country tonight.
Time to plant the orto, have ringing bells tell us the time (instead of honking horns letting me know it’s rush hour) and slow down the pace of life. Our boyz are having a little pre-flight snuggle....this is Dante’s first big adventure, so wish us a peaceful flight!
Buon appetito e ci vediamo a presto!