I am embarrassed by how long it took me to discover carnitas, or “little meats” that are usually braised then roasted, and are as far I quickly became concerned, the very best thing to pile on a blistered corn tortilla. I had my first one just a couple years ago. I was pregnant at the time and protein-rich foods were ten times as delicious as they normally were so when I became obsessed with having another, and then another, I chalked it up to baby madness. But that kid is now two, and my carnita fixation has gone nowhere. (And no, people, I’m not pregnant. In fact, I’m pouring whiskey into my coffee as we speak, just like I always do after preschool drop-offs.)
Back when I started dreaming up a cookbook I would one day write, all I knew is what I didn’t want: I did not want to work every weekday, weekend and evening on it, I did not want to set an insanely close deadline and then have to hastily throw together a book I wasn’t pleased with and above all else I did not want the time I had to devote to this web space to become squeezed, although I understood that there would probably be a harried point right near the end that all three rules could be suspended for a good cause. And indeed, they have been. I hope to deliver my manuscript in August and it’s pretty all-consuming right now — in a good way, because I’m finally starting to see the whole thing coming together. So, if things are a bit slow between now and then, do understand that I cannot wait until late summer when my attentions can be what they were before my son was 4 months old, and instead of doing normal New Mom things like catching up on sleep or rounding up preschool applications (ha!), I decided that at my earliest convenience, I would write a book instead.
Last September, surprising nobody more than my husband, decided I’d be a Good Football Wife this year and start using Sunday afternoons to make a hearty meal, one that stuck to our ribs and balanced out all those salads we enforce on ourselves during the week. I made beef chili with sour cream and cheddar biscuits and then I made… Right. It about stopped there. In my defense, my husband’s team of choice, The Giants, were hardly Good Football Material this year, so perhaps both of our enthusiasms waned simultaneously. Also, the baby decided he had to start running around dismantling the apartment most weekends, so somebody had to, you know, make sure he didn’t injure himself and blame us. Toddlers, man.
Abruptly, and likely surprising nobody more than my husband, I have decided to be a Good Football Wife this year. Finding it impossible to summon any actual enthusiasm for the game but refusing to fulfill the sitcom wife-cliché of grumbling about my husband’s Sunday afternoon routines, in the past, I’ve mostly tolerated it. But with months of cold and/or wet Sundays ahead of us, I finally came to the realization that football season is the perfect excuse to embrace some much-needed Lazy Sundays. A morning bagel, park and farmers market run routine segues nicely into an afternoon of bumming around, or you know, however the person at hand defines it. For Alex, football, with the requisite pre- and post-game Sports Shouting episodes. For Jacob, removing books from the bookcases one by one, then attempting to stand on them to reach higher shelves, so he can remove them too. He naps, we replace the books, he wakes up and starts again. Ah, Sundays.
In case you were wondering what it is like to be the Smitten Kitchen Baby, it turns out that you get steak and (sweet) potatoes for dinner on the eve of your first birthday, and then pancakes for lunch (or you will when mama stops talking to the internet and makes them for you). You can sleep as little as you want, wake as irate as you please and you will still be zerberted on your ample belly once the sun comes up, hours later (sigh). When your nose starts running, you can wipe it on mama’s nightgown (as usual) and she won’t even suggest that if you had licked fewer fence posts and swing chains and let fewer little girls pull your hair and give you kisses at the park, that maybe you wouldn’t have caught another cold. When you sneeze, someone will say “Aw, gesundheit, little boo boo!” And when you refuse to nap at the Strongly Encouraged Nap Time, your
humble servants parents will sigh, shrug and present you with your first gift.
On the kind of clear-skied, warm summer evening when people without sleepless, feverish babies to tend to were drinking beers outside and grilling on rooftop decks, we stayed in last night and, for once, did not feel the eensiest bit jealous. We were eating ribs for dinner and we hadn’t even needed to leave our apartment to get them.
One thing I am realizing about going a long time without eating meat (15 years) followed by a relatively short time eating as a moderately enthusiastic meat eater (5 years and change) is that it doesn’t always occur to you to include it in meals. In fact, I have apparently only made four dishes on the site this year that include meat, and two were briskets for big dinner parties. With a fridge bursting (literally; if you can find room for a jar of mayo in there, you’d be my hero) with spinach and scallions, radishes, real baby carrots, sugar snaps, shelling peas and tiny freshly-dug red potatoes rolling off the top, I can hardly imagine why I’d need to roast a chicken. But when I was going through my (very, very, very long) list of Recipes I Want To Try last week, these lamb chops jumped out at me, promising to at least temporarily break me out of my asparagus — hashed! ribboned! tossed with pasta for one! — rut.