Last night was a typical Sunday night ’round here, which is to say that the children were bouncing off the walls and Otto was trying to finish up some work to prepare for the week and I was realizing exactly how much I hadn’t gotten done all weekend long. That always brings all kinds of joy and rapture, and also (in this case) a bunch of banging around in the kitchen.
Otto and I are trying something new, owing to our rising grocery costs and my complete inability to think more than a day or two ahead—we’re doing weekly menu planning. I know, right? it’s like we invented this novel concept! (Unrelated: I am not sure if you’ve heard of THIS, either, but I hear there are now telephones that don’t need to be plugged into the wall. CAN YOU IMAGINE?) Anyway, I think it’s going to be great. Really. Eventually.
See, before we started doing this, I would go grocery shopping on the weekend and the week would start out really well. We’d have a great dinner on Sunday night, and usually a nice meal on Monday night, too. By Tuesday I’d be calling Otto at 4:00 to say, “Hi! Um! I am going to maybe turn these leftovers into… something… unless you have a better idea!” And on Wednesday he’ll come home and ask what we’re having for dinner, and I’ll blink at him and tell him it’s his night to cook.
Part of the problem, of course, is that I have a very small core group of foods which I will buy regardless of price. Everything else becomes an “if it’s on sale” purchase, and with food becoming so expensive, there have been weeks on end when I’ve come home with nary a protein source and then wondered what I could possibly make for dinner out of frozen green beans and a box of mini-wheats.
Now that we’re planning out meals, not only do we know what’s for dinner every night, I am not stopping at the grocery store three times a week for that one thing I forgot or because we ran out of bread. It’s lovely.
On the other hand, it means that now I need to actually do some cooking on Sunday nights if I don’t want my week to be a huge pain in the butt. (Not that cooking prevents my week from being a pain in the ass, but it lessens the chances, anyway.) So last night after dinner I pulled out some recipes and turned on the oven and started baking.
So this one thing I was making called for almond meal. What I discovered on my last trip to the supermarket is that almonds come coated in platinum, or so the price would lead one to believe. I planned to use a substitution that was less costly, such as gold nuggets, or possibly brown rice flour, because I tend to play fast and loose with substitutions.
Upon beginning to cooking prep last night, however, I discovered a BAG OF ALMONDS in our pantry! How handy! The only problem was, these almonds were still in the shells.
[Digression: Otto bought the almonds. Because he thought they were walnuts, and he wanted walnuts. In fact, he wanted walnuts so much, the almonds have sat in the pantry untouched for months.]
Have you ever cracked an almond? I’ve cracked walnuts before, and it’s messy, but not that hard. Almond shells are bizarre; not only is the shape sort of difficult to work with, there’s a hard shell and then a fibrous layer and THEN the nut, which usually I have smashed to smithereens by accident, because did I mention that shelling almonds is hard? I was using Otto’s nutcracker—one of those metal tong-looking things—and I point this out only as evidence that I haven’t needed to crack any nuts in a VERY LONG TIME.
So. There I am: I’m mixing eggs, I’m chopping and measuring and now, cracking almonds and popping them into my little grinder. I AM CHEF, HEAR ME ROAR. All is well.
While I’m doing all of this, the phone rings and my daughter is standing ten feet from me on the kitchen phone, chatting with her dad.
I’m on, oh, I don’t know, maybe my twentieth? twenty-fifth? three thousandth? almond, and I placed the nut between the metal pieces with one hand and SQUEEEEEEZED the cracker shut with the other hand…
… and saw stars, because somehow? I had LEFT MY FINGER IN THE NUTCRACKER.
I let go and sagged against the counter, multiple obscenities struggling to burst from my mouth as I realized that Chickadee was right there, and furthermore, her dad was on the phone right there (and amongst my long laundry list of faults according to He Who Is Faultless is my tendency to use colorful language, which we all know is a mark of the devil), so I had to settle for sort of stamping my feet while the pain ebbed enough that I could quickly walk out of the kitchen and go cry and curse in my bathroom.
Otto must’ve heard me, because he came into the bathroom to check on me. I was running water on my pinched finger, half-laying on the counter, and crying. Because I have an embarrassingly low tolerance for pain and NOTHING hurts the way impact to a fingernail does. HOLY HELL.
I managed to gasp something about how the water wasn’t cold (and wasn’t helping) and he went and got me a bag of ice. It was a gallon-sized Ziploc’s worth, because I guess the sheer volume of my tears caused Otto to believe I had somehow injured my entire hand. Nope, just the tip of my index finger. AND MY PRIDE.
Eventually we determined that I was probably going to live, and I wrapped my finger in some tape and finished cooking. That’s dedication. (“Eat it. EAT IT! I nearly lost a finger for you ingrates!”)
My finger throbbed all evening, and still hurts today. The real fun will come if/when the nail falls off, I guess.
Anyway, Otto and I lay in bed last night, chatting a bit, and we were talking about a beautiful house we’d seen earlier in the day, one with the kind of kitchen that just makes you drool, and I don’t remember exactly what we said, maybe something about how he could’ve married for money and had a house like that, but instead he married me. And I protested loudly, something about how, “But you LOVE ME, you get ALL OF THIS and it’s COMPLETELY AWESOME!” Because that’s how I am, a maven with the persuasive argument, you know.
And my darling husband turned to look at me and slowly said, “Yes. Let me see. On the one hand, I could have had granite countertops and stainless steel everything and Spanish tiles… or on the other hand, I can have a wife who can’t tell the difference between an almond and HER INDEX FINGER. Hmmm. Let me think about that.”
I wanted to be offended, I really did, but, um… well…. I’m kind of thinking maybe I should just shut up and try not to burn the house down or anything, today.