The thing about working from home is that—while those of you working in offices may recognize when you’re wasting work time via, say, watching cat videos online—my time slippage is a lot more insidious than it used to be. That goes double now that we’re back to school, because hey, sometimes Monkey really needs me to help him with his work, y’know?
There’s too many possible rabbit holes in my day, here. Because Monkey really needs me to help him with his work and THEN he has to show me this new thing in Minecraft OR he can’t find a syllabus and so I HAVE to orchestrate a clean-up mission. OR it occurs to me that I should probably get dinner started and then it seems like a GREAT time to try a new recipe even though I have a million things I really ought to be doing, instead.
[Sidebar: Remember the whole “Oh, hey, SURPRISE! Chickie has ADHD!” thing? I’m now reading Smart But Scattered Teens and… holy Chickadee. Holy Monkey. HOLY ME. I can’t decide whether to be pleased with myself for not being a hot mess 100% of the time or aggravated that I still wander off when I see something shiny to this day. Executive dysfunction: A family affair!]
Anyway, I… have no idea where I was going with that. (Brain: EXACTLY! Me, to brain: SHUT UP.)
Oh wait. Yes I do! I was going to last night’s dinner, that’s where I was going. So! We have a friend who’s laid up after some surgery, and I thought it would be nice to bring them some dinner because “Thou shalt deliver a casserole unto those who have endured unfortunate ouchies” is the 11th commandment. Had I been thinking ahead (HAHAHA), I would’ve somehow planned this out before I went grocery shopping last weekend, but… yeah. That didn’t happen. But yesterday morning I became convinced that I needed to make something RIGHT THEN, so rummaged around in our deep freeze, found some chicken breasts, poked through some recipes, and then called our friends to make sure that a dinner delivery would work.
This was all accomplished well ahead of lunch, so I don’t mind telling you that I was feeling particularly smug. LOOK AT ME, PLANNING STUFF! I was defrosting chicken and vegetables like a boss, mid-morning, with ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD before the agreed-upon 6:00 p.m. dinner delivery. (Hint: Foreshadowing!)
I did some work and Monkey did some school and I baked the chicken while we ate lunch. After lunch I pulled the chicken and grabbed a couple of forks to shred it up (I was making pot pies.) The chicken wouldn’t shred. That was weird. I tried again, from a different angle, and… it was like the chicken was made of industrial rubber. I grabbed a knife, thinking maybe I could just cube it, maybe I was just being fork-impaired somehow and really it was all fine (PLEASE BE FINE PLEASE BE FINE), but after sawing through a few times I tasted it.
What was wrong with the chicken? A better question is what WASN’T wrong with the chicken, really, but my guess is that this particular package of chicken somehow got lost in the depths and was older than I thought, and/or I overcooked it, and/or it had somehow been defrosted/refrozen at some point. It was gross. I threw it out.
“I’m running to the store! Be back soon!” I called to my son, grumbling as I went, because if you want the truth (can you handle the truth?), I have been to the grocery store every day this week. I DON’T KNOW WHY. Except I do know why: Monday I had to get something for a recipe that I forgot on Sunday because I hadn’t planned ahead (shocking), Tuesday I had to pick up prescriptions, and then yesterday (Wednesday) there I was buying chicken when I had planned this particular dish because it would be so easy because I ALREADY HAD CHICKEN. [The newest book in the series, Smart But Scattered Moms: Hey Asshole, Gas Is Expensive, Get It Together should be coming out soon.]
Casseroles, as a general rule, are lovely things to put together because everything goes in one dish and it’s easy and doesn’t make a big mess. Unless you’re me, I suppose. This particular pot pie isn’t a pie at all, of course, because GLUUUUUUUUTEN. Instead, this is basically the innards of a pot pie (chicken and veggies in a creamy sauce) topped with (gluten-free) cornbread. The final product is in a single dish, and the kitchen is a disaster area, behind it. Because here’s how you make it:
1) Bake chicken in oven in a dish. Discover chicken is inedible. Chuck chicken. Clean dish, bake new chicken in it.
2) While chicken bakes, peel sweet potatoes. Make sure to get peelings all over the kitchen.
3) Chop sweet potatoes and toss in a second dish with oil and spices. Roast in oven.
4) Remove chicken from oven; take out of baking dish and shred on a plate. Set aside.
5) Chop onions. Get them all over the kitchen.
6) Caramelize onions in large saute pan. Do it low and slow so that it takes the maximum amount of time.
7) Tell dog to stop eating potato peels she found tucked under the cabinets.
8) Deglaze pan with wine. Because WINE and also your “easy” dish has taken half the day and crap, let’s get this show on the road.
9) Defrost frozen chicken stock in microwave. Feel smug about having homemade stock. Add it to the pan and put the now-empty stock container in the sink.
10) Add chicken and mixed veggies to saute pan. Season. Stir. Maybe put that nasty chicken plate in the sink.
11) Mix cornstarch and milk in a bowl. Add to saute pan. Put that bowl in the sink.
12) Bring mixture to a boil, add sweet potatoes, put sweet potato pan in the sink.
13) Realize you haven’t made the cornbread. Swear a little.
14) Mix cornbread up. Use at least three bowls. Because dry! Wet! Eggs! Buttermilk! STUFF!
15) Pour chicken mixture into two casserole dishes. Get a bunch of it all over the counter. Put pan in sink.
16) “Dot” top of filled dishes with cornbread mixture. Just kidding; slop it all on there.
17) Put casseroles in oven. Put cornbread bowls and everything else in the sink.
18) Wipe down the counters. Consider doing dishes, but leave them for later.
19) Do about twenty minutes of work while dinner cooks.
20) Remove beautiful food from oven. Leave one dish for menfolk to eat that evening, pack up second dish for convalescent delivery.
21) Deliver dinner. Respond to thanks with, “Oh, it was no trouble at all.”
Work completed yesterday: Not much.
Food completed yesterday: Delicious!
Urge to burn kitchen down rather than do all those dishes: Yes. (I didn’t, though. Turns out the kitchen is attached to the rest of the house, which is where I keep my useful self-help books on things like how to focus and meet goals.)
Today I am DEFINITELY going to get more work done. I just… uhhh… see, I’m not sure what we’re having for dinner, and I have this recipe that looks good….