Monday, February 16, 2009

Unexpected Domesticity

Each day starts nearly the same. I wake up in my own bed. Most of the time Pauly is already awake and writing at the dining room table. I make coffee. I drink the coffee while checking my email. I either go to the gym or at least seriously consider it. I finish off my freelance work in the morning. I do the breakfast dishes and make myself lunch. I eat the lunch and watch the news. I spend my afternoon in the depths of the screenplay I've been trying to write for three years now. Sometimes I listen to music, sometimes it's silent. Sometimes the TV plays a movie at a low volume to provide a little white noise. I stop working and start dinner around 6 or 6:30. I try to cook something healthy enough for me and satisfying enough for Pauly. He emerges from the cocoon of his office when I yell that the food is ready. Then we sit together at the dining table and devour our meals. I do the dishes and clean up the kitchen right afterward. Evenings are for TV, movies, trying to beat level 5 on the iGoogle Pac-Man app, and reading. Pauly gets his daily dose of online poker at this time of night. These days I may only fire up a few SNGs a week or play the odd hour of triple draw or Badugi on PokerStars.

In the absence of sitting around airports and living in hotels, I've become downright domestic. Like Mad Men's Betty Draper, I happily cook for my man every night...except without the pearls and high heels. Ilook for recipes. I make grocery lists. And in light of the failing economy I've discontinued the services of the two illegal Mexican immigrants who used to clean my apartment in favor of doing it myself (my, those Swiffer Wet Jets sure make doing the floors easy!)

Here's the really weird thing, though... I sort of enjoy it. Me, who used to let dirty plates pile up for weeks until the Mexicans would come in and make the kitchen sanitary and livable again. Me, who used to eat take-out three meals a day. Me, who cringes at the mere mention of a wedding registry yet now finds herself coveting new cookware.

I've caught a few episodes of the Gordon Ramsay show The F-Word on BBC America over the past week or so and in it he does a somewhat controversial segment aimed at getting women back in the kitchen-- not in the sense of getting them out of the workplace and back in the kitchen like it's Leave it to Beaver or something, but getting women who never learned to cook for whatever reason, or women who had bad cooking experiences back behind a stove in order to conquer that fear. On the show they presented the statistic that in 1963 the typical American woman spent, on average, 13 hours a week in the kitchen preparing meals. These days that number has dropped to 5.9-- still plenty of time to prepare a week's worth of food-- but only a shocking 11% actually plan the meals ahead of time. Figure in the fact that eating home-cooked food is far healthier and all the people who never cook for themselves and wow, no wonder the whole country is overweight and unhealthy. But I digress.

Women, men-- no one should be afraid of the kitchen. Seriously, anyone can learn to cook. I was 22 years old before I knew how to pan-fry a chicken breast. When I was in college, I set my toaster oven on fire trying to make grilled cheese. But after watching a few episodes of Emeril Live on the Food Network and learning some simple techniques from my mother, I was cooking food that most of the time, was damn near restaurant quality. During my years as a D-girl, though, I hardly ever had the energy or motivation to cook just for myself. I'd pull out the stops on special occasions and holidays, but my typical weeknight grub was a box of take-out sushi.

With Pauly living here now and our efforts to eat more healthily than the piles of grease we typically injest on the road, I've caught the culinary bug again. I like cooking. For me, there's nothing more zen than chopping ingredients and pulling together the whole mise-en-poise. I made my own chicken stock a few days ago and made a velvety poached whole chicken in the process. Yummmo. The only difficulty I find is in concocting something we'll both enjoy. We both like bold, spicy flavors but he bristles at the presence of any vegetables whatsoever. And when it comes to foodstuffs like beans, lentils, polenta, quinoa, and almost any type of seafood-- they too shall never pass his lips.

Rain woke me up this morning. Slamming against the window that runs nearly the length of our bedroom. I put the heat on and made coffee. Pauly came home from the diner and sat down in the living room to pack a bowl. He'd slipped off to Nick's before I woke up so he could eat the greasy breakfasts he so enjoys without making me feel bad about looking at plates of delicious food I shouldn't eat. We talked about politics and the end of the world before he slipped off into his office to write and I sat up a little straighter and started pecking at the keys.

Six hours before I start dinner. I think it's a turkey chili night.


A. Jicama Williams said...

I fell asleep 1 paragraph into the post.

change100 said...

And yet cared enough to comment. Thanks, I guess.

Human Head said...

Grocery lists. The greatest habit to get into for saving time and frustration, thus improving quality of life.

Bread is the next step on your domestic path, grasshopper.

Artisan Bread in five Minutes a Day.

We've been baking bread from this book for a year and a half now. Nothing beats a delicious crusty peasant loaf, especially when you realize it cost you all of .30 (instead of $5-7), you didn't have to go anywhere, and no processed ingredient bullshit.


lj said...

sounds cute!

lucko and i have been trying to do something similar as far as cooking healthier meals. i just purchased the biggest loser cookbook, and though i've yet to try out any of the recipes, it might have some stuff you guys would like.

Unknown said...

So what have we learned? You are a terrific cook. You are a world-class girlfriend deserving of much appreciation for your patience, attention, great food, and support. Pauly doesn't eat his veggies? What? How is he going to prepare his body for the rigors of the Phish tour? I'm worried. Don't stop spoiling him, just sneak some of those veggies in there. Maybe put some in his bong - he'll never know.

Jordan said...

Change, I've been on a cooking kick lately too, not to mention keeping my apartment oddly clean (with some help from wifey Kim). I wonder if it is some sort of manual therapy. When everything else is turning to shit (economy, mostly), cooking is a way to actually accomplish something. Plus, I like the creative aspects. It's like edible art if done right.

clearspine said...

I fell asleep 3 words into A. Jicama Williams comment...
Actually, as a doctor, I've always had grave concerns that two of my favorite online writers ate so much crap. Great to hear that you are shifting it. BTW- My 12 year-old son has created a great turkey chili (he does buffalo as well). If you need a recipe, I could see if he'd send it to you.