I believe we have discussed Awkward Mom's complete and total lack of kitchen prowess. We have? Oh, good; then you will greatly enjoy this tale....
Dinner time has been lax here in the Awkward House for awhile. No one is pointing fingers, but it could be Awkward Dad's schedule or maybe Super Baby's nocturnal teething patterns. Perhaps it is Super Toddler's deep-seated fear of being away from his royal minions for longer than 10 minutes. There is a slight chance that it could be because Netflix has all three seasons of Arrested Development and is insisting that I watch all of them, right now. But, no one is pointing blame fingers, right? Right? Anyway, the end result of all this non-blame is that I have decided we need a normal dinner tonight, at a normal dinner time, with normal dinner-type food, so we can pretend to be normal for about an hour.
To illustrate what I do NOT want, I will briefly tell you what dinner was like all last week. All last week, we had no idea when Awkward Dad was going to be home. Except the 2 nights he was on call. Then he just didn't come home at all. (Call night we usually eat chicken nuggets and grapes, watch Pingu, and complain about Awkward Dad not being home. It is covered completely here: http://awkwardmom-erin.blogspot.com/2010/12/awkward-mom-vs-call.html)
The non-call nights last week, dinner occurred at the following times: twice at 8:30pm, once at 4pm, once at 9:15pm, and once we forgot it altogether. These dinners consisted of hummus and broken up taco shells, scrambled eggs for everyone but Awkward Dad who said the smell was making him so "light-headed" that he just had to order Chinese, mac-and-cheese and a spinach salad (really ought to say spinach full stop, as there was nothing else in the spinach but spinach), turkey sandwiches with ketchup (all Super Toddler, that one), and the aforementioned non-dinner.
No repeat of that this week, no, no. Well, don't wanna get ahead of myself. At least no repeat tonight. Tonight, we have great hopes for Awkward Dad to be home at or around 6, so no more European dining hours around here! I have made a menu and actually defrosted my chicken. I will be making pan-seared chicken breasts in a cream sauce, with roasted asparagus and a chocolate cake (store bought, but you won't tell, right?). We actually have wine. We actually have candles and a tablecloth with minimal stains. All the dishes in the Awkward House are clean. The chips on every plate we own is something I am choosing to ignore. I even have back-up chicken nuggets and grapes. I am totally ready for this dinner. Totally ready.
So, around 5pm, with both boys still napping (no judging!), it begins. I easily prep the asparagus. I pop this in the oven and stare at the chicken. Chicken sorta scares me. However, my first chicken breast is floured, egged (do NOT tell Awkward Dad!), and placed in the hot pan in record time. Where it cooks. And cooks. And cooks. With pretty much no change in color. Hmmm...something is amiss. I quickly figure out that my chicken is too thick for this form of cooking. I remove my too-fat chicken breast and assess the situation. Remembering some long last food memory I am sure was gleaned from the Food Network, I decide to flatten my chicken. I give up on the half-cooked one, place it on a cookie sheet, and put it in the oven with the asparagus, and then I turn my attention to the 3 remaining chicken breasts.
Lacking a meat mallet, I decide to place the chicken in a Ziploc bag and beat it with a hammer I wrap in a dish towel. This is what I am doing when the hall smoke detector goes off. Startled, I release the hammer on my backwards swing. It sheds its dishtowel in a happy flight of freedom before it lands solidly on the kitchen hood, dislodging the light bulb there, which, in turn, explodes and rains glass down on the empty but smoking pan beneath it. I can't decide what to do first, so I just stand there for awhile. Then, I manage to turn off the burner on my way to get a chair. I pull the chair under the smoke detector and press the hush button. I check on the Super Boys, who are still asleep, and I return to the kitchen.
The glass clean-up takes the same amount of time that it takes for the hall smoke alarm to go off again. I locate the culprit in the burning asparagus, which I throw out of the oven on my way back to get a chair. As I am climbing the chair, the bedroom smoke detector goes off, as does the phone. My attempt to hop the chair over to the bedroom detector with me on it results in what you would expect, and as I lie there, I let the incessant beeping of the bedroom smoke detector wash over me while I question the decisions that have led to this point. After my moment of reflection, I get up, get my chair up, and hush the smoke detector. A quick check on the boys confirms that they are still asleep and I head back to the kitchen.
I wrap my hammer and resume beating my chicken breasts. I find a non-glass-shard-covered pan to sear the chicken in; this goes remarkably well and the hall smoke detector only goes off twice. I am making my sauce when the phone rings again. I am thwarted in my attempt to answer it by the simultaneous beeping of the hall, bedroom, and nursery smoke detectors and the billowing of black smoke pouring out of the oven. Seems I forgot about my fat chicken breast. I race around beating the smoke alarms with the end of a broom, while my delicate cream sauce boils over. The Super Boys are still asleep, by the way. I now have smoke-alarms-do-not-wake-them-what-will-we-do-in-a-fire to add to my middle of the night worry list.
I fail to rescue the oven chicken breast, so into the garbage it goes. I declare my sauce good enough and pour it over my rapidly cooling chicken. While I am setting the table and lighting candles (mostly to hide the burny smell that is everywhere), the cats decide to rescue the garbage chicken breast on my behalf. They take it on a parade through the house, ending up in the middle of my bed, where they proceed to shred, devour, and vomit it up. I give up on the candles and race through the house with some air freshener.
Awkward Dad calls to ask the following: Why do you sound out of breath? Why haven't you been answering the phone? And can we push dinner back 2 hours so I can finish seeing this patient? I burst into tears, which finally wakes the Super Boys.
Oh now, don't feel too bad for Awkward Mom, dear readers. She did have a full bottle of wine and a whole chocolate cake to console her. And I mean it, she had a full bottle of wine and a whole chocolate cake. The Super Boys had chicken nuggets and grapes, and Awkward Dad had Chicken Milanese in a reduction sauce and Cajun-style asparagus. There is always next week, right?