Friday, March 4, 2011

Polenta with goat cheese and mushrooms and Runaways

124Once when I was pretty little, but big enough to be annoying, my mom was trying to help me get dressed.

Well, I was trying to watch TV.

I remember peering around her, to catch a bit of Scooby Doo, and she was trying to buckle my overalls. I thought I was just stretching around her, but I was probably actually writhing around like a crazy wild animal, and she got fed up with trying to ask me to stop moving.

“I’m leaving!” she told me. And she got up and went to the door.

“Where are you GOING?!” I yelled to her, but still had my eyes on the screen.

“I’m running away!” she answered, and out the door she went.

My heart just fell right into my stomach. I was never going to see her again. I wasn’t sure what I was going to tell my dad.

Then I finished watching Scooby Doo.

By the time the show ended, my dad came home. “Where’s Mom?” he asked me.

I immediately burst into tears. “She… Ran.. A… Way…” I said between gulps.

He stayed remarkably calm and we walked outside. We found her within a few minutes, sitting at a bench. I can’t remember the discussion that happened next, but I guess she changed her mind about leaving, because she came home with us. I was pretty relieved. I never did ask her exactly what caused her to reach the end of her rope.

Today I came home from work and for the first couple of hours that I had with the kids I was pretty calm. I just tried to focus on having fun with them and their needs. I put some beans on to boil very early in the afternoon, since beans are a pretty easy dinner, really.

Then things started to fall apart.

Every single night, when I make dinner, my baby cries. Not just a little crying, the huge, I’m going to die and you’re a horrible mother cries. He can’t stand being put down for one second in the evening, and certainly not for twenty minutes. Yesterday I put him down to open a can of chili and heat it up in the microwave, and his fits of screaming were absolutely maddening. Amaya only helps by pointing out that he wants me, and that she wants to eat dinner. By then I’m ready to whine myself. We’re melting into puddles of whine.

It was 8 pm before I admitted defeat to the pot of beans that refused to soften on the stove. I had done five minutes of prep otherwise, but my baby was screaming and when Jake came home from his class at that exact moment that my entire brain was ready to crack in two, Amaya said,

“Dinner’s not ready.”


He got the baby and asked if he should take the kids for a walk. That’s when I said, “I just want to run away!”

The second those words left my lips, I had a moment of clarity.

Mom, I understand completely.

At 9:30 pm Jake and I sat down to a dinner of Subway sandwiches after we put the kids to bed.

I’m not quite ready to face the mountain of homework I have, the stack of mail from the last two weeks, the never ending to-do list of paperwork, the house-cleaning… but I think eating dinner at least gets me past wanting to run away.

I wish I was the kind of person that could just eat cereal for dinner. But I’m not.

Dinner is what sets the world in order, for me. If only for a moment.

I can’t wait until my mom gets here in May. She’s going to be completely disgusted with how dirty our house has gotten since she was here last, and that I didn’t only use the dish cloths she bought only for drying dishes, but she’s still going to love us. And she definitely cooks dinner.And dessert.

I have a lot of friends that cook dinner every night. Most of them have more kids than I do. I so admire that.

Do you cook dinner? Every night? HOW THE HECK DO YOU DO THAT?

120Polenta with Goat Cheese and Mushrooms

This is not a recipe. This is assembly. Because you don’t have time for recipes.

Follow the package directions for a 8x8” pan of polenta. This just means that you stir water and polenta in a bowl with some salt, and then pour that into the pan. Actually, you might be able to just mix it in the pan itself, because who does dishes anymore?

You’re going to bake it, because stirring it on the stove top is ridiculous, and your baby is refusing to be put down. Put it in the oven.

Cut up some mushrooms and sauté in butter until cooked. Crumble some goat cheese over that and stir briefly. After the polenta looks a bit set, put this mixture all over the top of the polenta. Cook the polenta longer. It takes forever. Something like 1 1/2 hours.

Take it out of the oven when it doesn’t jiggle around so much. Eat it when it cools down or wait until the next day when it firms up.

Eat it, and pat yourself on the back for making dinner. This means you’re amazing, and someone should totally give you a raise. .



Belinda @zomppa said...

Oh! I think many, MANY people will know this feeling!!! This polenta looks wonderful.

Maryea said...

I do cook dinner most nights, but I don't have a job outside of the house so I feel like cooking dinner is part of my gig as a SAHM. I also only have one kid and she will usually let me cook in peace. I'm not above putting a show on if I need to, either. Let me answer this question again after we have another little one! After all that rambling, the polenta dish looks great

Meaghan Luby said...

this looks amazzzzzing. i love goats cheese! thanks for sharing! -meg

Mariko said...

Belinda: Maybe most people are better at appearing to have everything together. :)
Maryea: Hey, SAHM, kudos to you for still feeling like doing anything for dinner at that point!
Meaghan: thanks!

marla said...

It is essential that you shared this with us. I have said those very words & feel hideous afterwards. It is comforting to know that we can apologize and that we do not really run away after all :) Thank goodness we have each other. Raising kids is soooo much harder than I ever thought it would be. And the most rewarding thing I have ever done.
lovely polenta.

Eliana said...

I have never seen polenta look this gorgeous and appetizing. I love this and can't wait to try it.

The Duo Dishes said...

Yeah, you're probably not alone here. Bet you'll see a lot more comments with moms saying the same thing. For all of us children-less folks out here, we probably feel your pain as it relates to different situations, but that stress is known. You made a fab dinner though!

Christine Wu said...

I'm currently a SAHM, so I cook dinner 5 days a week (other nights, we have too much leftover so that's what we eat). Confession: I cook to escape the kids hahaha. I admire mothers who have to work outside the house AND able to keep the house. Come on, I stay at home, but my house looks like a typhoon just passed by. My baby has been cranky too lately. The moment I put her down, she gives me the dirtiest look ever.

Zoe said...

Love your presentation. This dish looks very gorgeous!

justJENN said...

Love this post. Some nights are crazy!

elle marie said...

Your week sounds like my week = ) We all get to the end of our rope... that only makes us human = )

Well done on the the food styling.. this is must try for me.

Nippon Nin said...

Why didn't YOUR MOM just turn off TV right then? Silly MOM!
Some days are tough. Hang in there. I'm coming.

FootPrints said...

i wanna give you the biggest hug and then run away with you....lets do it.
you working mamas have it hard! i give you so much credit. my house is dirty and i dont work! what's my excuse? i do cook dinner most nights...but their probably nothing like your dinners. so i dont count.
if i didnt have a husband and kids to feed i'd eat cereal 3 times a day. dont be so hard on yourself friend. no one has it all pulled together. if they say they do their f$%%^&* lying.

Kristen said...

I love this post. I like the recipe best. And the pic is awesome. I like to run away. And I like Subway. And I like you.

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