When I was working full time outside the home, I spent a lot of time worrying that I was short-changing my son by not doing the things that most of the moms in his class seemed to do: go on class trips, show up unannounced to help with a project ... you get the idea. Patient boy as he is, there were a few times he even called me on this, suggesting that perhaps I could work at his school so that this working thing wouldn't be such a problem.
Now that I'm home with his sister, though, I don't find that I have much more time than I did before for these kinds of commitments, and I feel as guilty as ever.
Which is why I volunteered to make Spanish food for his Spanish club every week during the seven week session, in which they are studying Spain.
Much as I'm looking forward to this, it's also madness, because when I cook, it's usually at night, after everyone has gone to bed; it's simply not practical to cook while Little Miss Squirm is hanging on my leg (and no, thank you, she is not interested in watching me work from the Ergo). So if I'm going to prepare food for eleven children, plus enough to take home to share with family members (which is how the food portion of the club has been working), I will be cooking our dinner, and then someone else's dinner (because I. informs me that "some people in Spanish club think that it's dinner time").
I used to offer my students a lot of advice about time management, and until recently, considered myself sort of an expert. I have always been able to juggle multiple priorities with ease. I signed up for a part time remote opportunity to help a former colleague, thinking that I could certainly find ten to fifteen more hours in my week. Which is why I keep thinking that I must be doing this SAHM thing wrong. Where does the time go during the day? N. wakes up between 5:30 and 6. I wake up with her, feed her and her brother breakfast and make lunch. The boys are out the door by 7:15, and by then I usually have my cup of coffee in hand. Play for an hour and a half, then snack for N. Nap for an hour, during which I get dressed, clear up breakfast dishes, catch up on email. Wake up, play for another hour, feed N. lunch. Go to the Y if it's a good day. Back home, play for half an hour, naptime again for N., while I shower. She's up in an hour. Playtime, and in another hour, the boys are home. Dinner prep. Bathtime. Play with I. for half an hour. Bedtime. Laundry (always, always laundry). Empty the dishwasher. Another possible email catchup, or blog commenting, or blog post writing, and an attempt to get in an hour of remote work, if I am really lucky (which, it turns out, is only a few times a week after all). Dinner prep for the next day. Job hunt. Write cover letters. Revise resumes. Browse for recipes, or meal plan for the week, or do some other random thing I've meant to do that night. Maybe read a chapter of a book for my book group. By then, it's midnight. Or one. And I'm up in another four and a half hours. What am I missing? How do other people do this so well, and hold down a part time job, and write a novel, and ...
I keep thinking that this must be like graduate school; I was well into my second year when I realized that my classmates were not reading all of the assignments. What?! This was a revelation to me. Was some of the work really, truly optional? How did they get by with doing less? Wasn't that cheating?
In the years since graduate school, I've come to think that maybe it's not really cheating after all. Maybe it's about doing things differently. What can I let go of? What doesn't really need to get done, at least, not in the way that I do it?
Do you ever feel like you're cheating? What do you let go of, so that you retain some shred of sanity?
4 c. bread flour
2 t. active dry yeast
2 egg yolks, beaten
1 1/4 c. warm milk
1 egg. beaten
1 lb. chicken, pork or tuna; you could also use mushrooms or roasted eggplant for a vegetarian version
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 large or two small red bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
2 medium Spanish onions, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 fresh thyme sprig
2 bay leaves
1/2 c. broth or dry white wine, such as Albariño
8 – 10 plum tomatoes (fresh or canned), cut into small dice
2 t. pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika; you can use regular paprika, but it's just not the same!)
Sift flour and salt in a large bowl. Stir in yeast. Stir milk into egg yolks, and slowly pour into flour, stirring constantly. Beat 5-10 minutes, until dough comes cleanly away from bowl. Turn dough out into a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic (if you have a stand mixer, feel free to use your dough hook). Form into 2 equal sized balls, place in an oiled bowl, cover and leave in a warm place about 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Cook chicken or eggplant/mushrooms any way you like (I grilled mine, but you could poach, too). Shred or chop well. In a Dutch oven or large saucepan set over medium-low heat, heat 1/4 c. of olive oil. Add the onions, peppers, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until very tender, about 30 minutes. Add the thyme and bay leaves, season to taste with salt and pepper, and continue to cook until the mixture turns golden, another 10 minutes. Add the broth or wine and cook until it evaporates. Stir in tomatoes and pimentón, increase the heat to medium, and cook until almost all the liquid evaporates, 10 – 15 minutes. Add chicken (or mushrooms or eggplant), cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat, discard the bay leaves, and season again with salt, if necessary.
Preheat oven to 400. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or aluminum foil lightly sprayed with cooking oil. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a thin rectangle the size of a standard cookie sheet. Place one layer of dough on the cookie sheet. Spread the filling to within about 1.5" of the edge of the dough. Brush the edges with water, cover with the other rectangle of dough, and crimp to seal. Glaze with beaten egg and poke in several places with a fork to allow steam to escape. Bake about 20 minutes or until golden. Serve warm, cut into rectangles or squares.