Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cooking for the family

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Two of the kids in the picture above are mine. Two belong to my brother. The cousins live a continent apart, so when they do see each other - once or twice a year - it's a special occasion. Sometimes I feel guilty for having moved across the country and denied the cousins the opportunity to grow up more entangled in each other's lives. But it's done, and it's life, and we make the best of it.

Next week the cousins - we'll call them the Slugger and the Princess - are coming west to visit, the first time in many years. All the kids will spend the days at the wonderful beach camp my boys have attended for five-plus years. They'll paddle out past the break on surfboards and hang out with the dolphins. They'll play volleyball and Dynamite on the sand, do gymnastics and crafts, watch the counselors put on hilarious skits every morning as they review the rules and safety procedures. They'll come home tired, salty, sandy, happy. And no doubt very, very hungry.

All the kids are excited about camp, but the Slugger and the Princess are particularly excited about the week at Aunt Erika's house because they know Aunt Erika will be cooking for them. They get lots of good food at home, but somehow my cooking has taken on a kind of legend in their young minds. I'm flattered, of course. In fact, I love it. You know my motto: I feed people. Especially the people I love. And most especially the people I love who love to have me cook for them.

The Princess has a reputation as a picky eater, so to be on the safe side we negotiated the dinner menu for the week in advance. I'll be at work during the day, so nothing too fancy, and a few things easily made in advance, I thought. I wrote it up and emailed it off to New York:
  • Sunday: Steak, sweet potato fries, Caesar salad
  • Monday: Oven-fried crispy fish, green beans, cole slaw
  • Tuesday: Spaghetti with homemade meat sauce, salad
  • Wednesday: Grilled chicken cutlets, cut-up veggies with dip, roasted potatoes
  • Thursday: Lemon-garlic shrimp over rice, snap peas
  • Friday: Lamb chops, lemon Parmesan orzo pasta, creamed spinach
  • Saturday 6/26: Go out!
The Slugger and the Princess conferred. The Princess requested asparagus and strawberries, and she agreed to taste everything (with the promise of cereal or a quesadilla if she really doesn't like it, though I think chances of that are slim). The Slugger wanted to know about dessert. We don't have sweets every day, I told him, but there's always fruit, and I'll probably bake a few times while they're here: maybe brownies and banana chocolate chip muffins. He used a lot of exclamation points in the email that came back after that. I think he was satisfied.

Now it's all about the shopping. My heroic husband will do a Costco run just before they arrive. We'll fill in at our local family-run market, where the stone fruit this season is beautiful. My mom, who's bringing the Slugger and the Princess out west, will prep and set the table while the kids are at camp. It's under control. The Princess and the Slugger may be looking forward to the food, but me, I'm just looking forward to a week of having everyone around the same table.

9 comments:

Cathy @ ShowFoodChef said...

I agree those are the MOST fun times. Your menu sounds so family friendly and I loved reading about your week. Have a great time, I know they will.

Anonymous said...

We can't wait, too!! I'm really looking forward to a fantastic week, mostly for the togetherness, but also for your great food and wonderful hospitality.
Love, Mom

Anonymous said...

Yummm...Wow, I'm flying out for beach camp and leftovers, 'kay?

Have a great time.

Hugs wendy

Nancy said...

Erika,

Will you adopt me?? Sounds like a fabulous time at your house - I want to be a kid again!!!

Have a great week!!!

Nancy

Sippity Sup said...

Ahhh, youth! GREG

Hilary Cable said...

This is such a great story. The kids will remember these meals around your big, welcoming table forever. My nephew and I still love to cook together.

marla {family fresh cooking} said...

This post is darling! I bet these kids are so excited to spend such a special time together. I LOVE how you have the whole menu planned out including the restaurant night. Happy days, huh! xo

Sarah said...

I want the recipe for lemon garlic shrimp over rice. I'm so impressed with your menu planning and how everyone's going to be happy with what's on their plate!

Erika said...

Sarah - your household eats shrimp these days?

I don't really have a recipe, although I guess I might after I make it this time, assuming I remember to take a photo of it. Basically I saute some garlic and shallots in olive oil, add the shrimp with some lemon juice, saute a few minutes more, then finish with a pat of butter and some chopped parsley. It's very, very simple.

So far most items have been a hit. I have discovered that the Slugger does not like salad, and the Princess only likes lettuce without dressing. Green beans and asparagus were a big hit with both. Leftover zucchini pancakes pleased the Slugger. And everyone preferred ice cream to my homemade chocolate-cherry muffins (oh well). Tonight's spaghetti with meat sauce was roundly devoured. So, all in all, it's going well.

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