It's 9 a.m. when my daughter Kelley shows up at the house with two dead fish. She has a detailed plan for our Father’s Day meal. I am selected, from a wide pool of possibilities, to be su chef, and financier. Okay, the truth is, no one else wanted the job. She has a stack of recipe books with numerous pages tagged, and we have a slew of instructional videos at our fingertips. I start to hyperventilate because elaborate recipes are not my thing. Our first task is to create a grocery list, than we set off to Lundardi’s market, in search of fresh ingredients. Seriously, hours later we arrive back at the house, four bags of groceries, and an abridged bank account. No rhubarb was to be found but they had everything else. Kelley slaps on an apron and gets to work. I’ll just say it, within the space of an hour, my kitchen is in agony (or maybe that was me), tidiness is not her strong suit.
Spices, bowls, measuring cups, pans, rolling pin, pots, spatulas, knifes, and cutting boards literally cover every conceivable space. I am finding it hard to breath. She has the bourbon-glazed pork belly chunks and the St. Louis ribs all prepared for three hours of slow cooking, the pie crust dough is tucked in the refrigerator, the black beans are low boiling on the stove. I’m engaging in positive self-talk about the mess and the twelve people who will be arriving soon. This is when I recognize the benefits of resiliency. See, we had a power surge the day before, and unbeknownst to me, it took out the oven. It is dead, dark, and cold, refusing to come back to life. Jesus was not available (Father's Day and all), so with cell phone in hand, I’m ready to call out for pizza.
She says, “Mom, put a call into Julie, we’ll cook the meat at her house. I’ll call the neighbors and see if we can use someone’s oven to cook the pies.” What? I am a zero at adaptability and I think we should seriously reschedule Father’s Day. A few phone calls later she has calmly arranged for the use of several ovens, she packs up the meats, and escorts me to the car before I can run screaming down the street. I’ll be damned if it doesn’t all work out. On our way home we try one more store for the rhubarb – success! Back at the house we start preparing the grilled artichokes, stuffed tilapia, blue cheese wedge salads, and the pies. I’m setting tables, washing dishes, while simultaneously working on my blog and let me just say the blog is losing. The wines are breathing much better than me when the guests arrive. I decide to just let the kitchen go and enjoy the evening.
It is magical, from the Bourbon-glazed pork belly appetizer, to the stuffed tilapia, wedge salads, grilled artichokes, St. Louis barbecue ribs, cuban style black beans, and homemade pies. The table goes completely silent. Mere words are inadequate. This is our thanks and praise to Kelley.
My husband is so happy he breaks open a bottle of Darioush Cabernet Sauvignon to accompany our meal. Kelley is a rock star. After dinner, I slip away into my room with my granddaughter, and we curl up in bed. We are both exhausted. I whisper stories in her ear, as her eyes slowly close, and she sleeps in the crock of my arm. As I listen to the voices coming from patio, I realize this is an extraordinary moment, makes me tear up just thinking about it. Here we are celebrating a good man, with an extraordinary meal, and all my kids are gathered around one table. It doesn’t get better than this.
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