Friday, November 8, 2013

Working a Miracle, Again

"Perfect timing," I said answering the phone wearing my suit and heels. "I just walked in the door." 
"I'm leaving the studio now," Mr. Wonderful's voice sounded over the phone. "And I've got some friends with me."
"What if I meet you halfway and we all eat at a restaurant?"
"These guys miss home cooked meals."
"Invite them over next weekend and I'll make them something fabulous."
"They heard you can make dinner in 20 minutes and want to see it."


It's true. I had made a delicious shrimp and lemon pasta dinner in a mere 20 minutes for my spouse and his two work colleagues--Brian and Chad. Which to be honest, was a heaven-sent miracle. Evidently, the news of this miracle and its lemony flavor-fulness spread from those two men to all my spouse's contacts at the studio. Miracles are amazing but they do have a downside: after you do one, people start to expect them. All the time. And clearly tonight was no exception in the miracle expectation department.

Miracles also have an upside: after performing one, it's easy to perform it again. After making that shrimp and lemon pasta dish, I could now do it with my eyes closed, which--hey!--would be either another miracle, divine intervention or a serious kitchen fire hazard. Then I got the bad news.

"I'm bringing Brian and Chad," Mr. Wonderful said.
"Oh," my smile faded.
"Frank's coming, too. And he doesn't eat seafood or gluten."
"Oh," my heart sank.
"See you in 20, no, 19 minutes." Then my spouse hung up.

Here's the thing. I'd already served the miraculous shrimp and lemon pasta dish to Brian and Chad so I couldn't make that for them again because what kind of miracle would that be? In the New Testament, Jesus performed 37 miracles such as 1) Healing the sick, 2) Making the deaf speak, and 3) Turning water into wine. In other words, they were all different. Which to be fair, is part of the definition of a miracle: you do something amazing once and that's amazing but then it's a done deal. If you do the same miracle a second time, it's no longer a miracle, instead it's just well-rehearsed like a Shakespeare play, a Penn and Teller performance or a "reality" show. 

Besides, even if I had wanted to repeat that shrimpy miracle, I couldn't because of Frank's dietary limitations. Nope, it had to be a new miracle and I should have started it a minute ago.

Miracle #2 happened in steps:
1) Scanned the pantry for gluten-free (GF) items. Discovered I had lots of GF food like: peanut butter, Jell-O, a stick of butter and some rice. 
2) Jackson the cat heard me open the pantry--where his food is kept--and sauntered into the kitchen to meow for some food. 
3) Grabbed the rice, put a pot of water on the burner.
4) Needed to add some fat to the rice and my options included said peanut butter, Jell-O and butter. Played Rock, Paper, Scissors to decide which to use. Butter won.
5) Jackson sniffed the butter and meowed for some food.
6) Scanned the refrigerator for something to go with the rice. I nixed the salmon filets, the halibut steaks and the tin of salted anchovies. Cursed all fish for being so tasty that I bought and stocked a lot of them in my kitchen to the detriment of other proteins. Cursed self for not having more options. Looked at clock and saw I had 11 minutes. Cursed the clock, time and miracles! Asked for some help pulling off this second miracle.
6) Jackson joined me at the refrigerator, sniffed its contents, and stretched up to the second shelf where he noticed a package of chicken legs and meowed for some food.
7) Of course! I praised my brilliant feline for having the best nose west of the Atlantic Ocean and grabbed the chicken legs. Rolled the chicken legs in rice flour bread crumbs, put them in a Dutch Oven with sliced onions, celery and carrots and more butter on the stove top.
8) Set out a bowl of Lucques olives, another bowl for the pits, and toothpicks. Set the table for five, grabbed a bottle of wine and uncorked it. 
9) Raced to bedroom to change out of my suit and heels. Scanned closet and discovered I had more GF foods in my pantry than I did clothes in my closet to wear for a second miracle. Looked in the mirror and debated changing said clothes. Then decided… nah.
10) Returned to the pantry and opened a tin of cat food for Jackson who meowed and rubbed against my leg. 

Just then, Mr. Wonderful entered with three famished pals. They commented on how good things smelled, how good the wine was and when they actually ate the food, how good the home cooked meal was. The three guests congratulated me on another miracle. Brian and Chad were especially appreciative since they had now witnessed a second miracle in my kitchen. They all deemed the meal delicious. 

I accepted their praise with a gracious smile. Knowing all along, I couldn't have managed it without serious interspecies teamwork from my little, furry helper, Jackson. The cat jumped on my lap and licked his chops. All around it was a solid second miracle.