On Saturday, The Beloved and I went to visit Uncle Ray at his nursing home and Auntie 'Leenie at her nursing home. As we always do, we picked up Eileen and headed over to Uncle Ray's for about a 45-minute visit before whisking Eileen off to lunch.
She turned 92 on Friday, and to help her celebrate, we took her to the English-style pub Pinehurst for fish and chips. We had a really great visit. Uncle Ray was pretty chipper during our stay, and Auntie 'Leenie continues to surprise us all--herself included, I think--with her vitality.
It's funny sort of, the yardsticks by which we measure good visits. They've changed over the years. Long ago, a good visit meant challenging conversation, lots of laughter and good food. Later, "good" meant that Auntie Ev was in good enough shape to go out to eat. Now, a good visit means that Uncle Ray is in a reasonably good mood, that he doesn't demand that we let him go to the bathroom by himself, that he keeps his oxygen on and eats enough for lunch.
That's life, I guess. I know. Our family is our family, and if our yardstick must change, then it must. Visits will never be like they once were. But they can still be good. And they are, and for this we are grateful.
Here's a quick supper idea for you guys. We had this last night, and I think it was on the table in about 30 minutes. Easy and tasty. We served ours with leftover fish from Auntie 'Leenie's birthday lunch (thankfully battered, fried fish reheats reasonably well in the toaster oven), but this would be great on its own, too, with maybe a nice poached or sunny side up egg or two.
- 2 Tablespoons coconut oil, divided
- 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- 1 small sweet onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 5 slices of pancetta, chopped into wee bits (of course you can use bacon--maybe 3 slices)
- 1½ cups your favorite rice (I used basmati)
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar (or white wine)
- enough chicken stock to cover the rice by about ¾ inch (up to just-shy-of the first knuckle on my pointer finger. Clean pointer finger)
- 1 bunch lovely asparagus, trimmed of any woody stems and cut into 1½" pieces
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- ¾ cup fresh or frozen sweet peas
- zest of 1 lemon
- a couple of handfuls of grated Parmesan cheese
- Spread out the asparagus pieces on a cookie sheet. Toss with salt, pepper, half the coconut oil and olive oil.
- Broil about 6" from the element until very bright green with a few blistered places starting, about 5-7 minutes.
- Set aside
- In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, melt the rest of the coconut oil and the butter.
- Cook the minced shallots, onions and pancetta, along with some salt and pepper, until the pancetta is crispy and the onions and shallot have taken on some nice color.
- Add the rice and cook, stirring, until the rice is translucent around the outside, about 3-4 minutes. You might need to add some more coconut oil, olive oil or butter.
- Pour in the vinegar and cook until dry.
- Add the chicken stock to cover the rice by about ¾".
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes.
- Add the peas and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, until the rice is tender.
- Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
- Fold in the cooked asparagus, the zest and Parmesan.
- Eat and enjoy.
And that's pretty much that.
Enjoy your family while you have them, and be willing to meet them where they are, not where you wish they were. Even if it can sometimes make you a little sad.
And enjoy this whenever you want. Take care, and have a lovely day.