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on crockpots and becoming a grown-up

June 23, 2010

I am not very good at being an adult.

This is a point that has been hammered home over and over lately, as more and more of the people I went to high school and college with are getting married, having babies, buying houses. Meanwhile, I pat myself on the back every time I manage to go to bed at a reasonable hour. The other day at school, one of my more responsible parents came in to pick up his kids, a second-grader and a three-year-old, and the secretary got out a photo album to show everyone a picture of Mr. Thornton when he was in sixth grade at our school. The date in the corner of the photo said 1997. Guess who else was a sixth-grader in 1997? Guess who else is not only incapable, but terrified of the idea of having a seven-year-old right now?

Such a state of affairs is one that my mother has learned to handle with infinite patience. She knows what’s going on underneath the steady job and regular bill payments, and somehow, she has managed to stay loving while still insistently looking out for what is best for me. Which means that her suggestions for how to be a functional adult sound, 99.5% of the time, empathetic and kind instead of passive-aggressive and judgy. E.g.:

  • “You know, I just find that I feel a lot better when I put on makeup before I go out of the house.”
  • “I know blow-drying takes a lot of time that you don’t always want to spend, but if you’re going somewhere, it just gives your hair really nice bounce.”
  • “If you don’t pay your library fines, you will never find a place that will lend to you again.”

In retrospect, she must not have known what to make of me – her daughter so confoundingly good at some things (I’m not going to name names, but one of the authors of this blog managed to ace most of her freshman classes without realizing that students were supposed to read what was on the syllabus before the class met), and so mind-bogglingly inept at others. (Go back and read that last sentence again.) It is with her patience and guidance that, hopefully, I will someday own property.

This should give you some context for what happened a few months ago, when I was home for Easter and we were standing in the kitchen section of TJ Maxx. “Oh look, a crockpot,” she said. “So cheap. Have you considered using one before?”

Visions of For Women First! recipes danced in my head. “I’m just not sure how much I would use it,” I responded democratically.

She looked me up and down with a skeptical eye. I believe I was probably wearing sweatpants, and I also believe that I might have slept in them.

“I’m buying it for you,” she said. “I think you’ll need it.”

And so it was that I managed to convince my roommates that I was preparing for an apocalyptic showdown, as I bore the slow cooker home and determined to make use of it. I made chicken stock that took four days. I cooked and froze white beans. I froze canary beans. I froze chickpeas and split peas and at least sixteen cups of black beans, most of which have now been given away, as I am moving home next week to save money before I start grad school. “What are you doing?” asked one of the people who lives in my house, a man who shall now be referred to as Weird Roommate, partially but not entirely because his dinner often consists of a can of tuna and a can of corn, eaten out of a pie plate. “Are you going to be…using them for something?” A new type of nuclear fuel, perhaps? his tone said, or supplies for your bunker? Do you know something we don’t?

And all of this glorious preparation for adulthood came to a head today, all of that self-satisfaction in one bowl. I have strep throat, or a sinus infection, or something, pending lab results, and whatever its name is, its main qualities are that it sucks and it makes my throat hurt. I went home from the doctor’s office to make the same basic chicken soup that the same above-mentioned mother has made for me time out of mind when I am sick, and I discovered, to my delight, that I had a bag of that chicken stock in the freezer. I added some frozen white beans and some month-old carrots from the bottom of the fridge and my new favorite pasta, a tiny farfalle I got at the Turkish grocery in Maryland for 99 cents. Google will not yield its name*, but it’s the size of a thumbnail and it’s so cute it’s almost unbearable. I added, again at my mother’s suggestion, a handful of grated hard cheese (I used Asiago**, but whatever you have will probably do), and then took it upon myself to squeeze in the juice from half a lemon, and then I used it to soothe my aching throat while I watched reruns of “Top Chef: DC”, and it was delicious. Thanks to what I had prepared in advance. Adulthood works, people. I’m here to tell you about it.

IMPROVISED BASIC NOODLE SOUP FOR SICK PEOPLE

Makes 3-4 servings

  • 3 cups chicken stock (I used homemade and added some from a box)
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced into small pieces
  • 1 cup small pasta
  • 3/4 cup small white beans, canned or frozen
  • handful of grated hard cheese
  • juice from half a lemon
  • salt and pepper as needed

Combine chicken stock, carrot and white beans in a pot and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. When pasta is cooked through, squeeze in lemon juice and add the cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.

*Annoyingly, it keeps redirecting me to recipes involving farfalle and turkey.

(ETA: I think it’s this – the picture labeled “Fiyonk.” I don’t know if that refers to all farfalle or only the tiny kind, however.)

**This sounds pretentious, but seriously: hard cheeses keep forever, they last forever if you grate with a Microplane, and they add instant class. I have Asiago because it tends to be the cheapest.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. corinne permalink
    June 23, 2010 8:48 pm

    having a 7 year old may make you a grown up, but it does not necessarily imply good life choices

  2. June 24, 2010 9:41 am

    Crockpots are magical. I am also not particularly good at being an adult (and by calculations, I’m 5 years older than you), but man! Do I love my crockpot. And this soup of yours sounds perfect for a sick day.

Trackbacks

  1. How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love my Crockpot « Essays Moral, Philosophical, and Stomachical

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