Late Night Kitchen

I hear crickets as I sit here. Fourteen minutes while the asparagus cooks. It's 10:39 pm and cool enough that cooking for tomorrow seems like a good idea. A slab of coho seasoned with dill, paprika, salt, and pepper is resting in a glass pan, just having been removed from the oven. I'm tempted to eat the skin but know the late hour and my sense of guilt at not sharing will both put an ache in my stomach.

10:41 and the late night has consumed me. Sure, this is not a late night to most folks, but for us, this is our usual sleeping time. I like reading at 10 and turning off a light 20-30 minutes later. But tonight, the ice cubes sizzle in a mix of 1 part gin and 10 parts tonic. It's like I've been bitten by a bug. Maybe it's allergies. Tired all day, even though I ran errands. Store, where I ran into one of Kiddo's preschool teachers and an all around wonderful person. Store, later, when I picked up soap and some fruity sodas for a neighbor who had offered me a plant on Next Door. Seriously, where do these good people come from?

10:47. A package arrived earlier today. The coffee table I'd ordered had arrived. What I didn't know was that the finish on the pieces to the table was thin; there were chips. The locking washers weren't packed. After this, I discovered the leg end cap was broken AND the last leg I put on was 3" longer than the other ones, obviously from a taller table model. Rolled my eyes, got online, and got a full refund. The thing is, trying to put things together outside in the heat-- I feel like someone owes me money for making the effort. The temperature hit a record high for today: 97 degrees Fahrenheit. Sure, some people will scoff at how wimpy I am, but at this point in my life, I'm making my own heat, thank you.

The asparagus is done, pulled from the oven. The Parmesan cheese I grated over it is browned, the lemon zest is not. It's nearly eleven and I have most of tomorrow night's dinner made, just waiting to be packed into the fridge. Wednesday morning will find me boiling pasta and eggs for a macaroni salad (just add mayo and pickles). Kiddo has a 10:30 haircut appointment tomorrow, so I'd best get started early. It's meant to be another hot day, and I want to get the boiling done before breakfast, when I can still have the windows open. I'm lucky, truly. I love feeding my family. I love cooking and I love having the option of cooking at night. Some might find it a burden, but I'm just happy.

The oven door is open to cool. The back door is open to the crickets and the darkness and the wonder I never set eyes on. Maybe it's the rat or squirrel that steals my strawberries. Maybe it's mice eating the fallen birdseed, or raccoons looking for something sweet. The other morning, near noon, Joe, Kiddo and I saw a Mother Raccoon and about 5 kits. I wonder how often I just don't notice these things, whether they are nocturnal and I'm asleep, or if I'm just not looking out as critters come and go. Coyotes prowl the area and we bring the cats in before sundown, knowing there is risk in letting them go out and (psychological, to them) risk to keeping them indoors. Life is full of hard choices. Cooking in the late night is not one of them. To those people who stay up a little later to get those last things done, to make life easier tomorrow--mutual respect.


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