I’ve only watched The Simpsons a few times in my life, but I vividly recall an episode where Homer stands in front of his bathroom mirror shaving. As soon as he puts down the razor and towels his face dry, his six-o-clock shadow emerges as gray and shady as it was before he began. I mention this here because I, like most parents, contend with my own Homer’s Beard every day, i.e. the clutter…i.e. the beading kits, the book order catalogs, the cheese stick wrappers, the Monopoly money, the paper dolls, the general detrius of family life, which keeps coming back bigger and stronger and darker and shadier no matter how forcefully I fight it. Like it’s freaking alive. It’s not even like my kids are that messy — they’re just busy and into things. And when you’re busy and into things and you are not yet paying you’re own rent…well, it would take some convincing to get me to clean up the wikki stix too.
The Sisyphean struggle is annoying every day, but it is particularly annoying every other Wednesday when the house is professionally cleaned, the sink scoured, the floors mopped, and the stovetop is sparkling in the sunlight with nary a grease speck in sight. I devote my whole being to protecting the illusion of a peaceful, orderly house as long as possible…which usually amounts to about 20 minutes. My friend Frances, who attempts this feat of daring as well, has managed to carve out an oasis of calm in the one spot her young kids are not allowed to touch: the stovetop. On cleaning day, she makes baked sausages because it’s all done inside the oven, involves minimal countertop work, and keeps the stovetop area clean and mess-free. For one night at least.
Baked Sausage with Apples, Potatoes, and Onions
I originally thought this might work as a one-dish and a no-chop meal, which is why I bought tiny potatoes and cippolini onions. But it can be annoying to peel those tiny onions (no matter how sweet the reward) so you should feel free to use a regular onion.
Preheat oven to 425°F. In a large baking dish, toss 2 cups small whole unpeeled potatoes (or 3 to 4 medium potatoes chopped), 1 medium onion (chopped artlessly in chunks), and leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh thyme with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes, then toss in 2 to 3 apples (unpeeled, preferably baking apples such as Cortland, Granny Smith, Jonathan, Northern Spy) that have been cut into large chunks, and 4 uncooked sweet Italian sausages (about 1 pound). Turn heat down to 400°F and bake another 30 minutes. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, stir 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar into vegetables. Serve with dollops of grainy or Dijon mustard.