Last Thursday night I called Andy from the parking lot of a school. It was 7:45 PM. I was waiting for my 10-year-old to get out of soccer practice, held in the school’s gym. It was frigid. I was starving.
“What’s for dinner?”
I heard Keith Richards’ guitar in the background and some ice clinking in what I rightly guessed was a Manhattan.
“Some chicken with lemon, wine…” Clink, clink. “…Capers. Goin’ old School.” Clink. “Barley salad. Slaw.”
He was alone in the house cooking. Our 11-year-old wasn’t coming home until 8:15.
“I am so f-ing starving.”
What I love: That my daughters play sports. That they play soccer. That they have great coaches and great teammates. That I can watch them get stronger, better, faster almost before my eyes. That they play year-round. That they play year-round in freezing-cold bubbled domes, and public-school no-frills gyms and, unlike their mother, it doesn’t occur to them to complain. Ever.
What I don’t love: That practice times are creeping later and later. That, in fact, the other night we reached a milestone in our house: The dinner table had been cleared, the tomato-sauce-smeared plates loaded into the dishwasher, the dog walked, the lights (mostly) turned off while we headed upstairs to read in bed — and Phoebe was still not home from soccer practice. She was dropped off at 9:40 by the sainted parent of a teammate. Her dinner, a bowl of pea soup with crusty bread, had been consumed at 6:30, before practice, which started at 7:30 across the county.
I am not complaining. Nor will I tolerate a single person who tells me that we are idiots for getting ourselves into this predicament. I firmly believe that what my kids are learning being part of a team is every bit as valuable as what they are learning at our dinner table. And I firmly reserve the right to change my mind when it starts happening more than once a week. (Hello lacrosse season!)
So like every dinner obstacle before this one, we are adjusting. But if I was competing against extracurriculars for victory over weeknight dinnertime, the score right now would be Dinner: 4, Activities: 1. In my book — in any book — that’s a Win.
Plus, Andy got an hour to cook dinner while savoring a drink, without feeling like the game clock was ticking the whole time. And we all got to come home to Old School Chicken.
Old School Chicken with Lemon and Capers
4 medium chicken breasts, pounded, salted and peppered
few glugs of olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1-2 pats butter
juice from 1 lemon
Brown chicken in olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Remove chicken, add a little more olive oil to the pan and turn down heat to medium-low. And add onions and cook until slightly softened. Add wine, broth, and lemon juice to the pan, and then chicken. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cover until chicken is cooked through and liquid is slightly thicker. Swirl in butter, add capers and serve.
Andy served with barley salad that had been tossed with arugula, grape tomatoes, feta, and vinaigrette.