PERCEPTION IN THE EMPTY NEST

A track bicycle

Our perception of our almost grown children can often be two steps behind the place where they now stand.  We are no longer privy to the day to day changes that are occurring far from our eyesight.  They have often grown more mature and more responsible while we were here and they were there.  It is easy to fall back on old reactions and responses and it feels awful when we are wrong.  There are examples we could use, filled with guilt and angst, but we decided to use one that made us laugh.  We’ll save the guilt and angst for another day.

Rory’s car wasn’t in the driveway when Denise was leaving for work that morning. But there was a bike leaning up against a tree in the front yard.  As mothers often do, she thought two things simultaneously.  Relieved that if he had had too much to drink, he hadn’t driven home, and annoyed that he would be so cavalier with a bike that he must have borrowed from a friend because the bike against the tree wasn’t his.  She went back in to the house to wake him and found that he wasn’t home. He must have gone out again, she thought to herself.  Someone must have picked him up.  She didn’t want to leave the bike in the front yard.  It might get stolen.  She wheeled it in to the garage and closed the door. Then she thought, what if whoever owns the bike, stops by to get it and it’s locked in the garage?  So, she opened the garage door and moved the bike back to the tree.  Then she thought, what if someone steals it before Rory comes home to return it? So she moved it one more time-in to the backyard.  Now she was frustrated. It was 6:30 in the morning. She’d done way too much thinking and hadn’t even pulled out of the driveway yet.  She waited until lunchtime to call Rory to tell him he should get home and return the bike to the person who lent it to him. Rory insisted he hadn’t borrowed a bike. That he had ridden HIS bike and was waiting for a ride home. Denise insisted that he must have borrowed a bike, because there was a nice bike in the backyard and it wasn’t his. Rory insisted he didn’t know what she was talking about. Denise insisted that he did. Denise hung up in frustration.

An hour later, the phone rang in Denise’s office. It was Rory. “I see the bike, Mom.  It isn’t mine and it doesn’t belong to any of my friends.”  “Really Rory?” said Denise, exasperated. “Then who’s bike is it?”

Rory’s exasperated response:

“The police think it might belong to the guy who STOLE MY CAR, MOM”.

1984-1996 Jeep Cherokee photographed in Kensin...

THE MENU:  CHICKEN POT PIE,  SALAD, CHOCOLATE COCONUT SHEET CAKE:

CHICKEN POT PIE (adapted from the Ad Hoc at Home Cookbook by Thomas Keller)

  • 1 cup 1/2″ pieces red skinned potatoes
  • 1 1/4 cup 1/4″ pieces of carrot cut on the diagonal
  • 12 white pearl onions
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 24 black peppercorns
  • 1 1/4 cups celery cut on the diagonal
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 2 cups bechamel sauce seasoned with thyme, salt & pepper and a pinch of cayenne
  • pie crust for 9 or 10 inch pie plate (we used Trader Joe’s)

Put the potatoes, carrots and onions in separate small saucepans, cover with water and add 1 bay leaf, 1 sprig of thyme and 8 peppercorns in each pan.  Bring to simmer over medium high het and simmer until just tender.  Drain vegetables, discard spices and spread on baking sheet.  Cut the onions in half.  Blanch the celery in a pot of salted boiling water.  Place in ice bath until cold.  Drain and place on baking sheet.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare the pie shell.  Scatter the vegetables and chicken on the bottom of the pie shell.  Pour bechamel over chicken and vegetables.  Cover the filling with the top crust and press the edges together to seal.  Brush the top with a beaten egg.  Cut a small vent in the center of the crust to allow steam to escape.

Bake on the lower oven rack for 50-60 minutes until crust is browned.  Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 10 minutes.

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GREEN SALAD:  (the vinaigrette)

  • 2 anchovy fillets, dried
  • 1 tablespoon capers rinsed and dried
  • 2 tablespoons redwine vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, minced

Using a mini food processor, process the anchovies and capers in to a paste.  Whisk in the mustard, vinegar, lemon juice and pepper.  Add the oil in a steady stream, blending until emulsified.  Place the minced shallot in a bowl, pour the vinaigrette in to the bowl, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Toss greens of your choice, with thinly sliced fennel and radishes.  Dress and divide among individual plates.  Top with either shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, toasted almonds or thinly sliced, peeled orange sections.

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CHOCOLATE COCONUT SHEET CAKE

For the cake:

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. coarse salt
  • 2 large eggs lightly beatened
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup warm strong brewed coffee
  • 3 tbsp. canola oil

The topping:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 2 cups confectioner sugar
  • 6 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 cups finely shredded dry unsweetened coconut
  • 2/3 cup warm strong brewed coffee

For the cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a 9 x 13 inch baking dish, line the bottom with parchment paper.  Butter parchment and dust with cocoa powder.  Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Create a well in the center and pour eggs, buttermilk, coffee and oil.  Whisk thoroughly until combined.  Pour batter into dish and bake for about 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

For the topping:

Melt butter for topping in a small sauce pan.  Combine confectioners sugar, cocoa powder and coconut in a large bowl.  Stir coffee into melted butter and pour over coconut mixture.  Stir to combine and immediately spread over warm cake.  Top with whipped cream if desired.

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13 Responses to PERCEPTION IN THE EMPTY NEST

  1. TBM says:

    Is the story real…the thief left his bike?

  2. yes, the thief left the bike. not only that, he hadn’t completely unpacked the car since coming home from school. his clothes and his guitar were still in the car. denise was upset that the guitar would be stolen. rory upset that his clothes would be stolen. denise said “who would steal your clothes?” when the car was recovered a few days later, the guitar was in the car but the clothes were gone. it felt like a seen from Dazed and Confused.

  3. Oh my, lucky that you got the car and guitar back again…food looks great as always.

  4. likeitiz says:

    At first, I thought this was going to be some musings on the newly emptied nest, which I can totally relate to as I too have been talking about it in my blog. (We are kindred spirits! Notice how we are never more obsessed in the minutiae of our dog’s life, poor thing.). The ending was certainly a surprise, just like the Gone Girl novel I had read not too long ago. Wow, I’m so relieved the car and guitar were retrieved. Time for clothes’ shopping, I guess. 😉

  5. lillianccc says:

    I admit the ending to the story made me laugh a little but looks like his car made it back in one piece so I don’t have to feel guilty for having found the amusing side of the story. How odd that the thief would just leave his bike out like that!

  6. Cynthia says:

    Wow! One of my favorite sayings is that “you just can’t make that up.” Glad your son is alright. 😉

  7. Hilarious (though I guess not for your son)! Could also be an entry in ‘America’s Dumbest Criminals’?

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