The 120 minute, not-so-family-friendly meal

Img_6708So you want to know why all I ever do is roast, grill, sautee, and assemble? Not bake, layer, braise, and plan? Because I’m not an Italian nonna who has all day to visit store after store, eventually coming home mid afternoon to cook up a multi course, multi step meal complete with primi, secondi, and so on.

But sometimes I think that I should do such things. And so I found myself making 20 crespelle (Italian for crepes) in two non-stick pans (to speed things up), a quick tomato sauce (olive oil, garlic, some canned plum tomatoes, reduced a bit), and my classic garlicky, olive oil-y broccoli (high heat pan roast) all at the same time on a weeknight, with no time to spare, sacrificing play time with my kids, testing the patience of my wife, all in the pursuit of the idea of a meal that didn’t involve just a quick sautee/grill/sear and a salad.

And it all worked out. I didn’t play with my kids. I barely saw my wife. I made a big mess that maxed out the dishwasher and spattered the backsplash and my clothes and had me giving a quick kiss good night to my kids before running back to the final two crespelle and nearly scorched brocolli and burnt ragu. And it yielded amazing cheese and broccoli-stuffed rolled crespelle, just one part of an amazing three course, mid-week Italian-esque meal any harried nonna (or pappa) would be proud of. My wife and I loved it and washed it down with oceans of cheap Chianti (even cheap Chianti from the 2003 vintage tastes pretty good). But was it good for my family? Hell no. Moral of the story: give yourself a break. Don’t think you need to go overboard in time, technique, etc. in pursuit of some fantasy of what a family meal should be. Keep it simple, unfussy, as few steps as possible.

The highlight: when my kids came in and snagged a crespelle each for themselves on the way to bed, this dialogue ensued:

Desi says: it’s quesadilla
Violet says: this one tastes like pancakes
Desi says: it’s pizza
I say: Yes, you’re both right! (and then in my mind: yes, my brilliant brilliant offspring, you have both identified the global culinary category of flatbread).

So I guess it wasn’t all for naught.

But I’m not cursing you with a recipe.

—Hugh

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