We had it good this past year

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Have you ever thought about what it would be like to be rich? By this, I don’t mean not having to worry about money. I’m talking Thurston Howell III rich. Rich enough to employ servants — a maid, a butler, a chauffeur, an au pair or nanny and perhaps even a cook.

I would never have to sweep the floor again or help Connie wash the windows with a maid. A maid would clean up the kitchen every night after dinner and even do the laundry. That would be nice.

A butler would be in charge of all the other servants. He — it’s usually a man — would take care of the wine cellar, make a weekly menu, organize dinner parties and of course, answer the door.

If I was rich enough to have a chauffeur, he or she — I’m not a chauvinist, I would employ a woman for that position — would drive me the two miles each day to and from work and the one mile trip to Walmart. While I worked, I guess she would wash the car.

Since our children are all grown, we would not need an au pair.  

A cook would prepare our breakfast, lunch, and dinner Monday through Saturday, not to mention purchasing food for each meal. They would have one day off, so Connie and I would have to survive on leftovers each Sunday.

Our house is not big enough for a full-time maid. I don’t have a wine cellar for a butler. It would seem stupid to have a chauffeur drive me around in my Chevy Cruze.

If I had my choice, a cook is what I’d want. For the past year, Connie and I were fortunate, we had a cook who lived with us.

The pandemic allowed our adult daughter, Abby, to move back home with us one year ago.

She returned to her former bedroom on the first floor — read basement — and turned her older brother’s bedroom into an office.  There, she spent up to 8 hours a day on her computer working on her Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Madison, Wisc.

She did not fix our breakfast each morning or pack a lunch. But most evenings, she prepared dinner for us.

Before Abby, I never knew there were foods that went by the names of couscous, quinoa, arugula, udon noodles or bok choy. If I had heard someone pronounce “bok choy” a year ago, I would have assumed they were talking in Klingon — a fictional species in the Star Trek science fiction franchise.

When Abby moved back in with us, she brought her Dutch Oven — not the kind we used while camping with the Boy Scouts. This cookware can start on the stovetop and complete the meal in the oven.

One of her favorite recipes for the Dutch Oven was coq au vin — another word new to my vocabulary. Coq au vin is a French dish of chicken braised with wine, lardons (pork fat), mushrooms, and optionally garlic.  

Having lived in Columbia and Madison for the past six years, she was exposed to many different cuisines, including food from Southeast Asia. So we enjoyed many dishes that relied on curry.

We were also introduced to Korean veggie pancakes (pajeon), yaki udon noodles, a stir-fry recipe from Japan and pork dumplings — also known as potstickers — from China.

Abby’s cooking did not always center on Southeast Asia. We also were treated to Carne Asada tacos with Pico Di Gallo and guacamole.

Abby was always coming up with different recipes for chicken, including southern hot honey chicken and spatchcock chicken with green sauce.

Before 2021 I never knew what spatchcocking was.

Abby exposed us to other culinary delights: honey stuffed pancakes, cinnamon-apple Dutch baby, shepherd’s pie, chicken pot pie, sweet potato cakes, jambalaya, beef and broccoli stir fry and cherry galette. 

 Perhaps my favorite dish she prepared for us was a shrimp boil with potatoes, corn on the cob and andouille sausage. I did know what andouille sausage was before last year.

Alas, our cook moved out last week.

The July/August issue of this year’s Reader’s Digest quotes a Tweet in the Life in these United States section; “As a child, I truly did not understand how good I had it not having to decide what to eat for dinner every single night.”

Connie and I know how good we had it this past year. Not only did our vocabulary expand but also our waists.

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