Dinner Time!

Photo by Katerina Holmes on Pexels.com

(This was from a writing prompt exercise I was given last week in my creative writing class, we were working on imagery. I was really pleased with the way it came out and wanted to share it with you all. Let me know what you think!)

Tonight is steak dinner night, my favorite! My husband Jimmy loves to spoil me.

 As his sous chef, I take my position at the cutting board; he heads to the garden outback with a pair of scissors. We need fresh herbs for the morel mushroom sauce. I pulled the handle of the potato drawer down by my feet and reached for the half-empty sack hidden inside, putting it on the counter next to the cutting board.

Next, I reached for the chef’s knife in the drawer to the left and the “T” shaped peeler in the utensil draw next to the stove. I loved the way the peeler felt in my hand. It was light and smooth, and I could cradle it comfortably without wrist pain.

I decide to use the rest of the potatoes; the kids love them. I opened the bag, and the earthy aroma tickled my nose. The firm brown root felt rough in my hand as I positioned it in my palm and used the peeler to expose its white flesh underneath the protective skin. I repeat the process until there is nothing but glistening white left to see, dropping one occasionally as its slick surface becomes harder to grip.

My husband returned from the garden and noticed I’d forgotten to put a pot of water on the stove. He set his herbal bounty on the counter to prepare a pot as I continue to strip the spuds. 

After peeling them, I retrieve the knife I set next to the cutting board and started chopping. My goal is to cut the potatoes evenly, but I rarely succeed. My knife skills are limited, I do my best to cut them as evenly as possible, for even cooking. 

I use the knife’s back to scoop handfuls of chopped potato into the pot now waiting on the stove, salting the water generously and adding granulated garlic afterwords. Jimmy places the lid over the top and turns the knob up to high. I pop a stray piece of potato left on the cutting board into my mouth and bite down; its firm and slightly crunchy. The starch coats my tongue and has little to no taste. It has the constancy of jicama and felt gritty between my teeth.

Once the potatoes start boiling, I grab a medium yellow onion and my trusty cutting tool; and prepare for chemical warfare! The first few slices are usually okay, but once that first layer is off, it’s every man for himself. The tear gas hits my eyes, and the waterworks start by the fourth cut. I have to stop and back away halfway through. My husband hands me a towel to blot away my misery, and I accept it eagerly; while he takes over my fight. 

Once I recover, I head to the fridge and take out the sirloin. The shrink wrap gives way with little resistance as I poke it sharply. I sprinkled kosher salt and black pepper on both sides before pulling out the cast-iron skillet from the cabinet. I turn the heat on under the skillet, quickly rinse the rosemary and tarragon Jimmy brought in from the garden, and softly pat it dry with a paper towel. I lifted the herbs to my nose and took a deep breath, savoring their clean and slightly anise fragrance.

I spot a stick of butter sitting by the stove. Jimmy must have taken it out of the fridge while I was cutting onions. I reach for a butter knife, slice off a generous pad, and put it in the hot cast-iron. The smell of sizzling butter filled the kitchen and made my mouth water. 

Jimmy tested the pan’s heat by hovering his hand inches above the skillet base. Within seconds, the heat scorched his skin. Perfect. He carefully set the steak in the center of the browning butter. 

As the fragrance of beefy, buttery goodness filled the house, our three sons materialize from the shadows like hungry ninjas—time to put them to work. I had the eldest test the potatoes with a fork. He studied the pot for a moment, choosing his target, then expertly jabbed his fork into the bubbling water. A slow smile spread across his face, and he nodded his approval. They were ready to be mashed.

I left him to it and turned to the smallest; he was making eyes at the succulent steak browning under my husband’s expert eye. I hand the herbs to him and instruct him to help his father. He took the herbs dutifully and hurried them to his papa. Ready to be of assistance.

The middle ninja didn’t wait for instructions. He was already walking to the table with a stack of plates; sensing dinner was near no doubt. My husband and I share an amused glance as he set to the table.

 I took the fresh morels I bought the day before and sliced each of them down the middle. Their spongy flesh was utterly hollow in the center. It had a slightly rubbery feel as the knife pierced through. The mushroom cap’s spongy texture creates a waffle-like pattern, perfect little cavities to capture the creamy, rich red wine sauce.

The smallest ninja requested my help retrieving a plate for his father. I oblige him, and he thanks me with a series nod. Making the perfect steak is serious business. I chuckle and put the mushrooms in a bowl, and open the bottle of red. I staged the mushrooms next to my youngest son and the freshly opened bottle next to my husband before stepping back to watch the scene unfold before me. Awed by the way my boys move in perfect harmony through the cramped kitchen. Savoring the moment before chaos retakes the reigns, and the kids resume their usual sibling squabbling.