Chicken in the Skillet, Abby Underfoot

I am normally pretty even-keel emotionally, not prone to wild fits of irrational optimism.  Certainly not when Stephen is out of town and I have been home alone with Abby for two days.  So I can’t explain what possessed me to attempt this, but last week I decided to cook a new recipe from my Real Simple magazine for our small group potluck dinner on Tuesday.

I bought most of my ingredients at HEB on Monday.  I bought the rest of what I needed at our local Farmers’ Market early Tuesday morning (did I mention I’ve been rereading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle?).  The recipe was called “Spicy Chicken with Couscous Salad.”  The magazine said it would take 20 minutes of prep time.  I started an hour ahead of time.

I brought Abby into the kitchen with a billion toys and set to work.  My first task was to rub my chicken with a spicy rub and cook them in a skillet.  This took a while, because as soon as I would handle a raw chicken, Abby would get into something and I would have to quickly wash my hands and redirect her attention.  My anxiety heightened as I began to get the chicken pieces into the skillet, trying to keep an eye on my cooking poultry as well as my into-everything crawler.  Abby was tired of playing with all one billion toys, as well as all of my blunt-edged cooking utensils that I had tossed onto the floor for her to play with.

I moved Abby into her booster chair with some Cheerios and a sippy cup of water.  This kept her contained and entertained for long enough for me to finish cooking the chicken and prep my vegetables for the couscous salad.  When I hit a lull in production, I tried to give Abby my full attention and feed her some carrots.  That backfired; she was not interested in carrots.  As my  punishment for putting those abominable pureed veggies near her mouth, Abby refused to sit in her booster any more.

All I had left to do was assemble the pieces of the couscous salad and slice the chicken on top of it.  This seemed like the home stretch, so I placed Abby back on the floor for another round of toy-play.  I quickly sliced the chicken into strips and dumped the cups of fluffy couscous into a baking dish.  Abby crawled around, crying, discovering every piece of dirt and old food clinging to the baseboards.  She pulled up on the sharp-edged drawer of the stove and dumped out my plastic recycling.  She got stuck under the kitchen table and bumped her head trying to get out.  Hurriedly, I dumped in the sliced pea pods and tomatoes.

Here I began to question my sanity.  Up to this point, I had been frazzled but in control.  However, my experiment was unraveling.  I needed to leave the house in five minutes.  Abby was pulling up on my legs, crying and drooling, while I was squeezing juice out of a lemon and grating the zest with my microplane grater.

I heard the sound of a diaper blow-out as I stirred the couscous salad together and artfully arranged the chicken slices on top of it.  I washed my hands, scooped up Abby, and changed her into a fresh diaper and outfit.

Twenty minutes later, I arrived at Bible study, carrying a clean but still-sniffling Abby in one arm and my dish of Spicy Chicken with Couscous Salad in the other.

“What a sweet baby!  What a delicious dinner!” said our friends.  If they only knew.

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6 responses to “Chicken in the Skillet, Abby Underfoot

  1. Carolyn Dickinson

    So true! If they only knew….lol! That’s like the battles to get ready for church on Sunday mornings and then you walk in and everyone thinks you just sailed in with not a care in the world. HA! At least at this age, Abby doesn’t disagree with her outfit/socks/shoes/bow. Wait till she’s three. Lydia hated wearing brown and would protest wearing a certain dress. Every. time.

  2. Ready for number two?!

  3. Wait…were you asking Lindsey?

  4. The obvious answer to my mom’s problem was to avoid the hideous dress and let me pick what I wanted to wear!

  5. @ Clint- Not yet!!
    @ Mom- hypothetical question. No announcement.
    @ Lydia- makes sense to me! But I’m not going to get in the middle of that one!

  6. Aw, this post makes me miss you… I would’ve loved to try that yummy dish, can totally relate to your plight, plus I miss watching Abby grow up! Sigh.

    You know, our new house is a little bit closer on I-35. 🙂

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