Limping along though I am, fighting City Hall and feeling like the merest husk of a domestic goddess, I am wondering what other “Bad Rad” women throughout history did to feed their families when they were in the midst of political activism. I look at my calendar, and every night there is a meeting – City Council, a potluck where I need to hand out fliers, a neighborhood meeting where I need to catch people up and rally them to stay motivated, or a meeting that is part of my “regular” life of school activities, or seeing family and friends. Days are similarly encumbered. The Inbox is always full, and I play a little game with myself – I answer three messages about our civic battle, and then I can play solitaire, or paint my nails (black, lately). Three more sets of nerves calmed, three more fires put out, and I can read a chapter in my book. The phone rings constantly, sometimes reporters, sometimes angry people, puzzled people, occasionally (if I am lucky) someone who just wants to know when the Macy’s bill will be paid.
So I think about women like Harriet Tubman, and Emma Goldman, and Sojourner Truth. What did their families eat for dinner while they were out marching, being arrested, and carrying signs? I was born and raised for this, and I should know the ropes. My earliest memories have to do with attending a McGovern rally and listening to Pete Seeger and Peter Paul and Mary. I went to Oberlin College, and I have spent hours protesting everything from apartheid to nuclear proliferation. I became a lawyer because I was the foreman of a jury on which it quickly became apparent that the (probably guilty) accused was going to be convicted merely because his public defender was doing a sloppy job; this lit a fire in me to insure justice by advocating for those who were unable to afford a good defense. It was a mistake, the law school thing, and I only defended the criminally accused for a terrifying three month stint, but I did end up representing people with disabilities for many years, and the feeling of obligation to right wrong when I see it is still an important one.
The problem is that I never received any kind of education for “family life while leading an insurrection.” I assume that Mrs. King cooked for Martin and the kids, and, well, Ghandi didn’t eat a lot of the time. What happens when the woman in the family is at ground zero for the agitation? At my house, meals are still expected on a regular basis, and although Mr. Annie is a fabulous guy (and not a bad cook) he has a full time job, and I don’t. The preparation of meals (along with the alleged cleaning of the house) has always been my gig, and one that I loved.
We have eaten pizza, we have eaten Thai, we have picked at leftovers and we have eaten canned tomato soup and grilled cheese. I want real meals, now, and I want to cook them. Was Susan B. Anthony worried about what anyone ate? Doubtful. Did Emma Goldman complain if her speaking schedule prevented her from enjoying a sit-down spread? Ptobably not. I suspect that if I burned with the true zeal of a reformer I wouldn’t care, either. I may never have books written about me as The Champion of University Town Aesthetics or The Enemy of Excessive Development, but my family is going to eat well this week, and I will be hailed on Forest Street as The Mom Who Made Dinner Again. Here’s what we’re eating in the cradle of the revolution:
Marinated, Grilled Chicken Breasts, Asparagus with Truffle Oil and Rice Pilaf
Sometimes I make marinade, sometimes I use salad dressing, and sometimes I buy marinade; this is a week when I’m likely to pick some Italianate dressing to use as my marinade. I’ll steam the asparagus and drizzle some white truffle oil over it; maybe a little of the Fleur de Sel my friend Alice just brought me from Williams-Sonoma.* (She brought me the white truffle oil from Zabar’s in Manhattan, too).
Spareribs, Oven Fries, Green Salad
My spare rib production method is definitely not authentic; my excuse is that I am a northern girl, and should not even pretend to be making real “cue.” I cook the ribs in a slow cooker or in a slow oven, covered with barbecue sauce, until they are fork-tender but not falling apart, and then we put them on the grill to get crisp.
Vegetarian Spaghetti, Semolina Bread, Green Salad
Since it is not time yet to get “real” tomatoes for making marinara, I buy the best sauce I can find, and sautee some veggies in olive oil to add to the sauce – zucchini, broccoli, onions, garlic, whatever comes to hand. I’ll buy the Semolina Bread this time.
Pan-Braised Chicken with Mushroom Sauce, Small Pasta with Butter and Parmesan, Broccoli with Lemon Zest
Basically, I braise the chicken in olive oil until its just cooked through, then simmer it in some broth with a little Rosemary and garlic until its tender. Then I remove it from the pan, deglaze with some white wine, add sliced mushrooms and cook until they are tender, then serve the chicken with the sauce. (No sauce for Sam).
Drunken Noodles, Cucumber Salad
Quick Chicken Korma, Basmati Rice, Fruit Salad
Grilled Burgers with Vidalias and Guacamole, Potato Chips and Fresh Pineapple
*Alice, who is fighting my battle with me, bought me this beautiful, intriguing jar of salt in the hopes that I would cook something and blog about it instead of stewing about local politics. How could I refuse?