Goat cheese semifreddo with figs and walnut nougatine

It seems as though I have spent a fair amount of this summer cooking for myself or eating out or making do with popcorn. The reason is that my wife has been very busy on the baby-sitting circuit, a task that she enjoys. I am glad that our children and grandchildren, too, enjoy the visits. We are a conventional modern American family spread out all over the map. In times past, when parents needed a helping hand for whatever reason, Grandma lived just next door or even in the same house. That was certainly true when I grew up, and I spent many a day in my grandmother’s kitchen watching her cook or helping her with the bread making.

Chilled corn soup with padron peppers and nasturtium flowers

No more; and with two breadwinners in all of our family households, the emergencies seem to be frequent and without a local resolution. The good thing is that all of our children live just a short distance from a good-sized airport, and so do we.
So far this summer, one baby-sitting job occurred because Mom had to go on a business trip while Dad had some major work responsibilities. Another time, Mom had some responsibilities at work, and the kids were out of school with no place to go. Yet another time, one of our daughters became a first-time mom, so of course that required some grandmotherly help. That daughter is a professional chef who worked nearly up until her delivery. Now she is anxious to get back to work, but restaurant and baby schedules are in direct conflict because so much of both occur late at night.
A couple of weeks ago, my wife went to take care of our 3 month-old grandson while my daughter did the pop-up dinner I wrote about recently. It was a very successful event, so my daughter and her husband scheduled another dinner. Big problem – Grandma had already scheduled a baby-sitting date with my other daughter, who had a major project to complete at her work with no reliable childcare backup. Fortunately, she and my wife had built in a little slack in their schedules, so she [Daughter1] was able to fly up from Los Angeles to San Francisco for a day to help Daughter 2 with baby care.
It was a long day and night as Daughter 2 cooked and cleaned up until 2 AM. Baby managed to keep Auntie awake most of that time, and then the return flight to LA was so early in the morning that Daughter 1 got virtually no sleep. She also got no leftovers, so she didn’t get to enjoy what turned out to be another great meal. Still, she didn’t complain because she got to enjoy her young nephew.

Pappardelle with Douglas fir-roasted chicken and preserved lemon

     Thus is the life of modern mothers and grandmothers. It is hard to see how they manage to squeeze everything into a busy life and do it with love and patience. My hat is off to all the women in my family, including my busy daughter-in-law. They all deserve the love and support of their spouses. Fortunately, I think they all get that {Though secretly they probably all wish it could be more.)
Images this time are from the preparation and presentation of the most recent pop-up dinner.


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