I’ve hired a a personal chef. I know, money is tight. Times are tough. We’ve got a Bar Mitzvah coming in a little over a year. But, cooking’s never been my thing. My husband, Mark, loves to cook. He’s a great chef too. So I never bothered to force myself into culinary improvement mode. But with the economy plugging along like a slow train through Arkansas, Mark has had to work longer days and later hours and doesn’t have time to practice the culinary arts much anymore. So I did what all smart, savvy women of my…um…religious persuasion do. I hired someone to help. (Okay, its a joke. Don’t get all bent out of shape. I just felt like funning on the “jap” stereotype for a moment.)
But here’s the best part. I don’t have to pay him; the chef I mean. He loves to cook so much that he’s thrilled to have the position. He’s young and hungry and wants desperately to please us. In fact, the reason I offered him the job was because he was complaining so bitterly about summer boredom I just couldn’t take it anymore. It’s really a win/win for all involved.
His first dinner was roasted chicken in whole wheat pita pockets with an arugula pesto. It was served atop a bed of bright green arugula with scattered heirloom cherry tomatoes, then drizzled, ever so slightly, in an olive oil and aged balsamic reduction. The next night he grilled fresh lake Trout and served it with home-made garlic mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli. (I admit, I passed on the potatoes. I’m watching my carbs.) Tonight he served a fresh cucumber salad with rainbow peppers, grilled eggplant and Kale. Il primo piato was bruschetta, and our secondo, a four cheese tortellini lightly bathed in a tomato puree.
Jealous? I bet you are. But don’t hate me because I’m a genius. I just borrowed a page from Dale Carnegie’s archives and used my plethora of summer citrus to make a big old vat of that proverbial lemonade everyone’s always talking about. You see, my new personal chef is my 11 year old son, Levi. If you’ve been loyally following the blog, you know that the summer camp boycott is still underway. Levi and his 8 year old sidekick, Eli, (Remind me some time to explain our logic in choosing to name both of our children using a limited alphabetical roster of no more than four letters), categorically refused to attend any form of structured day camp this summer, opting instead for the joy, mirth and frivolity of hours and hours of backyard fun, pool play and summer reading. Needless to say, they were bored to tears within the first few hours of summer vacation.
Since we had already committed to our sitter, who had bypassed other job opportunities to work with our boys, we really couldn’t veer the ship and alter our course. Plus the whole “Love and Logic” approach we’ve been taking, insists that successful child-rearing occurs only through children making choices and living through the consequences that result from those choices. By making a poor, albeit harmless, choice to stay home all summer, their boredom might propel them towards finding something they truly would enjoy doing next summer. No, the “no summer camp” decision was one we were all going to have to live with, even if it necessitated me renting a small condo on the coast to save my ever dwindling sanity.
But lo and behold, I was visited by some angelic presence that bestowed upon me the greatest idea I’ve ever had; use my son’s natural talents and simply offer him some tools, (ie. money for groceries, minor instruction, a few healthy cook books), then let him go. And that is exactly what we’ve done.
So I now have a personal chef, an often reluctant sous chef (Eli), and a shred of sanity left. Sure the kitchen is never quite as pristine as I’d desire. Yes, I may be ingesting a few more calories than I’d like. But my kid is happy, engaged in something he loves, and he’s a really awesome chef! I wonder if this is how Gordon Ramsey started?
Bored kids, huh? For crying out loud, your youngest is 8. EIGHT. Both those kids should be bringing income into the house. Cooking in your Mom’s kitchen… for your Mom ain’t work. Send them out to work for the summer at a job where other people will pay them money. Everybody wins.