So, most parents might worry about leaving teenagers home alone for a weekend. Visions of Risky Business flash through our minds. (I’m old enough to have seen Risky Business in the movie theater. For those of you not even born in the 80’s think Project X.) But we don’t worry when we bring the kids with us, right? Well …
My friend will feed the cats tonight, so you are off the hook!
This text arrived at 2:00 in the afternoon. I was in charge of feeding my friends’ cats while they were in Southern California, for a funeral. The text was not from my friend, but from her 18 year old daughter.
I was getting in the car to drive my sister to the airport. “Huh, what do you make of that?” I asked my sister, showing her the phone. “Think I should double check with her mother?”
“Ah, absolutely.” My sister has no children, but was a nanny for many years. She knows kids. She knows not to trust a teenager.
“Yeah, probably, right?” I put my sisters’ suitcase in the truck. I composed a quick text before I started the car.
Just had a text from your daughter saying her friend would feed the kitties tonight. Just confirming that’s ok.
I turned on the engine but my phone pinged even before I put the car into gear.
No, if you can feed them that would be great. Ugh. That girl. Thx for checking. She said some girls were going to use our hot tub. Um no. Thx
Got it I texted back and put the car into gear. We headed down the hill, right past my friends’ house.
“Entry light’s on,” I noted.
“Yup,” my sister said. “Party in the hot tub.”
“Ugg. Teenagers suck!”
On my way home from the airport, after the usual hugs and kisses and miss you and fly safe, I stopped at my friends’ house. I realized I didn’t have their key with me after I parked the car. They had a lockbox hidden where they kept a spare key. I reached for it, but it wasn’t there. I rang the door bell and waited. Not answer. No surprise.
I drove home and explained the situation to my Husband. “I’ve got to head down the hill and kick some naked teenagers out of the hot tub.”
“I wouldn’t,” said my Husband.
I looked at him blankly. “What do you mean. I can’t let them stay in the house.”
“Yeah, but, you really don’t know what you might find. Could be dangerous.”
“I can’t just let the kids stay there. Think if the situation were reversed. You’d want her to get the kids out of our house.”
“No I wouldn’t.”
“That’s silly, of course you would.” “I wouldn’t want her to if I didn’t think it was safe.” “I’m heading down.”
“So I guess I should go with you.”
“I guess you should.”
We passed a parked police car on the way down. “We could stop and ask them for back up,” I suggested.
My Husband stayed quiet.
At the house I opened the security gate and the front door. The alarm wasn’t set, but pinged and announced Front Door.
“Hello?” I called. No answer. I headed upstairs. At the top of the stairs, in front of the bathroom, was a large pile of clothes and shoes. I turned to look at my Husband. He raised his eyebrows at me.
The hot tub was down the back stairs in the backyard. There was a tall, narrow window in the stairwell that afforded a view of the hot tub. Three girls were in the water, a boy stood on the side, thankfully all in bathing suits! On the ledge of the tub I could see clearly an unopened fifth of Jack Daniels and a pot pipe.
I went downstairs and opened the back door. I caught the boy just swinging his legs into the tub.
“Hello,” I said. Four quick gasps; four pairs of startled eyes, deer in the headlights kind of thing, turned toward me. I felt bad for them, really. Can you imagine the shock?
“Oh,” said the boy. I think I vaguely recognized him, but couldn’t remember from where. My kids and my friend’s kids don’t go to school together so they don’t hang with the same crowd.
I cleared my throat and said in my best mom voice, “So, I know you think it’s ok to be here, but it’s really not. We’re going to stay here and feed the cats. You need to clear out. Now.”
“Yeah, ok, sorry,” said the boy I almost recognized. He seemed really polite.
My Husband sat upstairs and waited for them to come and gather their clothes. One of the girls whispered, “I wish we had brought these down with us.”
My friends’ fat tomcat climbed into my lap and purred. We waited until we heard the front door close. We fed the kitties and locked up the house. I left the lockbox locked safely inside on the entry table, just in case.
It was just starting to rain as we turned the car around and headed back up the hill. The four teenagers were waiting at the corner bus stop. They waved as we drove past. “Think we should offer them a ride?” I asked.
My Husband snorted.
“You worry about leaving your teenagers home alone for a weekend. You never figure you have to worry if you bring them with you.” I said.
“Teenagers suck,” was my Husband’s response.
Petrale Sole with Lemon, Parsley and Garlic
Farro with Pumpkin and Baby Kale
Roasted pumpkin (see my recipe)
Baby kale (I use lazy girl salad for this … pre-washed baby kale that comes in a bag)
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup farro
1/2 white onion diced
2 cloves of garlic peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 dry white wine
2 cups chicken broth (I used the broth from the shredded chicken tacos) mixed with 2 cups water. You can use vegetable stock if you prefer.
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, about 1/4 cup
Warm the broth and water over low heat. Keep warm.
Preheat the oven to 375. Heat the canola oil in a large oven proof skillet. Add the farro and stir once or twice. Pop the skillet into the oven and toast the farro for about 6 minutes. Scrap the toasted farro into a bowl and wipe out the skillet. You can turn off the oven.
Return the skillet to the stove and melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and stir for about two more minutes. Add the wine and turn up the heat to high. Let the wine bubble almost all the way away. Add the farro to the pan along with a ladle full of the stock mixture and cook, stirring, until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Continue to add the stock, one ladle at a time, stirring, allowing the liquid to be absorbed before adding the next. Once all the liquid is absorbed, taste the farro to see if it’s al dente.
In should be nice and nutty. Add more water if it is not fully cooked. Add the baby kale to the farro with a small amount of water and stir until the kale is wilted. Add the Parmesan and last tablespoon of butter to the farro and stir until the butter is melted. Turn off the heat and gently stir in the roasted pumpkin. Taste and correct for salt and pepper.
4 large fillets of petrale sole
Black pepper and kosher salt
2 tablespoons butter divided
2 tablespoons canola oil
Handful of Italian (flat leaf) parsely
Zest of 2 lemons (I used Meyers because we have a tree)
4 cloves garlic peeled
1/4 cup dry white wine
Juice of the 2 lemons you zested
Chop the parsley, lemon zest and garlic together (make gremolata) and set aside.
Spread a half a cup of so of flour on a plate. Season the flour with salt and pepper. Heat the canola oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Dredge the fish in the seasoned flour and shake off the excess. Place the fish in the hot butter/oil and fry until golden brown on each side, 1-2 minutes per side. I do the frying in batches of two fillets each. You don’t want to crowd the pan. When the fish is cooked, transfer it to a warm plate and keep near the stove to keep warm. Turn the heat down to medium and add the gremolata to the pan, stirring for about a minute. Add the wine to the pan and let boil until almost gone, stirring to deglaze the pan. Add the last tablespoon of butter and swirl to dissolve. Return the fish to the pan and turn over in the sauce. Turn off the heat.
Serve the petrale with the farro.