My husband, Charlie, and I have been practicing empty-nesting this summer.Daughter Mary has been at camp, where she is a counselor, since the middle of May. And son Patrick periodically leaves us to stay with friends, visit the beach or attend running camp.
A friend of ours who is in a similar situation said she’s heartsick that her kids are gone for the summer.
We have had the opposite reaction.
It’s not that we don’t love them or miss them – we adore them, and tell them so daily. But for right now, I have to admit it’s nice to only have to take care of ourselves.
There are no breakfasts to make or lunches to pack. I don’t have to wait for a text to know whether they’re going to grace me with their presence at the dinner table. I can go to bed at 8:30 at night and not have to wait up for someone who’s run to a friend’s house or Sonic “for a few minutes.”
The best part is I can plan meals without having to worry that one child or the other doesn’t like this or that food.
Charlie and I have very similar tastes, so when I suggest shrimp to him for dinner, I get a “sounds good” instead of a “gross” (from Patrick) or when I mention meatloaf, Charlie says “yum” instead of “yuk” (from Mary).
Last week, when we were childless again, Charlie suggested we try a new recipe for blackened salmon. Now, both kids like salmon, but they don’t like “experimental food” which is what they call new recipes.
It’s too bad. They would have loved this.
21⁄2 tablespoons paprika
3⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets, skinned
1 lemon, cut in wedges
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a shallow bowl, combine paprika, cayenne, thyme, garlic powder and salt.
In a saucepan, melt butter. Add lemon juice. Pour into a shallow bowl.
Working with 1 salmon fillet at a time, dip both sides of the salmon in the lemon butter, then in the spices. Place salmon in a large ovenproof skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Cook salmon until blackened, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer salmon to the oven and cook for 8 minutes. Serve salmon with lemon wedges.
Makes 4 servings.
(Note: I served the salmon atop leftover mashed potatoes with a side of purple-hull peas from the farmer’s market.)
Ginna Parsons is the Daily Journal’s food/home/garden editor.