Here’s how an Egg Strata recipe looks in my house.
1) Search the internet for an egg strata recipe. Print it. You will not be following it, but read it over quickly to make sure you have all the *truly* necessary ingredients (like, in this case, eggs…. the rest is negotiable).
2) Substitute egg strata vegetables for what you actually have. Don’t worry about proportions, you don’t have the proper size pan anyway, so it’ll be a wash. Chop vegetables, trying to interest your toddler without getting her so excited that she loses a finger.
3) Realize that this is one of the only times this year you’ll actually use your julienne slicer. Run to find it (in one of the cabinets you swear you’ll be decluttering soon) and bring it back before your absence causes a tantrum. Narrating everything I’m doing like it’s really exciting seems to be my MO “I’m getting the JULIENNE SLICER from the DINING ROOM!” I think it just weirds Adina out enough to keep her quiet.
4) Actually try using the julienne slicer. Vow for the 4th time to donate it to Goodwill.
5) Read the first few instructions. Realize you were supposed to leave this overnight in the fridge. Check the time–husband will be home in an hour. Send up a quick prayer of thanks that 3 years of your poor cooking skills have lowered his expectations significantly.
6) Grab whatever resembles bread from the fridge. Check for mold. To be extra careful, give it a sniff. Show your toddler how you can tear it and throw it in (yay, a great job for a toddler!) and then watch her shove her pieces in her mouth.
9) Then watch her spit them out on the ground and walk away.
10) Season the vegetables with 3 frozen Dorot garlic cubes. Watch in confusion as your toddler tries to gnaw the last one in the package through the packet, but try not to look judgmental because then you’ll be feeling guilty all night that you’ve added to the amount of therapy she’ll obviously be needing.
11) Another great toddler activity! Pull out 6 eggs and let her count 1-2-3 and crack the egg on 3! Yay! So exciting! Mix the eggs, letting her “help,” then add the first cup of milk.
12) Restrain yourself from a string of obscenities when she grabs the bowl of eggs and milk and pours it out on the counter, herself, and the floor. Extra fun step for kosher cooks: it seeps into the MEAT side of the sink.
13) Clean it up, trying not to sigh too loudly because people who feel guilty need therapy and you don’t want her to need therapy.
14) Take advantage of her sudden interest in a new toy to re-do the egg step yourself (another “thank you Gd!” for your bizarre whim to buy 3 dozen eggs last time you were at the grocery store).
15) Realize that you’ve only used half the bread and you don’t know why. You were supposed to layer the veggies, cheese, and bread. Reexamine your good fortune at finding a husband with such low expectations. (Oh, by the way, “cheese” was also an open-to-interpretation ingredient. Our huge bag of shredded mozzarella from Costco had gone bad, so instead of the fancy egg strata cheeses we have slices of meunster and cream cheese chunks.)
16) Throw the rest of the bread on top and cover with the egg/milk mixture. You don’t have nutmeg–it was on your last grocery list but you threw out the list after the trip even though you didn’t actually find everything on it. Remind yourself to write it on your next list (you won’t).
17) Find that it now takes twice as long to bake (maybe because I have a convection oven? Or the wrong pan? Or he wrong ingredients?). Just keep sticking it back in the oven.
18) And, at long last, enjoy.
Never a dull moment.