Our kitchen is pretty quiet these days, and the silence has me thinking about the rhythms of a house over the course of a lifetime. There was a time when our dinners were wild and loud affairs and there was spilled milk, tears flowing freely and, somehow, on most evenings, Lucy fell out of her chair. Zoe often negotiated what she would — or would not — eat for dinner and Elliot would eat two-fisted, stuffing in handfuls of rice and chicken and bits of vegetables, then lie down on the bench and go to sleep, his toddler belly full and round. That’s the way it was around here for a long time, but then, they grew. Our children grew into teenagers and young adults. They worked some nights or went to friends’ houses and, eventually, went to college and moved out. And our house didn’t hum so loudly anymore.
But the rhythm was back, in a way, during the month of December. Our kitchen was full, this time with grown and nearly grown children. I loved having them, loved the sheer volume of work it takes to feed five people three meals each day: the shopping, unpacking, chopping, cooking, eating and cleaning before we prepared to do it all over again. My husband and I did all of this, knowing the house would once again exhale and settle into its next rhythm, that of a quiet place. I tried to not think about the quiet and mourn the loss of a humming, busy place, while I had it. It’s hard for an emotional middle-aged woman, but I did it. And now, we’re back to a house of three as we see Elliot through 11th grade. Here, I’m sharing a few recipes, things I made with my family when it was loud and busy and also things that work for the rhythm of a quiet house.