My daughter slowly scoops out her vanilla yogurt, crowning the surface with raspberries, scattering it all with granola, stepping back, enjoying her stellar plating. With his own breakfast bowl, my son follows her every decorative move. They are moving so slowly I could scream.
It is 7:45 A.M. We need to leave the house by 8 A.M. Do the toothbrushing, library-book-finding, math. It’s an impossible situation.
Add this to the fifteen minute mix:
One towering pile of dishes from the previous night’s garlicky pasta dinner. One missing lunch box. One broken toilet. Two rotten cucumbers. One questionable red pepper. One daughter helplessly cramming the definitions of avuncular, taut, and assailant into her brain. One son yelling you never stop micromanaging, mom,and it stresses me out. One broken water glass. One chunk of glass in now crying (still yelling) son’s foot, requiring tweezers, vodka (we’re out of rubbing alcohol), Band-Aid. One bounce bounce splash of the milk carton. One epic freezer adventure—searching for anything resembling breakfast, lunch, coffee—yielding every kind of gluten you can imagine: whole wheat bread, gooey cinnamon swirl challah, chocolate croissants, cheese-packed danishes, sticky buns, orange cranberry scones, bread sticks, bagels, tortillas.
But no coffee.
I don’t know how to do any of this without coffee.
I perform the open-the-fridge-and-stare move. The thing that elicits from me, on a daily basis, the Are you kidding me, Dash? Close the fridge door. You’re wasting electricity. What is wrong with you?
In my under-caffeinated state, I start to understand the little dude who lives with me. Maybe the cool air helps him wake up. Sometimes it takes a minute to find your center. You see everything. And you see nothing. It’s meditative. And then I know why I’m here. The blueberry sauce. I made it over the weekend when we had nowhere to go, nothing to do, only the potential for hours of Stratego and Laura Ingalls Wilder and sock sorting.
We were running low on maple syrup, so I covered the berries in a snowpile of sugar. I added a pinch of salt, a splash of water, some lemon zest. It all simmered for half an hour, popping, thickening, intensifying in color and flavor. We poured the steaming hot neon reduction over our buttery buttermilk waffles.
By Monday morning, the cold purple compote has thickened into a spreadable jam.
In the nineties, I worked in pastry at New York City's Bouley, Michael's, and Nobu. I tired quickly of sugar and burning my forearms and never sleeping. Fifteen years later I started "Dash and Bella," named after my son (7) and daughter (12). This is where I tell my stories about the intersection of cooking and parenting.