Sunday, December 27, 2009

Top Chef

Last night, I was enjoying a moment loafing on the sofa with a really good book when Eden came up to me and said "Come on Mom, you have to take me to the store, I want to make Manicotti!" In my head I heaved a big sigh. What brought on this sudden impulse? I'm pretty certain that Eden's never eaten this particular dish! In fact, I know I've never made Manicotti -- I don't like stuffing noodles! Why Manicotti ? Why now?

Eden is like that. He gets an idea in his head and he will not rest until he is able to accomplish his quest. Usually he's begging for glue and Borax so he can make up some strange flubber concoction in the laundry room. Or, on a Sunday evening at 10:00 p.m he just absolutely has to have a certain kind of lead for a mechanical pencil -- a standard No. 2 pencil just will not do. Sometimes these out of the blue "quests" drive me crazy -- like now. The problem at this particular moment is that it's 9:45 p.m. on a Saturday night, and the last thing I want to do is get in the car and go shopping. I've had enough thank you very much. Didn't I just spent the last month cooking extravagant meals, making cookies, canning jelly, and shopping for gifts and standing in line at the post office!!!! I'm on hiatus for at least 2 more days! Before I could react, Matt said "Come on Eden, if you are willing to make Manicotti for Sunday dinner, then I'm willing to take you to the store." Whew, crisis averted. I love that Matt and I are able to tag team when one of us is running on empty. I'm sure his compassion was motivated by the thought of a delicious Italian dinner, but I didn't care; I was just thankful I didn't have to go to the grocery store. I resumed my reading while Eden took his shopping list and headed out the door with his dad. A while later, they returned with a bag full of ingredients and smiles on their faces.

Today, we spent the morning in church. As we sat through our first meeting, Eden leaned over and said "Mom, are you just so excited that we are having Manicotti today, and that you don't have to make it??" I smiled and nodded my head in the affirmative. As much as I hate the crazy shopping requests that come at odd hours of the day, love it when my children are passionate about something, and today Eden is passionate about making pasta. When we got home, he went straight to the kitchen and began pulling out pots and pans. I was impressed as I watched him multi task -- water boiling on the stove, sauce being created, cheese being grated. Pretty soon, Matt and Claire showed up to help. It was a three ring circus, and Eden was the ring master. I played the part of the audience and happily took my place on the sofa with my delicious dark beverage bubbling in a glass of ice, and resumed reading my novel. As time went by, I became so engrossed in a story about a a nunnery in the 1400's, I became oblivious to the magic that was taking place just a feet away. Before I knew it, a timer went off. I put my book down and walked over to the oven just as Eden was pulling out a huge pan. I could not believe my eyes. In his oven-mitted hands was a incredible dish covered in a layer of melted cheese. It smelled delicious. "Mom, you serve it, and by the way, you have to clean all the pots and pans." said Eden. I accepted my assignment. It's a rule in our house, whoever cooks doesn't have to clean up. I pulled out 4 plates and gave everyone a serving of Manicotti al a Eden. We all took a bite and then ..... silence. The Beutlers have high expectations when it comes to good food. I hate to admit it, but I was expecting to choke down something that tasted like Chef-Boy-R-Eden, but I was more than pleasantly surprised. This dish deserved 5 forks, and I'm not just saying that because the chef is my son. It was really, really good. The best Manicotti I've ever eaten. Eden, I said: "Where did you get this recipe, it's amazing!" "Oh, I got it from one of my friends -- she's Italian and she made a movie about how to make Manicotti on the Internet, so I just watched her movie and did what she did." he replied.

Eden and his projects. I love that he is resourceful, marches to the beat of his own drum and that he manages to surprise us with the things that he knows. Mario Botalli, you have been dethroned.


Photo courtesy of Blue Lily.

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