Tomorrow is a BIG race day for my kiddos. County meet. Swimmimg for cred, swimming for a place in the all-star team and swimming for pride-it’s all there.
As swim mom it’s my job to physc them up and to try and calm their angst. Pre-race meal seemed a good place to start. I asked Middle child girl what she wanted. She’s a bit anxious about what she was picked to swim-2 A relay teams, backstroke and breaststroke-her least favorite. The boy would want pasta. That’s all the boy-child ever wants. What fun is that? Hard to be supportive-swim-mom making noodles. Our dish of choice at least 2 nights a week. So I didn’t waste time in him. Luckily I picked the more seasoned eater. Middle child delivered. She did want a pre-race meal that was different from the norm. She had a request,”Chicken Olivia-please, please make chicken Olivia!”
That request made me happy.
Chicken Olivia is my grandmother’s recipe. To me It’s her legacy-that and gooshey rolls. Unfortunately I never learned to make her gooshey rolls. Fortunately her recipe for chicken Olivia was written down. I’ve been making it for a long time. It’s never as good as hers but making it makes me happy.
Even thinking about it brings me comfort. As casseroles goes it’s nothing special. Rice, chicken, celery…the usual ingredients. It’s comfort food. It’s filling and delicious and homey and simple-sort of like my grandmother. While it cooks it the house fills with tempting smells of butter and goodness. The smell envelopes the room and embraces you like a grandmothers hug.
My grandmother never met my spirited, sassy, secretly sweet daughter. But yet my girl, seeking comfort, wants the very thing that makes me remember my grandmother the most. She has found comfort in what I find comfort in. And that too makes me happy.
Even the making of the dish brought my girl and I together. Softball kept me out until 9:30 last night. Swim practice had me up and back out at 6:45am. I didn’t prep like I thought I would. As I rushed around getting ready for work and thought about my day I knew getting home in time to make the casserole in Time for dinner would be unlikely. I almost decided to put off making her request but, thankfully, I pulled myself together and made a plan. 3 minutes to set up the rice cooker. 2 minutes to prep the crock-pot. A minute to leave her instructions on what to turn and when to turn it and viola! a plan was made.
She did her part. I came home to a messy house and a sleeping daughter but the chicken was cooked and the rice was made. So I did my job. I promptly dumped and diced and mixed and melted. Mid-stir I fed my chunka-munka an apple to sate her gregarious appetite and kept moving. 30 minutes after walking the door the warm scents of bubbling goodness filled our little home.
My grandmother has been gone a long time. Alzheimer’s took her long before she was actually left us. It’s been ages since I’ve had the gooey-goodness of my grandmothers chicken Olivia. But today, symbolically on a Friday-the day I usually need comforting-my girl asked me to make the very thing that brings me the most comfort. And even more comforting is that something that comforts me brings comfort to my girl too.