The first commuting days of the new year were long and frigid. Catching up on projects after a two week vacation translates to 10 or 12 hour days more often than not. Leaving and returning in the dark coupled with the “arctic air” temperatures in the single digits – plus whatever windchill factor is in effect on a given day – means that I spent the evenings of my first week back at work crawling out of the car and crawling straight into bed at night.
Trying to avoid a repeat of that during week two, we opted to have dinner in the city on Monday and Wednesday — the days when we are both on the evening train home from NYC. But being more interested in good food enjoyed at our leisure than in being served restaurant dinners, we’ve packed picnics rather than made reservations.
On Monday, two covered dishes of scalloped potatoes and spiral ham were packed into the bottom of my work bag, along with a ziplock of washed and trimmed green beans. He brought extra cutlery and a beverage later in the day, and took a subway to my office after class.
At home, the ham and potatoes might have been rough-chopped, tossed in a skillet to warm and crisp, then topped with some panko bread crumbs and served alongside the steamed beans. In the office, with only a microwave to work with, the items were mixed into servings, covered with damp towels, and steam heated to comfortable eating temperatures. We ate heartily while sharing details of our days, enjoyed a leisurely walk to the 8:03 train (with a pause to admire the Christmas tree still lit in Bryant Park), and arrived home free of the hangry-grumps with enough energy to make dessert sundaes from chocolate cake and raspberry sorbet.
Our Wednesday route is a little less neat. Grand Central makes a triangle with my office and his school, and he has the long side; if I secure seats for us both and he runs on a diagonal through Central Park, we can just make the 6:53 before the “All aboard” call. We did just that last night, slipping comfortably into our seats as the train made its way north, and he dropped our dinner bag into my lap.
Leftover pot roast had been chopped and mixed with a smoky-sweet barbecue sauce, than placed between slices of his homemade bread, slathered with a mayo-mustard concoction to keep the moisture inside each sandwich, then tightly wrapped to create a press. Small containers of cherry tomatoes, garlic cornichons, and corn chips were packed as accompaniments, and we fell to our aboard-train repast with enthusiasm.
Neither meal was gourmet, neither was served on either cheerful fiestaware or good china, and neither was actually eaten in the country house. But our life together is better for both.
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