I met with a potential roommate. A single mother of two kids, similar in age as mine. My pulse quickens at the idea.
This might actually work.
Her home was beautiful. It had big windows and a big island where I tried to envision myself rolling out dough.
But it isn’t mine.
Shame flushed my cheeks and I felt like I needed to remind myself, Beggars Can’t Be Choosers.
But I remind myself that I’m not begging and I should be choosey.
I tried to picture all four kids at the breakfast table, creating a sense of community and togetherness.
But the back of my head felt hot.
I wanted this to be the one. With its big windows and small garden plot.
I walked back to the bedroom, the one that would be mine. I closed my eyes and realized this would be the room I would stay in for two or more weeks if someone was to contract Covid. This is where I would be without my babies.
What. The. Fuck. Are. You. Doing?
I don’t know.
I put Maddox back in the carrier, said goodbye, and pretended it was the fall afternoon that stung my cheeks.
Just as I turned the key in the ignition, the familiar lump settled in my throat. Maddox and I both cried all the way back home.
I put Maddox in the carrier as soon as we walked in the door so that he would finally settle, and trudged into the house, our home, where I immediately feel like an intruder.
Peanut butter on toast with a side of existential crisis sounded like a good plan for dinner, but instead I surveyed the contents of the refrigerator, my vision blurring due to my tears.
Chicken thighs. It’s always chicken thighs, you know?
I pulled them out and rustled around in the freezer for my ginger, and started pulling out every spice in my cabinet.
What I needed was warmth, and Moroccan Chicken Stew delivers. I’ve made this with sweet potatoes and several squash varieties. Butternut holds up well, but I grew buttercup, which softens more, and sort of melts into the stew, making it thick and a beautiful color.
Do as you wish, use quality spices, if it seems like it’s lacking, add more lemon, and always keep this in your arsenal for when you are requiring warmth.
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 2 Tbsp vegetable, or other neutral oil
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 inch piece ginger, grated (if frozen) or minced
- 1/2 Tbsp garam masala
- 1/2 Tbsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp turmeric
- Black pepper
- 1/2-1 serrano pepper (depending on preference), diced
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 10 dates, pitted and chopped
- 2 lbs of sweet potatoes or squash
- Juice of 2 lemons for Serving
- Handful of washed and chopped cilantro
- Cooked rice
- Lemon wedges
- In a small dish, Combine 1 tablespoon of oil with spices, garam masala through turmeric, adding a few generous cranks of fresh cracked pepper, set aside.
- Heat a heavy bottomed pot over medium high, add remaining tablespoon of oil, allow the oil to warm for a minute or so.
- Add the onion, cook for a minute until fragrant, and a pinch of salt, and cook for an additional five minutes or until they become soft and translucent. Lower the heat to medium.
- Add the serrano, ginger and garlic, cook for a minute, and then push everything out to the edges, leaving a hole in the center. Add the tomato paste and oil/spice mixture to the center of the pot, until it sizzles and becomes fragrant, incorporate with the onion mixture.
- Add the stock, scraping the bottom of the pot, loosening and incorporating any bits.
- Add the chicken thighs and nestle them into the onion mixture well. You want them just almost submerged, add a little water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper, bring to a low boil, put the lid on, and turn the heat down to a simmer.
- Simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Carefully remove the lid and remove the chicken thighs from the pot onto a plate. Using two forks, shred the chicken, return to the pot, along with the dates and squash/potatoes, bring it to a simmer, put the lid on, and simmer for an additional 20 minutes, remove the lid, and continue to simmer another 15 minutes or until the squash/potatoes pierce easily with a fork.
- Stir in the lemon juice.
- Taste for, and adjust, any salt and pepper needs.
- Serve over rice and top with fresh cilantro.