We are lazy but it works for us.



When I was growing up, my favorite holiday tradition was decorating Easter eggs with my family. We covered the dining room table with newspaper, and then set out all the materials: cups of white vinegar, paintbrushes, watercolor kits, and Sharpie markers. I’ve got an older brother and sister who are both artists, and they’d spend an hour on one egg enacting the entire creative process right there before my eyes: they began with a concept, then sketched it on the egg in pencil, then painted layer upon layer of watercolor, and then added the final permanent details in Sharpie. My father too, had artistic skill that often manifested in macabre final products, like a skull or an alligator’s head. My own eggs were just regular Easter eggs, maybe dyed a couple of colors or painted only half-successfully to look a little like a cat. I was less than happy with my own work, but joyful to be part of the process.

Every year, I hope to recreate this experience for my son, to cover our own messy kitchen table with newspaper, and lay out all the materials. Every year I come up short.

This year, I bought white eggs on Friday, and on Saturday, while the baby slept, I enlisted Smoke to add vinegar and food coloring to water. We dyed our eggs in batches of four: four green ones that came out pale, four red ones that came out hot pink, and four yellow ones that turned out disappointingly brownish, like we might have simply bought brown eggs at the store. Smoke was excited to paint ninja faces on them, but the day got away from us and this morning, before he woke up, I hid them all as-is throughout the living room.

Since this weekend included two other Easter events, I had decided to minimize the candy. Hidden along with the hard-boiled eggs were two Cadbury caramel eggs, but that was it. No jelly beans, no Skittles, no Kit-Kats. Smoke should have been disappointed, but he wasn’t.

The highlight of his Easter? Under a pile of bills on the kitchen table, Smoke discovered a stray piece of Trident gum. “The Easter Bunny hid some gum for me!” he cried out, delighted. And then he proceeded to line everything in a neat row. In the end, I guess, Smoke provides his own creativity. If he misses his chance to draw faces on eggs, he’ll make art out of the hunt itself.

Besides, those eggs are still in our fridge. Maybe tomorrow we’ll get around to drawing ninjas on them. Maybe.

Like Christmas in January: Four Day Enchiladas

When I was a pre-teen, my mother once suggested that we should celebrate Christmas in early January. We could grab a tree from someone’s trash and buy all of our gifts on sale. At the time I must have given her a look like she was deranged, but as an adult, I think she was onto something.

One of my favorite things in the world is when I am rewarded for my own laziness, like when a friend returns my favorite scarf a week after I left it at her house. I may have had vague notions that it was missing but hadn’t taken the trouble to look for it yet, and now here it is, returned before I’ve bothered to worry. This is so much better than the alternative, which is also possible in my world: tearing apart my entire house looking for the scarf, driving myself crazy and checking every place multiple times.

My laziness was again rewarded this week when I planned to make enchiladas but wound up, due to my own lack of motivation, with a series of dinners that progressively led to enchiladas and fed my family for three nights, with enchiladas to spare for future lunches.

Day 1: Soaked beans. Went shopping for chicken thighs, tortillas, and canned enchilada sauce. Ate sandwiches for dinner.

Day 2: Put beans in slow cooker in the morning. By afternoon, decided I was too tired to deal with chicken—all that rinsing and dealing with a wet and stinky package. Resorted to standby meal: beans wrapped in a flour tortilla with sour cream. Bonus: the five-year-old was willing to eat that.

Day 3: Put off dealing with chicken until the end of the day. At 5:30 pm, realized that we could just eat chicken for dinner. Threw a few pre-cut veggies in the pan for good measure and made some white rice.

Day 4: Finally, enchiladas. Assembly took twenty minutes because all ingredients were ready. Remembered a lazy and useful trick: layer tortillas with the other ingredients rather than rolling them into individual enchiladas. Voila: enchilada casserole.

ImageIf I were ever to write a cookbook, I would title it “Put an Egg on it” because that’s pretty much my cooking philosophy. Most dishes are improved when topped with a fried egg.


In the case of this enchilada casserole, once it comes out of the oven you’ve got ten minutes to kill and if you’re like me you’re antsy, so you might as well fry an egg.

ImageTo be honest, these weren’t the best enchiladas ever. But consider how disappointing that would have been if I had slaved away on them for an entire day. By now, the enchilada casserole had become a fancy way of serving leftovers, and on those terms it was a success.