Valeria busied herself in the kitchen. In a week, the whole family would be in New York, followed by Washington, DC. New York wouldn’t be bad. Of course, that part of the trip was more for the girls than for the her and Michael. Washington, though a matter of business for Michael, would also hold a few interesting features that she could take the girls to see.
She smiled to herself. It would be good to have some alone time with the girls in DC. Still, she hoped that she could spend time with Michael as well. It would do them good to get out of Des Moines for a while, even if it was for a business trip. The family got very few of these outings that took them out of state. The farthest they had gone was to a small town named Sidney that sat in the southeast corner of Iowa, and that had been for the rodeo.
Iowa had a lot of interesting places, but they didn’t take one out of the state. Michael worked so much that he rarely left Des Moines. When the family did take a vacation, it was almost always to something in state like the state fair or the rodeo. But duty now called him to DC.
She shook herself from her thoughts. She had a dinner to prepare. It would do no good if she accidentally cut herself because she wasn’t paying attention to what she was doing. She looked at the vegetables and meat around her.
Summer squash. Carrots. Onions. Potatoes. Zucchini. Celery. Garlic. Tomatoes and tomato juice. Stew meat.
She smiled. What the world needed at the moment was a good stew. She would make the biscuits after she got the veggies started. She peeled the potatoes and carrots, quartering them, then putting them in a bowl of cold water to keep them fresh. She set about peeling the squashes, cubing them as she seeded them, placing them in a separate bowl of cold water. Then she chopped the celery, onion, and crushed the garlic.
She found her stew pot and filled it with water to the half-way point. Placing it on the stove, she put the onions, garlic, celery, and squash into the pan and turned on the burner. To the pot, she added salt and pepper and then placed the lid on the pot. She set the potatoes and carrots to one side. She would add the carrots next, then the potatoes..
She grabbed a saute pan, put a glob of butter in, and placed the stew meat evenly in the pan–salting and peppering after she had done so. Turning on the burner to medium heat, she browned the meat until almost fully cooked. Placing the meat and its juices in a bowl, she placed it to one side after turning the burner off.
She turned on the oven to allow it to preheat. Tuning to a bowl on the counter, she began mixing the ingredients for her famous cheese biscuits. Her family was going to have a wonderful meal tonight.
She split her attention between the stew and forming the biscuits. After cutting and laying out the biscuits on the cookie sheet, she added the meat and carrots to the stew. The water in the pot had reduced by half, which was good, and the veggies were cooking nicely now. She felt bad because there wasn’t any cabbage to add to the stew. No matter. The stew was still going to be delicious.
The smell of something delicious filled the Morrow house. Natalia had been spending the day in her room, which was out of character for her, sulking. Why, no one could drag out of her. Shasta had also remained in her room, but she had been deep within one of her books. The smell of dinner brought both girls out of their rooms.
Natalia had given up on whatever it was that she’d felt slighted on. She seemed chipper as she emerged from her room. Shasta figured that Nattie probably didn’t remember the exact reason she’d been sulking.
It could have been a boy who shrugged off her advances. It could have been something she had been told no on. Or it could have just been one of her silly mood swings. It didn’t really matter.
Shasta looked over at her sister. “Do you want to set the table? Or do you want me to?”
Nattie shrugged. “Why can’t we both set the table?”
Shasta smiled. “Dishes or silverware?”
Nattie looked over at her. “Silver.”
Shasta nodded. “alright, then. you get the silver, I will get the plates and napkins.”
Natalia nodded back. “OK.”
Shasta went to the china cabinet that sat in the family dining room, against the north wall. Natalia went to the small breakfast bar that had the drawers under it that separated the kitchen from the dining room. As Shasta opened the glass doors of the cabinet, Natalia slid open the silverware drawer. The light clank of plates being taken down from the cabinet filled the air with the clang of silver. The claps of the cabinet door and drawer signaled that the two girls had retrieved their items. the soft murmur of a second drawer signaled that Shasta had begun to seek the napkins from the cabinet’s linen drawer. The sound of it closing let Natalia know that the napkins had also been retrieved. The girls met at the table and Shasta handed her sister the napkins.
Natalia took the time to roll the silverware in the napkins, like she had seen in the restaurants, before setting them at each place. Shasta placed each plate in its place. When they were done, they stood and admired their work. The sound of the front door closing let them know that their father was home and the two girls ran for the front room.
A joint chorus rose as they ran. “Daddy!”
A giggle could be heard coming from the kitchen as a chuckle erupted in the front room. Their father was definitely home. Soon, they would be enjoying mama’s wonderful stew and cheese biscuits. They would share the evening as family and maybe watch one of the shows they liked to watch as a family.