Pratos no Forno


A cookbook for oven baked dishes.

A cookbook for oven baked dishes.


(door opening, Pai and Hank tumble in from grocery shopping)

Me: Howdy, boys.

Hank: (shopping bags banging against his legs) MOM, you cannot come into the kitchen because we have a surprise and we need to get it ready for you.

Me: Oh, thank you, but I have a story I am DYING to tell.

Pai: Tell the story from the hallway.

Hank: Yah, just no peeking at what we’re doing.

Me: Roger that. So, while you were out our friendly, well-meaning Circulo de Leitores guy (door-to-door book salesman) came and he hands me a book and says, “Para te (for you),” and I didn’t order any books so I hand it back to him thinking he has the wrong house, but then I see [Pai’s Name] on the receipt.

Pai: Yah, I…

Me: Wait, don’t ruin my punch line. So, I say, “Ah, meu marido deve ter comprado esta série. Vou pegar o dinheiro. (My husband must have bought this series. I will go get the money).” But then he says, “Maravilhosa, uma surpresa para te. Vai receber um por mês. Esta série é uma das nossas mais vendidas (Wonderful, a surprise gift for you. YOU will get one a month. This series is one of our best selling).” And then I realize he is saying this because you bought a cookbook.

Pai: Guilty. Tell me, did you murder our poor Circulo de Leitores guy? Is there a body I need to dispose of because you are too arthritic?

Me: No, it’s not his fault he isn’t awake to the changes in the world. I reminded him, “Senhor, tu sabes, eu não leio os portugueses bem. Eu entendo e eu falo melhor do que eu leio. Meu marido não comprou esta série para mim, ele comprou para ele mesmo e tecnicamente, eu estou pagando por ele, então eu estou comprando um livro de receitas para o meu marido, que ele deve usar para cozinhar para mim (Sir, as you know I don’t read Portuguese well. I understand and I speak it better than I read. My husband did not buy this series for me, he bought it for himself and technically I am paying you for him so I am buying a cookbook for my husband which he shall use to cook for me.).”

Pai: What did he say?

Me: His eyes were as big as saucers.

Pai: I can almost feel what you said next. Did you…

Me: (interrupting) So I said, “Talvez-tu devesse comprar esta série para cozinhar para sua esposa, pois é das suas mais vendidas (Maybe YOU should buy this series and cook for your wife since it is one of your bestselling).”

Pai: I knew it! What did he say?

Me: His eyes were as big as dinner plates and he laughed.

Pai: As if a man cooking for his wife was the funniest thing he had ever heard?

Me: Exactly.

Hank: Wait, I don’t get it. What is wrong with a man buying a cookbook? I love cookbooks. I love cooking and I will be a man. Ricardo cooks for Ana.  Papa cooks for us. What is the big deal about papa buying cookbooks?

Pai: You and I are the reason the antiquated ideas of gender and who should do what will end.

Hank: Sure… Okay. (quickly changing gears) Mom, you can come in now, your surprise is ready.

Me: (entering the kitchen carrying Pai’s new cookbook, sarcastically) You mean I get two surprises in one night? One patriarchal and the other…

Hank: NACHOS with guacamole!

Me: (eyes as big as dinner plates) SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!

Hank: We figured after having a sick day all day from your medicine you could use something special.

Pai: (from behind the open pages of his new cookbook) Hank figured. This was his idea and he made your nachos.

Me: These looks amazing, Hank, thank you. Shall we share them?

Pai: I’m good. You two go. I am going to make dinner. We have all the ingredients to make dish 56: Masa Gratinada com Espinafres e Ricotta (Baked Stuffed Shells with Spanich and Ricotta).

Me: Yum!

Pai: Go on, now! Get out of my kitchen!

Hank: (carrying our nacho’s out of the kitchen on a tray) Thanks, papa! Let me know if you need help.

Pai: Will do.

Me: (beaming)


How Babies are Made (sometimes)

conversations with hank

This is Molly’s favorite book. She falls asleep every night with it open and propped up so she can look at the skeletal system or the nervous system or some other fascinating part of the human body.


Me: (scuttling around the house at bed time, gathering bits and bobs, ferrying dishes to the sink, etc)

Molly: (carrying Hank’s Christmas present from his Avó (grandmother), O Corpo Human: Orgãos, Sistemas, Funções (The Human Body: Organs, Systems and Functions), even though it is half her size) Mama, read skeletons? Read skeletons, please?

Me: What a wonderful idea! Go read with mano (brother) for a minute and I will join you shortly.

Molly: (curls bouncing) Okay. MANO (brother)! MANO (brother)! (enters their shared room)

Hank: Hi mana (sister).

Molly: Mano (brother), read skeletons?

Hank: Sure.

Molly: YAH!

Hank: Mana (sister), that is the back of the book the skeletons are in the…

Molly: Okay… look, babies! Babies, mano (brother)!

Hank: That is right. This is how a baby fits into a mama’s body and is born.

Molly: LOOOK! Skeleton!

Hank: That is the mama’s spine and this is what a baby looks like growing in a mama’s body.

Molly: (turning the page) Look, mano! Penis.

Hank: What?

Molly: Penis.

Hank: (reading the text) O coito (coitus)?

Molly: Penis puzzle.

Hank: What?

Molly: Penis puzzle make babies.

Hank: Um.

Me: (standing in the door way debating entering having earlier used this analogy to explain to my curious three year old intercourse with the purpose of having children; that the man and the woman are like a puzzle and when they fit together they can make a baby)

Molly: Yah, mama and papa fit. Penis puzzle, baby.

Hank: (catching on to what he is seeing) Oh!

Molly: Penis puzzle.

Hank: (whispers) So that is how that works.

Me: (take the opportunity to enter the room, but say nothing, ready for their questions)

Molly: (bored) Where skeleton, mano (brother)?

Hank: (scrambles gratefully to turn to the front of the book) Here, here is the skeletal system.

Molly: Hi skeleton! (waving)

Hank: Penis puzzle, mama? Really?

Me: What? How else are you supposed to explain that illustration to a three year old?

Hank: (shrugs, judgmental) Are you supposed to explain that illustration to a three year old?

Me: (some major side eye) Parenting is 35% keeping you alive and 65% explanation and the explanations are rarely easy.

Molly: Mano (brother), LOOOOOK skeleton!



conversations with hank


Me: (before coffee, eyes still glued shut) Riddle me this, Hank: Did you set a secondary alarm on my phone?

Hank: A what?

Me: A secondary alarm? All of a sudden, as of 2018, I have this extra alarm that goes off with a message, (ungluing my eyes, cracking one open)

Hank: Yes, that was me. The one that says, “Greet your son?”

Me: If only that was what it says.

Hank: Huh?

Me: My message says, “Greet your soon. And good morning.”

Hank: Oh.

Me: So we will need to work on your spelling a bit more.

Hank: I was worried after break you’d forget about me and oversleep and I would be all alone in the morning so I added an extra alarm to help you.

Me: Huh, funny. Have I ever let you down?

Hank: No.

Me: Have I ever forgotten our morning coffee date and over slept?

Hank: No.

Me: And have you ever been alone in the morning?

Hank: No, but with that extra alarm I know I won’t be.

Me: Gives you peace of mind then?

Hank: I guess? I don’t know what that means.

Me: It means it gives you peace, no worries, no stress, you are comforted knowing that my calm, charming, sing-songie hippie-dippie alarm is obliterated by a jarring, electronic blatting reminding me to greet my misspelled son in the morning?

Hank: Oh, yes it does.

Me: I am glad your micromanagement of me gives you comfort.

Hank: Thank you.

Me: (walking into the kitchen to make my coffee) I am at your service.