Roberta - Hercules, California
Entered on November 9, 2008

I believe in chicken croquettes.

But, because they are labor-intensive, I rarely make them. In fact, as I looked at the leftover chicken and hefted the red potatoes on the counter one day, I couldn’t remember the last time I’d made them.

One of the lingering effects of an accident a few years ago is an inability to stand comfortably in the kitchen for a lengthy period, as well as shoulder pain with prolonged chopping.

So I decided to make my croquettes in stages. I started the potatoes cooking early, while waiting for my oatmeal. Then I tossed the chicken in the food processor while cleaning up after lunch. In mid-afternoon I mashed, seasoned and formed patties.

When I sautéed them in a little olive oil at dinner, they turned golden brown and smelled inviting.

Then I opened the refrigerator to get the salad ready, and spotted a small bowl¬¬—full of ground chicken.

I had forgotten to mix it in. As a result I had made potato croquettes.

I have nothing against potato croquettes, but I wouldn’t have gone to all this trouble to make them.

In the many years I’ve been cooking, I have made my share of kitchen mistakes. There was the ground beef that I hadn’t known should be precooked before adding to the pizza crust. And there were those exploding baked potatoes.

But you’d think I’d know better than to leave out a crucial ingredient. I stood there, annoyed, holding the poor little bowl.

I wondered if I could rescue my dinner. I put the croquettes on the counter and sliced them horizontally. I patted some ground chicken on half the patties and replaced their tops, in effect creating chicken Oreos.

They turned out to be delicious, and indistinguishable from the so-called real thing.

And it occurred to me, as I put the leftovers away, that my life has become a bit of a croquette. I can’t do some things the way I used to. I have to devise alternative strategies in order to accomplish some things I once did without thinking.

Maybe I clean the lettuce sitting down, buy some vegetables precut or substitute guile for muscle.

Maybe none of that matters in the end. I still get things done, and I’m still delicious.