Don’t you wish you had a checked-off item on the to-do list for every time in the past week that someone asked you if you were ready for Christmas?

Who are they kidding? I wouldn’t be ready for Christmas if they pushed it back to July. There’s always one more thing you planned to do. As it is, I’m looking at a stack of Christmas cards still in their boxes. Instead of writing blogs I should be prepping for tomorrow night’s enchiladas. I know for a fact that I have forgotten something important  . . .  but I appear to really have forgotten it. And with any luck at all, I’ll be able to blame the lateness of our brother and sister-in-law’s presents on bad weather in the Midwest. (Okay, so I haven’t bought them, wrapped them or mailed them yet.)

What I HAVE done is cook: a Venetian lunch for the girlfriends, almond cakes for the neighbors, beef stew for the widower next door, mincemeat breads for coworkers. Out the door went guava jam and Meyer lemon marmalade canned earlier in the fall. (Cooking riddle No. 548-A: Why’s it called canning when you use glass jars???)

We’ve been subsisting on leftovers while present-wrapping reigned over my evenings but tonight I felt I had to make something decent. It was another one of those meals that make me wonder why people think convenience foods really save time.

I got home at 6:15 and we were eating at 7 (and I paused to change clothes and throw some clothes in the dryer).

The only prep I’d done was to buy a package of tuna fillets and some fresh green beans earlier in the day. There was rice left over from the night before.

Line a baking pan with foil, toss the beans with olive oil, garlic salt and pepper and slap ’em in a 450-degree oven. Put a deep, nonstick frying pan over high heat, boil down a cup or so of chicken broth or white wine while you dredge the fish in seasoned flour. Pour off the reduced broth or wine and set aside. Fry the fish in vegetable oil on both sides — 4 minutes or so a side. Remove fish, wipe out pan and put it back on on medium heat. Pour the reduction back in, add a couple of tablespoons of capers and cook a minute. Turn off heat and swirl in a few slices of cold butter which will “mount” the syrupy liquid to make a beurre blanc. Slap the room temperature rice on a plate, cover with a fish fillet, drizzle beurre blanc over, finish with a squeeze of tomato paste (the Italian kind, in the tube). Add some sizzling, well-browned green beans.

Eat. Feel saintly. Now get back to those Christmas preparations!