(Dancing) Chicken on the BBQ

I have a neurotic “thing” about advertisements that use singing and dancing cartoon cows to sell tasty and delectable steak.  I’m OK when these bouncing bovines advertise yogurt or cheese, but when cartoon animals advertise human consumption that require the “actors'” own slaughter, I cringe a bit.

So, as a true hypocrite, I bring you this photo of a recent dinner cooking on the BBQ.  I’m totally amused at how this chicken stands upright, legs poised and ready to break into a fox trot, tango or…chicken dance!

(See what I mean?  Neurotic.  Thing.)

Enjoy your Saturday, everyone!

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Home-Roasted Peppers

gonna be good!Such a simple process, but so worth the yummy roasted flavour!  There is nothing like home-roasted peppers with pasta, on sandwiches or as a base for dips.  I only recently started roasting my own peppers, and in the winter, I might still be known to steam them in strips for a pasta sauce, but there is nothing like the flavour of bbq roasted!

doneThe very easy process:
  • Pre-heat bbq
  • place peppers on grill, at medium heat
  • turn regularly with tongs
  • once all sides blistered and somewhat blackened, remove from bbq and place in a paper bag, crumpled shut
  • after about 10 minutes, remove the peppers to a cutting board.
  • I usually cut the top off and pour the liquid out
  • remove and discard seeds and membrane, peel the skin off, and cut the pepper into slices, or quarters

THIS…is a beautiful thing

and done

Try these roasted peppers with

Easiest Alfredo Sauce

 

 

 

 

 

Driving Advice…From the Non-Drivers

Now that both my kids are legally licenced drivers, I recall these days with a bit of fondness…and now-unfamiliar feelings of superiority. 

It has come to my attention that I am under the constant scrutiny of a microscope of sorts.  Operated by my children, this highly sensitive device is astonishingly proficient at detecting and magnifying infractions that provoke the users to critique and admonish…while prompting my own sullen realization that the rules from which I have inadvertently strayed are generally those that I have myself created or enforced.

As a parent, I am aware that my children have taught me countless lessons.  Perhaps the most valuable is the importance of very carefully considering my words and actions because of the impact they could have on others, including/especially yours truly.

In other words, I am learning to keep the rope short on which to later hang myself.

There have been other lessons that sometimes emerge from the most unlikely places.  One that I find particularly amusing is, given my kids’ non-existent status with the motor vehicle licensing department, their on-going efforts to, what appears to be, improve my driving.

I admit that it is entirely possible that I have developed a bad habit or two since I started driving about a quarter of a century ago.  My kids, born 13 and 10 years ago, are somehow aware of these habits and comment on, criticize and correct much of what I do behind the wheel.

As a law abiding citizen respectful of speed limits, I do mistakenly exceed them from time to time.  Apparently my kids’ radar shifts into high gear when this happens, and they smugly issue a reminder of the limit.

Exaggerated throat clearing and foot tapping can be heard as we drive out of the driveway when I sometimes pull my own seatbelt into place once the car is moving…after having insisted that the kids’ belts be fastened before we begin to drive.

I am defenceless against many of these reprimands and take full responsibility for creating these backseat drivers.   When frustrated by the carelessness, or – ok, lets call it like it is – stupidity of some drivers, I may mutter a criticism of my own under my breath.  I am then scolded for name calling which I, when using my other set of parenting skills, have told them is never acceptable.

Recently, when pulling into the parking lot of my kids’ school, I paused to see if the car ahead of us was going to park or back up.  As I patiently waited, I was startled by my daughter instructing loudly from the back of the van, “Mom!  Park!”  Calmly, I described the situation ahead of me, relishing the opportunity to explain that I was not actually doing anything wrong.

But after there was no retort to my even-tempered response, I realized that what I had mistaken for impatience in her voice was actually elevated volume because my nine-year-old parking consultant was bellowing orders…while wearing ear phones.

I can safely say that my kids’ unsolicited commentary is not because of fear for their physical well-being. It’s entirely clear that their comfort and confidence is unflappable as they use their knowledge of the rules of the road to critique what they feel are my inadequacies.

When my driving coaches eventually get behind the wheel, my advice, on the other hand, will be safety driven and I desperately hope they remember well and abide by all the guidance they have given me.

Lucky for them, my approach will be kinder, as I have learned the benefits of positive reinforcement and constructive criticism.  Although they’re pretty good with their manners in general, I’m still patiently waiting for, “Wow, Mom, nice job coming to a complete stop at the stop sign!”


originally published in the Waterloo Region Record

Stop the Clock!

stop-watch 2Although my days are generally less busy than when I wrote this, I still dream (often!) of stopping time, at just the right moments.

During a day that I have a lot to accomplish, I routinely glance at the clock hoping it will serve as a gauge to the great progress that I have made.  What it shows, instead hurls me into a confused panic; the amount of time, that seemed abundant in theory, has yet again slipped away and taken with it the very limited opportunity I had to achieve my unfinished tasks.

I’m certain it used to take longer for time to pass, but surely the 24 hours of a day that meld into the seven days of a week have not actually changed in length…have they?

I have realized over time – less than it seems – that I have fallen victim to a bitter and simple irony; long ago, during the days that I had plenty of time I didn’t need any extra, and now that I have none I need a whole lot more.

Should I just accept it as a matter of fact that the busier life gets, the more quickly time passes?

Hmm…

As the parent of two hockey players, I spend a fair amount of time in arenas, paying close attention to the time clock during games.  As play stops for a few seconds or minutes, I sometimes find myself wistfully thinking about how gloriously wonderful it would be to simply tap a button, and time, over which we have absolutely no control, would temporarily cease to march on.

Just imagine if the number of hours in our days, if we so chose, could actually be doubled.

Sleeping in would lose the negative connotation it has, in my sleep-deprived opinion, unfairly acquired; we could actually waste (or…use otherwise) only half of the time that would ordinarily be wasted (or…used otherwise).

When the kids are running late for the bus, we could yell, like the parent in the stands when the timekeeper misses a ref’s call, “Stop the clock!” Then time (and the school bus) would stand still until back packs are slung over shoulders, shoes are tied and last minute wishes for a good day are hollered, along with kids, out the door.

By employing, lets say, roughly the same calculation as a hockey game, one hour would become two, thereby extending the all-too-brief period of time between our kids’ bedtimes and our own.  Wouldn’t it be novel and exciting to spend at least part of an evening on our “like to’s”, rather than always focusing on “must do’s?”

We’d make weekends longer, but leave weekdays as they are…I never said the process would be logical, so yes, we can have one without the other.

Holidays would last indefinitely, as could a day at the beach during …ah, summer!

We could actually chat with friends, rather than merely arranging pick up or drop off times that most efficiently manage our kids’ hectic schedules, while attempting to jam our own obligations into whatever time is left.

And asking new friends what they like to do in their spare time might even yield a response other than an exasperated, wide-eyed, “Are you kidding me?”

Eventually though, we would realize that the clock is not the only culprit, because it works in quiet conjunction with another indicator of the speed of time.  The calendar hangs inconspicuously flat and quiet against the wall, and somewhere between 28 and 31 days, strikes mercilessly, as we are forced to flip the page and embark upon a new month.

But wouldn’t it be great if we could erase certain obligations, and as the ink disappears, so too would any commitments that we would prefer not have?

Nah…THAT would never work.

originally published in the Waterloo Region Record

Easiest Alfredo Sauce

Alfredo plus shrimp

I love a good fresh tomato sauce, but this Alfredo is such an easy go-to meal in a pinch, with most of the ingredients already in the house.

Ingredients
  • 2 Cups Milk
  • 1/4 – 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • 3 Tablespoons Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Pepper
  • Extra Special Addition:  Shrimp!

Alfredo

Directions
  • Melt butter over medium heat.
  • Whisk in flour, and cook, whisking for about 3 minutes. Be careful not to burn.
  • Add garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  • Add milk slowly, about 1/2 cup at a time, and gradually turn up the heat to a boil.  Whisk almost constantly. so it doesn’t burn.  You will see the sauce begin to thicken, if not, you probably need more heat.
  • Once it is noticeably thicker, remove from heat and add parmesan.

Pour over any kind of cooked pasta.  Alfredo sauce is generally considered best for fettuccine noodles, but you’ll be happy using it with spaghetti, rotini or penne.

Switch or Ditch
  • add Home Roasted Peppers
  • 1 or 2 cloves of fresh garlic can be used instead of garlic powder
  • I grilled the shrimp on the bbq with butter and fresh garlic
  • Grilled peppers and/or chicken are also excellent additions to this dish
  • Fresh or dried herbs are also easy to add, parsley, basil, oregano

 

 

 

Spring Fever…in Unexpected Forms

line

There is nothing like a good laundry day (yes, I lead a very simple life!) to herald the arrival of spring.  I don’t know if it’s the appeal if “moving” back outside, not wasting energy when the sun and breeze can so easily dry our seemingly endless pile of laundry, or the smell of fresh air on towels and linens, but this really puts a bounce in my step!

Here’s a column written when my kids were younger and spring “hit” them in many other wonderful ways…while I was enjoying – yes – hanging laundry on the line!

Spring Fever