Friday, May 25, 2007

Slivered Snowpea and Chicken Salad

Milo’s teacher thinks there may be a chance that the little mule will do his homework if I set a timer and ignore him, saying that I have work to do too. We both get a half hour. Unfortunately, it’s the half hour in which I was planning to sprawl on the couch with a good book, but once a temp, always a temp. I still remember how to fake it. Milo doesn’t even bother. He just hopped up and wandered away, bitching to beat the band. I’m afraid if I look up, I’ll see that someone else has helped himself to my couch. Oh wait, he’s back. Better look busy before Big Daddy comes and yells at us both.

Slivered Snowpea and Chicken Salad

Poach a pound’s worth of boneless, skinless chicken breast in half a box of organic chicken stock. Does anybody else think that seems a tad cannibalistic? Like serving Titus Andronicus a stew seasoned with his own chopped-up children? Oh well, steer the course. You too, Milo. Ten minutes ought to do it for the chicken, and I’m sure there are certain high-achieving little girls in his first grade class who could bang out all their Word Wall words in half that time, but my boy appears to have skipped ahead and is now cutting something out with scissors.

Idle hands are the devil’s work, so let’s quit staring into space and wash and string a pound of snow peas. This is probably what those mainstream family magazines have in mind when start in to yakking about fun kitchen activities in which the whole family can be involved. Unfortunately, I’m not much of a one for unsolicited advice…and by the time I go begging for it, it’s usually too late. Say, has anyone else noticed that those mainstream family mags are starting to tank at an alarming rate? I just received obituaries for both Child and Nick Jr. Family Fun. (Uh, anybody want to buy a service article about Six Super Ways to Keep from Killing Your Kids in the Former Yugoslavia?) What could this signify? Is it time for the freaks to take over the world? Because my timer hasn’t gone off yet.

Let’s look at this problem another way.

Q: If Mommy’s kitchen is three feet wide by six feet long, and she has zero helpers, how long will it take her to string a pound of snowpeas without drinking half a bottle of wine and turning into a creature that’s two-parts Bitchmother, three-parts Grounds for Divorce?

A: Back to that bed of nails, you!

If you’ve followed instructions carefully, you should be ready to drain the chicken. Reserve the stock for another purpose. (Other than that, Mr. Andronicus, how did you like the stew?)

Don’t feel bad if you’re still stringing snow peas, because we’re ten minutes shy of resetting that timer for our third time. If you finish before we do, stack them up, and slice them into matchsticks. It’s a mindless activity, but one I find oddly therapeutic. Also, that’s the way you’ll need them later on, so might as well get a jump on it.
Speaking of which, this salad isn’t going to dress itself. No, I’m not going to dress it for you. It’s your salad. You dress it. And don’t whine. For all the time you just spent whining, you could have been done by now. What do you mean you don’t what the ingredients are!? Oh, for the love of…here!

3 tablespoons of rice vinegar
3 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 teaspoons of sesame oil
and 2 tablespoons of your favorite nut or seed butter. (My favorite’s whichever one the kids refuse to eat, before it goes rancid and I have to throw it away. Almond butter worked great. Sunflower Seed butter was nice, too, even if it was a couple of warm days shy of joining Child and Nick Jr. Family Fun.)

Mince a couple cloves of garlic and a tablespoon’s worth of ginger, and stir fry them in a teaspoon of sesame oil in a big pan or wok.

Sorry to veer off topic, but Heaven help me, I’m on the verge of biting my tongue in half, that’s how dearly I’d love to feed this child the answers. Anything to put an end to this hellish exercise! Just between you, me, and the snowpeas, it’s the Cat in the Hat.

Oh right, the snowpeas. Throw them in the wok now, before the garlic has a melt down on you. Stir them around for the minute or two it will take Milo to write the letter C. You don’t want to be serving dinner at midnight, after all.

Throw the snowpeas into a bowl with the dressing and the shredded up chicken breast, toss in a couple of slivered almonds or whatever and let’s eat before that infernal timer goes off a fourth time. There’s no reason why this should have taken you more than thirty minutes.

In other news, doesn't THIS look delicious? I'm not sure how long it will keep, though, so if anyone has any suggestions on how to cook it...


Blogger annie said...

this absolutely made me laugh. i wish i could give you encouragement and say that the homework thing will change with time, but i know tons of college students who still won't do their work.

- anne, intern
& very amused girl

3:11 PM  
Blogger kristinmcpherson said...

It's time to get another cat!

3:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, at least it's cuter than cockroaches... Not saying much but there's that.

12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um, my kids are little, and I always imagined them happily doing their homework at the dinner table as I enhanced their education with all the new research that didn't make it into the textbook. Your post knocked me back into reality.

My child, who won't eat, poop, sleep, walk, whatevah without threats and extended negotiations is just going to put me in an early grave as soon as she starts school.

Why did I think she was going to happily sit at the table and do homework? This must have something to do with why I thought a swim diaper was an OK substitute to wear into that restaurant.

8:52 PM  
Blogger Ayun Halliday said...

wait, cathy, who was wearing the swim diaper, you or the kid? b/c if it's you, the little whippersnapper doesn't have a damn thing in the world to complain about.

we just spent memorial day weekend in the country w/ Mr. and Mrs. X, whose kids are all going to Waldorf school. They don't have homework. I wonder if this is how Mrs. X gets her delicious, healthy meals on the table by 6. Also, Sensei Aikido Sensei reports that the beyond-reproach ivy covered private school his child attends does not assign homework to their smallest fry. Milo is a victim of his parents' purse, urban attachment and liberal loving!

Free Milo! I mean his mother!

6:30 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

How did you catch that mouse? We had mice in our old apartment and they are fast! And what did you do with it? Ick. (Please don't let us have mice or cockroaches or bedbugs when we move to Brooklyn, please please please please!)

9:43 PM  
Blogger Ayun Halliday said...

Mrs. Motley, that mouse had some sort of weird hip displacement, or else he was drunk. Inky discovered him unmoving on his side. While I was steeling myself to deal with the remains, he got to his feet and staggered away like Handsome Pete the Cock-eyed Sailor. He was so slow it was no trouble to bowl him.

Then I slid him, bowl and all onto a priority mail envelope and placed that atop Portrait of the Theater. Then Handsome Pete and I went down to the stoop to wait for Greg, who having complimented me on my hunting skills, offered to crush our new friend underfoot.

Milo pulled a Fern Arabel and Handsome Pete was spared. I figured he'd run back into the building if I let him loose in the treepit. I considered dropping him in Heath Ledger's garden, but they've got security cameras. Heath's painter watched with interest, though, as I released this tiny ambassador in front of the old folks home across the street. Give em someone to talk to, I figure.

12:14 PM  
Blogger j.cro said...

I dont' want to scare you but I didn't learn really good study habits until I was in college, and only b/c one of my roommates was a really good studier and I learned better habits from her.

The mouse was cute... hopefully the old folks will feel an affinity towards a mouse with hip issues. I'm sure they deal with the same thing.

9:40 AM  
Blogger Teresa said...

Maybe it had discovered some poison somewhere? When I was a kid, my dad would put out rat poison, and after the mice had their fill, they would stagger out into my brothers' room next to the garage, seemingly drunkenly, until my dad "dealt" with them.

They eat mice in Thailand. You could've found a good Thai mouse recipe and made appetizers!

9:22 PM  
Blogger Karla said...

That is one cute lil mouse, I have to say...I feel bad for the poor bastards, but what can you do?

FYI, I never learned proper study habits, and I turned out great! Except not. Hee. I can offer you a free cat, though--we have a nest in the backyard.

6:30 AM  
Blogger web said...

I always feel a little cannabilistic dipping cucumbers into cucumber dip. Glad I'm not the only nutjob out there.

9:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:43 PM  
Blogger Jocelyn said...

Maybe you're supposed to poach the chicken in mouse stock and thereby alleviate that pesky cannabilism problem?

6:34 PM  
Blogger Deb Rox said...

Perhaps it's another rodent chef looking for a Pixar contract?

8:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hiya Ayun -
I just discovered your blog via "The Amateur Gourmet" site, and I just wanted to tell you that I loved, loved, LOVED your book and that Milo is super-adorable. I just want to tickle him and feed him cookies and milk while watching cartoons.

As for the mouse -- I immediately thought "RATATOUILLE." Sans-mouse, of course.

- S

10:35 PM  

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