My Big Fat Greek Chicken
I am a firm believer that PARENTS are the ones mainly responsible for the growth and development of their children, and school is the secondary source of education, not the primary. By education, I mean socially as well, like all the things maturing youths need to be taught in order to be valuable, respectable, well-functioning people in today’s society. Peers and media should be at such a monitored and minimal level that they have very little impact at all. We as parents start teaching our children well before they ever even set foot in a classroom – through reading, creative play, physical activities, cooking, public outings (dining, shopping, museums, zoos, etc.) – and they are sponges! Whatever they see and hear helps shape their own growing perspective of the world. That’s why it’s so imperative that we consciously strive to find “learning moments” on a consistent basis; times in which we can share more with our children and further their education process.
Eating out, cooking, and even grocery shopping are all opportunities to have a positive impact on a child’s development. I will brag until the day I die that Ryley’s second and third words were “Please” and “Thank You” (after “Mommy” of course!). Yes, it took some coaxing in the early years to get her to say them in public settings, but at 5 years old she uses her polite words frequently and without any prompting required. I taught her as a small child to enjoy snacks like carrots, sliced apples and oranges, celery with peanut butter, and a variety of nuts… and now that she can forage in the pantry and fridge for her own afternoon noshing, those are STILL the items she looks for. In fact, I potty-trained her years ago with stickers and Craisins for rewards, and as a child in Kindergarten surrounded by overweight and under-parented friends, Ryley regards sweets and cookies (and even juice) as treats instead of standard/consistent fare. Spending time with/taking an interest in her (even if I only have minimal amounts of time) can drastically enhance her ability to learn, to make good choices, to take interest in cultural experiences, and to become a successful, balanced adult.
None of this is meant to condemn you for how much you do with your kids, because I know we all have very different lives (plus, by no means do I do all the things I would like to with/for my daughter). It’s simply to point out that WE ALL have the ability to make an effort, no matter the size, and it pains me to see when parents leave the parenting up to someone/something else instead of taking the responsibility seriously. So, what in the world does any of this have to do with Greek Chicken?!? Well, my never-ending rant began inside my head while I watched a few, um… ‘large’ young children lope back and forth with candy and chips, dropping way too much junk food next to the sodas and frozen dinners in their mom’s shopping cart. Feeling especially indignant at that exact moment, I put on my Self-Righteous Supermom cape and chose to combat all the lack of parenting in the world by showing Ryley how to use math when choosing a bag of lemons over an individual one and helping her read out loud why Cheerios was a better choice than Lucky Charms.
After grocery-store-life-lesson-#-I’ve-already-lost-count, we went home to actually cook the fresh ingredients we bought (which is my favorite part, second only to getting to eat them). I looked at recipes from The Pampered Chef Cookbook Stoneware Inspirations ($14.75), which has lots of great recipes purely designed for cooking on one of our baking stones, and picked Lemon Greek Chicken. It. Was. Incredible.
The fresh lemon juice makes the chicken sooooo juicy, and all the veggies were delicious AND healthy. Lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, oregano, and fresh garlic – that’s it! I mean this was so good that I almost went back for thirds instead of saving Jeremiah his share (he’s at work, sorry sucka!)! I even ate the substituted sweet onions (which NEVER happens), and I’m kind of ashamed to admit that I cut up and ate the roasted lemon slices too, haha. I think that’s like eating the garnish and then starting in on the centerpiece’s decorative silk flowers for dessert, but apparently the lemon peel has up to 5-10 times more nutrients than just the juice and is a great eradicator of toxic elements in the body. And holy moly did the lemon pieces amp up the flavors!! It was quite easy to prep the dinner since I have the Microplane Grater that can double as a zester, the Garlic Press that I use probably every day, and the big Citrus Press ($18.50) that leaves nothing but the rind and seeds behind. As I’ve said before, the fresh package of chicken at Fresh and Easy has ridiculously huge breasts, so I cut them in half to make 4 full servings (and I still have 3 giant mutant breasts left for another day’s cooking). Since they also have monstrous red potatoes, I made a snap executive decision and cut them in fourths to cook faster (good thing too because they were still kind of “al dente”).
I can’t wait for Jeremiah to get home so I can serve him up some Big Fat Greek Chicken and make him listen to me vent about the Big Fat [Indiscriminate Ethnicity] Children. I hope it’s soon because I’m scared to break an ankle jumping down from this high of a soap box without help. 😉