Photo by Ken Williams for The Concord Monitor
This year The Fru Gals made the exact number of resolutions we will be able to keep: none. Not so much because we think we are perfect it’s really more that we’ve given up. The seven pounds that have been following us around since 1996 are still back there, doing their part to ensure we never encounter an uncomfortable chair. We still plan to watch reality television at the expense of getting through the classics of American literature and the only way we’ll get our five fruits and veggies each day is if we count the grapes in the chardonnay. Besides, it’s the middle of January, so whatever pathetic promises we should have made would already be as forgotten as the treadmills we swore we’d buy last year.
The funny thing is that as realistic as we are about ourselves, we are brimming with hope for the next generation. Despite all evidence to the contrary we continue to believe that with subtle guidance, a firm hand and a lot of yelling, we can get our children to change. Maybe not the empty toilet paper roll and certainly not their socks, but someday in the bright future a tube of toothpaste may be capped and returned to the cabinet. Perhaps a thank you note will be written to a grandparent in the same month a gift was given. A bath towel could be used on a clean body fresh out of the shower, hung up to dry and used a second time.
OK, we know, that is just plain crazy talk.
But seriously, instead of a list of resolutions for Mom, why not a list of resolutions from Mom? Of course if we were seriously interested in having our children actually read the list we’d have to autotune it and post it on Youtube.
First on the list is the bathroom. We resolve that someone other than us is going to do the daily disinfecting. Maybe it would be easier to get someone to take a swipe now and again if we left one of those cute containers of disposable cloths on the tank like in those commercials. Maybe pigs will fly. Maybe we should paint a bull’s-eye in the bowl.
Our second resolution concerns the daily How Was Your Day discussion. We resolve that we will never again accept a one word answer to this daily inquiry. “Good” is never good. “Fine” is worse. A sigh always makes us panic someone got arrested, or pregnant or both. There has got to be a way to tease information out of teens when they first come home and not always at 11 when they’re finally ready to talk and we are ready to drop.
Our third resolution: Wrangling the snow gear. We resolve that all the winter accessories will not be spread out on every available surface so that the sopping mittens, hats and socks will not create an odor that evokes a disturbing combination of blue cheese and wet dog. Nothing quite says January in New England like the smell of hand-me-down boot liners roasting on a radiator.
Our last resolution is diet related: we resolve to get more vegetables into our kids, even if it means more work in the kitchen. This is the only one that will be painful for us. Take this week’s recipes: Snobby Joes and Oven Baked Onion Rings. Certainly more work than cracking open a can of that Manwich sauce and sloshing it over a pound of fried hamburger but surprisingly delicious and pretty healthy too. And the onion rings—a little more effort than tearing open the bag of frozen ones but they were so delicious we had to snatch a few out of our boys’ grubby hands so that Ken would have a few for the picture.
This recipe is adapted from one we found at the vegan food blog Post Punk Kitchen (www.ppk.com) that has all sorts of scrumptious recipes for people who want to reduce the amount of meat they are eating but still want to dazzle their taste buds and feed the kids. We wreck the vegan certification with cheese and a schmear of mayo on the bun but that’s just us.
Ingredients to make 8-10 hearty sandwiches
1 pound bag dried lentils, rinsed in fresh water
8 cups water (approx)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium yellow onion, diced small
3 red bell peppers, blackened over an open flame and peeled, then diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup chili powder
¼ cup dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
1/3 cup real maple syrup
¼ cup yellow mustard
8-10 Kaiser rolls or sesame buns (optional – for serving)
Shredded cheddar (optional) Sliced green onions (optional)
Put the lentils in a medium sized covered pot and cover with cool water by 2 inches. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until lentils are soft. Drain and set aside.
About 10 minutes before the lentils are done boiling, sauté the onion in the olive oil for about 5 minutes over medium heat, until limp and glossy but not brown.
Add the garlic and cook for another minute, turning down the heat so that the garlic doesn’t burn.
Add the cooked lentils, the chili powder, oregano and salt and mix.
Add the tomatoes and tomato paste. Cook for about 10 minutes until nice and thick.
Stir in the maple syrup and mustard and heat through.
Serve on the buns, garnished with cheese and sliced green onions.
Oven Fried Onion Rings
Because they don’t really cook all the way through, it is important to use sweet onions like Vidalia or Walla Wallas. We got the idea for this from Post Punk Kitchen but had to change the recipe up a little—the original calls for almond milk and we don’t know what that is or where to get it.
Ingredients for 8 Servings
6 sweet onions, peeled and sliced into rings
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
4 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 cups Panko (Japanese style) breadcrumbs
Combine the milk with the vinegar and set aside for 5 minutes while you assemble the rest of the ingredients.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees
Line 2 baking sheets with foil and mist with Pam.
Stir together the milk, flour, salt and pepper and pour into a shallow bowl.
Pour the Panko crumbs into a second shallow bowl.
Take the onion rings and dip them fully into the milk mixture and then into the Panko crumbs making sure to coat the rings well.
Place on the baking sheet.
Continue until all the rings are dipped and breaded.
Bake for 15-18 minutes until the rings are browned.
Check after 14 minutes to make sure they do not burn. Serve immediately.