Photo by Ken Williams for The Concord Monitor
Wouldn’t it be nice if spending the winter in houses as cold and damp as a crisper drawer at least kept our faces as dewy and fresh as the apples in our fridge? No such luck.
All winter we pay frosty homage to Fred Rogers, taking off our outside down coats and donning our inside down vests every time we come home. Shouldn’t we get something out of that besides manageable heating bills?
One day last week the temperature hit 60 for a few sunny hours and we gleefully shed a couple layers and headed outside. We were feeling so young and energetic that we were actually considering tank tops as a viable fashion option. Then we caught a glimpse of ourselves in the reflective surface of a puddle of melted snow.
Spring chickens we are not.
Every year we wear our hair a little shorter and our shorts a little longer. If we were better at math, we could draw you a graph, but suffice to say it’s a very delicate balance between youthful stylishness and just plain cluelessness.
Better to go short than to be the lady with the bouncin’ and behavin’ hair who elicits gasps when she turns around because her face is a good 15 years older than her hairdo can support.
And better to go long and put on a nice pair of capris because, as our mothers would say;
Nobody Needs to See That.
Besides, ankles still look good long after the knees go elephanty.
Some things are harder to embrace than others.
Suzanne refused to get reading glasses until the day she put the dog’s ear drops into her eyes because there were two blurry white bottles were on the kitchen window sill. After surviving the intense burning pain and a humiliating call to the poison control hotline, she’s decided to believe the little glasses make her look smart, like Tina Fey, not old like, well, like she is.
Robin still tries to stay up until the last curfew but often finds she’s fallen asleep on the sofa. Our theory is this is nature’s way of preserving a mother’s last good nerve. Nothing good happens in Concord, New Hampshire after 9:00; better to be rested and refreshed and wait until morning to dole out the punishments.
We haven’t totally thrown in the towel. We still wear heels most days and we’d still kill to lose the last of the baby weight, as we like to call the last ten pounds even though the baby is practically a full grown man.
Heck, maybe it’s time to embrace Meryl Streep’s philosophy on weight and aging: after a certain age you’ve got to choose your seat or your face. We might as well choose face; we don’t even want to think about how much more wrinkled we’d be if we were thin and the seat is a lost cause anyway.
We might not be spring chickens anymore but we are learning to be comfortable in our new roles as a couple of high-heeled hens!
The next time boneless, skinless chicken breasts go on sale, buy up a bunch. We like to pound them until they are about a half inch thick and throw them on a heated grill pan for about 4-6 minutes a side, then serve them with a simple sauce. A little rice and some salad and dinner is done!
Marinated Tomato Salsa Cruda
This time of year grape tomatoes are sweet and inexpensive. Turn them into a delicious fresh sauce by marinating them in olive oil and garlic for an hour or two.
For 6-8 servings
2 packages grape tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
1 small clove garlic, minced fine
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Handful of flat leaf parsley, minced fine
¼ cup best quality olive oil
Mix all the ingredients together in a medium sized bowl. Allow to sit at room temperature for an hour or two so that the flavors can blend and mellow. This is also good as a topping for thin toasted slices of baguette.
Creamy Artichoke and Olive Tapenade
For 6-8 servings
2 15 ounce cans artichoke hearts packed in water, drained
1 12 ounce can sliced black olives
1 clove garlic, minced fine
½ cup mayonnaise
½ half cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Handful of fresh chives
Blitz the artichoke hearts in a food processor for several seconds until there are no large chunks remaining, but do not puree. Add the garlic, mayo and cheese and pulse two or three times to blend. Scrape into a medium sized bowl and add the olives, salt and pepper. Stir gently. Snip the chives with a pair of scissors over the bowl to garnish. Serve at room temperature or heat for a minute in the microwave. This mixture is also a terrific dip for tortilla chips.
Spicy Grape Salsa
For 6-8 servings
2 cups of red or green grapes, sliced lengthwise into quarters
1 cup fresh or canned pineapple, cut into small pieces about the size of the quartered grapes
½ teaspoon fresh jalapeno pepper, minced fine, more or less to taste
2 tablespoons red onion, minced
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and toss gently. Refrigerate for an hour to allow flavors to blend. Serve cold. This is also delicious as a topping for grilled fish.