Real Cooking

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CHERYL JOST
It’s beginning to sound like a war zone around here. I hate to make light of something as serious as armed conflict, but even as I sit down to write this column, the sounds of gunfire are echoing throughout the surrounding creek bed and into the open window of our den. Each shot makes me want to duck for cover.

My son and his father are outside shooting at clay pigeons. I’m told that Alex is getting fairly proficient at hitting the target. The boy is becoming more confident. His father is so proud. His mother couldn’t be more thrilled.

Well, that’s a lie.

I truthfully can’t say I’m thrilled about the prospect of having a son traipsing over hill and dale leaving a wake of death and destruction behind him.

OK, maybe that’s a little harsh, but my son wants to shoot Bambi. My gentle, loving, sensitive boy wants to kill a deer. And then he wants to mount its head, with its beautiful, soulful brown eyes, on his bedroom wall.

For me to dust. Or vacuum. Or whatever one does to dead, preserved animals.

Of course Alex has his heart set on bringing down a big buck with a huge rack of antlers. He knows that the chances of that are slim, but a boy can dream.

But it made me wonder. Aren’t the bucks with the big racks the ones that have grown to full maturity? Perhaps even lived a bit longer than average? And if they have lived so long, wouldn’t that be because they are stronger and smarter and healthier than the other males?

So, if that’s the case, shouldn’t they be left in the wild to help propagate the species? You know, that whole gene-pool thing. Shouldn’t the hunters really be looking to shoot the wizened, the sickly and the deformed?

I didn’t think you would buy that argument.

Anyway, Alex is practicing and he and Keith are out every weekend scouting for a good place to set up a blind or a tree stand or…whatever.

Can you tell I’m really into this? Actually, I do wish him success because it means so much to him. The season starts in December, so I still have time for an attitude adjustment.

Maybe I should eat some soybeans. I recently read a report by the National Institute of Health, which states that foods rich in magnesium will help relieve feelings of stress, tension and anxiety. It is recommended to consume about 325 milligrams of magnesium a day to aid in the function of both muscular and nervous systems.

Foods rich in magnesium include soybeans, dried fruits, spinach, shellfish, peanuts and-ta da!-chocolate.

See, you knew chocolate made you feel better.

In that same report, researchers have found that foods that contain Beta-carotene, Lutein and Zeaxantin help to promote better eyesight. Foods like spinach, peas, corn, fish, peanuts and carrots.

Your mother was right when she encouraged you to eat your carrots. “Have you ever seen a rabbit with glasses?”

No, but if I did Alex would probably come and shoot it.

Another interesting fact contained in that report is that people who smoke and eat fast-food often (whatever “often” means) are more at risk to have problems with their eyesight. One packet of cigarettes a day triplicates the possibility of losing one’s eyesight after the age of 60.

But don’t worry. If you want to feel better, eat a sardine. According to a group of English researchers, eating sardines will bring about a feeling of well-being. Sardines contain elevated quantities of fatty acids that promote good humor.

So if you want to be in a pleasant mood, eat a sardine. Tuna, salmon, pumpkin and peanuts work well, too.

Did you notice that peanuts landed in every category? Interesting.

But for some reason I’m thinking that eating a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup wouldn’t qualify as covering my body’s need for magnesium, fatty acids and Beta-carotene.

Understand I’m not absolutely certain about that, but I’m leaning toward “I don’t think so.”

This past week, I heard a comedian say: “I’ve found the secret to living a happier life. I’ve lowered my expectations.”

I laughed and then I thought, “Maybe that truly is the secret to happiness; maybe I should lower my expectations, too.”

If I didn’t expect the remodeling to get done, then I wouldn’t be disappointed by all of the delays. If I were willing to accept a lower standard in behavior, then I wouldn’t have to put in so much energy in helping my kids to grow into productive, moral adults.

If I didn’t put so much stock in sitting down to a family dinner, then I wouldn’t have to spend so much time trying to prepare appealing, nutritious meals. If I didn’t have so much trust in our chosen leadership, then I wouldn’t feel betrayed when they fail-sometimes again and again.

Who are we kidding? I can’t lower my expectations. It goes against every fiber of my being.

I guess I’ll just break out the sardines and the chocolate. But not together. Yuck.

* * *

Be sure to allow time to marinate the chicken for this tasty dish that the kids will like. The recipe is on the mild side. For those who like a little more flavor, add a little soy sauce or more hot sauce to the peanut sauce. I just said sauce three times in a row.

Chicken Kabobs

with Peanut Sauce

2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tbs. vegetable oil

1 tsp. packed brown sugar

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

1 clove garlic, crushed

Peanut sauce:

1 tbs. vegetable oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1/3 cup peanut butter

1/3 cup water

1 tbs. lemon juice

1/4 tsp. ground coriander

4 drops (or more) hot pepper sauce

Cut chicken into 3/4-inch pieces. Mix chicken and remaining ingredients (except for sauce ingredients) in a glass bowl. Cover and let marinate for at least two hours, stirring occasionally.

Soak 14 to 16 bamboo skewers in water at least 30 minutes before use to prevent burning.

Make sauce. Heat oil over medium heat and saute onion until tender. Stir in the remaining ingredients and let simmer over low heat until just blended. The sauce will separate if overcooked, so stir occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside.

Remove chicken from marinade and thread four to five pieces of chicken onto each skewer. Brush with marinade. Broil or grill chicken until it is no longer pink inside. Serve with sauce.

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