A little bit more, a little bit less

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CHERYL JOST
Keith had something to say, “I want to make an announcement.”

He gazed around the table at his wife and children, who had momentarily stopped eating their dinner and were now sitting in rapt attention.

“As you know, I don’t believe in making New Year’s resolutions.”

“Oh,” Alex muttered as he picked up his fork and once again started shoveling the mashed potatoes into his mouth. “I thought you were going to say something important.”

“Humph,” my husband harrumphed

“Go ahead, dear, I’m listening,” I said.

“As I was saying, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. But this year, I’ve made a decision that I will adopt a policy of what I like to call ‘a little more, a little less.'”

“And how does ‘a little more, a little less’ work?” I inquired.

“I’m glad you asked.”

I could see he had been thinking about this for some time.

“I’m aware that most people start off a new year with all sorts of plans for improving their lives,” he said. “And in reality, those people, for the most part fail because they have set their goals way too high.

“So, I’ve come up with a plan to not go overboard, but just do ‘a little more.’ I’ll be just a fraction neater than I was last year. Or give just a tiny bit more to charity. Or have a touch more patience. Not a lot more neater or generous or patient-which I know I wouldn’t be able to do-but to do just a little more, which I should be able to accomplish.”

He was on a roll.

“Now conversely… (OK, he didn’t use the word ‘conversely.’ I would use the word ‘conversely,’ he wouldn’t, but ‘conversely’ works so well here that I’m leaving it.)

“Now conversely, in some instances, I may choose to do ‘a little bit less.’ For instance, I’m going to drink a little less soda. I might watch a smidgen less television or make a modest adjustment in my intake of snack foods.”

“It sounds like a good plan,” I said, thinking we would all benefit from implementing his strategy.

“Yeah, I think so,” he said. “I figure that if I achieve my yearly improvement plan of ‘a little more, a little less’ over a few decades, that by the time I die, I’ll be just about perfect.”

He laughed at the thought.

A few days later, Keith accompanied me to the grocery store to pick up a few items before we headed back home from a trip to town. As he wheeled the cart through the aisles of Vogt’s IGA, he reminded me of the things we needed to buy.

“We’re out of bread,” he said, and then added in a contemplative tone, “I think I’ll make some bread. By baking my own bread, I’ll be doing ‘a little more.'”

And then without missing a beat, he asked, “Do you need anything special to make bread?”

“If you have to ask that question, you might want to reconsider taking on such a task,” I countered. “Do you think you have time to bake bread, anyway?”

He opted for picking up a package of Olde Towne zwieback. I guess he chose to “do a little more” for the local economy.

“We need milk,” Keith said as he went to the dairy case and grabbed a jug. “And look what I’m buying.”

He held up the milk and pointed to the label, while a satisfied grin spread across his face. “It’s 2 percent, not whole milk. I’m doing what I said I would do…just a little less. A little less fat won’t hurt us.”

“Keith, I hate to burst your bubble, but I always buy 2 percent milk. If you want to ‘do a little less,’ you should buy the 1 percent.”

“But I don’t like 1 percent, I like whole milk,” he said seriously. “So by picking up the 2 percent, I’m really ‘doing a little less.'”

“Well, no you’re not, because whether you like it or not, we already drink 2 percent milk. You aren’t changing anything.”

“No, I’ve changed a lot. We used to drink raw milk with 4 percent butterfat when the dairy was in our backyard.”

He patted the gallon of milk now sitting in the cart.

“I consider this 2 percent as qualifying under the ‘little more, little less’ set of standards.”

It really didn’t make sense to me, but who was I to argue? It was his plan, right? So I guess he gets to set the standard.

More or less. We’ll see how this turns out.

* * *

The other day I was searching through the refrigerator looking for little bits and pieces that needed to be used up or thrown away. I came across a carton of whipping cream left over from the holidays, a package of mushrooms that were starting to turn and a bottle of white grape juice that nobody seemed to want to finish drinking.

“Now I know what’s for supper,” I said. I realized I had just unwittingly found most of the components for one of my favorite dishes. Quick, easy and sure to please, Champagne Chicken is great served with pasta, rice or a big fat baked potato. Add a bountiful green salad and you’ll have a wonderful meal that looks, and tastes, like something really special.

Champagne Chicken

2 tbs. flour

1/2 tsp. salt

Dash of pepper

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 tbs. butter

1 tbs. olive oil

1/4 cup champagne, dry white wine or white grape juice

1/4 cup sliced fresh mushrooms

1/2 cup whipping cream

Combine flour, salt and pepper. Lightly dredge chicken in flour mixture. Heat butter and oil in a large skillet, add chicken and saute about four minutes on each side. Add champagne (juice) and cook over medium heat for about 12 minutes or until chicken is done. (I cover the pan during this 12-minute cooking time.)

Remove chicken and set aside. Add mushrooms to the skillet and saute for about one minute. Add whipping cream to mushrooms and stir constantly until just thickened and heated through. Add chicken back to skillet and let warm for a few minutes. Serve.

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