Small Wisdoms from Raising my Kids

When I went to work today, I told a family that I would be 50 in September and that I was writing a blog to get me through the mere shock of the event (and to get my body, mind and soul into the right place).  They thought it was an amazing idea, and we sat and talked about my life for quite some time.  The baby I was photographing was their first child, and they picked my brain forever on child rearing ideas.  Of course, I am loaded with them seeing that my kids are grown and I have had so many fun experiences with them.  We have lived in five states, both with and without expended family around.  Therefore, I must tell you my kids are best friends. I would love to take credit in that but I can’t.  It was all on them.  They played hard and fought hard.  When we moved they only had each other to lean on.  They are amazing and I love everything about them.

When they began to date, and began bringing their dates around the house, I had to think of clever ways to make the situation bearable for us all.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved all the kids that came around the house.  We were definitely the “kool-aid” house.  Everyone wanted to be there. But when it was a date, it was sometimes awkward the first couple times.  Of course, Ed and I had to make it even more awkward just because that is who we are. Our brothers did it to us so we do it to them.   We were in charge, and making the kids squirm was always the fun part.    So, I bought these conversation cards.  Every time they had a new date come to dinner I would reach behind me in the china cabinet and pull them out.  Then it would begin.  The questions were easy, they were fun, but most of all they helped us get to know the friends our kids hung out with.  That one person they thought was special enough to meet us.  Yes, they would grumble at the thought of the cards coming out, but secretly I know they loved knowing their parents cared enough to want to know their friends.

They are not in high school any more, and the dates they bring to the house are more serious than that time, but, believe me, I still whip out the cards.  Last summer my son’s girlfriend came for a week to visit while my son was away.  We got her alone for a whole week!  I can’t believe he allowed that knowing the kind of things we might put her through.  The first night, with a glass of wine, we pulled out the cards.  It’s been and year and she is coming back next month.  I guess we didn’t scare her off.

Tonight, my daughter Katie is bringing her boyfriend to dinner.  I have met him a few times, but this will be our first sit down.  I have planned our Buffalo favorite Chaivetta’s Chicken and Giada’s Pita and Grilled Vegetable Panzanella from Feel Good Food  page 112.  I know Katie will love sharing one of her favorite chicken dishes with Mike and I will love sharing my conversation cards!


A Few Thoughts on Cool Summer Nights and Warm BBQ Chicken


Tonight I changed a few things from Giada’s cookbook.  Sorry Giada and sorry Giada’s editors.  The recipe that I had chosen to create for this evening was sliced grilled tenderloin and citrus slaw from page 192 in Feel Good Food.  However, I decided to BBQ some chicken instead of the pork tender.  It’s not that I don’t love the juicy succulence of a pork tender; as a matter of fact, it is one of my favorite things! But, I was checking Facebook today and stumbled across Ree Drummond’s BBQ chicken.

Well, it got my mouth watering and my mind wondering.  Ree is from Oklahoma; I am from Oklahoma.  Ree is the wife of a rancher in Oklahoma who happens to be a relative of a good friend of mine.  Isn’t that how it always works?  We all know someone who knows someone.  I call these connections your red threads.  Anyway, Ree got me thinking of my daddy.  He was a farm boy during the depression in Okmulgee, Oklahoma.  He grew up threw the war and went to college, then to med school at The University of Oklahoma.  He became one of Oklahoma City’s finest doctors.  Well, I like to brag and say he is one our countries best doctors, but he would tell me, “Now Molly Sue, you’ve gone too far.”

Not only was he a great doctor, but my daddy makes the best BBQ chicken this side of anywhere. As a matter of fact, the last time he went to visit my sister, she made him make it right there in Spring, Texas! Ree should have a taste of that deliciousness.  She would probably have him on her show! So, with my daddy in mind, I decided that I just had to make that for dinner. Still, I did stick in Giada’s slaw, and it was amazing.  As we took a bite of the chicken we scooped the slaw on the fork and the combination of flavors was a symphony in my mouth.  Giada hit this slaw out of the park. It will now become my go to summer slaw, especially when I hit the grill to BBQ the way my daddy taught me.



Simple Tips for an Easy Lemon Cumin Chicken Breast


Again today, we chose to make our dinner from the Giada’s Feel Good Food cookbook. For years, I have been the sort of chef who likes to experiment with her food, and I create most of my recipes on the fly. My family thinks it’s always a success, but I’m starting to see that there is something special about using a cookbook. Giada is using ingredient combinations and techniques that I simply would never have thought of. It’s like getting great advice from an old friend. What a blast!

Dinner, lemon cumin chicken with mint and spinach pesto from page 220, called for extra virgin olive oil, an ingredient I rarely keep around. When I went shopping for it, to my pleasant surprise, I found an organic bottle at Aldi for only $3.99! Of course I grabbed it, and it was lovely in the meal.


One of the first things that I did this morning was marinate my chicken. Giada tells you in the book that you should marinate for at least four hours, and I agree wholeheartedly. If you can marinate overnight, then even better! Just get that chicken soaked all up in her delicious marinade, which I’ll have to tell you now is some of the best I’ve ever eaten. For years, I’ve had a very specific method for marinading my meat, one that I will surely be sticking by for years to come. I begin my placing the thawed chicken in a Ziploc bag inside of a large mixing bowl. This way, you don’t get messy chicken juice all over the kitchen counters. I am very careful to always use tongs when handling my raw meat so that I only have to wash my hands once or twice during the entire process. Like Giada, I get my hands manicured weekly, something my mother has always taught me to do. In between the manicures, I like them to stay as full and moisturized as possible. I’m sure you know that constant hand washing is no friend to that kind of goal.


Then, I add all of the ingredients for the marinade, and zip that puppy right up. Be sure if you use this method to get most of the air out of the bag while you’re closing it tight. I find it best to use the Ziploc brand bags if you don’t want any leakage. Once I’m sure those yummy juices aren’t going anywhere, I place the bag on the counter and rub the marinade all over the meat, as shown below. It’s a little like a shake n’ bake without all the nasty gluten or preservatives!


 This evening, once the chicken was all marinated, we got to grilling. One thing I’m absolutely sure to do every time I am searching for a new home in a new city is look out the windows. I cannot live somewhere if it doesn’t have a view. Well, lucky for me, not only did I get a great town-home with a lovely little forest of trees in this new city, but I got great neighbors who love to be outside just as much as I do. The view from my grill makes me want to go out there every day in the summer!


The marinated chicken grilled so perfectly out there today, too. When I was young, my daddy was the one who taught me how to own the barbecue, and while I’ll never be quite like him, I must say I’ve become quite the griller over the years. One thing to always remember when grilling is that you should never force it. If the chicken won’t budge, it’s not ready to flip. Life on the grill takes time and patience, and if you have it, then you can get great grilled chicken every time! I love the look of grill marks on a charred breast.


We paired the chicken and pesto with a butter lettuce salad which added just the right pop of green and red to the plate. To the salad, I added organic grape tomatoes, cucumbers, and avocado. I learned recently that it is very important to purchase organic if you’re eating fruits or vegetables with a very thin skin (like tomatoes or apples). Pesticides can get through the skin and into the meat of the food, which is not something anyone needs!


Now, for that pesto! You need Giada’s newest cookbook, if only for that pesto recipe! You wouldn’t even know it has spinach with the tangy lemon and sweet mint to balance it out. I’m sure even your kids would love this light summer pesto! I can’t wait to make it again. What really tied it all together, though, was the cosmo that I made to go with the delectable dinner. Look out for my own personal recipe for that one later on.