Saturday, March 26, 2011

in the mouths of babes

My brother(-in-law) is getting married in 7 weeks.

That's actually a little mind-blowing because no one ever thought he would get married, but he is, in fact, getting married.  Not only is he getting married, but he will instantly become a step-father to 4 children, in addition to already being the father of his beautiful daughter, my little angel baby.

When my SIL-to-be posted something on Facebook about how awesome their cake is going to be, I had this Lightbulb Moment when I thought, "oh dear, I hope they'll remember we don't eat animals..." regarding reception food.  Honestly, I don't have much of a problem with salad and side dishes, but Mister gets supercranky when he doesn't get to eat "real food" (more in a minute) so since social occasions can be a stretch anyway, I really don't want him to be hungry, too.

Upon further reflection, I remembered that one of the children is a vegetarian and took comfort, since surely, that means they will remember to consider a real vegetarian entree.  Then I started to reflect on the strength of a 14-year-old to make such a decision and wondered how she came to that point in her life and started thinking of my 8-year-old nephew, who has also decided not to eat animals.  This is truly perplexing to the rest of the family, especially my parents-in-law, who cannot understand why he doesn't want to eat chicken fingers.  Fortunately, his mother is supportive of his decision, and of course, his aunt and uncle love that he is a broccoli addict, but I couldn't stop thinking, my mind is a restless creature.

When so many children are making such a substantial decision, to eschew the eating of animals, I can't help but wonder what they are seeing or what they understand that eludes the general population.  I hear about children, mainly between the ages of 5 and 10, choosing a meat-free diet more and more frequently and I want to know why.  What information are these children exposed to that is helping them make this decision?  In their innocence, are they able to better understand the nature of "meat" better than adults?

It has been said, and I have observed, that children have a natural sense of evil - by that I mean some children have an uncanny sense of a person who might harm them or a situation that is dangerous.  I have seen children [who were not abused] shy away from the embrace of someone who was later found to be a pedophile.  I have seen unerring compassion from children towards animals and other children, even adults.  You hear amazing stories of children starting charities to give other children pets, or farm animals for sustenance, or raising money for cancer research.  You are acquainted with the stereotype of stray animals following children who then plead with their parents to bring the new fuzzball into their home.  When they aren't whining, children can be extraordinary creatures.

This is how my mind works.  I think way too much.

The only segue to dinner I can think of is this: SusanV, the author of tonight's dinner recipe, has a daughter she refers to on her blog only by her first initial, E.  According to Susan, E loves pasta.  Funny - my husband also loves pasta!  Smells like a segue to me....

Having been quite productive today, between food shopping, teaching, and cleaning up the kitchen, I actually had very little energy left to make dinner.  A shame, really, as I had intended to make a strange (in a good way) and time-consuming recipe that Isa just posted yesterday on  Nevertheless, I knew Sicilian Market Pasta from the Fat Free Kitchen blog would be much better accompanied by my Montepulciano than the bizarro wheatberry dish, so I started a pot of water to boil.

I deviated slightly from the recipe mainly because it seems like she's just making things more difficult for herself by sauteing each individual component separately and also because I prefer my cherry tomatoes to be at least lightly sauteed.  As the name of the blog might suggest, Susan is at least a little bit focused on cutting fat and calories in her recipes.  She includes the Weight Watchers exchange for all of her recipes.

I have nothing [big] against Weight Watchers, but what follows will probably reveal that WW is not the weight loss company I work for... Mister and I were unanimous in our reaction to this dish: too many years of dieting appear to have robbed Susan of her tastebuds.  This recipe had so very much potential....with some tweaking, this could be a recipe to reckon with, although I think Martha has already perfected it.  There was way too much pasta for the "sauce."  It's possible she meant to use 1 lb of fresh pasta, but 1 lbs of dry pasta was WAY too much.  There was also more basil than anything else, which is fine, except that it doesn't melt into a sauce.

Also, chickpeas and spaghetti just don't mix.  It is profoundly difficult to eat them together.  It was an attractive, but very bland dish.  Since we didn't eat much, there is a whole dinner's worth of leftovers, so I may try to craft a real sauce and serve the leftovers with that one day when time is tight and/or I don't feel like cooking, but really, Susan...this was the Guaranteed Not To Suck I'm more than just a little concerned about the other two recipes I have on my menu.

Because I don't want to leave you on a bad note, I will share the most amazing link.  I don't even know how I found this - it was one of those amazing finds that comes as the result of multiple "click-throughs" from one website to another.  Some woman discovered some Weight Watchers recipes cards from the 1970s and was so repulsed (and with good reason!) she devoted a blog to sharing them with others.  I laughed so hard I couldn't breath - although I don't want to rob you of your breath, I do hope you laugh as hard as I did, because everyone needs a little ridiculousness in their lives.

Click here.  You won't be sorry.

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