A well-meaning colleague just sent me a recipe for breaded chicken breasts stuffed with asparagus and mozzarella. At the end of our meeting this morning she was telling me about this dish she made last night and I must have said, “sounds good.” She cheerfully said, “I’ll email you the recipe. It’s so simple!”
To give you the necessary details, she is young (not sure what that means in numbers, but younger than I am), single, no children, no pets, not sure if she has any houseplants.
I open the Simple Chicken recipe to glance at it before deleting it. The recipe for Simple Chicken is nearly one-page long.
Simple Chicken involves multiple ingredients (more than three) many tools, and spices.
When spices are involved at my house, this means a crazed search to find what are sure to be stale spices. The search includes a kitchen stool where I usually end up in a losing battle with a can of condensed cream of mushroom soup (meant for an entirely different simple recipe that was never made) and we have the first head injury of the evening. No stale spices were located before the bleeding starts.
This Simple Chicken also involves thawed chicken breasts, flattening said thawed chicken breasts with a mallet, breading and seasoning the chicken, toothpicks to keep the stuffing in, taking the chicken out of the oven to stuff with cheese and asparagus, and then taking Simple Chicken out again to cover it with foil so it doesn’t dry out. The Simple Chicken gets a third check when it comes out of the oven to make sure it is cooked.
Continuing this vision of making the Simple Chicken many things come to mind. The expense of asparagus, where are the toothpicks, what additional injuries come from the toothpick search, and where do I find a mallet? Could I use a hammer instead? I saw a hammer in our basement covered in paint and sawdust. Can you put a hammer in the dishwasher?
I know during my search for the toothpicks while I am distracted trying to stop the bleeding due to my second head injury of the day, that will be the precise moment the toothpicks, aluminum foil, and hopefully-cleaned-chicken-hammer will look like amazing new toys.
It just occurs to me that I would still have to make a side dish for Simple Chicken. How about saltines? Extras are usually inside the highchair cushion or between the baby’s pants and diaper.
Some additional challenges are noise and my partially paralyzed legs. A crying baby in a highchair and a train depot getting built in record time locking my legs up against the stove.
Thomas the Train and the Island of Sodor take place in England. England of course is in another time zone, so they don’t dine with us. Instead during our dinnertime, it is their time of the day where the engines, diesels, troublesome trucks, and drivers get into some reality show-like drama.
The baby won’t wait for the Simple Chicken to get done. Instead I feed him a literal smorgasbord of food (tossing it to him due to my imprisoned legs) where he will take one bite of yogurt, one bite of sweet potato, one bite of strawberry, and it goes on until he’s full.
The train conductor will not eat the Simple Chicken and does not like to be rushed into dinner. He likes a more gentlemanly dinner and will be ready to dine around 7:30.
I know, simple is relative. At one point in my life I was younger, single, had no kids, and a corner full of dead houseplants. And I had a serene- looking apartment. Although it was very cold in the winter, it was very lovely if you wore an electric blanket and turned your back on the dead plant exhibit.
This nice woman sends me this delicious looking Simple Chicken recipe. She had no idea it would cause head trauma to me and send the kids to the emergency room.
She, like me all those years ago, pictures we all go home to a nice quiet home to fix Simple Chicken. And we all have the energy to wash the dishes right away when dinner is over. And then spend leisure time perusing cookbooks for more simple recipes.