Saturday, May 22, 2010

Proud Parents, Comfort Food, Hope & New Tricks

The 20th was a happy day for our family. Lauren, my eldest daughter, turned 23, and Gabe, my youngest son, participated in an entertaining and delightful choral concert.
A great new (to me) method of serving brownies in cupcake form. No crumbling, still delicious, very festive-looking!

Proud Parents, Comfort Food, Hope & New Tricks
I devoted 2 days this week to my daughter's birthday celebration. She's boyfriendless this year (HURRAY!!!), her best friend, whose birthday is May 17, is in the Chicago area, having joined the Navy last year, and most of her friends were working, as her 23rd fell on Thursday, the 20th.
She took the day off and adopted a kitten she named "Marty." After attempting to bond with Marty and kitten-proofing her apartment, she came over to my house for an early dinner, her brother's choral concert, and our traditional lighting of candles and singing of "Happy Birthday."
As far as a life-long battle with the bulge, Lauren's apple didn't fall far from my tree. She and I constantly fight weight-gain. With that in mind, I decided to cook chicken for dinner, with vegetables.
Tired of the "same old, same old," I googled "Chicken fricassee," a dish I don't believe I've seen since my days as a little child in my grandmother's kitchen.
Gabe is a history buff, so when I found what claimed to be Thomas Jefferson's chicken fricassee recipe, I went for it. I left out the mushrooms (neither Gabe or Lauren care for them, except on pizza), and threw in baby red potatoes and baby carrots toward the end. Spiced with nutmeg, sage, onion, parsley, paprika and black pepper, and with small amounts of half and half and white wine in the gravy, it was a deliciously simple treat! Lauren commented that the dish looked and tasted healthy and fresh.
When Lauren turned 18 (5 years ago!), she asked that I make a brownie cake with white chocolate icing. So, I did. The cake turned out as a hulking (two square layers of fudge brownies with oodles of homemade icing), but delicious creation. Shortly after being decorated, adorned with candles, and set on the table, the massive confection's top slid from it's bottom, to the laughter of everyone present.
With that delightful experience in mind, I decided to tame the brownie cake. I was recently told that crumble,crack free brownies can be achieved by cooking them in cupcake tins. I added white chocolate chips before baking, and strawberry icing after, and viola! I wrangled the brownie cake right into submission!
Obviously, those reading this can tell that I love simple, delicious recipes, as both of the birthday creations are, and that I love my kids.
I'm so proud of the battles they have fought and of the people they are becoming. They have their faults. Lauren has many, many of both her father's and my faults. But when she calls me at 11p.m. to thank me for a great birthday celebration, I know I've done something right, and that there's hope for a shining future!
I often find myself longing to cut out the complaining regarding the state of humanity and the planet, and seek out the positive.'
With "proud parents" in mind, I was thrilled to find a new piece this morning detailing a couple of really remarkable teenagers. I surmise that the ambition and goals these kids have come from the flip-side of the seemingly inherent (but wildly unattractive, in most cases) sense of entitlement today's youth possesses. In past entries, I've blamed Nickelodeon as the root cause, as the network was really the first source to ingrain into kids' heads back in the 90s that they were consumers, separate form adults and entitled to make purchasing, fashion, and just about every life decision once exclusively relegated to parents.
The bravery and commitment of these teenagers far outweighs my frustration with today's over-entitled youth, so kudos to 13-year-old American Jordan Romero, and 16-year-old Australian, Jessica Watson, and congratulations to their parents!
From 29,035 feet above sea level, Jordan became the youngest person ever to climb and reach the summit of Mount Everest. In December, he plans to head to Antarctica, in the final leg of his quest to conquer the highest point on each of the seven continents. If and when Jordan achieves that goal, he will be capturing the record from a 17-year-old American.
Earlier this month, 16-year-old Jessica became the youngest person to sail around the world SOLO, non-stop and unassisted! I can't imagine, at any age, the endurance that would require - simply an awesome feat!
And in the category of teaching an old dog (me) new tricks, we have an organization called "Vital Voices." I learned about this movement while watching an interview with actress Sally Field, who I was interested to learn more about. I have, in past entries, championed the concept of "Charity begins at home," encouraging readers to fix what is immediately around them before venturing off to fix the world. I've softened on that stance, thanks to Miss Field's eloquent and experienced theory that the world is becoming smaller and smaller, thanks to technology. She further reasoned that because of the sad state of the world, it is becoming necessary to address the problems of the entire world immediately. The belief that our problems are bringing us all closer together, giving us all a common cause, making those who are thousands of miles apart neighbors in survival, really rang true.
"Vital Voices" focuses on empowering women, which I am a big advocate of. So check out the "Vital Voices " Web site. Maybe you'll be inspired to lend a hand!
With the hope of the future in mind, our children and our actions today, right now, in this moment to save humanity, I wish you all well.
What do you think?
To my sister, Claire, and her husband, Tom, proud parents as they watch their daughter graduate from college tomorrow - Congratulations and enjoy every moment!
To my niece Cara, congratulations for a job well done - now get out there and live- dig into that oyster of a world!
My uncle, always a proud and loving father and grandfather, will see his son marry this weekend.
Congratulations to you, Uncle Peter, and to my cousin Matthew, a grown man and medical doctor who I have not seen since he was an adorable child. I wish you happiness, good health and success in your marriage, dear cousin!

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