Saturday, January 5, 2008
Touchdown for The Great Brandini
brandon smith. the youngest of the "morris" based children. fiery, giggly, sweet, a huge mischief maker with the heart of a negotiator. omg. this kid could talk his way out of ANY situation, even if by merely wearing you down.
needless to say, as his mother, i have become immune to his needling charms (while still being quite enamored by his natural charm), which drives him absolutely bonkers, but what do i care? i mean, really? as my mom used to say about my brother, who was also an incredibly charming needler back in his kid days, "he should be a lawyer." interesting that my brother's birthday is a day after my son's birthday (thirty-something years apart, but you get my drift). and so, why have i focused upon the great brandini, as my forever pal elizabeth calls him (which is SOOOO apropos considering his disappearing skills and tries at sleight of hand)? our meal, this evening, is one this young man put together to sooth his mum's icky stomach or, at least, my peace of mind.
new year's eve. lovely day. brandon was sick a couple of days leading up to that, a flu that just took hold of him quite badly that had been coming for quite some time. i had made him some matzo ball soup a few days before, which i would share with you, but it's one of those secret recipes i have perfected over time and, well, i've gotten strict orders from my two sons to pass it down to them, not the world. they've both become quite adamant about certain recipes of ours and who am i to deny their desire to begin a family cookbook? our menu was one picked out by both kids and we looked forward to it with true anticipation:
sauteed crab cakes
pasta w/shrimp scampi (and just simple marinara sauce for brandon)
caesar salad with homemade croutons
japanese fried chicken
earlier in the day, my friend, stacey, had called me up to come on by and hang for a bit. love her and her hubby, gill. really do. such great friends -- i told you about that, right? the cool folk i've met? yeah. i miss my crew in l.a. like nobody's business, trust me, but if i could transplant my pals here to there, i would be in heaven.
okay, wait, back to the point. we had a lovely time over there, taking sunflower (our doggie) over to play with her pals, ginger and pumpkin, gill and stacey's dogs, as well as stacey's sister's dog, abraham, and a good time was had by all. then we came back home, i began cooking, the boys were rockin' and rolling, playing guitar hero III on their playstation (omg, so much FUN! you MUST try this) and it was a chill night. lowkey and absolutely FREEZING!
we sit, we begin to eat, i take about two bites and, before i know it, my stomach is just saying "not happening" and i was in the bathroom the rest of the night, tossing EVERYTHING up with no relief in sight. now, just for the record, there is nothing i hate more than throwing up. NOTHING. i could be coughing, hacking, full of whatever unimaginable and needing a humidifier, oxygen tent and rubber tubing and i promise you i wouldn't be half as miserable as i would be throwing up. even so, usually, after you've done so, you feel better, right?
this night, i was so sick, i felt like it was never going to end and it terrified my sons. because it's just us here, folks, and they didn't know what to do. who do we call? for all my talk about my great friends, no way was i gonna put this on someone i have only known for a couple of years in the middle of the night. i don't even like to do that to my family, and they're my freakin' family. i had visions of dragging myself to the car, pulling over every few minutes, and taking myself to the emergency room if need be. nothing was working. i couldn't function, it was so bad, and as i dragged myself to my bed, hoping it would somehow work out, in so much pain i couldn't believe it, brandon and nicholas flanked me on both sides, held my hand and talked me through. brandon was crying, worried, telling nicholas we needed to call 911, call someone, anyone while nicholas, staying completely calm, told him, no. she'll be okay. and i remember these words, soothing, calm, incredibly in control:
"deep breaths, mom, take deep breaths. it's okay. it's gonna be okay. throw up again if you have to, mom, but keep taking deep breaths."
i did throw up again. quite a bit, by the way, but his advice about deep breaths was completely right and something he has been hearing from me all his life.
new year's eve was kind of ick, to say the least.
new year's day, the plan was for me to make a ham, have some lovely greens, mac and cheese and cornbread. down home stuff. no way was that gonna happen, because i was still so sick, i could hardly get out of bed. i drank ginger ale, water, hot tea, and nicholas cut me an apple. my stomach was still in so much pain and wanting to throw up so badly, but by now i was able to keep it together, cuz no way did i want to throw up again. oh man. i told the boys i was gonna have to leave them to their own leftover devices while pointing out there was some defrosted chicken in the fridge. brandon's eyes lit up. he had an idea. could he please make something for me? would that be okay? a salad, something simple. please? i agreed, floated back off to neverland in my sleep and just hoped.
this is what brandon made. see? it takes me awhile to get there, but i get there eventually :o).
BRANDON'S SAUTEED CHICKEN
1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs (could use breasts)
2 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. season salt
pinch kosher salt
fresh ground pepper, to taste
2tbs. olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth (preferably low sodium/organic)
what to do:
1. cut the chicken into 2 inch pieces. set aside.
2. place the spices including the garlic into a ziploc bag. add the chicken, shake them together and set aside.
3. heat the olive oil in a large skillet or pan (not non-stick) over medium heat and add the chicken with the spices, sauteing three - four minutes on each side, until brown.
4. add the chicken broth and stir, bringing up those yummy brown bits, then cover, the heat and simmering for about 5 more minutes (just until not pink in the middle).
5. place a few romaine leaves on a plate, dash some worchester sauce over the leaves, place chicken pieces on the leaves and serve, family style.
as an aside, you can degrease the chicken sauce, reduce and ladle it over the chicken, if you so choose.
let me tell you, this was a refreshing, delightful bite to have on this cold night from my son. it was really good (and if it seems a bit too salty, lower the salt to your liking). this is something you can really play with and you could use some radicchio instead of romaine, if you wanted, wild lettuces, you could grill radicchio and put this over it, it's a lovely little salad and it made my night.
my stomach, quite frankly, is still iffy. i don't know what it was, whether i got something from brandon (he had just been throwing up the day before, so maybe), something i ate didn't work for me (although the boys both ate the exact same thing and neither of them felt sick) or if i drank too much (i had a couple of glasses of wine at stacey's and was about to have a glass of proseco for new year's when i got sick. i didn't even get a sip off when my stomach went hogwild). whatever it was, is (cuz it's still staying there, in my belly, i hear my stomach rolling over even as i write this and know that my eating has changed so drastically because of it -- i ate only apples, pears and rice last night), it sure began the new year with a bang.
and put brandon in the kitchen, creating relief for his mom and this delicious recipe. i'm not so surprised anymore when nicholas and brandon get behind the stove and make magic. i am, however, always warmed by the caring they show with their desire to "make something for you, mom", don an apron (yes, they actually put on one of my many aprons) and create in the kitchen.
like my mom let me.
as chef gousteau says in ratatouille (one of our all time favorite movies and, because of that film, one of the boys' fave dishes for which i will always thank pixar, cuz anyone who can get my kids to beg for a dish made with squash, onions, peppers and eggplant is my hero) "anyone can cook."
i know i've said it before and i'll say it again...
love is one powerful ingredient.
love and tenderness.