Sunday, March 22, 2009

Put The Lime In The Coconut

We're in a funk here at the Wiles house, but it doesn't take a medical degree -- or even WebMD -- to diagnose the problem.  We've got a wicked case of vacation hangover.

Any mom would recognize the symptoms.  After a carefree vacation, the doldrums set in.  People who should know better start saying silly things like, "I'm bored."  Sorted laundry clutters the floor, awaiting a spin with Cheer.  Emptied suitcases cluster at the top of the stairs, because no one has the energy (or motivation) to haul them to the attic.  Odds and ends are strewn across the kitchen counter -- baggage claim tags, receipts, amusement park maps.

Lionel, our indoor cat who was left to his own devices and evil plans while we were gone, is both unusually affectionate and frantically plotting an escape to the backyard.  Josie, our rescue dog, who spent the better part of the week at "puppy camp," is again somewhat unsure of us and mysteriously, is shunning her usual food.  It's pretty good stuff, too.   I can't imagine what they were feeding her at the kennel -- some type of Top Chef kibble, perhaps?

Just as we begin to get a grip on reality, other symptoms pop up.  I'd hoped to watch last week's missed episode of American Idol while the kids were at their dad's last night.  The Simpsons, The Office and Scrubs were all recorded in our absence, but American Idol (the much-anticipated "country" episode, no less!) was not.  True, it could have been an operator-error, but it smells suspiciously of operator's-son-error.  What?  You think I watch The Simpsons?  (I've got to admit, The Simpsons ride at Universal Studios was hysterically fun -- if you're a 46-year-old mom, that is, not a jaded 14-year-old son.)

The fridge is oddly understocked.  We've got milk, but no eggs, grapes, but no lettuce, hamburger buns, but no bread.  All three of us are within a few days of scurvy, and we're somehow managing to perpetuate the situation.  I served up the beloved "sausage pasta" (see February 23, "Comfort Food") as a remedy, but the broccoli dodged their forks.  The kids, I guess, are determined to have a spring break completely devoid of nutrition.

I'll try again tonight -- with my version of grilled chicken, but if that doesn't work, I have one surefire cure.  The school bus arrives tomorrow at 7:20 a.m., and I know two kids who won't miss it.  And they'll both be packing lunch bags with fresh fruit, peanut butter and whole wheat bread.

Chicken Banzai Marinade

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/4 vegetable oil
juice of 1-2 limes
1 scallion, finely sliced
1 "knob" ginger, grated or finely minced
2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
freshly ground pepper

Mix marinade ingredients and pour over cut-up chicken (I use all thighs, but even boneless, skinless breasts are good) in plastic zipper bag.  Allow to marinate at least one hour, then grill over indirect heat until done.  (Poke with a skewer.  When juices run mostly clear, chicken is done.)  Delicious served with grilled slices of pineapple, and garnished with pineapple bits and fresh scallions.

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