Sunday, April 5, 2009

I "Heart" Embarrassing My Kids

It's not hard to embarrass my kids.  Indeed, it's embarrassingly easy.

Among my daughter's concerns are my laugh (too loud), my stomach (too white), my singing (true, I don't always know all the lyrics and sometimes, none), my existence (usually in the school hallways, but sometimes on the very planet), and my choice of workout music (Justin Timberlake, Soulja Boy, the Commodores, The Pussycat Dolls and the cast of High School Musical).

Among my son's complaints are my singing (what's this obsession with lyrics -- am I raising Simon Cowell?), my texting him (on which I won't relent because it's useful and sometimes I'm too lazy to go upstairs and tell him it's dinnertime), and finally, my use of 21st century vernacular.

"'Sup?" (as in, "yo -- whatssup?"), "true dat" and  "chillin'" are all off-limits.  Sparks recently flew when I said to him, innocently, "Feel free to dance."   By which, I meant, your sister is having a Zumba class for her birthday, and if you'd like to come and dance, we'd love to have you.  What did it mean to him?  I have no idea, but clearly, I overstepped.  I am allowed to say, "Rock on with your bad self," which sounds better than it reads, but that's plainly from the 20th century (Rock the Boat, The Hues Corporation, 1974), so I'm in the clear.  Given my age, he also suggested that "groovy" and "far out" would pass muster.

My most recent transgression involves clothing.  It's a T-shirt -- not too tight, not too short, and not too flambouyant.  The embarrassingly white stomach is well-concealed.  There's no mention of sex, drugs, rock and roll, or even rock and roll lyrics.  I ordered it from Bravo.com (home of Top Chef) and it says, "I Heart Fabio."  OK, it doesn't exactly say that.  It says "I," then there's a cardinal red heart, and then, a photo of Fabio, my favorite Top Chef contestant.  Got the picture?

Now picture this.  My son insisted I not wear the shirt anywhere that anyone could see it.  Grudgingly, he agreed it would be OK under a sweatshirt.  Given that the sweatshirt sports the logo of my perennially-losing alma mater, the South Carolina Gamecocks, I guess it was a concession.

My daughter begged -- begged - me not to wear the T-shirt to school.   She pleaded her case for a full 10 minutes, despite knowing full well that I rarely wear T-shirts and certainly don't wear them to her school.  The next day, though, I had to rush to school, unexpectedly, to pick up her sick brother.  Yep.  I arrived at school in said T-shirt.  Busted.  Oops.

Oh well.  Their own dresser drawers and shelves spew T-shirts.  Soccer, baseball, cross country, and others of that ilk, as well as such gems as "Gossip Curls," "No, Really, This Is My Halloween Costume," and "The National Sarcasm Society.  Like We Need Your Support."  In this week's laundry stacks are "Green Monsta," "Green Eggs and Ham," "Led Zeppelin," and "Carolina Girls."

I'm over it.  I'm wearing Fabio even as I write this.

Lo and behold, certain ingredients are also embarrassing.  I can't fit it in my head how a kid who will eat octopus sushi and another kid who names calamari as her favorite appetizer could ever pass judgment on someone else's dining choices.   And I can't imagine how even the pickiest eater could ever deride artichoke hearts.  They're not actual hearts, OK?  These hearts are no more real than the heart on my Fabio T-shirt.

Then again, there are times when I don't mind embarrassing the kids.  So guess what we're having for dinner?  And then, guess what I'll be wearing.

Chicken with Artichokes and Olives
After you brown the chicken, this is a ridiculously easy "dump" dish.  Just dump everything into a slow cooker and let it go!  Amazingly good and fragrant!

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 lbs cut-up chicken (I prefer dark meat, but a mix is fine)
1 onion, halved and sliced thinly
1 10-ounce package frozen artichoke hearts
1 6-ounce jar pitted kalamata olives, drained
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 lemon, thickly sliced, plus additional 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

In batches, brown chicken (well!) in olive oil in a large skillet.  Put browned chicken in a slow cooker and add remaining ingredients.  Toss to coat.  Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours in slow cooker.  Serve with hot rice or buttered noodles.

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