Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Rules Parents Make Up.

Three days have passed since we celebrated Easter.  The wine, the arguing and the candy have all returned full-force.  True, none of us at the Wiles household experienced a totally abstinent Lenten season.  There were slip-ups, or should I say sip-ups, but of all the things back in our house, the one thing I'm already exhausted by is the candy.  (You didn't think I was going to say "the wine," did you?)

Parents constantly have to make up new rules.  The standards -- "Be nice," "Don't forget your manners," "Don't run with scissors," and my father's favorite, "I'm not paying to air condition the backyard," really don't cover as many situations as you'd hope.

Among the many others I've added are:  "No one wants to smell your feet," "Fist-size is not bite-size," "Jock straps don't go on your head," and "Never break up with someone by text message."  Those last two were made up for the same child.

There's also:  "If you can't brush it, you can't have it" (regarding hair), "If I can hear it, it's too loud" (regarding iPods), and "If I can see it, it's too small" (regarding clothing).

Finally, there's:  "Washing your hands requires actual water -- and soap," "Gummy worms are not an entree -- even on top of ice cream," and "Chick-Fil-A is not your actual home (although Starbucks may be)."

As a teenaged babysitter, I once had to spontaneously invent a rule for a kid who had lost a tooth:  "Teeth don't go in ears."  Huh.  Didn't work.

But here's the newest rule, which will welcome my kids upon their return from school today, "No more candy -- ever."

OK.  Even I can't impose that one, but still, I've got to come up with something to manage all this candy. 
I'm tired of stepping on sticky, half-masticated jelly beans with all the color and flavor sucked off.  Those flimsy foil wrappers that are so decorative when fitted around little chocolate eggs lose their appeal when they re-appear in pet poop.  The earless, legless and eyeless chocolate bunnies seem more appropriate for a carnival freak show than someone's bedside table.  And the cat and the dog are wearing grooves in the floor, skittering after random Reese's Pieces and SweetTarts.

I'm tired of it.  And I need some real nutrition.

Lucky for me, roasted vegetables are a cinch to make.  And lucky for the kids, they won't even be home for dinner tonight to complain about my meal choice.  And that ends up being lucky for me too, because I know exactly where in their rooms to find dessert.

Jelly bean, anyone?

Pan Roasted Vegetables
The oven has to be hot, hot, hot for this to work -- 450 degrees.  Anything lower, and some of the vegetables can end up stewing, instead of roasting.

handful of baby carrots

1 fennel bulb, cut in wedges
1 parsnip, peeled, cut in large, bite-size chunks
1 onion, peeled, cut in wedges
red bell pepper, cut in large, bite-size chunks
asparagus spears (thicker ones are better)
1-2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup olive oil

2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
fresh rosemary
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450.  (If you've got a convection oven and ever wondered when to use it, now's the time.)
Toss all prepared vegetables with oil, vinegar and seasonings.  Spread carrots, fennel and parsnip (single layer) in a large baking pan, and roast about 20 minutes.  Stir in remaining vegetables, sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper and rosemary, and roast another 20-25 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender and somewhat browned.  Serve, if you wish, with another dash of balsamic or lemon juice.

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