Yep. After four weeks at her shoreline Shangri-La (Camp Seafarer), Darling Daughter is Chez Wiles.
And hoo boy, she’s an entirely different creature.
As you’d expect, she’s an altogether different shade – more tobacco than tan. But that’ll happen to even the most diligent 50+SPF sunscreen appliers (of which, she’s one) who spend four weeks at the beach. And yes, she’s taller – practically my height – but that’s to be expected of a girl her age.
Nope. It’s not physical. It’s harder to recognize than that. Maybe she’s more composed. Maybe more confident. Maybe that most prized of all Chez Wiles’ attributes -- maybe she’s funnier. Hard to say. I just know that I’m happy to be around her.
While at camp, DD wrote diligently – for which I owe her at least $14, given my promise to pay her $1 for every “well-written” letter. I hungrily read and re-read everything she wrote, but my favorites were, without question, the ones where she wrote of missing my cooking. (She also missed her bed and hot showers, but truly, she mentioned my cooking the most.)
Oh, honey. You missed my cooking? Those words are more magical than "abracadabra," "alakazzam," and "I need to see your ID, ma'am" combined.
I knew exactly what DD would want: Chicken Cavatappi, Beer Butt Chicken, Caesar Salad with Chicken and Uncle Nick’s Grilled Greek Wings. In anticipation, I crammed the basement freezer with poultry. I was ready.
But then, a heckuva storm knocked out that freezer. All those chicken wings and boneless breasts and thighs defrosted and had to be tossed. (Puh-leeze. I can’t bear to come up with a more graphic description than “lukewarm, squishy, funky and leaky.” Get the picture?)
Which, although a huge waste of money, turned out to be OK, because upon her return from camp, DD declared she’d had more than her fill of chicken – not to mention potatoes and salad.
As I said, she’d changed. Out with the leaky, sticky chicken, and in with other comfort foods – Tuna Sandwiches, Sausage Pasta – and for the first dinner home, Buttermilk Pancakes.
Of course, I’d worked on a new – and easy – grilled chicken tender with peanut sauce recipe while she was gone and had been eager to make it once she got home But that can wait. Until then, I can handle one more round of Pork Fried Rice. And simply be grateful for that oft-repeated line in her letters, “I miss your cooking” – now my four most favorite words.
Grilled Chicken Tenders With Peanut Sauce
Wooden skewers, soaked in water for at least one hour
1 pound boneless, raw chicken tenders
4 tablespoons ponzu sauce (a citrus-soy sauce)
1 tablespoon toasted (or dark) sesame oil
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
Combine all ingredients (except skewers, of course) and allow to marinate about 30 minutes (or several hours in the refrigerator).
Thread marinated chicken on skewers and grill over indirect heat. Should take only a few minutes on each side. Do not overcook, or chicken will dry out. Serve with peanut sauce.
¼ cup ponzu sauce
¼ cup water
¼ cup rice vinegar
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
fresh ground pepper
¼ cup smooth peanut butter
In large, microwavable cup, combine all ingredients except peanut butter, and heat to boiling. Gradually stir hot liquid into peanut butter. At first, peanut butter will “melt,” and then will thicken the sauce. When well combined, serve with grilled chicken.