Friday, October 8, 2010

A Clean Room? Now That Would Be Magic.



Although Son and Darling Daughter, at ages 15 and 13, have long outgrown the Harry Potter books (sigh), they both believe our house to be magical. Or criminally-infested. Or both.

I know this because each of them routinely – perhaps, weekly -- instigates the following claim.

I don’t know where it is. I looked everywhere. It just disappeared."

Note: The magically vanishing object is not relevant here. It could be an ordinary piece of clothing, an algebra book, a water bottle, a housekey, or an item borrowed – almost always from me.

It just disappeared.

Right. Without benefit of a silk tophat, a blond, leggy assistant, or an 11” holly wand with a phoenix feather core (remember, the kids are the ones who've outgrown Harry Potter, not me), those magical words then propel us down a magically-scripted path – one from which we cannot veer.

Me: “What? Are you sure? Have you checked your backpack? Do you want me to help? Maybe it’s at school. Did you check?” Then, the deadly and inevitable, “Maybe if you cleaned up your room …”

Well. This is, indeed, a predictable script. Cue the criminal element. My child, “No, Mom! Stop! It’s gone! GONE! I think it was stolen!

Stolen? Someone stole your unlabeled USB key? Your field trip permission slip? Your 35-pound backpack crammed with Nature Valley Oat ‘n’ Honey granola bar wrappers and the test you didn't want me to see? Your scraped and cloudy water bottle with the 3” peeled-off residue of a Nantahala River sticker? My new black suede boots with the stacked heels? (Actually someone might want to steal those. They're darling.)

Right.  Allow me to repeat: Maybe if you cleaned your room.

Who know what treasures would be unearthed if you cleaned your room -- if you just picked it up -- a little. Who knows what's lurking under the laundry pile or in the crusted-over closet? The book you're looking for may very well be keeping company with the baseball hat, empty chips bag and hoodie crammed under the desk. At the very least, if you cleaned up your room, I’d have time to fix something for dinner. Although truth be told, this roasted chicken dish comes together in a snap.

We’re big fans of my
Slow Cooker Chicken With Artichokes, and one recent evening, I craved the same flavors, but had less than an hour to pull it all together. This fit the bill perfectly. Quick and flavorful.  Like magic.

Still waiting, though, on the clean room.

Roasted Chicken with Israeli Couscous and Artichokes

6-8 dark chicken pieces
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 lemon, zested and juiced
½ cup parsley, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups boiling water
1 ½ cups uncooked Israeli (pearled) couscous
1 package frozen artichoke hearts
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon oregano

With a large butcher’s knife, cut together garlic, lemon zest, parsley and teaspoon of kosher salt, until pasty. Combine in a large, resealable plastic bag with lemon juice, oil and cut-up chicken. Massage until chicken is coated with mixture and allow to marinate for 20-30 minutes.

Heat a large, ovenproof skillet over medium high heat. Brown marinated chicken, well, on all sides.

While chicken is browning, preheat oven to 350. Combine boiling water and couscous and let stand 10-15 minutes.

When chicken is browned, remove from skillet, and stir in couscous mixture, artichoke hearts, kosher salt and oregano. Bring to a boil, scraping up flavorful bits from the bottom of the skillet. Remove from heat. Place browned chicken on top, and put entire skillet in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until chicken is done and couscous cooked through. (Add additional water as needed, so couscous cooks completely.)
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