Apron Strings By Smantha Gianulis – In a photo finish with macaroni and cheese as the ultimate comfort meal –

ROASTED CHICKEN AND POTATOES –

– 1 whole chicken, between 3-5 lbs.
– 6-8 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced lengthwise
– 1-2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
– 1 lemon, cut in half
– 2 tsp. oregano
– paprika, to taste
– salt and pepper, to taste
– optional: seasoned salt

– Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
– Remove any inner parts of the chicken from the chicken. *
– In a large pan, lay potatoes to make a “bed” for the chicken.
– Drizzle with 1 tbsp. olive oil, oregano, paprika, salt, and pepper.
– Place whole chicken on top of potatoes,
– Drizzle with remaining tablespoon olive oil, squeeze lemon juice over chicken, and salt the lemon halves before stuffing the lemon halves inside the cavity of the chicken.
– Sprinkle oregano, paprika, salt and pepper on top of chicken.
– Roast chicken for 15 minutes per pound of chicken, plus 30 minutes.
– Test the temperature of the chicken.
– If chicken’s internal temp is 165+ degrees, it’s done.
– Check potatoes for doneness. If not completely cooked through, remove chicken from pan and let rest while the potatoes cook for another ten minutes.
– Chicken should rest for 10-20 minutes after being removed from oven.

*   I don’t let any animal die in vain, I use every part. I add water to the inner pieces of the chicken, bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes or more until a broth like consistency develops.
Another alternative is to saute the liver, heart, etc. in olive oil over medium-high heat until done (approximately 5 minutes) and squeeze lemon juice over. Enjoy.

Thoughts While Cooking Comfort Food: 

Here is something I’ve learned – children’s sports are (at worst), an adult agenda in a youth sized uniform.

It starts out with the little kids. They’re still a bit wobbly, their soccer shorts or baseball pants are too big, and they often run in the wrong direction, or just keep going as the coaches and parents laugh and proclaim “Stop, go the other way!” and make references to Forrest Gump.

Sports, activities, recreation…it’s the natural progression of things. Trips to the park, play dates and parent groups have their significance in your child’s young life but you, as a parent, inherently want to cheer your kid on, and everyone else you know with kids is signing up for sports too (oh, maybe you can get them on the same team, wouldn’t that be great?).

ou take your first step onto a grassy field with a cooler in one hand, fold-out chair in the other and there’s no turning back. You’ve crossed over into a competitive arena that feels natural at first. Because it is. It takes a while for the darker involuntary emotional reflexes to set in.

But if you play compare and contrast, sometimes it doesn’t take long. There are kids who, even at age four, are standouts. The kids have wheels. Their swing is smooth. They invariably make a sport seem easy.

There are kids who take longer to develop, but at a young age, show promise. They have some advantage that some team will need somewhere down the line, like sniffing out weaknesses in the lineup, bullish tenacity, or innate leadership abilities that lift their team mates up and create a turning point in the game.

There are kids who aren’t any, or many, of the above.

And it’s a coach’s job to win. Hello, conundrums.

A league’s mission statement may endorse fun, equal playing time for all, and incidental winning. The nature of competition is difficult to remove from any game – what makes it compelling are the stakes. Even little kids know the stakes, and adults may pretend not to notice.

There was a time when all of these players laid next to each other in hospital nursery room bassinets, the only numbers to compare being birth weight and height (and even then, some were more fortunate than others). Before you have a chance to prepare yourself (like you could, anyway) numbers like batting average with runners in scoring position, offensive tackles, points allowed and overall finishing time take up spaces in the mind that were once filled with the good will in fictional places like Hundred Acre Wood. You’re either one of those parents, or you know one (probably more).

It’s a defining moment that can only come about as a parent – do I want to raise a winner, or do I want to raise a good sport? Can’t I have both? Which side of you will win? You talked such a good game in that nursery, raising a self-assured, happy kid, a truly good person who will contribute in this world. What are you willing to do to secure it, that spot on the team, the right group of kids, the best school? There’s someone out there working harder to get it. These things could really keep a mom or dad up at night, wondering just how far they should go. Too much and it becomes intrusion, too little, you’re not your child’s advocate.

Where is that perfect balance, that effortless harmony? The feeling a family has sitting down to supper, eating roasted chicken and potatoes, knowing no matter what’s happening out in the world, the comfort and love circulating the dining room provided your kids with immeasurable intangibles – can that security be found within, or be a fall back for, the realities of life our kids take on as they get older?

Their sports are a good way to find out.

And there they are, on the field, reading the coaches signs to steal second base, or trying to keep their feet from going offsides, playing by the rules of the games they love, or that we assume they like.

In one of those excitement filled seasons, even though it’s not written on the banners, or in the playbook, sometimes logic evaporates into the illusion that victory is equivalent to the happiness we wished for them from the very first swaddle.

After having no choice but to look for the bright side while watching the other guys celebrate, drying dugout and sideline tears with the best game I could talk (still), I am alright with losing sometimes. I know better than to worry about the final cut (but I do anyway). I have come to accept sometimes riding the pine, not being a starter if it happens, shrugging off what I can’t control (a lot), and enjoying the seasons of sporty insanity for as long as they may go.

I know heartbreak is inevitable for them. I’ve got no science to predict this, only experience and gut feelings. Even if I could stop it, would I reverse the misfortune of unrequited love, engineer their friendships, or get opportunistically cozy with the team decision makers? Wouldn’t that be a betrayal of the code of conduct I try to instill in my kids by putting them in sports in the first place?

Wouldn’t that make me…a cheater?

I consider my own motives and strategy in a sea of jerseys, insignia-embroidered canopies, and toothy smiles, because I’ve seen a lot of things I never expected.

But the sweetest surprises were the wins from behind, when I thought disappointment was certain, and witnessed my child being lifted so high that he (and she, and she) chased that feeling in every game that followed, with determination and hope, looking forward, not wondering when it would end.

Even though it will, somehow, sooner or later, but I don’t need to say so.

I don’t need to do anything against the monster of whatever stands to teach my child a life lesson. I’m a ride to practice, I’m the chef of the meal that hits the spot, I’m the soft landing.

I’m the Mom, and I know that there’s more than one way to win a game.

 

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