Sunday, April 17, 2011

Maurice Sendak Saves Dinner

Dinner time can be a huge struggle for parents, even if your children are normally "good eaters." Food, and whether or not it gets eaten, are areas of control for children, especially young children . . . so how do you get them to eat a dinner you throw together at the last minute? Books!

The other night I was in a bit of a pinch: I had set out a chicken breast for dinner and that was about as far as I had gotten on dinner prep, to include deciding what is was I planned on doing with said chicken breast. It was approaching 5 o'clock, or as my sister-in-law calls it, "arsenic hour." Yes, that lovely time of day when nothing can pacify the tyrant inside a hungry, getting tired child. What was I going to do for dinner?

It occurred to me my children like chicken - check. They like rice, ok, I'll toss some of that into the rice cooker (brown rice, of course) . . . but that's pretty boring. And colorless. And tasteless. Then it hit me: Chicken Soup with Rice!! We had been reading that book along with Pierre: A Cautionary Tale in Five Chapters and a Prologue, the pocket novellas from Maurice Sendak. Well, chicken soup with rice was going to take me a few minutes, so I had to think fast. How was I going to occupy a two and a three year old long enough to make a meal when they were already hungry?

Yep, you guessed it: YouTube. What?!? I got all my ingredients out, started the rice and then went to find "Really Rosie" (Part I, Part II) on YouTube. It's a great cartoon from the early 80's that has a bunch of Sendak's short stories. Carole King sings the narrative and it's just long enough to make soup. Perfect!
The other nice part about this little vignette is when the kids looked at the soup like it was gruel I was able to say, "oh no no! THIS is Chicken Soup with Rice! Just like the TV show!" It was gone in a matter of minutes and I was serving seconds! Crisis averted!

Here is the recipe:

1 box of store bought chicken broth (low-sodium, organic and free range) - or your own broth
3-ish cups of water
3 carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 small onion, chopped (I used a vidalia)
1 large chicken breast, thawed
Poultry Seasoning (thyme, rosemary, marjoram, sage)
1 cup uncooked brown rice
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1. Cook the rice separately. I used a rice cooker and it took about 30 minutes. Start this BEFORE you start the "Really Rosie" movie. Start movie.
2. Drizzle about 2 T EVOO in the bottom of a large soup pot. Bring up to heat, not smoking.
3. Add in all the chopped veggies, a dash of salt and black pepper to taste. Stir until onions are translucent.
4. Pour in the chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil, removing foam at the top. Lower heat and simmer while you finish the recipe.
5. Go to computer and start Part II of "Really Rose."
6. Cut the chicken breast either into toddler sized pieces or into larger chunks you can shred. Heat a skillet over medium high heat, add chicken, sprinkle with poultry seasoning and cook until no more pink.
7. Add chicken to simmering mixture in soup pot.
8. Add rice.
Serve and (hopefully) enjoy your Chicken Soup with Rice!