Saturday, February 23, 2008

making it better (with breaded fish and chicken nuggets)

We have a rule in our house: whether you are directly or indirectly responsible for another family member's discomfort, you have to make it better. (Note the 'indirectly' bit - this is my out for determining clear guilt. Neat, no?) With the Toddles currently deep into the strike-and-run phase (clarification: only where his brother and I are concerned, oddly), we're doing a lot of this.

On Friday, the Eldest and the Toddles were doing a highly modified sort of tango. With one, larger sib steering the other, banged elbows and bits were bound to happen. Still, I had one pot bubbling and three loaves of bread coming out of the oven, so I figured it was their lookout. Five bouncy, happy minutes into the dance, there was wailing.

[one sibling holding an ear and wailing incoherently]
Eldest: I didn't do it!
mama: Doesn't matter if you did - you two were playing a game and now he's hurt. So, you help make it better.
Eldest, assessing his chances of a quick getaway to Rio: Oh. [to sib] I'm sorry. How can I help make you feel better?
Toddles, snuffling: You can make me un-sad.
Eldest thinks briefly, then picks up one Toddle foot. Kisses it.
Eldest: Did that help? [kisses the other foot] How about that?

By then, both kids were grinning, and I left them to it.
******************
Making it better is the current Imperfect family theme. The faucet breaks? We make it better. The oven breaks? Mama is ruthlessly polite at people until it is better. The mattresses are teeming with dust mites? We'll make it better. Your eyes are itchy and infected? We'll make it better - if you hold still long enough.

So, let's see how we're doing.
lice: done. There's a Miltonesque hell for lice, although I feel badly about slapping Milton with this. Maybe a limerickish hell? But then, that's rude to the Irish. Anyway, they're toasting over there. (And no, Jews don't quite believe in that sort of hell, but I'm absolutely willing to make an exception for lice.)
conjunctivitis: banished (although I do worry every time I rub an eye). The Eldest and I are now experts in the squirting of goop into eye. Huzzah.
nasty cold: gone. Took hacking cough with it. Am now able to actually laugh at jokes without clutching chest and wheezing. Took 11 days to recover.
faucet: replaced and repaired. Only took 16 days.
oven: door replaced, oven available for use. Took 10 days.
dust mites: attacked and permanently on-going. To date, we have made lists, three-stage plans, discovered the lack of wood under the carpets, quailed, panicked, had grandmaternal riding to the rescue, replaced the mattresses (11.6 years old), covered all mattresses, boxsprings, pillows, washed innumerable blankets and sheets, reduced clutter, vaccumed more than should be legally allowed, washed drapes/stuffed animals/throw pillows in extra, extra hot water. Took 15 days. Identified couch as instant snot-maker, washed throw pillows and cover to seat cushions, watched in horror as orange crumbly stuff poured out of seat cushion covers, Toddles immediately rubbed snot into his eye. Called disposal company and held memorial service for couch.
The Eldest responded by having his long-standing, itchy, revoltingly bloody and scabby, alligatorish eczema nearly disappear. Certainly, he is not scratching in his sleep any more, nor is he waking himself up when he draws blood. The Toddles, not to be left out, riposted by eliminating his perennially stuffy nose. Satisfied by the maternal applause, he graciously provided an encore, and slept through the night.

pause.

He slept through the night. The whole night.

To clarify: neither child sleeps through the night. The Eldest wakes up at least once, and the Toddles wakes up 3+ times per night. Sleep training is useless, I was informed by the illustrious Elizabeth Pantley, when a child is ill. If the boys have been having allergic reactions to their beds (beds!), well, that would explain our various (and half-hearted) failures. Well, well, well. The Man and I are walking around in a kind of awe.

Irked by our state of affairs, the universe riposted by having me lose something I've had and loved for years. I growled, and plowed forward. Weakly, the universe tried again - but when the back of my ancient desk chair fell off, well, what's a mama to do but laugh? The universe can do as it wishes - we are deep in the ramifications of better, such as we have not seen in lo these many nights...
****************************
Save Daddy Firsts; A Breaded Fish/Chicken

we made the fish variant on the day that things indeed did start to get better. This was a very fast and delicious fish, which satisfied all of my cravings for something quick and breaded. It disappeared so fast that I was forced to sternly require my children (and myself) to save the Man firsts. Although I was inclined to think that, as he was late for dinner, perhaps he'd foregone his seconds? He didn't think so.
  • fillets of tilapia or another mild fish like flounder (I used fresh - if you use frozen, fully thaw and then pat the fish dry)
  • chickpea flour
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • various chopped herbs (I used rosemary and thyme) OR spices (garlic, paprika and chili powder are nice together) OR both! Have fun.
  • olive oil or vegetable oil for frying

Mix herbs, salt, pepper and chickpea flour together. Dredge fish in the flour mixture, coating well.

In the pan (I used a nonstick pan, and therefore needed about 2 Tb oil per batch), heat oil. Lay fish in the pan, taking care not to overlap pieces. Fry fish until browning, then flip. Fish should take about 5 minutes on the first side, and about 4 minutes on the second, but this time is highly dependant on the size of your flame.

Eat!
Chicken version:
this is essentially the same recipe, except that you slice boneless chicken breasts into strips or nuggets, and will need more oil and a higher sided pan (the oil foams a bit). The cooking time will take a bit longer as well, as the chicken is usually thicker than the fish.

Dredge the chicken in the flour/spice/herb? mixture, and heat oil in a wok or other high-sided pan. Slide floured chicken into hot oil. Be careful! Allow to brown on each side, then remove and let drain on a paper towel-covered plate.

Suggested accompaniment: we had plain rice, a dish of green beans and a bright, lovely salad, for which I tried soaking thinly sliced lemons in water and kosher salt. (Note: as suggested by the Boston Globe.) Ten minutes of soaking later, the lemon slices were mild and edible. Tossed with redleaf lettuce, watercress, radicchio, red onion and olive oil, they made a wonderful, colorful salad.

Got leftover spiced flour? Try adding baking powder, some flaxmeal and rice/soy milk. Stir together into a rather thick batter and drop a quarter cupfuls (or less) into the frying oil to make pancakes. I sprinkled ground cumin and ground coriander into my pancakes, and called them felafel. Hmmm. Add some fresh parsley and it could almost be so!

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

for the chicken you can bang on it with a kitchen mallet (i use the back of a big knife, or the handles of the chicken shearers. this makes the shnitzel frying go VERY quickly, beware of dry chicken.
kol tuv
h.s.ema

KosherAcademic said...

Now you have my interest piqued about the dust mites. How did you figure this one out (no, I haven't gone through your past entries yet to find it). I wonder if our son has some sort of sensitivies. Then again, he has sleeping problems no matter where we stay.

Did I tell you we did a sleep study with him? They think he might have restless leg syndrome, but nothing else came up...

Zina said...

I wonder if Owen is really allergic to chickpeas... hmmmm.

mama o' the matrices said...

h.s.ema, yep. Definitely you could do that, and make some lovely schnitzels that way! You'd just need about five extra minutes...which is probably why it never happens around here.

Zina, hmm indeed.

K.A., we didn't really figure it out - the new allergist did. We described the constantly runny nose, and my mum put in that she's allergic to dust, so maybe the kids are, too? We tested both boys on the spot, since they were there - a bit of luck, since the Toddles' diagnosis seemed obvious to the allergist, but the Eldest was a stretch. Eczema isn't a classic symptom for dust mite allergy, apparently. Dust mite allergy tends to be congestion, watery eyes, itchy nose - that sort of thing.

The funny thing is that, while I realized that the Toddles was unlikely to sleep well when congested, I didn't realize how reliably congested he is at night. And so, how reliably affected his sleep would be. D'oh.

Restless leg syndrome, eh? Interesting. Is there anything to be done for it?

dykewife said...

three cheers for sleeping through the night! i know what you and hubby are up to during those spare hours in bed...what all parents do when they're freed from the bonds of their kids for a while...sleep :D

purple_kangaroo said...

I have all the covers and everything on my bedding, and I find I still have to wash all the sheets, blankets, mattress covers, etc. in hot water at least every 3 days to be able to sleep well.

I long for the day we can get rid of our hand-me-down couches and get new ones. Preferably leather.

Lois Grebowski said...

LOL@ Dykewife... I just love that woman... she's so funny!

Sounds like you're doing a terrific job making things better. I have a horrible dust mite allergy and I just gave up on that. It explained a lot of issues I had as a kid. hate those little buggers... They really drive me nuts in hotel rooms.

Soaking lemons in kosher salt and water... Interesting. May have to try that.

Keep up the good work... and yes, there is a burnig fire hell for lice and hopefully soon for dust mites. :-D)

Auntie A said...

Good riddance to all pesky jumpy, allergy-inducing critters! And yay for sleep. Hope the pattern continues.

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