Note: This is a repost of something I published elsewhere last spring. I’m in the midst of preparing for a party we’re having on Christmas Eve Eve (i.e. December 23), so I don’t have time to write a proper post, but this is relevant to a discussion about women and caring for one’s family that is ongoing in the King Midas thread.
Yesterday I was chatting with a boy, aged 11, and I asked him, “What is your favorite meal that your mom cooks?”
With a wry laugh that surprised me, given his young age, he said, “Weellll…my mom is, uh, not really the cooking type.” He laughed again.
I pressed him; who cooked dinner in his house? His father? No, he said. Did his mother never cook? At all? Surely he could think of one thing she cooked! No, he could not.
“Well, what do you eat for dinner? Tell me what your favorite thing to eat for dinner is,” I encouraged him. He named his favorite fast food item. I tried again, “But at home. What is prepared at home that you like to eat?” He named his favorite brand of frozen pizza.
He wasn’t kidding. So far as I can tell, he has no memory in 11 years of ever having eaten a home-cooked meal. I was astounded, though I hid my shock from him. I know his mother slightly, and I know that she works, but she is not in a high-stress, long-hours field. They aren’t poor, so I know that a crockpot could be purchased if desired. Apparently his mother just was “not really the cooking type,” as he had said.
Needless to say, I don’t think much of a woman (or a man) shirking her duty to feed her children with an excuse like “I’m not really the cooking type.” You can purchase bags of pre-made salad, bags of fresh prepared green beans that all you have to do is pierce and toss in the microwave, and simple cuts of meat to stick in the crockpot or roast in the oven. Relying on fast food or pre-prepared processed food every single night is extremely unhealthy and does not train your children’s taste buds to accept fresh, natural foods. Children become acclimated to the taste of salt, sugar, and low-quality fats, and then healthy, home-cooked food tastes weird to them, and they reject it.
Even if you were raised by a not-the-cooking-type mother, it is never too late to learn. To that end, here is a very simple dish requiring the most basic ingredients. This is nothing special or gourmet, just regular, inexpensive, wholesome food that is perfect for a busy weeknight dinner en famille. It takes about ten minutes to assemble and an hour to bake.
Simple Baked Chicken Thighs and Rice
- 4 cups chicken stock (homemade or canned broth from the store)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 cup uncooked white rice
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3-6 cloves of fresh garlic, chopped
- 8-10 boneless chicken thighs
- kosher salt, ground black pepper, dried parsley, dried thyme, paprika if desired
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Pour 2 cups uncooked white rice into a 9X13 glass baking dish.
Note: I buy large, glass jars of pickles at Walmart or Costco; because I prefer glass containers to plastic, when we finish the pickles I run these big jars through the dishwasher several times and use them for storing bulk ingredients like rice, flour, and beans.
3. Peel and chop onion and sprinkle over rice.
4. Peel and mince garlic, then sprinkle over rice and onions.
Here is an easy way to peel garlic without needing a garlic peeler. Remove a layer of the outer papery peel from the head of garlic, then pop off a clove:
Slice off the end that was attached to the root:
Place the flat side of your knife on the clove and press down gently just until you hear a pop:
You should then be able to slip the clove easily out of its papery jacket:
And then chop or mince:
5. Pour 4 cups chicken stock/broth over the rice; slice butter into pats and place evenly around the baking dish.
6. Mix in a small bowl: 1 t. kosher salt, 1 t. black pepper, 1 t. dried parsley, and 1 t. thyme.
7. Sprinkle chicken thighs with 1 T. lemon juice, then rub with herb mixture.
8. Place chicken thighs on rice. Dust with paprika for color.
9. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake at 350 F. for 45 minutes; remove foil and bake another 15 minutes.
This dish is nice served with steamed peapods and fresh red pepper slices.