Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Night Shift

It's 5:15 P.M. . You rush out of a meeting. Toss the laptop, blackberry and a few files into your briefcase. Don't forget the dirty tupperware from lunch and the grade 3 math quiz you printed off the internet. 

Now the daycare detour. You race to the caregiver so that your kids are not the last ones left. (Don't you hate the looks of disapproval from the caregivers when you are that last parent at pick-up?) In the car, you do a head count to make sure you have everyone and their respective lunch boxes, backpacks, art projects, chocolate bars for the school fundraiser, etc.. 

You shut the car door and switch gears from hurried professional to harried parent. 

You try to sort out a dozen questions in your brain: Who's driving to piano? What time is soccer?  Did I pick up the dry cleaning? Is there enough food for dinner? Do I have time to make a quick milk run? Did I bring the math exercises? Your brain is fried. 

The kids are cranky. They start to fire off their own questions and comments:   

"My teacher got mad because she said I wasn't wearing a warm enough coat. It's all mama's fault." "I'm so hungry. You didn't pack us enough snacks." "I need to do my math homework now." "Can I have a playdate with Mathew?" If only you had a mute button.

I don't have a mute button to share -- if I did it'd be my ticket to gold and early retirement. But I do have a quick and delicious dinner that will help take the edge off mealtime prep. It's chicken with a sweet, moroccan-inspired sauce. The scent of cinnamon and cloves is guaranteed to put the kids in a sweeter mood. (I wanted to take a photo of the final dish, but it was devoured so quickly, I didn't have a chance.)

The secret to the sauce is honey. I like to use local buckwheat honey for its earthiness and aroma.
(More on local honey in another posting.) 

In addition to its natural sweetness, there are a tonne of home remedies that use honey:
- hair and skin conditioner
- with lemon and water for a sore throat
- with a glass of milk to help you sleep
- dabbed on a scrape or cut to promote healing
- a spoonful throughout the year to minimise seasonal allergies

AK's Spiced Honey Chicken
4 lbs chicken parts
salt and pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup honey
2 Tbsp melted butter (or olive oil) 
Juice and grated rind from 2 lemons
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
optional : 1 cup slivered almonds, 3 cinnamon sticks 

1) Season chicken with salt and pepper.
2) Place chicken and half of the garlic in a large skillet. Add about half an inch of water.
3) Steam. Cover with a lid over medium high heat for about 10 minutes.
4) Add remaining ingredients. Stir. Reduce to medium heat.
5) Simmer until chicken is fully cooked.
6) Garnish with slivered almonds and broken cinnamon sticks.

If you're feeling a little adventurous, add a teaspoon of crushed szechuan pepper corns in the final minutes of cooking. This is add a zing to the dish. Serve with some vegetables and rice or pasta.

Now on to homework duty.

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