Shortcuts.

I am no Rachael Ray, nor am I Sandra whatsherface (I have ZERO tablescape. What a stupid word, anyway.), but I do believe in taking help where it is good and helpful. Tonight I tried something new that I found in the store: a Perdue chicken breast in its own cooking bag. The idea is that it comes seasoned and ready to cook, with minimal cleanup. I am fairly certain this is not exactly organic, and we exhausted our sodium for the day by eating it. But it was, as advertised, really easy, none of the messy bones (just one bone in the middle), and the mess stays in the bag, not the roasting pan. It stayed moist and cooked evenly, and everyone loved it. I roasted some mini carrots on the side, which is pretty much the easiest vegetable I can make. Are you getting the idea here? It is the last weekend of the summer, and I do not want to make an effort. Plus I actually had to go to work today, to help the Class of 2015 of Boston University matriculate. Yes, I said 2015. I think these freshmen were born in about 1993. I. AM. ANCIENT. Hence, I needed help in the kitchen tonight. I may need help walking and dressing myself if I get any older.

My most common shortcut is in the bakery category. I can’t bake. I suffer from a lack of precision in all parts of my life, so I really can’t bake. At BJ’s this week I spied a package of mini corn bread loaves. So cute, and a great side instead of the usual potatoes or rice. My in-laws always have bread in addition to the meal; lately I have tried to make it part of the meal when I serve it, so as to limit our empty calories. We are lucky that we don’t have to watch calories for diet reasons, but I find kids fill up on bread, potatoes and rice, and have no room left for vegetables or protein. Hence, the mini-loaves. And yes, I do buy things just because they are cute.

Lastly, I added a salad. I am on a salad kick; this often occurs after vacation. I made a simple vinaigrette: olive oil, mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper. Marc said it reminded him of the salad dressing his French grandmother taught his mom to make. Turns out the recipe was almost the same. It is nice to think that my kids will have food memories too.

Shortcuts are essential to a sane life, especially for a sane life feeding kids. Parents don’t have the time to peel and slice carrots, and bake cornbread from scratch. Don’t be ashamed to get help from the store, it will leave you time to make your tablecloth out of an old t-shirt. Or something like that.

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