I watched a bit on the morning news recently where they were discussing the fact that a manufacturer is pushing padded bikini tops for pre-teen girls, targeting youngsters way below the developing age. Whew. What’s next? Let’s see we could include a package of condoms in Happy Meals, and offer breast enhancement to five-year olds. Women, young and old, are dealing with a constant barrage of information about how lacking their bodies are already, do we have to wean them on it? Late night paid programming channels all target the ladies. Do you have belly fat? Here’s the cure, either cinch it in with a full body girdle, or take a magic pill that will reduce that cellulite overnight. We are tucked so tight after fifty these days that you could bounce a quarter off of us. It just makes me angry.
I was a chubby little girl. Growing up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, I was fortunately surrounded by friends and family that loved me but I do remember moving to California and suddenly finding myself the brunt of unpleasant jokes that I had never had thrown in my direction before. Believe me, I am all for healthy eating habits, but it’s more difficult, I believe, for women in this world. A friend of mine, who used to be very tiny, gained a lot of weight after her children were born. Prior to that time she was always getting comments on her looks but as the pounds were added she told me she suddenly felt “invisible”. We’re compared to runway models, who, if they turned sideways would completely disappear, as our role models. It makes it hard for those fighting their weight to feel valuable and attractive.
With the growing stresses in our world, and children involved in a merry-go-round of sports, homework, and outside activities women are faced with trying to balance their lives, most possibly around a full-time job, create healthy meals for their families, exercise, fold laundry, do housework, and generally find a moment to grab a few hours of beauty sleep. I can see where the draw of fast food or a quick pop of a container in the microwave might be extremely tempting.
I think I was more fortunate when my two were on the rise. Although economically there was no choice but to work full-time during their formative years, we weren’t face with the added pressures facing young parents today. We were allowed to take time for ourselves on occasion without feeling that we were failing as parents.
As far as I can recollect, and the old gears need more oil than they used to, I knew of nobody in my sphere of friends that shared a “communal bed” with their children, sports were fun activities we participated in with our kids with a few exceptions, and life just seemed to run at a slower pace.
Our grown children adhere to such tight activity schedules with their children that I’m amazed they have time to write the schedule in the first place, or put it in their Blackberry, or whatever people use these days. In order to make a plan with them you have to call their people, and after checking four or five devices confirm that there’s a tentative opening in May of 2011 on May 4th between the hours of 2:00 and 3:00 a.m. It’s crazy. I would be crazy.
In the early years with my kids, we really couldn’t afford to eat out often so fast food was definitely a treat not the norm. On the weekends I would cook ahead and make a meatloaf for the upcoming week and freeze it for later in the week, or prep pasta sauce for the month and freeze it in individual packets to take out as needed. Guess it was just a different time, with a different set of stresses. Our children played freely in the yard and there were less expectations to live up to, other than loving them immensely and doing the best job you could in raising them. This, of course, while knowing in the end there probably are no such thing as “great parents” just the group that failed on a smaller scale than the one below them. It’s a tough job, one that comes with lots of advice, but no 800 technical support line, and the handbook changes from generation to generation.
Last weekend while I was ironing I watched the movie Sybil, and decided that in the scheme of things I managed quite well. Smile.
At any rate, in my humble opinion we need to quit throwing all our eggs in the “girls need to look perfect” basket and maybe toss a few into the “what type of humans they are” basket. Just my humble thoughts for the day.
I usually make a homemade pasta sauce for this, and certainly that would work well if not better than purchased, but this is for those times when you want a quick but delicious meal.
Easy Chicken Parmigiana
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
2 beaten eggs
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 jars marinara sauce
Angel hair pasta
Pound the chicken breasts to 1/2″. I put them between two pieces of plastic wrap or in a large baggie to do this. Mix together flour, pepper, salt, and garlic powder. Place in shallow bowl.
Mix together bread crumbs and 2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese. Place in another shallow bowl.
In a third shallow bowl beat the 2 eggs.
Dredge cutlets in flour, then eggs, and then thoroughly cover with bread crumb mixture.
Brown in olive oil in large skillet over medium heat until golden brown on both sides (about 3 mins. each side).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In bottom of casserole dish spread 1/2 cup of marinara sauce. Place chicken on top of sauce. Spread 4 Tbsp. of remaining sauce on top of each breast. Top each breast with 3-4 Tbsp. of mozzarella cheese followed by 2-3 Tbsp. of Parmesan cheese. Cover and cook for 25 mins. Uncover and place under broiler until cheese is bubbly.
While chicken is cooking prepare pasta according to package directions. Heat remaining pasta sauce in small saucepan. Drain pasta well and return to pan. Mix in warmed sauce and heat on low until chicken is done.
Place cooked chicken on top or to the side of pasta. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese if desired.