Top 6 Mouthwatering Southern Dishes

Top 6 Mouthwatering Southern Dishes.

On Plato, Hungry Teens and a Super Easy Roasted Chicken




My son Nathan is momentarily experiencing bliss–all from a chicken. “Mom…this is soooo good,” he says with his mouth full. I giggle. It’s the week of Thanksgiving, and I’m home from class, so I thought I should cook something. It’s kind of my thing. So many times I am not here to do the “mom” things for him (I work 30 hours a week and am a graduate English student, a writing tutor and a writer) so when I’m able, I try to make something he likes.

I sometimes wish I had something else to share with this man-child who has grown six inches in as many months, but I tried playing “Call of Duty” and (it’s just sad) ended up blowing myself up. So, I go with my strengths: cooking. That’s how I get him to turn off the video games and chat with me for a while–or as long as the food lasts. It sometimes bothers me that I have such a connection with cooking. It’s so cliché, right? I guess 50 years of feminist rhetoric have done little to change that part of me that equates feeding with love. Did the works of Gloria Anzaldúa and Julia Kristeva (whom I adore) fall on deaf ears? When I read these women, I learn from them, but I find little of me, my soul, changes. They have done little to alter that part of me, inherited from my grandmother, that takes pride in creating something from nothing. It seems confusing, but it’s not.

I am a liberated, educated, American woman who does not need to lean on archaic ideas of womanhood. Except, maybe it’s the misconception of those ideas that distracts us. Maybe the feminists of past and present wrote and spoke not to take away from my freedom to roast the perfect chicken, but rather to keep that freedom to do what keeps us happy. And writing does make me happy–just like cooking. I don’t have to choose. Good writing is cooking, when you think about it. Taking letters, forming them into words, and stringing those words together in a meaningful way, it’s not for everyone. Plato wrote, “[Rhetoric] seems to me then . . . to be a pursuit that is not a matter of art, but showing a shrewd, gallant spirit which has a natural bent for clever dealing with mankind, and I sum up its substance in the name flattery…Well now, you have heard what I state rhetoric to be–the counterpart of cookery in the soul, acting here as that does on the body.” I guess I see the connection: To take an ugly chicken carcass and to baste it in olive oil and garlic and roast it to perfection (that makes my teenage son ecstatic) or writing a short blog, are not so different. Either way, it sure feels good to see my son, who I don’t always understand, get a second plate.

Mama’s Roasted Chicken


1 whole chicken

1 12-oz bottle of Italian dressing

4 cloves of garlic, minced

salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350. Remove chicken from wrap, as well as inside package. Rinse thoroughly and place in a roasting pan. Pour dressing over the chicken, coating thoroughly (I use about half a bottle). Top with salt and pepper, as well as garlic. Cover with foil and bake for two hours,then take the foil off. Bake another half hour then check with a meat thermometer to ensure it’s done. It needs to be at least 160 degrees.

This story was originally published in Story Circle Network One Woman’s Day Blog:

7 Easy Sack Lunch Ingredients for Your Hungry (and Picky) Teen

7 Easy Sack Lunch Ingredients for Your Hungry (and Picky) Teen.

7 Easy Sack Lunch Ingredients for Your Hungry (and Picky) Teen


My awesome nephew Chris. No, I’m not advocating giant donuts as a lunch option, but if Nate had his way…

Here’s the thing: if I just send my son to school with lunch money, he will invariably fill up on tiny (expensive) pepperoni pizzas and Doritos. The $20 I sent at the beginning of the week lasts little more than Lindsey Lohan’s current sobriety experiment.

The result: he comes home from school, it’s like he’s recovering from life in a war-torn, famine-inflicted country. He can’t shovel it in fast enough. My kitchen looks like it’s been raided by a pack of starving wolves.Cheese wrappers have been ripped off and dropped with the wild abandon of an extreme couponer on double punch day. Cereal that’s meant for breakfast has been devoured as if by emaciated pirates, leaving nothing but a sad empty shell of a box…a mere shadow of what could have been. Either Nate didn’t get enough lunch, or the Incredible Hulk has been through my kitchen.

Meanwhile, my fridge is empty … and so is my heart.
My solution? Send a sack lunch with him that is both filling and nutritious. It’s easier on the wallet and kinder to my pantry. This can be tricky, though, since Mancub is a bit picky and has acquired a taste for food additives and artificial coloring. It can’t be just a PB&J, and sandwiches get old fast.

The best lunches are a combination of proteins, carbs, and fruits and vegetables.

1. Lunch meat rollups. Take
his favorite lunch meat and cheese. Get a large tortilla and spread some onion and chive cream cheese on the tortilla then lay the ham (0r turkey) and his favorite cheese down. Next, put some lettuce and any other shredded vegetables you want to try to sneak in. After that, I put a bit of ranch dressing on it and roll it up like a burrito. These are super popular…sometimes they don’t make it to the lunch table. For Nate, who is 15 and 6′ 4″, I pack two of them as the center of the meal.

2. A giant vegetable salad. Don’t laugh! Depending on your teen’s favorites, this can go a long way to your two goals: filling him up and slowing him down. Of course, pack in dark romaine lettuces and maybe some leftover chicken (or even a package of tuna or a sliced boiled egg–some kind of protein is crucial)  from last night’s dinner.

Some vegetables (like shredded carrots, cherry tomatoes and sliced cucumbers) do fine on top, but if all you have in the fridge is sliced tomatoes, you will want to go ahead and pack that in a separate baggie.  In another baggie, you can put croutons, bacon bits, cheese, that sort of thing. He can assemble it himself and put the dressing on at the last minute. Hidden Valley Ranch makes single-serve dressings perfect for lunches.

3. A cold pasta salad. Boil up whatever noodles you have–macaroni is fine. Then, add a bit of olive oil or Italian dressing, parmesan cheese, chopped chicken, black or green olives, green peppers, tomatoes–whatever you have. It’s really good, and won’t go bad if it’s not cold.

4. High protein Greek Gogurts–you can’t go wrong with these! I freeze the Gogurt and it’s thawed by lunchtime. PLUS it helps keep the other food cold.

5. Sliced fruit (apples, pears, etc). For some reason, if it’s sliced, it has a better chance of being eaten. Of course it goes without saying that bananas should be avoided unless you want everything to taste like banana.

6. Some kind of protein: peanut butter/almond butter singles (perfect with the apples) or sliced cheese. It doesn’t have to be paired with crackers–you can use a roll or cinnamon toast.

7. A vegetable-juice blend. I also freeze these, and it’s a sneaky way to add to his veggies and he’s usually so thirsty he drinks everything.

Good luck with trying these ideas! Let me know how it goes!

JOIN THE CONVERSATION: What do you pack for your Mancub or Water Girl’s school lunch?