Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The simplest of decisions

After quite a few months of completely unchecked eating, I was told by my brother that I resembled famed movie villain Jabba the Hut perhaps more strongly than was my intention. Thus began deprivation cycle followed by little, probably poorly chosen treats. For the week after Thanksgiving I would eschew things like bread or fat or any of the things that make life good for the reward of tucking into a slice of mom's pumpkin pie at the end of the day.

The main problem has been that I have had little time to prepare food. The past couple of months have been busy and I'm just exhausted at the end of the day and far more prone to order a quesadilla from the corner and wash it down with half a box of Entemmann's chocolate chip cookies than make sure I had anything resembling real food.

So last week I stopped by the Whole Foods, picked up some boneless chicken, and vowed I would cook it before it went bad. At 7:30 last night I put up my brown rice on the stove flavored with a little bouillon. I took out my chicken breasts, got some olive oil and a small pat of butter going in the pan, and sauteed them with a little pepper. The problem was that the breasts were very thick and I could tell that they would not be cooking through in time to save the consistency of the exteriors. Not wishing for my only full meal of the day to be disgusting, and not wishing to poach the chicken in heavy cream (though that is the only liquid guaranteed to be in my fridge), I did what any sensible person would do:

I decided we'd be having wine for dinner.

I opened a bottle from the fridge, a really nice white burgundy that had been served at a friend's wedding, and dumped a cup into the pot, put the lid on, and let it cook in the wine until the pink parts were no longer festering pools of salmonella.

And you know what? I'm never forgetting to add wine again. It was just the little kick that the chicken needed to go from mandatory protein consumption to actual meal.

For years I was of the opinion that the wine I cooked with should be cheap and not something I would ever drink until the obvious struck me: if I didn't want to drink it, why would I want my food to? For in reality, the two of us weren't going to drink a full bottle of win on a school night, and the cup I used in the chicken transformed the meal. Plus, when we drank the same wine while eating, everything tasted better. I have been overly liberal with my wine expenditures as of late and the house is more full of wine than it ever has been before. I have to remind myself that at $20 a bottle, I'm not looking to preserve these wines for my grandchildren and that I should be drinking them - and cooking with them.

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