Monday, February 11, 2008

Chicken Milanese

As I was driving home from work today, I was struck with the realization that I did not, emphatically did not want to cook dinner. I was exhausted, I was uninspired and cooking dinner seemed more like a chore, an unfair obligation, than a delight for the senses that food usually promises to be.

Did we women have it easier 50 years ago? Is this whole modern feminism/independence thing we have going just a bunch of hogwash? Should we go back to the time when it was the man's job to make money and all a woman was expected to do was look pretty, teach the kids how to say "Daddy" and fry up a couple of cutlets once in a while? Today, a woman has to do everything - she has to work, she has to look like a model, she has to cook and clean and take care of the little ones, and the guys still think it's emasculating to wash the dishes (well, not my guy, but some do). The question isn't as simple as it sounds -- if you put it like that, what have we gained, a 40 (and in some cases 60, 70, 80) hour workweek, in addition to all our other responsibilities?

Of course, the tough answer is, is that we have gained a choice. And that, my friends, while it is intangible and indefinable and not always pleasant, is nothing to sneeze at. Many girls I know still want to marry for money and many girls I know don't want families at all; and now, they each can pursue their own unique path to happiness, whether it includes being a domestic goddess, a corporate powerhouse or a little bit of both. The knowledge that the road less traveled doesn't have a "boys only" sign barring it makes it all worth it for me. Even on evenings when I despise having to be the chef in the family.

Abigail Adams wrote to her husband in 1776: "Men of sense in all ages abhor those customs which treat us only as the (servants) of your sex; regard us then as being placed by Providence under your protection, and in imitation of the Supreme Being make use of that power only for our happiness...we have it in our power, not only to free ourselves, but to subdue our masters, and without violence, throw both your natural and legal authority at our feet." Sheesh. Thank goodness those times are gone!!! Therefore, I do not speak lightly of our choices. How much sweeter life is when you know that the work you have done is your own, and that when you make dinner for your family, you do it out of love and not because it is the only thing you are allowed to do.

Chicken Milanese

2 chicken breasts
1 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper to taste

Warm some olive oil on the skillet over medium heat. Put the breadcrumbs in one bowl and lightly beat the egg in another bowl. Mix the oregano, basil and Parmesan cheese with the breadcrumbs.

Lightly tenderize the chicken to about 1/2 inch thickness; season it well with salt and pepper. When the oil is hot but not smoking, dip each chicken breast into the egg first and then into the breadcrumbs mixture, and then put them side by side in the pan. The breadcrumbs I used were homemade (I left bread to dry on the counter for a day and then whizzed it in my food processor until fine crumbs formed). Cook the chicken about 4 minutes per side or until there is no pink in the middle when you cut a piece off to take your first juicy bite.

And when it's late at night and you are tired from a full day of work, and your husband watches TV upstairs while you cook, just remember Abigail Adams and repeat to yourself: I am doing this out of love... But do me a favor and make sure he does the dishes!

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