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Family Matters: The wonder years


Awhile back, my 13-year-old son, Smith, and I had a date. Of course this means Smith got to choose any restaurant he wanted.

In our family, this means one of two things: a big steak or Japanese food. Smith chose the hibachi place in town, probably because he gets to toss eggs at the chef and also the proximity to open flames.

The place was packed. We shared our table with a couple of teenagers on a painful first date and a family with three or four kids barely old enough to see over the table. These children could not have shown more excitement had we been sitting in the middle of Disney World.

The children had apparently been to the restaurant before because they kept screaming for “Fire, Fire!” as soon as the young chef arrived at the table with his rolling cart of culinary magic tricks. He quickly answered their squeals by squirting the hot griddle with something flammable and creating three-foot-tall flames.

If you’ve been to Japanese-style restaurants, then you know the chef’s routine. Slice and stack a white onion and light it like a volcano. The onion then becomes a whistling train. And on and on.

The chef’s 15-minute routine – night after night – just can’t be all that fun for him. Unless of course, he does his work not for himself but for the delight of everyone (especially the 13-and-under crowd) he serves.

Life through the eyes of a child is wonder-full.

Smith’s very first word was not “Mama” or “Daddy.”  It was “WOW!” He walked – or ran – everywhere his little legs would take him. He would pick up everything from a pine cone to a plastic ball, examine it, look up at me and exclaim, “WOW!”.

I have a video of him saying “WOW!” over and over one day as he explored his surroundings, probably when he was about 18 months old. The video is a joy to watch, especially since I’ve grown older and sometimes forget what it is about life that is good, true and beautiful — three things that children seem naturally to understand.

Betsy’s Chicken Yakisoba
Serves 6

Ingredients:
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbs vegetable oil
2 Tbs garlic chile paste (on the Asian aisle)
2 cloves minced garlic
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1/2 cup soy sauce (low-sodium works well)
1 yellow onion, sliced thinly
4 cups shredded cabbage
3 carrots, chopped
8 oz whole-wheat noodles, cooked and drained

Directions:
In a large wok or skillet, stir-fry sesame oil, vegetable oil and garlic chili paste together for 30 seconds. Add garlic and stir-fry 30 more seconds, careful not to burn. Add chicken and half of the soy sauce, cooking until chicken is no longer pink. Remove from pan using a slotted spoon. Keep warm while finishing the recipe.

In the same wok or skillet, combine vegetables and stir-fry 2 minutes. Stir in rest of soy sauce, prepared noodles and the prepared chicken mixture. Toss well to combine and serve immediately.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 295, Total Fat: 4.8g, Sodium 1621 mg, Carbohydrates 40.7g, Fiber: 3.0g, Protein: 26.3 g


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