BY REBECCA LINDAMOOD
Last week our weather went from warm and beautiful to cold and rainy in the space of 24 hours.
I was unprepared for five wound-up boys to be cooped up in the house after being outside almost constantly for two weeks. I took the easy way out and let them eat lollipops -- they were all natural and organic -- and watch a little television in the afternoon. They were absorbing a PBS kids' show where one of the characters was trying to impress her friends. The little girl said, "Well, I'm off to visit my aunt. She's a princess." My worldwise 10-year-old folded his arms over his chest and glared at the character while declaring her to be "a liar." I sensed a teachable moment, paused the program, and said, "Guys, Liam's right. She is lying. Why is she doing that?"
Liam scratched his head. Aidan stroked his chin thoughtfully. Ty made his eyes very big and innocent. Leif studiously licked his lollipop. Rowan threw his lollipop stick on the floor and hollered for another.
I sensed no one was going to answer, so I said, "Guys. She's trying to impress her friends by lying about her family. Do you think that's the best way to impress people?"
Liam, Aidan, Ty and Leif gave very self-righteous "no" answers. Rowan tried to take Leif's lollipop while he was looking in the other direction.
The majority of them were paying attention so I decided to try to drive the point home a little better. I asked, "What do you think is the best way to impress your friends?"
Liam shrugged his shoulders. Aidan tapped his forehead. Ty made his eyes even wider and more innocent. Leif threw his lollipop stick on the floor. Rowan, having somehow mysteriously found two more lollipops, proceeded to lick them and stick them to his arms.
I had gone one question too far. I decided to try to salvage the lesson by wrapping it up and said, "The best way to impress your friends is by being honest and kind."
--¦ And by doing cool tricks," added Aidan.
If you want to impress someone but are low on cool tricks I recommend these homemade chips and dip. They are not only delicious but they're simple to make and they're good for you, too. I tested these out on a large gathering of 20 or so families and came home with empty bowls.
You can play with the flavors on the pita chips. For a little variety you could also sprinkle them with Italian seasonings and grated Pecorino Romano cheese to serve with white bean dip or Italian wedding soup. Alternately, you could toss on a little cumin and chili powder on them to serve with black or pinto bean dip or chili.
Baked Garlicky Pita Chips
8-6-inch pita breads, whole wheat or white
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or pressed
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 t. medium flake sea salt or kosher salt
1/2 t. fresh ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or simply leave the sheets ungreased and set aside.
Split the pita breads so you have 16 rounds. Combine garlic and olive oil and brush the split side of each pita round. Sprinkle evenly with the salt and black pepper. Cut each round into 4 wedges and arrange in a single layer on baking sheets.
Bake 5 to 8 minutes or until they reach your desired crispness. Serve with hummus, yogurt dill dip, bean dip, salsa or whatever makes you happy!
Yogurt Dill Dip
11/2 c. plain yogurt
1/2 c. mayonnaise
21/2 t. dried dill weed
21/2 t. dried parsley flakes
21/2 t. dried onion flakes
1 t. kosher or sea salt
1/2 t. onion powder
1/4 t. celery seed
Add all ingredients to a medium sized mixing bowl and stir until evenly combined. Refrigerate for at least two hours prior to serving to allow flavors to meld and the onion flakes to soften. Serve with chips or a veggie tray or even as a delicious Ranch-type salad dressing.
Rebecca Lindamood is a northern Lower Michigan native now living in New York state. A food lover and mother of five children, she writes occasionally about preparing creative, yet affordable, meals for a family. Drop Rebecca an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to her care of the Record-Eagle.