Archive for May, 2009

Pea-wrapped Grilled Shrimp

May 29, 2009

Pea-wrapped Grilled Shrimp

If you’re staring longingly at your half-grown peas, wishing you could be enjoying that fresh spring taste right now, then I’ve got a great recipe for you!

You might not know it, but the entire pea plant — shoots, leaves, flowers and pods — is edible, and all of it taste like peas.  I often grab a random pea leaf to munch on when I’m strolling in the garden.  They also stand up to grilling, and the flavor is a great match with freshly grilled shrimp.  Here’s how you do it:

  • Turn the grill on high.
  • Peel and clean your shrimp, then sprinkle with salt, lemon, and any other seasonings you might have (I didn’t use dill, but it would probably be fantastic).
  • Remove the seeds from a sweet pepper and chop it into skewerable squares.
  • Head over to your pea plants and pick a leaf or two off each plant.  The bigger and older, the better.  You’ll need one leaf for each shrimp.
  • Grab one shrimp, wrap it in a leaf, skewer it, then stick on a piece of sweet pepper.  Repeat until done.
  • Add a bit of oil to protect while cooking.  I gave the skewers a quick spritz of cooking spray; alternately you could toss or brush with oil.
  • Throw ’em on the grill!  With  high heat, they need just a few minutes on each side.
  • Enjoy!

Pea-wrapped Shrimp

The pea leaves help to protect the shrimp from drying out in the high heat of the grill, and they provide a nice, subtle hint of pea flavor that goes well with the light sweetness of the shrimp.  We enjoyed ours with some other springtime favorites: grilled asparagus and sweet Walla Walla onions.  Add some simply dressed lemon-parsley noodles and a glass of wine and you’ve got a great spring meal!

The Transparent Parent

May 22, 2009

A few weeks ago, I was walking to lunch with a coworker who has a son about Ruby’s age. He mentioned that he and his wife have been trying to avoid using spelling or oblique references in their son’s presence. For example, if there’s a debate about whether to have ice cream for dessert, they won’t start spelling I-C-E C-R-E-A-M while they hash out the details.  Instead, they try to involve him in their conversations even if the subject might be one they’d rather avoid or where their decisions might not mesh with their child’s easily predictable desires.

The notion of transparent parenting stuck with me as an interesting ideal, and it’s something I’ve thought about a lot since then.  Part of it is giving Ruby an honest presentation of how the world works; before decisions are made there is a conversation that is a critical part of the process.  Exposing her to the complete process teaches her about compromise and empowers her by bringing her into the process.  Decisions don’t spring fully-formed from Papa’s forehead; instead there is back and forth where we talk about feelings, desires, how close it is to bedtime, and whether we should save the treat for a more special occasion.

But transparent parenting isn’t an absolute ideal.

Kate, Ruby and I were driving back from a camping trip and about an hour down the road we stopped in a little town to stretch our legs and explore.  As we were getting back in the car, with a three-hour stretch of driving ahead of us, Kate suddenly realized that we’d left Ruby’s water bottle back at the campsite — and stated as much.  Ruby’s favorite water bottle, the only water bottle she’d ever known her entire life, with the cute picture of the backpacking dog and handy protective cap, was now gone.

Ruby cried for an hour.   She’d compose herself, grow quiet, and then think about her lost water bottle and start wailing again.  If you’ve ever been cooped up with a crying toddler in a small car you’ll know what kind of a drive that was.  So yes, there are times when you want to withhold information from your young charges.

It’s certainly easier to be a less-than-transparent parent.  Involving a toddler in decisions can be frustrating, exhausting, or just plain cruel.  Three-year-olds in particular are just beginning to learn about their own independence, and their psyches can be frail as a result.  I know that mentioning the words “ice cream” or “playground” will immediately fix those conclusions in her head, even if they are just remote possibilties in mine.  There is a tricky line one needs to negotiate.  But as parents, I think we can lean towards the convenience of opacity a little too often.

We were sitting around the breakfast table this morning and Kate was telling us about her previous evening, when she’s spent some time with friends at a bar.  Apparently some of her friends had gotten pretty “drunk“.  That was just how Kate said it: whispered, under her breath, so Ruby wouldn’t hear.  But really, saying the word “drunk” around Ruby isn’t a bad thing — it’s exactly the kind of information about how the world works that we want her to have.

Transparent parenting isn’t a hard-and-fast philosophy, or even a general rule of thumb.  It’s just something to consider as your child matures and becomes more appreciate of the world of adults around her.  It adds a new challenging layer to parenting, for sure, so it is best applied judiciously.  But keep the idea in the back of your head; soon you’ll find yourself spelling less and dealing directly with your child more often.  After all, isn’t that what parenting is all about?