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No Talking

(by Judith Viorst)

My mother was not a serious cook. She could get the lamb chops, the canned peas, and some starch onto a table in just the time it takes to overcook the chops. Her view of dining, though never explicitly stated, seemed to be: Let's get this over with. Which meant that she cooked fast, she served fast, and we ate so fast that the occasional guest might find his dinner plate cleared before he had finished his dinner because he had made the fatal mistake of making conversation while the rest of us were wolfing down our food.

Growing up, I never learned to cook anything, never even knew—and I'm not kidding—how to tell if the water was boiling. When I got married, my mother asked her girlfriend Yetta to teach me how to make her famous chicken cacciatore, and that was it for my culinary heritage. I eventually learned to enjoy cooking and became quite good at it. But though I adored my mother and received many valuable life lessons from her, I can't say she gave me anything in the cooking/eating/food department, except a gorgeous set of china and Yetta's recipe. Oh, and the capacity to keep up my end of a dinner-party conversation while also being the first at any table to finish the meal.

(with six of my seven perfect grandchildren and husband Milton)


Judith Viorst is the author of over 40 books for adults and children. Her latest book of poetry for adults is Wait For Me: The Irritations and Consolations of a Long Marriage. Her latest book of poetry for children is What Are You Glad About? What Are You Mad About? Poems for When a Person Needs a Poem.

Chicken Schnitzel

1/4 c. bread crumbs

1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

1 egg, beaten

1 - 2 small garlic cloves, minced

salt and lemon pepper to taste

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded until very thin

1/2 c. flour

6 T. butter

1 lemon, sliced

Mix together bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.

Add salt, lemon pepper, and garlic to beaten egg.

Coat chicken breasts in flour, then egg, then bread crumb/cheese combo.

Cover with foil or wax paper and refrigerate (you want to cook when cold so coating stays on).

Heat 2 T. butter in large skillet over medium-high heat, and cook 2 chicken breasts on both sides until no longer raw (approximately 6 - 10 minutes; check with a small knife).

Repeat with remaining butter and chicken.

Serve with butter poured over chicken and a slice of lemon.

Serves 6.

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