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Penne with Sausage and Swiss Chard

December 13, 2011
Wendy Monro, Simply Food

Would my kids despise me if I wrote a book titled, Raising Morons? Probably. My mom helped me with that title. She knows because I was once her moron teenager. The first chapter would be called, "Coping with teenagers who lose pencils, jackets, ice skates, etc. and treat their mom like she's the idiot." Seriously, how do they manage to lose everything? I get calls from school, "Mom, where is my homework?" I get calls from their friend's houses, "Mom, where is my phone charger?" It's driving me crazy. My answer is always, "It's right where you left it." It always is.

Also, to make this even more frustrating, I find these "lost" items in the first place I check. Yet, they can never manage to find anything. I think to myself, "Where did Jack do his homework?" There it lies, right on the table where he finished his homework. Then, I think, "Where does Daphne normally charge her phone?" There it is, right where she charges it each night, by her bed. This week, Daphne managed to lose two jackets. One morning, she ran to get into the car in only a t-shirt. It was twenty degrees outside and windy. "Go back inside and get your jacket!" I exclaimed as she shut the door. "I don't know where it is," she said in her saddest weakest voice. I thought to myself, "Just breathe." That day, the Dean of Students saw her running around in a t-shirt and gave her a jacket to wear. She told her she could keep it. The Dean was kind and generous, but I was embarrassed.

Yesterday, Jack couldn't find his school binder. I told him to go check inside the car. "I did, mom," he said, like I was the idiot. Do you know that tone? I replied, "Okay, if I go to the car and find it, I will be very upset." He didn't mind because he was certain that I probably wouldn't do anything about it if it were in the car, except maybe grumble at him. So, out I went, knowing it was in there. It was. Heaven forbid he should move anything around to find it. I came back into the house with his binder and a bright idea.

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Penne pasta with Swiss chard and sausage.

I called both Daphne and Jack into the front room where I stood, holding up Jack's "lost" notebook. I said, in my most authoritative voice, "From now on, anytime you two cannot find something and ask me to find it, it will cost you $5.00 when I find it. Also, every time you actually lose something, it will cost you $5.00." Jack looked at me like I was an idiotagain (do you know that look?), rolled his eyes and went to the table to do his homework. As he walked away, he said, "We never have any money anyway." I told him, "I will keep track and whenever you do have money, you will have to pay me back first!"

I kid you not, his very next words were, "I don't have any pencils. There are no pencils in this house!" I responded, "Do you want a free pencil which you can get up and find for yourself, or do you want me to hand you a $5.00 pencil?" He chose the free pencil and found it in less than a minute. I think I may be on to something here.

I don't know about you, but I don't like spending so much time looking for all of their stuff. I have other things to do. Between shopping, planning our Christmas trip, holiday office parties, and meeting with family and friends before we leave, I don't know how I have time to still put dinner on the table each night. To really make me busy, I signed us up to prepare and serve dinner to the families at the Ronald McDonald House and to work in the soup kitchen this week at the Rescue Mission. So, I need my kids to help by finding their own things right now before I have a nervous breakdown.

Fact Box

Penne With Sausage and Swiss Chard

Recipe by Wendy Monro - Food Writer - The Journal newspaper

Time: 15 minutes Serves: 4

1 12 ounce package of penne pasta (brown rice or whole wheat), cooked and drained.

2 sausages (vegetarian or your choice), cooked and sliced.

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

10 almonds, sliced

1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed

salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon hot chili flakes (optional)

Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium high heat. Add garlic, almonds and sesame seeds. Saut until sesame seeds start to brown. Add Swiss chard. Stir until it wilts. Add pasta and sausage. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add chili flakes if you desire.

No matter how busy life gets, I prepare dinner for my family most nights because I believe it is really important to sit down and share a meal.

A few minutes at the dinner table with my family reminds me that teenagers aren't morons at all. They are wonderful human beings growing up like we all did. During these busy times, it doesn't matter what I cook. The time spent together at the table is what makes a difference.

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