Thundershirts For All!

July 12, 2012 at 6:14 pm 2 comments

Some days, it just doesn’t pay to tune in to the evening news.  Between the potentially devastating national heat wave, raging fires in Colorado, rampant gang violence in Chicago, and hit-and-run tragedies closer to home, the fear and trembling can be tough to shake off.  

Turn to the internet, and you end up learning about such things as the defunding of highly successful holistic, abstinence-centered sexual risk avoidance education in favor of expanding the reach of contraceptive-centered programs.  So now I’m afire with indignation.  That’s hard to shake off, too. 

Yes, sometimes the world seems like an upside down and backward place, where staying sane and tranquil translates to an impossible mission.  The ads between news segments – or yahoo headlines – offer plenty of pharmaceutical solutions for the disquiet caused by too much exposure to the raw facts of modern life, but I don’t fly that way.  Enter the pet care industry.  I’m serious.  Semi, anyhow. 

Last year about this time I was complaining about the dreadful effects of booming fireworks on my eight-pound chihuahua-papillon.  Quaking like partially-set jello in a 6.3 earth tremor and panting with anxiety – highly contagious responses, I might add –  it was 3:00 a.m. before I finally convinced her that the threat had passed.  

That’s why my ears pricked up when I saw a promotion for the ThunderShirt®, a swaddling garment designed to calm and comfort your furry companion through storms and other loud events.  Since I’m not big on drugs for my pets either, I made a point to look into the merits of this product. 

Bottom line:  My vet’s office offers it for a lower price than online outlets or pet warehouse chains do, and the goofy looking little spandex gizmo is quite effective.  We survived both this year’s July 4th celebrations and recent thunderstorms with very little trauma for Muñeca or her owners, and sailed into July 5th rested and much less angry at the pyrotechnics industry.  Lessened anger is a good thing.  It clears some emotional space for the angst that goes along with those nightly news reports. 

But wouldn’t it be great if we could come up a human equivalent of the Thundershirt®?  Maybe a stretchy, velcroed version of that ultimate in fad Christmas gifts, the Snuggie®?  Please contact me if you are interested in a little entrepreneurial effort in this area.  I have plenty of ideas, but I’m a bit challenged in the action department. 

Where I am not challenged is in the eating department.  Heat-wave or no heat wave, the old appetite  always chugs heartily along, eager for a novel enticement.  At this week’s in-law dinner it was something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blueberry.  Or cherry, whichever does a better job of floating your boat.  The “old” would be Grilled Marinated Chicken Breasts with Sesame-Dressed Gourmet Brown Rice Blend and Steamed Sugar Snap Peas; the “new” and the “blue,” Creamy Fruit Salad with Pistachios in Wonton Cups; and the “borrowed,” simply the inspiration of Alton Brown’s online fruit salad recipe, which I adapted to suit my family’s tastes. 

No anxiety at our table on this night.  The entire crew was pleased, and my stomach was appeased – two sometimes impossible missions in themselves. 

I would recommend starting the day before with the wonton cups, preferably when the evening temperatures have cooled things off a bit in the kitchen: 

packaged wonton wrappers                            canola oil cooking spray 

Preheat oven to 350°.  Coat muffin pan cups with cooking spray. Using a 1/3 cup measuring scoop, press desired number (twelve should serve four easily) of wonton wrappers into oiled muffin cups.  Spray top surfaces of wonton wrappers lightly with cooking oil.  Bake for eight-to-ten minutes, or until golden brown.  Cool before using. 

Next, the fruit salad to pile into the prepared wonton cups: 

½ C plain Greek yogurt                                  1 TB mayonnaise

1 tsp lemon juice                                             1 tsp honey

1 tsp vanilla                                                     1/8 tsp salt

1-1/2 C bing cherries, seeded & halved          1-1/2 cup cored, cubed, peeled pear

1-1/2 C cored, cubed nectarine                       ¼ C chopped pistachios 

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt, mayo, lemon juice, honey, vanilla, and salt.  Gently fold fruit into dressing.  Chill, covered.  At serving time, spoon into prepared baked wonton cups and sprinkle with chopped pistachios.  Substitute blueberries, bananas, or strawberries for any or all of the above listed fruits. 

For the grilled chicken breasts on rice

1 C brown rice or wild rice blend                   1 TB Asian toasted sesame salad dressing 

Start cooking your favorite rice blend, according to package instructions.  (I used a combo of sweet brown, short grain brown, long grain brown, whole grain Wahini, and whole grain black Japonica, which took approximately 50 minutes after the water came to a boil.)  While it cooks, gather… 

4 – 8 oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts      1 TB olive oil

2 TB strawberry balsamic vinegar                   ½ tsp garlic powder 

In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, and garlic powder.  Add the chicken breasts and turn to coat.  Marinate for 30-60 minutes, turning occasionally to keep all pieces nicely in contact with the liquid.  Preheat a stove-top grill pan over medium heat, lay chicken in pan and cook for ten minutes per side, or until juices run clear, not pink. 

To serve, stir the toasted sesame dressing into the cooked rice, blending well, mound rice on a platter, and place chicken breasts on top of rice. 

I get steamable sugar snap peas in neat little cello bags at my local grocer.  They take only about four minutes to cook, after the one inch of water in the large skillet comes to a second boil.   They are also a perfect complement to the chicken, rice, and fruit dishes above, and this entire meal is very easy on the cook. 

May life be easy on you, especially until we get this Human Thundershirt® thing worked out.  Meanwhile, as you whip up dinner tonight, try playing some oldies on the radio in lieu of watching the Bad New Bearers on CBS, NBC, and ABC, et al.  Much more funner, as my friend Jean’s granddaughter would say.  There’ll be other chances to catch up on current events, once you stoke your serenity reserves.

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Entry filed under: Musings of a Midwestern Foodie. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Keith Wissman  |  July 12, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    looks like Muñeca is giving us the stink-eye. is she really that thrilled with her new fashion accessory? maybe add some bright and shiny bling to add to the festivities?

    Reply
    • 2. kirkhams  |  July 12, 2012 at 8:20 pm

      The photo is actually of her in her winter jacket (I cheated), because I didn’t have enough memory in my phone camera to snap a new one and was pressed for time. But when I put her in the Thundershirt, she kind of melts slowly over onto her side, as if she thinks gravity is playing strange tricks on her!

      Reply

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Recipe. According to Encarta, "a list of ingredients and instructions for making something." The thesaurus offers the alternate terms, "formula, guidelines, directions, steps, technique."

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