I am not the Pioneer Woman.
This statement makes my seven year old so very sad. For Christmas, the Middle received his own personal, signed copy of her cookbook. It is the joy of his heart to have one of Ree Drummond's 16 minute meals for dinner.
So when I came across her recipe for Orange Chicken, I was excited. The kids LOVE the Trader Joe's version and I was thrilled to make it even a little bit healthier... Grapeseed oil for Vegetable oil, Arrowroot Powder for Cornstarch, Coconut Aminos for Soy Sauce.
I will begin at 5:15... I mean, it's a 16 minute meal, right?
16 pots, dishes, and mixing bowls, is more like it. We sat down for dinner at 6:30! Yup. I can't even.
Let me walk you through the madness:
4 chicken breasts cut into bitesized pieces (I only had 3)
2T arrowroot powder combined with 4 egg whites (I read it wrong and used 3T, not to mention the bit of egg yolk the Princess added as she “helped” cracked the eggs)
Heat 2” of oil in a heavy bottom pot to 350 degrees (I used all the oil I had and came up a 1/2” short and my MEAT thermometer only goes to 266 degrees.)
My first batch of chicken looked super good, but it went downhill from there. Really fast. (Check out the gradual change in color on the plate. Nice.)
I was just praying they were cooked and I could be done with the madness. Before you send me messages informing me of what I did wrong, I already know...
I FRIED SOMETHING!
I should know better. I am not a Southern Girl. I have lived in the South, but I am not Southern. I can't fry things and I don't really want to... I don't need to fry food when other people can do it so much better. I will stick to wraps and salads and crockpot grits. (Ok, I do that Southern dish pretty well. Even my country boy brother-in-law gave his stamp of approval on those.)
As I completed the chicken, the Oldest was making comments like, “Can I have a waffle if this isn't good?” And “It's ok mom, you're good at other things.” And, the ever popular, “I hope it tastes better than it looks.”
I realized very quickly, only having 3 pieces of chicken, that even if it WAS good, I did not have enough. No worries! I'll add rice. Nope. Gone. Consumed. Welp. Nothing else was falling into place anyway.
Surprise, Surprise. It tasted just fine and they ate it all. And wanted more. So sorry. That's it for that 1 hour and 16 minute meal.
And there we are.
Don't you just feel like you can't get it right? I mean, the whole time I was making this food I kept thinking, “What am I doing? Why did I even think this was a good idea? How can I make this stop?” I know I do some things better than others, but why is it so difficult to step out and doing a new... thing? This isn't just about orange chicken- although, I do wish I had succeeded in that- it's about all the other little “trys” that just don't turn out:
Or what if I fail at something bigger?
If I were really honest, I would admit my failures have become just as much a part of my identity as my successes. So the next time I fail, it's no surprise because, “that's just my life.” I'll just expect I'm going to bomb, so when I do, it's no big deal.
Here's the deal: I don't ever have to fry chicken again. But not because I suck at everything. Because frying chicken isn't my thing. There are a whole bunch of other dinners- and life attempts- that have nourished my family and turned out quite well. The self-defeating record playing in my head can be turned off. By me. I just have to replace it with something else.
But here's the other deal: I can fry chicken again. And it could be just fine. I am- we are- free to re-attempt things, knowing the outcome can be very different... pick up that paint brush once more, give your mom a call again, step into the unknown for the third time. Believing for different. Believing in yourself. And believing in a Jesus who thinks you are just perfect.