But I still do it. I know I do it. I try and stop it. On the first day of Daughters' school, I'll scan the classroom, study the teacher, look at the parents, look at the students and immediately begin sorting in my head - nice mom, smart girl, mean mom, troubled son, uptight mom, nervous girl, friendly mom, friendly daughter. I try and forget those first impressions because I can be wrong and it can prevent me from getting to know certain people based on the impressions.
And I, of course, have to take a step back and think about the first impressions I give people. I dress in workout clothing most of the day, so perhaps many think of me as the woman who works out but still is rather roly-poly. I sometimes don't look in the mirror after I get ready in the morning, so I may look unkempt. Perhaps some may think of me as the woman who can't get it together. I also tend to speak sternly to Daughters, so I'm sure I have the reputation of being the mean mom. Daughter #1's teacher probably also has not such a favorable impression of me, since I reprimanded Daughter #1 recently for not knowing how to spell the word "learning." Daughter's Teacher probably thinks of me as a super-aggressive helicopter mom. First impressions, you see are very tricky. Some portion of all those analyses are true to a certain extent, but there is more to me than what is seen in a first impression.
So I try to remind myself of this when I make my snap judgments based on first impressions. There is always more behind what is immediately seen, and rarely is a person single-faceted that the can be categorized so quickly.
Why am I writing about first impressions? The same goes for food and cooking. Quite a few readers have been making the Honey Soy Stir Fry Chicken but not everyone has been getting it right. Friend HKL called me saying she couldn't get the caramelization to happen, and I encouraged her to give it another whirl, and she did. The second time, she got it to work. And she LOVED it. Thought it was so tasty. If she hadn't gotten past the first impression, she would have missed out on a really spectacular dish.
I saw a chicken recipe in Nigella Lawson's cookbook, Nigella Express and knew immediately that I wanted to make it. Her version was a mix of ribs and chicken cooked together, and I adapted it to see how it would work. I was, in short, not thrilled. I couldn't get the results she promised and instead ended up with a watery sort of chicken instead of one that was beautifully glazed and glossy. After making it last night, I thought that I'd just let the recipe go and forget about it.
But this morning, I thought about it again. The chicken had pretty good flavor, just not with the end result Nigella had promised, so I thought I would try it again today. I'd look past first impressions and give this chicken dish a second chance.
And I'm glad I did. Today, I got it to do what it was supposed to do - glazed, sticky and beautifully golden and chesntut in color. And the flavor was so good, it had Daughters and Son doing their crazy, "MORE CHICKEN" chant. (Four of us polished off 10 drumsticks. You do the math.) It is super easy to make, but it requires a LOOONG time in the oven. Nigella suggested 75 minutes, but mine didn't get to the result it wanted until closer to 100 minutes. But the end result was so delicious and wonderful I'd do it again and make it an heartbeat.
I'm glad I could see beyond first impressions and get this beautiful second impression.
Apple Maple Glazed Roasted Drumsticks
Adapted from Nigella Lawson's, Nigella Express
Makes 10 drumsticks (serves about 4)
10 chicken drumsticks - about 1 3/4 lbs to 2 lbs
1/2 cup apple juice (unsweetened and more tart is better)
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tabelspoons soy sauce
1 cinnamon stick
6 garlic cloves, peeled whole
2 inch long piece of ginger, cut into thin slices
Add apple juice, maple syrup, vegetable oil, soy sauce, cinnamon stick, garlic cloves and ginger pieces to a ziploc bag. Mix it around.
Add chicken drumsticks. Seal bag and squish everything around together. Refrigerate and marinate at least 3 hours. (Can be left in marinade up to two days.)
Take chicken out of refrigerator and preheat oven to 400 F. In a heavily foil lined roasting pan (make sure you have several good solid layers of foil, because this will be hard to clean), lay chicken down in a single layer and pour all the marinade over.
Bake in preheated oven for at least 90 minutes. You want to see a reduction in the liquid and eventually it will begin bubbling and thickening. Be patient. It takes time to get this stage. Once it does get to this stage, turn the chicken over and around coating all the sides to get the glaze all over it. Remove from oven when you see a beautiful brown chestnut color and the chicken is all coated.
Serve! Tastes magnificent with Spicy Brussels Sprouts.
The beautiful glaze just hugs the chicken