Sunday, June 29, 2014

Give Me Some Connecticut Banality

This is a tale of missed opportunities.

Evidently, CHICKEN ORIENTAL SALAD is so good that if you don't hunt down the leftovers promptly, it will be too late.

2 chicken breast halves 
2 TB slivered almonds, toasted or not as desired* 
1/2 head cabbage, finely chopped, about 4 cups (I used a 16-oz. bag of coleslaw mix.)
1 pkg (3 oz.) Ramen oriental noodles, chicken flavor 
1 TB sugar 
1/2 cup vegetable oil 
1 tsp. salt 
1/4 tsp. pepper 
3 TB vinegar 
salad greens 
tomato wedges 

Cook chicken in small amount of water, covered, until tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Dice to make 2 cups. 

Combine chicken with almonds, cabbage and uncooked noodles that have been broken up with envelope of seasonings; set aside. 

In glass jar combine sugar, oil, salt, pepper and vinegar; shake until blended. Pour over salad; toss. Add more salt and pepper as needed . Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or as long as 24 hours. Serve on crisp salad greens garnished with tomato wedges. Makes 8-10 servings, 205 - 165 calories each.

Over on the Book Pile, Bye-Bye Nesquik has tackled Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates.  Maybe you caught the movie with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.  Or maybe you skipped it due to the R-rating.  

I'm betting the latter, so you will need me to tell you that Kate and Leo play April and Frank Wheeler, a suburban couple who look down on the banality of it all.   Leo hates his job in the city.  It is eight hours of looking busy, handing papers off to somebody else on the Fifteenth Floor.  Let Ordway deal with the Toledo problem.  

At home, a neighbor drops off plants for the yard and he has no idea what to do with them.  His wife beats back unhappiness by signing on with the community theater, but their play is so beset by amateur flubs that she plummets into a funk after opening night.  No matter how much Frank attempts to comfort her, April only wants him to "take your hands off me."   

Frank and April have friends, the kind of couple you go steady with just because they're your age and they live right down the road.  They need Shep and Milly--who else will play audience when Leo makes his speeches about all this banality?--and they despise them--"Honey, please tell them we can't go out later.  Say it's because of the babysitter or something."

Is that all there is in life?  

As the book jacket tells us, "they have always lived on the assumption that greatness is only just around the corner."

One night, Frank rides the train home from work and finds his moody April suddenly forgiving and happy.  She reveals a plan to inject meaning and zest into their lives.   Oh, yeah, I've had plans like that.  

I just want Frank and April to know that I would have loved to sample some of that Connecticut banality.  However, such things were always out of my reach, so I keep turning the pages of Yates' book, fascinated by the troubles of the unknowingly privileged.

If you know the ending, please don't spoil it for me just yet. 

Credits: Managing Your Meals by Winifred Jardine.

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