Don’t-Let-the-Internet-Sour-Your-Soul Lemon Chicken

Concerning things that come in lists on the Internet: you’ll usually find me perusing collections of forgotten ’90s movie soundtracks, “healthy” dessert recipes (which almost always include avocado, and which I never end up making) and the occasional ranking of various dogs doing painfully adorable things.

But sometimes things slip through the Gmail spam filter cracks – things that you know you shouldn’t watch because they’ll just make you sob (e.g., YouTube clips of soldiers coming home and reuniting with their dogs), things you know you shouldn’t listen to because you have a reputation after all (e.g., One Direction’s cover of “Teenage Dirtbag”).

Then there are the things that frustrate you, because they’re written by some faceless twenty something who’s actually getting paid to write glib “universal truths” about what it’s like to work in PR, or skills every woman needs by 25. Which leaves you in an unshakeable state of  annoyance, wishing you had that faceless youth’s omnipotent job.

A Thought Catalog weekly roundup newsletter recently violated my email inbox which, on any other day, I’d auto-delete as promptly as I do the Sur La Table promotions and “free shipping when you buy 18 bras” Victoria’s Secret e-alerts. But (as they’re specifically intended to do), the directive “25 Things Every Woman Should Have By The Time She Turns 25” compelled me otherwise.

I just had to know what “things” I only have one year, three months and four days to find.

There was nothing on the list that hasn’t already been subtly conveyed by an episode of The Hills or a TED talk (e.g., make weekend plans with people you sincerely like; have a favorite coffee order; be confident.)

I was happy to see that I could check off #12, “[Have] The recipes for a number of easy meals memorized.” #13 left me slightly unsettled: “The desire and discipline to actually cook for herself. (Just herself.)”

Without question, any man or woman should have this sort of food independence by the time they’re 25. But the writer’s phrasing, that extra parenthetical, seems to convey that you may be problematically dependent if your motivation for cooking stems from the presence of another person.

I don’t know what my cooking habits were be if I lived alone. There’d probably be more baking involved and, inevitably, more baked goods being shared with the office.

Only in the past two years have I discovered that cooking a meal at the end of a nine hour workday is, for me, necessary catharsis and not an extra burden. I’d like to think that I would’ve stumbled upon that realization even if I wasn’t living with someone.

I would’ve had less of a problem with the Thought Catalog list if there was a third food-related “thing,” something like, “Have someone in your life that appreciates and sincerely compliments the food you built up the desire and discipline to cook.”

Best friend, romantic friend, spouse, dog, coworker, parent. Someone who thinks your brownies are divine, even if they came from a box.

Lemon Chicken
Makes 2 servings; Adapted from Ina Garten, who makes it abundantly clear that, 99% of the time, she’s cooking for her adoring husband Jeffrey. And that’s perfectly fine. 

1/4 c olive oilIMGP4862
1.5 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 c dry white wine
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
1  tsp dried oregano
Salt & pepper & paprika
2 boneless chicken breasts
1 lemon

Preheat your oven to 400°F.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, warm up the olive oil and (when hot) add the garlic, but don’t let it brown. Only give it a minute or so to cook before moving the pan off of the heat. Next, stir in the wine, lemon zest, oregano and 1 tsp salt. Pour the mixture into a baking dish.

Arrange the chicken breasts in the pan (skin side up if you’re using skin-on bird); brush them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and a little paprika. Cut the lemon in wedges and tuck them in around the chicken.

The chicken needs around 30-40 minutes to bake. If it’s not browning appropriately, turn on the broiler for a couple minutes. Let the chicken rest for a few minutes before serving (with all of those lemony juices poured on top.)

Applicable for solo meals, dinner for two or impressing a large dinner party group.

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