By Bonnie Fishman / San Francisco Bay Area
Well, it’s January again, the time of year that many of us make New Year’s resolutions, hoping to improve ourselves in some way. I pondered mine for a while. These are not normal times so outside-the-box thinking is called for. No, it’s not losing 10 pounds (though that would be nice). No, it’s not joining a gym to begin a daily exercise routine (though that would be nice). No, it’s not saving a certain amount of money each month to build our nest egg (though that would be nice).
My resolution this year is less typical than those three examples. I decided to dig deep to discover what would be a reasonable yet satisfying undertaking. The light bulb went on when our good friends Dan and Nancy drove up from Ventura to the Bay Area to be our first guests at the Fishman Family Compound during the first week of the new year. In my morning conversation with Nancy, the two of us discovered that we have the same resolution for 2022. We talked about what we could do to be better human beings. Aha! We are all about kindness.
Committing to be kind might seem like a silly resolution because it is not what you would expect. Aren’t resolutions meant to improve our emotional and physical selves? Then being kind is not silly at all. I’m particularly looking at being kind to myself. I have always set a high personal standard . Reaching that mark has not been easy. This behavior has caused me to be judgmental to the person in the mirror, and at times towards others. I want to let go of that pattern. I’ve had an amazing ability to beat myself up when I make a mistake, no matter how big or small. It drives my kids nuts! They try to rein me in by yelling “Let it go, Mom. You’re making us all crazy!”
This is going to be a tough one. I’m able to forgive others when they make a mistake but not this person sitting over here. Do any of you out there have a similar habit? Join me in “It’s enough already!” and try to be kind to yourself.
Our friend, Susan, stopped by for a coffee today and she was telling us that her resolution was to be kinder to herself! Wow! Another person on board. What that looks like for Susan is that she just resigned from two political advocacy boards that she’s served on for seven years. She said emphatically, “It was enough already!”
My commitment to being kind will include not beating up yours truly. If I miss a day of swimming laps, oh well. If I have too much dessert, why not? Stay up in the middle of the night to watch TV? Good for me. Not getting out of my pajamas until noon? Been there, done that with my friend Nancy. She said she never allowed herself to do that but really enjoyed it. Nancy also needs some lessons in self-kindness!
Philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson cautioned, “You cannot do kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” Ain’t that the truth? Most of the time, I’m kind to others, but all of us could stand a little brushing up. When I greet a shop keeper, the bank teller, the grocery clerk, I say, “good day” or “thank you for your help.” If their service was something more involved and I feel that they did an exceptional job, I tell them that. What a lift it must be to receive that seemingly small compliment in a world where customers barely acknowledge a service person’s existence.
Our American expression for greeting people was nicely summed up by Louise Egan, founder of the Soho Language Group in New York. In her words, “Being asked ‘How are you?’ is a topic of some concern among certain expatriates and visitors to New York. In their eyes, why should a salesperson, concierge, casual colleague, or restaurant wait person care how you are? The answer is, they don’t!” This is so true. Maybe we should take a brief moment and really connect with that person to acknowledge that they are a person. That would be a kindness in the smallest of ways.
Today’s recipe is a kindness to yourself and to others. This is a healthy, easy dish that takes practically no time at all to prepare, just a little forethought. Brined Roast Chickens couldn’t be more universal.
I use two small fryers for a couple of reasons. Do you know that expression, “She’s a tough old bird”? True, true. The larger, older birds have tougher meat. The other reason is to honor your commitment to kindness: roast one chicken for you and give one away. If you throw a few potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc. in the oven while roasting the chicken, voilà, you have a complete meal. It takes no more time to roast multiple birds. Just increase the brine. Soon you’ll be giving these little birds away to the neighborhood!
Country music songwriter and singer Glen Campbell had it right when he wrote these pithy lines in 1970, “Just shine your light for everyone to see… try a little kindness.”
Brined Roast Chicken
Yield: 8 servings
1/2 c. kosher salt
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 lg. onion, sliced
1 tsp. minced garlic
4 bay leaves
1 Tbs. fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1 tsp. black peppercorns
1 tsp. thyme leaves
4 c. hot water
4 c. ice cubes
2 whole chickens
3 1/2 - 4 lb. each
Make the brine. Combine all of the ingredients except for the ice cubes and the chicken in a marinating vessel. Stir until the salt and sugar dissolve. Add the ice cubes. Stir until cooled to room temperature.
Place each chicken in a gallon-size Ziploc bag. Divide the brine between the two bags using a ladle. Move the chickens around in the bags to distribute the brine. Set them in a shallow casserole, refrigerated, for 6-8 hours. Rotate the chickens every two hours. Note: If using chicken quarters, marinate no more than 4 hours.
Preheat oven to 400°. Remove chicken from brine and drain off the liquid. Place them on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Roast, breast side up, for about 60-75 minutes or when a thermometer is inserted into the thigh reads 180°. For shiny finish, brush the skin with olive oil or melted butter. Allow to rest out of the oven for about 15 minutes before carving.
Bonnie Fishman attended the Cordon Bleu Cookery School in London. Later, she owned and operated Bonnie’s Patisserie in Southfield, Mich. and Bonnie’s Kitchen and Catering in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. She has taught cooking for over 35 years and created hundreds of recipes. She is now living in Northern California.