Monday, March 8, 2010

A Funny Guy and Chicken with Almond Butter Sauce

My 10 year old nephew is a funny little guy.

His tastes run from football to soccer to chess.

Yes, chess.

It seems that he has been playing chess online. With some success.

He has only played chess in real life with his dad. But online, he has played with people from all over the world, of all ages.

Recently he got it into his head that he would like to play in a chess tournament. So like a good little 21st. century citizen he hit the internet and found himself a tournament. Problem is it was the Pennsylvania State Tournament. Did I mention that he only played chess on the internet or at home with his dad?

Now my sister and her husband are good parents. They encourage their children to branch out with their activities. So when Cal told them the good news of finding a tournament, off Calvin and his dad went (with tongue in cheek and many warnings from both mom and dad that maybe, just maybe, he wasn't quite ready for the big time).

I mean, come on, is this any way to treat an impressionable kid? He is only 10 years old. He has never played a local or a regional, let alone state tournament. Weren't they setting him up for defeat, maybe even humiliation? But off they went.

After 2 days of grueling matches, Cal came home with a trophy. Seems he won the 2010 Pennsylvania State Tournament Unranked Player award. Overall, he placed 13th. in a field of 100 K through 6th. graders.

When he was younger he wanted to be batman when he grew up.

Now he wants to be a professional football player and when he retires (or tires) from that he wants to be president.

You know, I think the kid has a shot.

Have you ever encouraged someone to follow their dream? Has anyone you know overcome what we mere mortals think of as obstacles? Tell me your success stories!

Chicken with Almond Butter Sauce (serves 4)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, sliced into 4 pieces

Pound each chicken breast on the non-skin side until 1/2 inch thick.
Season with Salt and pepper. Then dredge in flour (both sides)

Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Saute chicken until browned on each side, about 8 minutes total.

Remove cutlets from pan and keep warm.

Add shallots to pan and saute until soft over very low heat, about 3 minutes.
Add almonds to pan and saute until toasted, about 2 minutes.
Deglaze the pan with the wine (or broth), scraping up any browned bits. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened.

Remove from heat and swirl in the butter, one piece at a time.

Serve sauce over chicken.

A Cook's Notes: I am serving this with yellow rice and steamed baby bok choy.


  1. That's awesome about the chess. Incredible. It just shows what we're capable of when we don't hold ourselves back.

  2. Rachel - I think it shows that children know so much more than we do. He believed he could do it and he wanted to try!

  3. I really think kids have amazing potential when we support them. My mom was devoted to her children, but she tended to say, "Don't be silly," and shut down whatever big ideas we had. It was a different time, and she didn't want us to get "too big for our britches." I say, "Let 'em fly, and see how high they can go."

  4. Amazing! Good for him. My parents always told me that I could do whatever I wanted. I fully intend to give my own children that same gift.

    I may have to try that chicken this week; it sounds fantastic!

  5. Whitney - Encouraging our children to follow their own path - even if it is not a path we would choose for them is the hardest part of parenthood, but yet it is the greatest gift. I am experiencing that now as my children grow older and are choosing their destinies.

  6. What a great story! Kudos to the kid for going for it!

  7. What a lovely story! WOW! I'm sure that kid could whoop me in chess.

    My little brother is a skateboarder. He doesn't want to play football anymore, he only want to become a professional skateboarder. My mom was furious! I used to take him to all of his tournaments. He hasn't won any competitions yet, but he's getting there. :)

  8. Beautiful story! I think chess is a great thing to have as a tool- it teaches so many skills. Thanks for sharing.

  9. What an ace kid he is :0) At only ten he is amazing, seems there is a very bright future for this young man... I for one will be keeping this post until he is president :0)

  10. I used to play chess quite a bit when I was a kid. I really enjoyed it!

  11. Eva - thanks for stopping by. Cal is a great kid. So happy just being him.

    Phoebe - the joy is the love of the sport. Winning comes later, if at all. As long as they are having fun and growing I say, that is enough.

    Sara - I wish I had the brain for it. He would beat me in a heartbeat.

    Eternally - I just want the chance to sleep in the Lincoln Bedroom. Hopefully as his aunt he'll let me.

    Otin - you should pick it up again. Apparently there is a whole online community...

  12. What a cool story about the chess tournament! Never underestimate a kid!

  13. My youngest son was ADD..I taught both my sons to play chess, and I wasn't the worst player in high the age of seven, my youngest, finally on Ritalin on a limited basis- beat me fair and square!

  14. Dear Really Good Cook, I made your fish and chips and apple crisp this weekend and they were amazing, as are you!

  15. Anne - cheers to our many shopping trips together for amazing food!


Wow. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I love feedback... what with being a cook and all. I will respond to your comments via email (if you do not have a "noreply" address or here, below your comment) As always, Bon Appetite!

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