Crispy Parmesan Chicken & Homemade Croutons

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I read in News China that internet lovers are now a huge business in China.  People can buy a virtual lover to call, message and engage online.  You can buy a girlfriend or boyfriend on Taobao, an Amazon like website, where you usually buy your discounted shoes or kitchen utensils.  What’s wrong with a real girlfriend or boyfriend?  Should it be that hard to find one in a world of 7 billion people?  I don’t quite understand this, but obviously there is a demand and there is a supply of virtual ones.

In my younger days, I had too many of them, none all that good, and some downright evil, but they were real.  Apparently this is too old fashioned for today. 

Sensing the huge market potential in catering to lonely Chinese people, Microsoft has also launched a virtual lover service in China.  Rather than using real people, Microsoft developed a virtual woman like Scarlett Johanasson’s character in the 2014 Oscar Award-winning film Her, and her name is Xiao Bing 2.0.  She has been downloaded by more than 10 million users and has had more the 600 million conversations since its debut in July 2014.

Iconic artist, designer and co-founder of New York Magazine Milton Glaser did an interview with the The Good Life Project where he commented on how technology is changing us, “Everything changes everything. There are no independent events. … The virtual world has created a very different kind of nervous system for people who spend their lives in that world. And it produces different sets of appropriateness — of time, of morality, of ethics, of behavior. … But we don’t know what this is doing to the human psyche or the human behavior or any of it — we know it’s changing, we know it’ll be a profound change and it won’t be what it was, but we don’t know what the nature of that will finally be. It will probably have some benefits and significant drawbacks, but it is just emerging.  We are creating a new kind of person.”

I think that my daughters are that new kind of persons.  Sometimes I see them as quite alien from me.  They were born and raised in two parallel worlds — the real and the virtual, and both seem to be equal to them.  There are times I think the virtual one holds more power because it’s freer, more stimulating and fun.  Angela texts me all the time, but when I try to knock on her door to answer her texts, she acts all annoyed, as if I am intruding upon her virtual world. I suspect that she sometimes does prefer the virtual mommy to the real one.  At least she didn’t have to pay for this virtual one, who has true devotion for her.

Even Peter and I stare at our screens much more than we look at each other nowadays.  The virtual world is encroaching on us all.  But when I hug and kiss Peter and the girls, I am confident that the real world has a definite hold on us. 

And when I cook them yummy food, the real world is definitely winning.

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Baked Parmesan Chicken Tenders

Ingredients:

1 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon white wine

Salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon olive oil

16 oz skinless boneless chicken breast tenders (8 pieces)

1/2 cup panko

1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme

1/2 dried oregano, crushed

A dash smoked paprika, and coriander or Italian spice of your choice

Garnish with fresh oregano

Special equipment: parchment paper

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Preparation:

In a large bowl, marinate chicken tenders in white wine, olive oil, a dash of salt and pepper and Dijon mustard for 30 minutes or longer.

Preheat oven to 450°F and line a baking sheet with parchment.

Mix panko, Parmigiano-Reggiano, red pepper flakes, thyme, oregano, paprika and coriander in a large shallow soup plate or pie plate.

Dredge chicken, 1 piece at a time, in crumbs, coating completely and pressing gently to help crumbs adhere, then transfer to baking sheet. Bake in middle of oven until golden brown and cooked through, about 15 minutes.

(I have also made them in the toaster oven with half the amount of everything.)

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Homemade Croutons

Ingredients:

A generous dash of garlic powder

Salt to taste

1 tablespoon olive oil

5 inches stale baguette (cut into 1/2 inch cubes)

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Preparation:

In a saucepan combine and toss all ingredients.  Bake in toaster oven at 350 until golden and crispy, about 5 to 7 minutes.    

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This piece of leftover stale bread certainly got a brand new life as croutons.

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