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A few weeks ago, when I was picking up my veggies at the CSA, I saw a poster for local poultry. Turns out that it’s my fellow book clubber, Robin Gordon Taft and her husband Scott that are selling fresh chickens, ducks and turkeys. Yesterday we bought two fresh killed chickens from Pine Hollow Poultry in North Clarendon. We brought them home, one went into the freezer and the other we dutifully brined and set to rest in the fridge according to Scott’s directions. Tonight, we had some of the most delicious chicken we have had in a very, very long time. As we were savoring the chicken for dinner, we were discussing the broth that this would make tomorrow and how much we really liked their birds. I must admit that I immediately remembered my grandmother and how when I was little she and my grandfather would go and get fresh killed chicken. I remember sitting at the table watching her cut up the fresh chicken to freeze it or make it for dinner that night. This chicken not only tasted delicious but also brought back some very fond memories of growing up and my grandparents.

Nostalgia aside, I highly recommend checking out their website. Scott and Robin told us that they always have frozen birds for sale, but on Saturday, we ran into her at the farmer’s market and Robin said that Scott was butchering birds that day, so if we stopped by later, we could have fresh birds. They will be selling soon at the Rutland Farmer’s Market.

I think that I have an idea where our Thanksgiving turkey is going to be coming from…….

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We picked up our weekly veggies from Evening Song Farm yesterday and I was thrilled to get some beautiful basil and cilantro. There were also baby beets and fresh garlic that I took too in addition to our usual lettuces and salad fixings. Here’s the haul this week……

I stopped by the Wallingford Locker this afternoon and picked up some great looking fresh chicken cutlets — and the jasmine rice is the rice cooker now. Can you guess what’s for dinner tonight? S-T-I-R  F-R-Y! Dicing and chopping makes me feel like I came from culinary school and the actual cooking part takes but a few minutes. Tim’s not in the house, so even sesame oil and sesame seeds might find their way into this stir fry tonight.

By contrast things are growing …slowly….. in the garden, but at least they are not (as of yet) being eaten by any bugs or critters — and I do already have tomatoes on the vines thanks to my awesome oldest son’s biology project.

I am however very proudly nursing along some rosemary from seed — which I understand isn’t the easiest thing to grow. (Read: Yay me!) Don’t anyone of you tell me that it’s easy to grow or I will cry. I’m proud of my efforts and I love rosemary so I am one very happy girl.

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This was lunch. It was delicious. If I do say so myself. Tom tells me that the things that I whip together in about five minutes from what’s hanging around the fridge are probably some of the better things that I cook. Today, I would have to agree.

I took a chicken breast, a few thin slices of red onion, a handful of snow peas and some leftover rice. Sauteed it with a little vegetable oil, sesame oil, chili oil and soy sauce. I chopped a couple scallions, a small handful of cilantro and some lemon juice and topped it off with some black sesame seeds that are relegated to the rear of the pantry since my youngest son is allergic to sesame. So, anything that can incorporate sesame oil and sesame seeds in the same meal is a special, special treat in our house.

All I can say is yum. It was good.

 

This was dinner last night – Chicken Tortilla Soup.

Ingredients

  • 3 chicken breasts – cut up into bite size pieces
  • 12 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 4 cups instant mashed potatoes (thickener)
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, jack or colby)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped green bell peppers or 1 can green chiles
  • 1 14 oz can kernel corn
  • 2 t. cumin
  • 1 t. cajun seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cilantro chopped for topping
  • lime wedges for topping
  • 2 cups crushed corn tortilla chips for topping

Process:

  1. Cut up chicken breasts add to stock pot with broth.
  2. Add remaining ingredients except for cilantro, lime and tortilla chips.
  3. Bring to a boil and simmer until chicken is cooked through about 1/2 hour. Add additional mashed potatoes or sour cream to the desired thickness.
  4. Add cilantro, lime wedge and tortilla chips to individual bowls to top soup.

Sometimes you’re having a good day and then blam-o, it turns to crap and it puts you in a crappy mood. That’s the kind of day I’m having this evening. I was having a good day most of the day, getting work accomplished, laundry under control, managed to get kids everywhere they needed to be when they needed to be there and cook dinner and eat in less than an hour. Real food, mind you, not something we grabbed along the road somewhere – I planned on making chicken piccata (the boys love it) so in between picking up from school and dropping off at guitar I pounded the chicken cutlets and put them aside so all I had to do later was cook them up. That, rice and salad and presto-dinner. While I was doing that I was testing oldest son on his French in preparation for his oral exam tomorrow. We ate and then were right back out the door for scouts. Normally Tom usually takes them but he is away this week, so I am pulling double duty. Got a few minutes there to read my book and then back home – and that, my friends, is where it all fell apart.

Evidently oldest son was annoyed about having to look up what a “score” is (as in Gettysburg address) and copped an attitude. They wanted to stop somewhere on the way home – Doreen’s, Cumby’s but I forgot and when he brought it to my attention, well then I asked “where?” and no one answered me (which they know —or at least should know by now– really ticks me off) I guess I have a thing for being ignored and rude kids. I pulled over and waited for someone to say something about where they wanted to go. No one answered. ARGHHHH!

Well, home was the ultimate destination – a cold, stony, non-talking ride back up the hill. Talk about putting me in a bad mood, then I get a cheery phone call from Tom telling me about his great evening and trip and everything that I am NOT doing and places that I AM NOT and probably will never be. I get the cold-shouldered kids and he gets dinner in Wisconsin. What’s not to be in a crappy mood about?

I am hitting “publish” crawling into bed and hoping that tomorrow brings happier children (I doubt it since its the middle school picnic and its supposed to pour – so soggy kids aren’t necessarily happy kids) but we can always dream……

BTW, the photo is a picture of middle son refusing to allow me to take his picture – where did my cute, adoring children go? I want them back!

I truly think that some of the best dinners I cook are those that are literally pulled from the fridge with whatever ingredients I have on hand. The picture above is a tofu stir fry that was part of last night’s dinner. I am partial to tofu in a stir fry and the rest of the family…well not so much. Complicating this is the fact that youngest son is allergic to sesame, so addition of sesame oil (which I also happen to like) is a big no-no on anything that he is eating. Hence, we are usually a two dinner family.

The “other” dinner I made last night was a chicken stir fry with broccoli and snow peas. Simple and quite tasty. For both recipes I put the protein into cornstarch and coated it before cooking – for the tofu that enabled it to be crunchy on the outside while still soft on the inside – for the chicken it gave it a nice moist taste.

Basically I pulled whatever I had in the way of fresh veggies out and you can do the same, but here’s the recipe for these particular recipes:

TOFU STIR FRY

1 container of extra firm tofu- drained on towel and cut into one inch cubes.

3 scallions chopped into 1 inch pieces

1/2 large onion, sliced thinly

2 carrots sliced thinly on the diagonal

1/2 large red bell pepper sliced into thin strips

handful of snow peas, chopped in half

handful of broccoli florets

chicken broth 2 cups

low sodium soy sauce 3 tablespoons

1/4 cup cornstarch

2 t. sesame oil

vegetable oil for sauteing (about 2 T.)

1. Dredge cubed tofu in cornstarch (about 1/4 cup total) until all sides are covered. Heat vegetable oil in frying pan or wok and add tofu, let cook on one side for about 5 minutes (or if you’re like me until the smoke detector goes off) and then flip so all sides are browned nicely. Remove from pan.

2. Add all vegetables and stir fry for about 5 minutes until vegetables are cooked enough for your taste.

3. Add sesame oil, chicken broth mixed with remaining cornstarch and soy sauce.

4. Bring to a boil so it thickens and then serve with jasmine or brown rice.

CHICKEN STIR FRY

3 boneless chicken breasts sliced into 1/4 inch slices

2 large broccoli crowns cut into florets (bite size)

1/2 pound of snow peas sliced in thirds

2 c. chicken broth

3 T low sodium soy sauce

1/4 c. cornstarch

vegetable oil for sauteing (about 2 T)

1. Dip slices of chicken into cornstarch to coat. Put oil into frying pan and heat, add chicken – cook until browned.

2. Steam broccoli florets in microwave with 1/2 c. water covered for 2 minutes to par-cook.

3. Drain broccoli and add it to pan along with snow peas. Stir fry until vegetables are cooked to your liking, about 5-8 minutes.

4. Mix chicken broth with remaining cornstarch. Add soy sauce and mix well. Add to pan and bring to a boil to thicken.

Serve with white or jasmine rice.

sometimes you don’t. That candy saying fit my world today. There are some days when things just don’t click. Today was one of those days. I was all set to sit down and get some serious writing done but the website that I work through was down. Evidently they changed domain or internet providers and the promised 2 hour down time from last evening turned into most of the day today.

I decided instead to do some spring cleaning which went fairly well, with frantic checks back to the computer to see if things were back online, of course they weren’t until it was time for me to begin my role as chauffer/driving instructor.

I had great plans to make the kids a special Cinco de Mayo dinner of chicken empanadas and rice with a salad. Sounds yummy, right? I remember these really good chicken empanadas we used to make years ago and I knew the recipe came from Emeril. I searched far and wide and found the recipe and made them. Here’s how it looked.

They came out looking delicious. I served them with a mexican rice and salad.

It didn’t go over well – I could tell the second that they sat down. Tim didn’t care for them and barely picked at one (I made 24). To complicate things, the empanadas that I remembered were not at all the same. They didn’t taste the same or I remembered them differently – I don’t know which it was. They were okay, certainly not inedible, but they were not what I had imagined. I guess that I am off my game today – I don’t really know why. Perhaps its because extraño a mi mejor amigo en el mundo ancho del conjunto.

Oh well, Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Here’s lunch. Leftovers transformed into something that tasted quite yummy. I must admit that I think my strength in cooking is the ability to throw a whole bunch of stuff together into something edible. While I follow recipes just fine, grabbing things from the fridge and turning them into a meal is a whole lot more fun. Brings out the mad scientist in me I guess.

Thai inspired rice

Leftover chicken cut up into chunks (about 1 cup)

Leftover jasmine rice (about 3 cups)

3 scallions chopped finely

2 T. chili garlic sauce

2 t. fish sauce

1 c. cilantro chopped finely

1/2 c. basil, chopped the same way

1 c. snow peas sliced into vertical strips

2 T. soy sauce

Juice of one lime

I sauted the chicken with the garlic sauce for a few minutes while I chopped up everything else. Add the rice and the remainder of the ingredients. Mix well, heat for about 5 minutes and serve. This made 3 generous servings – Lunch for the two of us and lunch for tomorrow. :)

Today we lost a member of the family. Not a human member, but a member just the same and we are sad. This morning we found one of the chickens dead in the coop. I know that there are some that would laugh that I am pausing to remember a chicken, but she was a good chicken, and she will be missed. More importantly, her death is symbolic of how precious life is and how quickly it can be gone. I think that everyone needs a wake up call now and again, when we think ourselves invincible and we think about material things that are so inconsequential in the great scheme of things and we afford them such a great place in our world. Life is precious. We forget that, regardless of who or what we do or do not believe in, life is a miracle and a gift. It is fleeting and it should be lived to its fullest. I don’t ever recall anyone lying on a deathbed and wondering whether their business would be okay when they are gone, or gloating in the their material accomplishments. All too often, people, usually too late, regret that they have not lived their life and enjoyed it.  Some of them, close to me, forget that life is very special and very precious and should never be lived as an afterthought. After work, after business, after things….. Each life is special and precious and unique….even a chicken’s.

Rest in peace, little chicken, you were loved and you will be missed.

Did you know that grey chickens blend in perfectly with seasoned uncut firewood? One of our grey hens was following me across the backyard while I was planting a flower bed. I turned back to the garage to get a shovel and returned only seconds later to find that I couldn’t find the chicken. Why is this alarming you might ask? Well throw into the mix two dogs who would love a chicken lunch and you can understand my concern. I look to my left where the coop is about 25 feet away and no grey chicken. No grey chicken in the lawn, where oh where did my grey chicken go? There she was, right in the middle of the woodpile, happily picking away at whatever insects resided there. Perfect camouflage. Her speckled grey and the mottled greyish brown of the firewood, worked to perfectly prevent me from seeing her.

 

Evilwife on the move

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http://tammyheff.wordpress.com
2012.
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There have to be 5 things even on a really bad day.

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