When it’s a work-at-home-day or when other reasons beckon you to stay home in the warmth and comfort of your fuzzy slippers, when you want to hunker down, or batten down the hatches in preparation for a storm (real or imagined or emotional), it’s good to put something tasty in the oven. Hopefully, it will take hours to cook and fill your home with delectable smells of what’s to come.
There is a very easy way to do this. Buy a chicken — a roaster. Not one of those itty- bitty fryers, even if you’re cooking for one. (I’ll give you easy ideas for freezing and/or using the leftovers.) Roasters take longer to cook. This is the whole idea!
Also get some baking potatoes, organic preferably. Scrub them and set them aside to dry a bit.
So you’ve got a chicken and potatoes. Rinse the bird under the faucet, put it in the baking pan and pat it dry with a paper towel. Make sure you’ve removed any giblets in the main cavity of the bird. Rub the chicken with olive oil.
Then rub, slather or sprinkle the chicken with ANY ONE of the following:
1. A spice-rub that you might have on hand. Penzey’s Spices has many of these. BiCentennial, Southwest, and Northwoods Seasoning are just three of my many favorites. I love this company and there’s nothing better than opening an order from them and indulging in opening the jar of nutmeg for a whiff!! Their spices are so fresh! (Did you know that a spice you buy in a grocery store can already be a year old??? Yikes.) http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzeys/shophome.html. You won’t believe the difference. You’re so welcome.
2. OR Fresh or dried herbs you have on hand. Again, check out Penzey’s for the dried herbs — they have heavenly Tarragon! If you have a Rosemary bush outside your door or down the street, all the better. Take a few big sprigs, rinse under running water and shake off. Strip the leaves off (hold the sprig at the top and strip from top to bottom.) Chop. Put all over the outside of the chicken and throw a generous size sprig or two into the cavity. Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper.
3. OR Mix 1 tablespoon of paprika and 1/2 teaspoon of salt with 1/2 cup of sour cream. Slather it all over the chicken. Yes, I know it looks gross at this stage, but wait until it bakes. Yum.
4. OR Tuck leaves of fresh Sage and about 10 chopped cloves of garlic under the skin on the breast. Simply separate the skin from the breast meat by sliding one finger between the skin and the meat. Loosen and clear away the connective tissue and voila! You’ve got room for spices. Put the Sage and garlic there. Squeeze lemon juice mixed with a tablespoon or two of olive oil all over. Add salt and pepper.
Put the baking potatoes rubbed with a little olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper around the bird. Put all into a preheated 350 degree oven.
Many recipes say 20-25 minutes per pound for roasting a chicken, but I find for a 5-6 lb roaster, it takes longer than that per pound, about 2-1/4 to 2-1/2 hours total. If the legs move easily, and the juices run clear (or almost) you’re good to go. Always let the bird sit about 10 minutes before carving.
SAVE the drippings. Put the bird on a plate to carve and pour all the drippings into a glass container and put in the refrigerator. Tomorrow you’ll skim off the grease that rises to the top and you have the most delicious ready-made sauce in the world. See below for uses.
Oh, and the leftovers!
1. If you don’t have hungry mouths around to finish up the chicken, take several servings and put in separate freezer ziplock bags, label them with the contents and date and freeze. Put a little of the defatted drippings into the bag, like a tablespoon or two.
2. Make any kind of pasta (wheat, kamut, rice) and add the chicken and a veggie and a little of the pan drippings (without the fat). Delicious.
3. Buy a cheese or vegetable pizza and add the chicken to it and bake. Or use a tortilla (corn, wheat, spelt, Ezekiel) and make a baby pizza. Start with pizza sauce or fresh tomatoes. Then add a little garlic, leftover veggies, the chicken and ANY kind of cheese –crumbled feta, small dollops of soft goat (chevre) cheese, grated cheddar, parmesan, fresh or regular mozzarella. The possibilities and taste sensations are endless.
4. Have a warm chicken salad. Warm the chicken gently, then add it to your favorite purchased or homemade Vegetable salad.
5. Put chicken in your morning omelette or have breakfast for dinner!
What’s your favorite way to use leftover chicken? Let me know!
To all things gustatory,
This morning as the rain stops and starts, and the sun goes under for a good long while and then comes out blazing and brilliant and all happy about the stir it causes, I think of our lives and how they are like that….
Your Rainbow — Where Does It Lead You?
Gray and cloudy followed by unprecedented brilliance and stunning color — rainbows complete with pots of gold! If we can handle the clouds, which is often difficult, we can handle the rainbows, right?
I don’t know. I keep having to remind myself that dark and light can be equally valuable, and I’ve been around the bend a few times!
All of us know the power of how we think about our life story, whether we see a cloudy future — or something brighter. Jean Houston, in “A Passion for the Possible,” talks about a woman who thought about her life as a play with an unhappy ending until a friend sent her an Emily Dickinson poem that spoke of sumptuous despair. She thought to herself, “How wonderful to rise out of my piddling desperation to a sumptuous celebration of my condition!”
This woman began to think of richer words to describe her feelings, and one thing led to another until she remembered that as a teenager she used to write poetry. She began to write again. One day, she sent a poem to her married daughter, who responded with a poem of her own. Soon they were talking on the phone and getting closer than they had been in years. On a whim, she offered to read one of her poems to her friends, who were quite taken with it. Within a week they had a poetry-writing circle. Pretty soon she was creating poetry circles for her church group and within a year, she was invited to create poetry circles for inner-city women. She became a volunteer to be a Friend in Court for teenage girls in trouble and became a social activist helping families.
Her life today is full of adventure and challenge and deliciousness, all because she saw value in revising and rethinking her interpretation of “cloudy skies.” Dark days were just fine after all. In fact, they became sumptuous and full of rich meaning.
opening in beautiful ways
She opened to this new and more inclusive view of things, which clearly beckoned the sun and rousing adventure as well as an ever-widening circle of positive influence.
So here’s to the weather in our lives — blazing sun, quiet and oppressive heat, strong and prevailing winds, dog days of summer, frigid winters, unrelenting rain, gentle showers, wild thunder — all of it. May you find delicious drops of creativity, love, awareness and surprising gifts in every well-weathered corner of your world.
In my life, I have three favorite women and we meet regularly. It’s something I look forward to with a smile on my face way before I get to wherever we are meeting. Connecting with a group of women and staying connected has never really happened to me before — not sure why— but I’m glad it’s happening now.
So there are four of us. According to my cursory research, the symbolic meaning of the number four deals with stability and groundedness and represents solidity, calmness and home. To realize the power of four, think of the four seasons, four directions, or four elements (air, earth, fire, water). Being in this supportive group of four encourages me to explore my roots. I feel stronger and more centered after leaving this fabulous group of women, I know myself better, whether or not I have been the center of conversation, and I am accepted no matter what is going on with me.
We meet in places where it’s quiet enough to talk. We don’t gossip. We don’t figure each other out or psycho-analyze. We ask a lot of questions and listen to each other. And laugh. Oh, do we laugh. To see one’s self reflected in the eyes of three others who love you is surprising — in a good way! Besides, laughter is the best ab workout around.
More evidence that four is a great and stable thing — you can build a pyramid on a base of four. With this group of four, I feel like we can rise above anything, and get a pyramidal (!) perspective on life while standing on solid ground.
And what a view that is. Thanks, girls. Here’s to more groups of four! Let me know if you have one, or when you build one and write me about it. I’d love to hear all about it.