Friday, October 26, 2012

A Cozy Bee

Today is a most glorious day.  Overcast skies, wind blowing through the trees, light rain just strong enough to be heard tapping gently on the rooftop.  The kind of weather stirs something inside me.  I feel excited.  I feel giddy.  I feel justified to snuggle under my quilt, drink some chamomile.  I don't like sunny days-they are monotonous.  But days like these, they have personality and the elements seem to be more alive.
Cozy Cup
Days like these are for sipping hot tea.  I just poured a cup for myself-drizzled some of the most golden of honeys into the amber drink.  My parents brought me some local honey from Point Barrow a few weeks ago.  The comb is suspended in the golden liquid-it is a treasure.  I broke a piece off while my tea was steeping.  I chewed it like bubble gum and savored the floral flavors, wondering what it must be like to be a bee.
Barely Touching The Floor
I hope everyone stays cozy and warm this weekend.  Try to find time to relax and enjoy some warmth in a cup.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Golden Hour (Recipe: Roasted Garlic-Sage Roast Chicken)

I'm sitting in the house with only the glow of this netbook as my sole source of light.  It is silent.  Calm.  The only thing I hear are my fingertips tapping the keys in a rhythmic pattern only I know.  My cat is giving himself a bath-he is not very modest at the least-slurp, slurp.  Rain is hitting the windows and there is the slightest rumble of distant thunder.  I'm sitting here amidst the golden hour-a perfect opportunity to go exploring in the days first light and click away through the camera lens.  But I don't want to move from the couch.  I don't want to wake anyone up.  I want this.  Silence.  Calm.  It doesn't happen often.
Autumn Sunset
This brief moment of pause wraps up my weekend perfectly.  I cherish the weekends I have at home, usually I'm working.  But this weekend, since the hubs was at a conference, it was just me, E (aka Baking Tot) and nothing but time on our side.  I had planned to spend Friday in Austin-visiting my favorite grocery store, hitting the park and then I remembered ACL was in town.  No worries, there will be other days.  Yesterday, we spent a good portion of the day at our neighborhood festival.  E had so much fun.  He rode the oil drum train three times and as we sat in the park eating a yellow sno-cone he said, "Mom, that train was awesome."  I was so happy we both enjoyed ourselves, especially after last year's episode.
Nature Walk Bounty
As I look out the window now, the golden hour has passed.  It is grey and a car's headlight is reflecting off of the wet pavement.  It may seem like you would be greeted by a burst of cool, crisp autumn air if you'd open the door but the air here is at the very least room temperature.  The rain though can have one ache for some comfort.  A cup of soup, a warm cup of tea, a comforting Sunday dinner.
Golden October
Friday, my Father-In-Law offered me some snippets of herbs from his garden.  The sage was beautiful and where there is sage, there is usually a roasted chicken to follow.  I love making roasted chicken-the different combinations of flavors, the comforting sides that accompany the bird, the beautiful, crisp golden skin-for all these reasons I believe roasted chicken is the epitome of comfort food.

And maybe I have not missed my golden hour after all.  Maybe all I will have to do is roast a golden bird.

Golden Hour Roast Chicken
serves 3-4 
Print This!
This is a very detailed instruction to a Roasted Garlic & Sage Roasted Chicken.  You do not have to follow this recipe word for word.  You may want to use a different herb-great! If you don't want to make the compound butter-fine!  Plain ol' butter will work just as well and you can skip step #2.

1 5- to 6-pound whole chicken
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
1 head of garlic
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 handful of sage
1 lemon, halved
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large yellow onion, thickly and evenly sliced (about 1/2 inch thick slices)
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoon flour
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Make Roasted Garlic-Sage Butter:  Pluck 2-3 cloves off of the head of garlic and place the unpeeled garlic on a square of foil.  Reserve remaining head of garlic for aromatics. Drizzle cloves with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper and fold foil into a packet.  Place foil packet in the oven as it is heating.  At 10 minutes remove foil packet and poke a paring knife into the cloves of garlic.  If cloves are golden in color and knife enters with ease-garlic is roasted and ready, let it cool enough to handle.  If not, place back into oven for a few more minutes and try again.  Meanwhile, place the room temperature butter into a small bowl.  Reserve half of the sage and set aside for later.  Chop the remaining sage finely yielding approximately one teaspoon and add it to the butter.  Squeeze the cooled, roasted garlic out of its skin and add it to the butter mixture.  Mash roasted garlic, butter and sage with a fork until incorporated.  DO-AHEADButter can be made in advance, keep refrigerated for 2-3 days or freeze it for 6-8 weeks.  Just bring it to room temperature before rubbing it on the bird.
  3. Prepare Bird:  Remove the giblets, innards, etc.  Rinse the chicken inside and out.  Remove any excess fat and/or pinfeathers and pat the outside dry.  Place onion in the bottom of a roasting pan creating a "rack" for the chicken.  Place the chicken on top of the onions.
  4. Add Aromatics:  Liberally salt & pepper the inside of the bird.  Stuff the cavity with the remaining bunch of sage, both halves of the lemon, slice the remaining head of garlic in half crosswise and add it to the cavity as well.
  5. Time For A Massage:  Rub the chicken down with the softened garlic-sage butter-give her a good rub down and make sure you hit every surface, nook & cranny.  Loosen the skin on the breasts and rub a generous amount of butter underneath the skin.  Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper-even underneath the skin on the breasts.  Tie the legs together and tuck wingtips under the body of the chicken.
  6. Get Cooking:  Roast the chicken for 30 minutes at 425 degrees F and then bring the oven temperature down to 375 degrees F.  Roast for approximately 1 1/2 hours, until the juices run clear or the temperature registers 165 degrees on a meat thermometer.  Remove to a platter and tent the chicken with foil.
  7. Good Gravy:  Remove all fat from roasting pan, reserving 2 tablespoons.  Add the chicken stock to the pan and cook on high heat for 5 minutes, until reduced, scraping up the bits from the bottom of the pan.  Combine the reserved chicken fat with the flour and add to pan.  Boil for a few minutes to cook out the flour.  Strain gravy into a small saucepan and season it with salt and pepper.  Keep warm over low heat.  Serve with chicken.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Grown Up Grilled Cheese

Lately I have felt as if I have been living under a heavy cloud.  There have been times where I feel like I am suffocating, smothered and unable to grasp a breath.  The past few months seems like a snowball of items that have broken, in need of mending and repair and I feel like I have been treading in a sea with no where to go.  At times I don't see the horizon.
Amazing Mammatus Clouds over Pocatello, ID (photo is an oldie but goodie)
It seems silly to admit I feel this way because of material objects, but that is just how I feel.  Earlier this summer I rear ended an elderly woman, only to be rear ended by a college kid a few weeks ago.  Our truck had numerous (four or five) repairs throughout the summer only to end up as sad leverage for a new car & new note.  My MAC's graphics card went out, we have a roof leak and one toilet is on the fritz.  It is just one thing after another.  I realize I could have it a lot worse than I do, but it just seems like too much all at once for the household.

My husband says this is what happens when you grow up.  Well, call me Peter Pan and send me to Neverland because being a grown up has not appealed to me lately.

Last Sunday a few co workers and myself went out for a little bit of drink and a little bit of food courtesy of our company.  As I finished my very grown up drink and was dreaming about the Grown Up Grilled Cheese Sandwich on the menu, we discovered that the restaurant would not accept our company card.  So up we went to another venue and I left my Grown Up Grilled Cheese Dreams at the table.
Roasted Tomatoes about to become the best Tomato Soup EVER!!! Recipe link below.
Yesterday I decided to make my version of the Grown Up Grilled Cheese Sandwich I had reluctantly walked out on.  The sandwich had so many wonderful layers of flavors.  It had a nice tang from the sourdough, delicious salty crust created by butter and Parmesan, a great bite from the Dijon and tied all together by my amazingly warm and sweet Caramel Pear Butter.  The shredded cheddar ensured a perfect melt and made me think that pear butter and cheddar was MFEO (Sleepless In Seattle reference-made for each other). It is perfect with this soup, which I made as well and the first word that left my mouth was "ridiculous" (as in ridiculously delicious).

Grown Up Grilled Cheese Sandwich
two sandwiches

The Grown Up Grilled Cheese at The River Pub includes bacon and tomato, which I did not have-nonetheless my sandwich was delicious.  Grilled Cheese Sandwiches are quite versatile, so feel free to add some goods to this.  Goes great with this ridiculously good soup!

4 slices of sourdough bread
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 oz. Parmesan Cheese, grated on a microplane grater
3 oz. Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated on a box grater
Dijon Mustard
Caramel Pear Butter (recipe coming soon)
  1. Brush one side of bread slices with melted butter and press Parmesan into bread slices, coating completely.
  2. Place bread cheese side down and spread two slices with mustard and the other two with pear butter.
  3. Assemble sandwiches with bread, shredded cheddar & arugula.
  4. In a non-stick skillet , cook sandwiches over medium heat until bread is crisp and golden and cheddar is melted.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Apples & October (Recipe: Apple Butterscotch Blondies)

Happy October everyone.  October is by far my most favorite month.  I love the turning of the seasons, the cooler, grayer weather, and my most favorite of all holidays, Halloween.  For some reason October always has me thinking about apples.  Strange to me because September and the apple always seemed to coincide with one another, possibly paying homage to the teacher/student relationship.  But for me it has always been apples & October.

Apple Butterscotch Blondies are perfect for a fall day.  It is a very simple recipe with a wonderful butterscotch flavor, thanks to the dark brown sugar.  Using fresh apples ensures that these little guys will definitely be moist, especially if you sit them out overnight.  I found a dusting of confectioners sugar to be a simple and perfect topping, that is if just have to have one.

Apple Butterscotch Blondies 

1 cup chopped pecans
2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups chopped apples (I used a mixture of Granny Smith, Honeycrisp & Gala)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Butter and flour a 13x9 baking pan.
  2. Stir together brown sugar, butter, applesauce, eggs and vanilla
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking powder & salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir to incorporate.  Add apples and pecans, stirring gently to incorporate.
  4. Pour into prepared pan.  Bake for 35-45 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.  Cool completely before cutting.