Monday, July 29, 2013

busy mondays (recipe: homemade chicken nuggets)

Mondays seemed to be the busiest days when I was younger.  I had school until 3:30 in the afternoon and once home my sister and I had a snack and hit the books immediately.  Around a quarter to five, we got dressed for our dance classes and flew out the door to the studio.  We were picked up around 7:00 or 7:30 that evening, returned home to finish our studies, wash up and hit our pillows.

Somewhere in between we ate dinner (we never ate on the run, never ate anywhere other than at the dining room table) and almost always it was my mom's homemade chicken nuggets.  She would set a plate in the center of the table piled high with the best golden brown bite size pieces of chicken (a paper towel always lined the plate) and my sister and I would ravage the pile like a bunch of starved teenage boys.  Who knew girls could eat like that!

So, in honor of Mondays, because it was tradition, because we have approximately one month before those busy school days begin, and because I love chicken nuggets, I am going to share with you my version of Mom's recipe.  Enjoy!

Busy Monday Chicken Nuggets
serves:  4
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3 chicken breasts, cubed into 1-inch pieces

1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper

1 cup flour (approximate amount)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon thyme
scant 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fleur de Sel
  1. Marinate:  Place cubed chicken into a gallon size plastic bag.  Add lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper into the bag.  Seal and squish the bag to incorporate all the ingredients.  Place bag onto a plate and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.
  2. Place the ingredients for the dredging mixture onto a separate large plate (flour, salt, pepper, thyme & cayenne)  Mix well with hands.  Remove chicken from the refrigerator.
  3. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add olive oil to pan, about 1/4-inch deep.  Working in batches, lift chicken out of marinade and shake off excess.  Dredge chicken pieces into the flour mixture and coat completely.
  4. Add carefully to the hot pan.  Fry until chicken is golden brown and cooked through. About six minutes on each side.
  5. Using tongs, lift chicken out of frying pan and place on a towel lined plate.  Sprinkle with a little fleur de sel.
Cooks Note:
  • You may keep nuggets warm while cooking other batches by placing them in the oven on the lowest setting.
  • To keep track of which chicken piece you place in the pan first, treat your skillet as you would a clock.  Add your first piece at the 12 o'clock position and continue placing your chicken pieces around the pan moving clockwise ending at 11 o'clock.  My final pieces are always in the center of the pan.
  • You may have to add more oil between batches.  Let that oil heat up before you add the next batch.  Cold Oil = Soggy Crust. Bleh!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

the sea, the sky and friendship

6:45 am wake up call
What you don't know about the may or may not house an opossum...poolside
A walk with friends.  Pleasure Pier
Trying to keep up.  This seagull is longing to fly with the pelicans.
Poolside view; palms, pottery, the gulf
This past weekend I met up with a few of my high school friends in Galveston.  It had been ages since we had seen one another; one I had seen a few months ago, some three years ago and another eight years ago.

And after all of those years of being apart, it seemed like we picked up where we left off.  It was natural, seamless, effortless.  We were still comfortable and to me, that is when you know you are amongst true friends.  You don't have to try.

We talked of our younger years, when we were carefree, a little careless, and a lot of fun.  We talked about our children, our husbands, our adult lives.  We laughed.  We laughed until our stomachs ached.  Even after all these years we were still a lot of fun.
I have always felt that I was a good friend "in the moment."  But once we part ways, whether it be to a different school, different city, or state, or country, I fail in keeping the connection.  It is not that I become disinterested in my friends lives, or that I've moved on, I just don't keep up.  And I think about them.  Alot.  But I never act upon that, never take it any further than a thought.  It is a flaw.  My flaw.  I've known this about myself for a very long time.  I feel like the seagull pictured above-flanking his feathered friends, trying to keep up but to no avail falls behind, pushed by the gusts of a strong wind.

Nowadays it is easier to stay connected, thanks to social media.  Especially for someone like me-someone who watched their kinships from afar.  I am thankful for the opportunity to enjoy my friends again.  I hope to try harder.

Monday, July 15, 2013

when the skies open (click for more)

we sing...
we laugh...
we dance...
and for some odd reason hold our tongue...

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Slow Summer (Recipe: Small Batch Blueberry Lime Jam)

Ranch land near Brenham, TX
A few weeks ago I couldn't help but to admire the sky as we were driving home from Houston.  Cottonball clouds were perfectly hoisted in the air and as we passed by pastures and ranch land I briefly (and yet again) fell in love with green and blue.  The colors blurred with such contrast as we zoomed down the highway, yet they were so complimentary; no wonder why God chose these colors to represent our Earth.  They are magnificent.
A healing Earth, Bastrop, TX
The sun was setting as we passed through the battled and scarred land in Bastrop.  Burned from a forest fire two years this fall, the trees were charred sticks standing at attention.  I quickly reminded myself that the land would heal itself, that the scorched earth would once again be enriched and green again.  A proud green reaching for the blue sky.
Skies over Houston
There is something so great about summer drives.  The days seem slower and I feel a release.  There is no rush.  There are slow sunsets.  There are rivers and lakes.  Bridges to cross.  Canoes and kayaks.  Farmstands and markets.  Music.  We are in the midst of summer.  Lets keep it slow.

Now on to a slow summer recipe....
Blueberry Lime Jam

Blueberry Lime Jam (small batch)
yield:  approximately 2 cups (I processed 1-1/2 pint and 1-4oz jar and stored the remainder (scant 4oz.) in the frig)

Dusky sweet blueberries and bright, tart lime make a delicious, glistening, indigo summer jam.  I make jam the old fashion way, no pectin, just fruit, sugar and flavorings, heat and time.  I macerate the fruit for a few hours, mash the fruit up really well and gently boil it until it has thickened to my preferred jam consistency.  The flavors are pure and clean and this method of jam making is perfect for a slow summer day.

This recipe is for a small batch of jam but you can absolutely double, triple, or even quadruple the recipe.  I loosely use a jam formula of 2:2:2 (2 lbs fruit to 2 cups sugar to 2 Tablespoon lemon juice), in this case though, I used what I had in the frig. which was 20 oz.  You can always add flavorings, herbs, etc. and fiddle with the consistency to your preference.  I am a firm believer of the freezer/gel test and if you have any questions regarding canning go here or here.  Or you can read my little blurb about canning here.

20 oz. blueberries
1 1/4 cup sugar
Zest of two limes
Juice of one lime (a little over 1 tablespoon)
  1. Combine blueberries, sugar and lime juice and zest together and let it sit out at room temperature for 2 hours.  Alternatively, you may store the mixture in the refrigerator overnight. Stir occasionally
  2. Wash and sterilize jars. Boil the flat parts of the lids in a small pot and keep at a low simmer (I toss in the bands too).
  3. Mash the blueberries with a potato masher and place in a large heavy bottomed saucepan.
  4. Place on a burner over medium high heat and bring to a rolling boil. Stir and boil for 1 min.
  5. Lower heat and gently boil for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally at first then more frequently toward the end.  Perform the gel test to see if jam is ready to be processed.
  6. Ladle jam into hot jars, then place the lids on jars, and add screw rings.
  7. Immerse jars in hot water bath, and boil rapidly for 10 minutes, covered. Turn off heat and let jars sit in pot for 5 minutes, uncovered.  Remove from bath and place on a towel on the counter to cool.

Monday, July 8, 2013

hive five: july: week 1

Mango Guava juice from Nile Valley, sold exclusively at The Mueller's Farmers Market (Eli and my mom in the background)
1.  Eli and I went to our favorite Sunday Farmers Market again.  It was hot and not yet noon!  Sheesh.  We came away with tomatoes, melons, cukes, two cups of Mango Guava juice from Nile Valley and a balloon animal.  (I know, right?!?)  It was a fish to be exact.
Tomatoes from Johnson's Backyard Garden
2.  Slow Roasting the tomatoes as I type.  I wish I adored summer tomatoes like others do.  Fresh, sliced on a burger or sandwich, raw and juicy in salads.  But I can't.  I just can't make myself like them.  So I opt to oven roasting.  They are chewy and sweet and the flavored is robust.  To learn this method go here.
This Blueberry Lime Jam is amazing.  Posting it Wednesday.  It is one not to be missed.
3.  Have you ever slathered warm jam fresh from the pot onto a slice of bread?  It is heavenly.  I just did.  And that may be the reason why I'm not hungry for dinner right now.  And I'll admit to quickly slathering a second slice with freshly made, warm Blueberry Lime Jam just as I finished the first one.  Every time I make jam I swear it is the best thing I've ever tasted.  So, as of today Blueberry Lime Jam is the best jam I've ever laid my lips upon.  Come back Wednesday for the recipe!!!
Geese at Mueller's Lake
4.  This caught my eye.  I love quinoa and really am thinking that this should be my birthday meal.
One year I stacked Oreos onto a cake platter and served them with milk for my birthday cake.  Can't beat that.
5.  Oh yeah, my birthday is this coming Saturday.  I wonder what kind of cake I should make.  Yes, I make my own cake.