September 10, 2014

One Chicken Four Dinners





I know, there are only three pictures up, haha, I forgot to photograph the second day's dinner. Which was a pasta dish.

So, What I did was I started with a beautiful organic chicken and made 40 clove chicken the first night. I will share the recipe at the end of the post.  This chicken dish produces the most flavorful, and moist chicken with lots of juice so that you can make a nice pasta dish with it. The first night we ate the legs and thighs with some veggies and roasted Yukon gold potatoes. With this dish, you need some yummy bread to spread all the gooey yummy garlic on it. It's a must and you will be really sad if you skip the bread.
On the second night I shredded a quarter of the breast meat and some of the wing meat, and chopped up some veggies and greens, then heated up the left over juice from the night before, and tossed it into some whole wheat pasta. The juice is so lovely and broth like from this dish, and you can skim any extra fat off of it before you heat it up. A very quick dinner and yummy because all the wonderful flavors have married themselves all night long in the fridge.

The third night I made mini chicken quesadillas. I bought some Organic tortillas from Whole Foods, and some Anaheim peppers. I roasted the peppers until charred, then peeled and seeded them. I shredded some more of the breast meat and some Monterey Jack cheese and heated them up. Made some Mexican red rice(which I should share in another post), and my own pico de gallo with organic heirloom tomatoes. The quesadillas were so good, I want to make them again soon! I even had a little leftover for my lunch the next day.

Fourth night with the remaining breast meat, I made pizza with some Yukon gold potatoes that I sliced on the mandoline real thin, and sautéd  until almost cooked. Then added chanterelles  and made some "gremolata," which is finely chopped  raw garlic, lemon zest, parsley. You add this after it's out of the oven. I also used buffalo mozzarella.  I wanted to by some fresh whole wheat dough from Whole Foods, but they were out. I ended up buying some thinner crust ready made whole wheat organic pizza crust instead)

There you have it! four dinners with one chicken. I probably only spent 50 bucks for the whole week with all the ingredients, and most of them were organic.

I find with chicken you can decide for the first dinner, how you want to start as far as flavors. This week, I started the chicken with braising it and giving it a tomato base with Italian flavors to it. Then you can let your creative juices flow with all the possibilities. Pasta, quinoa, or brown rice with it. I'm already trying to plan something interesting tomorrow for it.

Here is the recipe for Chicken with forty  cloves of garlic

2 Celery stalks, including leaves

2 Rosemary sprigs

4 thyme sprigs

4 flat-leaf parsley sprigs

1x1.6 kg chicken  ( a little over 3 1/2 pounds)

40 garlic cloves, unpeeled

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 carrot, roughly chopped ( I sometimes add more)

1 small onion, cut into 4 wedges

250 ml white wine

1 baguette, cut into slices

small herb sprigs to garnish

serves 4


Preheat the oven to 400 F. Put a chopped celery stalk and 2 sprigs each of the rosemary, thyme and parsley into the chicken cavity. Add 6 cloves of garlic. Tie the legs together and tuck the wing tips under.

Brush the chicken liberally with some of the oil and season well.Scatter  about 10 more garlic cloves over the base of a large casserole dish ( I use my le creuset oval dutch oven). Put the remaining sprigs of herbs, chopped celery, carrot and onion in the casserole.

Put the chicken in the dish. Scatter the remaining garlic cloves around the chicken and add the remaining oil and the wine. Cover and bake for 1 hour and 20 min. ( adjust this if your chicken is bigger) or until the chicken is tender and the juices run clear when the thigh is pierced with a skewer.

To serve, carefully lift the chicken out of the casserole dish. Strain off the juices into a small saucepan. use tongs to pick out the garlic cloves from the strained mixture. Spoon off the fat from the juices and boil for 2 to 3 min. to reduce and thicken a little. *( I skip this part and leave the juices as they are)

Cut the chicken into serving portions, pour over a little of the juices and scatter the garlic. toast the baguette slices, then garnish the chicken with herb sprigs and serve with the bread to be spread with the soft flesh squeezed from the garlic.

Enjoy!

This recipe is the best version and comes from a cook book called "Food of France." It has special memories for me, since I bought it when we lived there, and I cooked many recipes from it there.

You can tweak this to your taste as well. Sometimes I add more carrots or extra wine than it says. It's pretty forgiving. The garlic it the best part.

If you have any questions about it let me know, I would be happy to help!








September 9, 2014

For The Love and Beauty of Food



For a while now I have been wondering where my blogging mojo has gone. I have noticed a lot of blogs suffering from this. Because my blog is more personal, and a diary of things and thoughts that I want to remember, I don't have the pressure that some blogs have with advertising etc. Matter of fact I really don't even know how many actually read my blog anymore hahah. No matter, I'm still here and trying to figure out what I want to focus on and share on here. For a while now cobwebs have been growing on all my cooking skills and knowledge about food until recently. After finally settling in to this house, I feel like I have a better rhythm in spending more time in the kitchen and cooking more with "economy and grace." The above book is a great read if you love and respect food. I'm still making my way through it, but so far what I have read has stayed with me, and when I go food shopping I remember the philosophy behind it.   Join my journey as I dust the cobwebs off and share some of the ideas I come up with.

First I should give you some background on my journey with cooking and food itself. I was a child of the 60's.  Where some of the convenience foods started to make their way on to the shelves, and kids started eating things like Ding Dongs and hostess cup cakes and various other junk food. Because my mom is Latin American, and loved to cook, we did not get to eat these things. I use to think I was missing out as at kid, but my mom would always say, "Look at those kids filling themselves up with soda and hot dogs," the are going to get fat and sick. This really made an impact on me as a kid and since we never got to eat junk food, I never really felt like I missed out. In fact when I would eat hot lunches at school, back when they actually cooked the food, I use to trade the dessert for every one's spinach! I was that weird kid, who would eat ANY vegetable in front of me! So my tray was always heaped with spinach to the disgust of my classmates. Now granted, this was canned spinach which I'm sure was overly salted, but I still think it was better than eating the dessert.
I kind of grew up at the foot of my mom in the kitchen as well. I got the love of cooking from her. She didn't let me cook things, because she didn't have the patients to let a kid make a mess in the kitchen and waste her time, so I watched and learned. The other thing I learned from her was how to actually shop for food. Since we didn't eat junk food, she shopped like you should shop in a grocery store. Which is the perimeter. I LOVED going to the grocery store with her, and I tagged along well into my teens. I remember her always saying that if children saw how beautiful the vegetables and fruits looked in the store, they would eat more of them. She was right on target there I think. As humans we eat with our eyes first.
Because I feel like I had a good foundation with eating healthfully as a kid, and I knew where food came from, ( we also had chickens, and gardens ) I continued my love and respect of food into my adult life. In college, even though I had no money, I still cooked my food and went to the Co-op as much as possible. The Co-op is like Whole Foods. Many people inspired me along the way with food and cooking, one of them was my college roommate. She too grew up much like I did, and was happy to have found a kindred foodie spirit when I moved in with her. Her family lived in a coastal community near some agriculture areas and they would bring flats of fresh artichokes and other delightful things when they visited. She shared a lot of it with me, bless her heart. When we had parties in our apartment, they were not typical college parties! Since we both loved to cook, we had more civilized dinner parties that centered around good food! Then I met my husband. Probably on our second date I knew he was a keeper, when he cooked me a dinner from soup to dessert out of one of Julia Childs cookbooks! I was impressed, and knew we would have many fun food and cooking adventures! I'll go into those later.

I don't want to make this post too long...but I will just say that there will be more food posts on here with tips and ideas that I have learned.
I hope that anyone who stumbles upon here and needs some inspiration, I can be that person that gets them inspired to "cook with economy and grace."  I'm just a home cook and not a professional, but I do know that my friends and family like my cooking and baking.  In my next post I'll share how I turned one chicken into four dinners.

Ask me anything, I love to give information and cooking tips that I've learned along the way.
I also want people to not think that I'm a food snob and look down on those that eat the occasional junk food item. We all have, its the people that make it their whole diet that scares me. I won't brow beat you if you go to Mac Donald's on the rare occasion, heck Julia Child even ate there once in a while!

September 8, 2014

Lovely Autumn Light


















The only way to describe the light in Berkeley this past Saturday, was delicious. Sometimes there are no words to describe the feelings one gets from a season that sings to ones soul, but that is the word that came to mind. We had such a lovely weekend, full of gathering yummy food supplies to cook up some wonderful things, and exploring the shops on 4th street in Berkeley.  Always such a crowd in our favorite grocery store on the weekends, and for good reason, they have the most incredible selection of everything. We also made a stop at Acme Bread, to see if they had any special items, and discovered a whole wheat version of the Levain bread that we love. If you go to their shop in Berkeley, it is almost $1.50 cheaper than Whole Foods, and even Berkeley Bowl!
To usher in the autumn feeling, we decided to start cooking the things that we have been longing to try out. Sunday I made a small batch of ricotta pancakes with fresh sliced peaches. I found this recipe on Pinterest. The jury is still out on this one, because nothing seems to come close to David's buttermilk pancakes. They were certainly fluffy, but they lacked something. Oh well, they were fun to make though at least. For dinner we pulled out the slow cooker and made chile verde. My slow cooker is HUGE and sometimes I wonder why I just didn't buy a small one at Target! David made the tomatillo sauce while I prepped the meat. I also made fresh corn tortillas, it's always fun to make these and so simple. Lots of yummy leftovers for tonight, which is always great right?!

Last Thursday I finished two capes and today they will go in the shop. I mentioned on my Instagram that I was going to put them in on Friday, but I got side tracked and didn't get to photograph them in time. So....today they will be up! I have the two different combo sizes and I have enough for two more with this charming fabric.
I'm also playing around with making a boy version. I would love to make at least one before Halloween and certainly for Christmas. So many ideas and not enough time!

Hope everyone is enjoying the changing of the season, I know I am!

August 29, 2014

Happy Labor Day Weekend!














I've talked a lot about the back yard and all its bounty, so I decided to go out there and snap a few more picks of it as it is now in its golden beauty. While most are relishing in summer gardens, this yard seems to be at its best right now, and in the coming months. All the citrus bushes and trees on this property, of which there are many, all have fruit dangling off of them. Soon I might have to open up my own little citrus market! The pomegranate tree doesn't have  a lot of fruit unfortunately, I was spoiled with the tree that was at the other property, which after I went back to see not too long ago, was cut down :(  Anyway......at the other property we had a persimmon tree also, but a different variety. I love the ones that are above, because of the bright orange and how they look like ornaments hanging once the leaves drop. The other tree out back that I LOVE is the olive tree! Isn't it gorgeous in all its silver leafed beauty?! It's probably what is giving me allergies, but oh well. The yard really does have a Mediterranean/California feel to it.

I managed to make a fig tart last weekend with some of the figs and it was very tasty and not too sweet. The recipe is here. The figs baked into a wonderful jammy consistency and it went really well with tea.
Finally got my fabric yesterday for more capes! Isn't it the cutest?! I will be making one 2/3 size and one 4/5 size and get them in the shop soon. I see a lot of activity on my Etsy for the capes that  I have in the shop now, so I have a feeling they might be sold soon for the holidays! Yay! I love making them.
Hope everyone has a delightful labor day weekend. We rarely do anything and just hang out at home and hibernate.

August 21, 2014

The Light is Changing





 I can feel fall every time I open up my studio window.Leaves are starting to turn, which seems a bit early, but I'm not going to complain. Not too exciting around these parts, and it shows for lack of photos on my post, hahahah. I've been holed up at home cutting capes and little linen mice this past week. I'm trying to get some of them in the shop in time for the holiday season. Last year, the capes did well for Halloween, and even Christmas, so I'm starting on those first before some fall/winter apparel. I just bought THE most darling new fabric for lining some of the capes,and I can't wait  to show you! Think retro vintage Little Red Riding Hood :) I'm waiting to receive it in the mail before I make anymore capes.

I think I mentioned before that there are quince trees out back didn't I? Well, they are right outside our bedroom window and they are covered in fruit. Anyone have any good recipes for them? I do know that they have to be cooked first, but besides quince jelly or preserves, I'm looking for something savory maybe to make with them. Maybe a trip over to Pinterest might be in order hahah. Speaking of recipes, if you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw the blueberry cake I made not long ago. We loved it so much I made another one last weekend! Go over to Smitten Kitchen and check it out, you will not be disappointed! Love that blog so much I put the cookbook of it on my wish list, and Caitlin and Cyrous gifted it to me. I really want to make more of the things in that book! Sometimes you get stuck going to the tried and true books that you love, but I really need to crack this one open and make some feasts from it. Right around now I start to get my cooking mojo back and start thinking about all the wonderful fall treats that lie ahead. Good bye summer, I won't miss you at all.
Up date on Riki bird.....I have him almost finger trained, and I think he might be ready to come out of his cage to explore. This always makes me a bit nervous, but he is a lively little guy and I don't want him to be stuck in his cage, and not have a fun life of adventure. Wish me luck, because I MIGHT take him out this weekend.


August 11, 2014

Back From the Summer Daze









Hello all!  The rest of July flew by after our return from Europe, and I'm feeling the dog days of summer in the worst way. Heat always kills me and now we enter into August, which I'm sure will show no mercy with the temps.
Enough about the weather though! Lots still going on, like the little birdie up on top. Quincy passed away on the 1st of August. Always so hard and sad to see a little living creature die. Enter Riki! He is already proving to be quite charming and talkative. I actually got him to get on my finger today, which is one step closer for me to release him from his cage to roam. I'll keep you posted on his progress.
Even though it is hot out, the leaves are showing me that fall is around the corner. We have a gazebo out back with grapes, and lucky for us, they are delicious and ready to enjoy right now. The persimmons are going to be beautiful when they ripen and I will have to dig out some recipes for them. My mother in law gave me her persimmon pudding recipe, that she use to make for Christmas. I may give that a try when they are ripe.
This past weekend we helped move Caitlin and Cyrous to their new apartment. They will be much closer to the school now which is good, and I'm loving their new neighborhood. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen a pic I posted of the area. Caitlin will finish her last year of college this school year, and I'm sure she is more than ready to move on from University life!
I'll be working on some little linen mice, like the one pictured above(with clothes of course) for the holidays. I'll announce when they will be in the shop as usual. The liberty top that I started before I left for Europe, is finally done, and will be for sale either today or tomorrow.  It's a cooler day today, so I'm off to work in the studio.    Didn't want too much time to slip by without a new blog post :)

July 31, 2014

Germany Part 4








Here is a little peek into our friends beautiful flat in Munich. They were so kind to let us stay there after they left for their honeymoon. If apartments and flats looked like this in our area, I would chuck everything in a second and downsize to fit into this lovely space. Everything is thoughtfully laid out and efficient. I love how they decorated it as well, and it really reflects their personalities. The building was built in 1910.  I loved, loved the stairs! The old wood steps have that wonderful sound to them when you walk up them. You can just imagine all the history and the people that would have walked up and down those steps.
While living in Europe, it was always so fun for me to see how architecture changed as you crossed borders into other countries, or within the country itself, because of many influences from other cultures.  I really also loved how light filled it was and the two balconies that it had on both ends. Their neighborhood is really nice and quiet, and you would never know you were in a bigger city.
Many thanks again for letting us stay there Hans-Gerd and Marion, can't wait until we get together again!

On another note....It is hotter than hades over here and my energy level is very low. I can't seem to motivate to finish anything for the shop, because I start to move around and get so hot and annoyed, even though the AC is on! Every summer it's like this for me, no matter how I try and gear up for it. If and when we get a break in the heat, I sure hope I can get some more things done, because it's making me a bit sad to keep walking by my work space with no motivation to go in there to work!
It's hot the minute I get up, so it isn't even like you can start early and get things done before it gets hot!  Anyone else out there hating the dog days of summer? Sometimes I feel like I'm alone in my loathing of summer :(   Hope you enjoyed a virtual trip to Germany!

Stay cool, if you are in the heat, and if you are living in a cool spot...lucky you!

July 26, 2014

In and Around Munich Germany Part 3






























Are you tired of my travel photos yet? As you can see Munich kind of stole my heart and I could not get enough of all the sites and interesting goings on.  We started out this day at a Beer Garden with the most delicious food! Of course those pictures uploaded towards the end of this post, even though I tried to get them on the top! Anyway, it was such a wonderful experience and the particular spot we went to was the very oldest in Munich, which made it even more cool! Oh those pretzels......I could have eaten the entire basket by myself! The rotisserie chicken melted in your mouth like butter, and the German potato salad was such a great accompaniment with its lovely vinegar dressing. Of course we cannot forget the beer! I'm not a drinker but I do enjoy an occasional beer or spirit now and then, and when you are in Germany, it would be an insult to not drink a little beer no? After lunch we went into the main center of Munich "Zentrum" and wandered around with no real agenda, just looking and taking it all in. David has been to Munich many times on business, so it wasn't new to him, but for me it was all simply amazing and I loved the vibe of this city and the nice people that we encountered. My first experience of Germany was back in 2004, when we were living in France and took a holiday to the black forest area. It really wasn't long enough to really "get" the culture. This trip really made me look at the German culture more realistic and from my experience, I can honestly say, I love Germany and really want to go explore more, maybe Berlin next time.  
We saw some funny things, like that guy that was basically passed out from drinking way too much and possibly experiencing heat related issues. Shortly after I snapped that photo of him, his friends tried to wake him up with no luck! It was kind of scary there for a minute, because they had to slap him. Then while wandering around I kept noticing that random German people were wearing the traditional clothing that I have shown above in many forms. Some looked like they were just shopping for the day, so it wasn't like there was a festival or anything they were a part of. So, for anyone who reads this that is German, is this normal? We didn't get a chance to ask our friends this question, since they went off on their honeymoon the day after the wedding.
The shops were a delight to brows through, and of course my favorite was the toy store, where I purchased a Steiff bear. Look how cute their toys are!!! My husband said if he were little again and had a choice, he would want to be a kid in Germany. I think I would have to agree!
The final part of my trip I will be showing the surrounding area of where our friends live and a small peek of their flat.  I love where they live, and now when I think about them, I can picture their day to day life and its surroundings!  Come back for the final installment  :)