Roast Chicken

 

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So Pretty!

Something about the words “roast chicken” bring to mind table fare of a bygone age. Mother in pearls. Kids playing stickball. Fedoras and credenzas and communist fear along with rampant sexism and racism… you know. The past! (What- you expected rose colors glasses out of an anthropologist with a minor in history? Pashaw.)

This is a delicious and succulent chicken that takes less effort than any chicken breast dish I make and costs half as much… and tastes twice as good! Why aren’t we making this, as a people, weekly!? I’ll tell you why. Bones. I used to be like that too: squeamish of skin and bones and animal-ish stuff.  But it’s time we got over our squeamishness and grabbed life by the pope’s nose!*

And there are an absolute multitude of roast chicken recipes out there; with herbs and spices and lemons wedged into the cavity… and that sure does sound like me, right? But nope. Not this time. A roasted chicken doesn’t need any of it. While chicken breast can be bland with just some salt and pepper, a roasted chicken is brought to perfection with just those two seasoning. It’s so damn easy too. Get it set up in the pan and then don’t touch it again. It’s a great I’ll-be-quasi-napping-on-the-couch-while-actively-cooking-dinner dinner.

2-3 lb whole chicken, thawed
Coarse sea salt
Ground pepper

Rinse of your chicken, inside and out. If this is your first time doing this be forewarned that the neck and gizzards are in the cavity. You don’t want to drop the neck down the garbage disposal and then have to fish it out with your hands like I always seem to find myself doing. I generally discard the neck and gizzards. I know some people make gravy by boiling all of those, but a far superior gravy can be made from pan drippings, so don’t bother. Once your chicken is rinsed, make sure it is very dry, inside and out, by drying with paper towels. The less liquid, the less steam, the crispier your skin will be. The chicken’s skin. You know what I mean.

Once the chicken is dry, place breast side up in the center of a metal baking dish with sides. Sprinkle the entire bird with the salt and pepper, inside and out and be generous. Bake at 475 degrees for 45 minutes to one hour, depending on size of your chicken or until temperature reached 165 degrees.(I never measure this myself. I just tilt the chicken and check for clear fluids to run out.)

Why such a high heat? You’re looking for a dry cooking method here- no steaming, so it’s high heat and no basting or opening the oven a bunch of times!
Let rest for 15 minutes and enjoy!

*part of the chicken. By the butt.

(I have more to talk about. A riot of words and feelings and loss… but the day for that is not this day.)

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It’s really the easiest of choices, Sweetheart

Our oldest has been moody lately. Distracted. Preoccupied. I chalked it up to upcoming tween years, but was keeping an extra eye on her as well. She’s a sensitive one, this child. Quite introspective- and so I thought, perhaps, something had been bothering her.

Last night, as I helped her pick out an outfit for her awards ceremony today at school and spent some one-on-one time with her it finally came out. There had been something bothering her.

In one of her books a father had to make a choice, save his son playing on train-tracks, or crash the train barreling towards the son but killing the hundreds of passengers onboard. He chose to save the train. (And WHAT THE F*CK, young adult authors?! A Bridge to Taribithia, Ol’ Yeller, Where the Red Fern Grows, the goddamn Lion King (a movie, but still), this shit… they’d be safer reading Douglas Adams and Tom Clancy!)

And so I found that the root of her issue lately has been the thought of that father’s choice keeping her up. She hasn’t been sleeping well. She’s wondering about the worth of a life/ her life, could a parent choose someone else over their own child, and what’s right when both choices are bad… life’s hard sometimes, my child, but this one is easy. I told her the god’s honest truth- that the world could burn for all I care, I would always choose to save her and her sisters.

She slept well last night.

Cooking with Toddlers

Last night I documented (for posterity and anyone considering having a third child) what cooking with a toddler is like.

This first picture is 10 minutes into cooking. I was able to focus and so was able to pound chicken breasts (tenderize and flatten) and get them in the griddle pan and snap the green beans. What’s my secret? Ye old blind eye.

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1,000 piece puzzle in an even film over entire house.

2 seconds later…

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999 piece puzzle

2 seconds later…

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I promise dinner will taste better than puzzle if you just give me a few more minutes, sweet child.

Negative time later… think we moved backwards 5 minutes. Time concepts get hazy in the kitchen wormhole.

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NOT THE SANDWICH BAGS, STAAP!

Time sense totally gone by now. Me revert back to primitive, pre-civilization time concepts. Somewhere between setting of bright sky ball and earth mother sleep in blanket of darkness later…

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Insert soundtrack of desperately sad and hungry toddler crying here.

If it was only 10 minutes later how did I age 3 years?

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YOU’RE F-ING WELCOME

Did I mention she woke up at 4:30am today? She woke up at 4:30am today.

Good thing she’s cute.

Of Hair Clips and Heart Attacks

I really don’t think I’ll ever buy brown hair clips again.

Maybe neon green. Or purple. Because this…

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Innocent brown hair clip

Looks EXACTLY like this from anything over 3′ away.

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AGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

And as proof….

Floor

AGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH….oh.

Or blue? Blue hair clips wouldn’t give me the twice weekly heart attack.

It was a beautiful day…

My husband and I were sitting in the backyard last weekend and noticed a black swallowtail butterfly flit around the potted plants. I told my husband it had been doing it for hours and when I went over and checked the parsley I called him over to see- a newly laid butterfly egg! And look- there is another, and another!

Did he reply with wonderment at the beauty of nature? Or with wonderment at me and my insanely good eyesight and perceptivity? Yes, that last one… kinda. What he said was something to the effect of: Picking nits from the past few lice incidents has really paid off! Well. Yes. I guess it has, my love. I guess it has.

 

Occasional Recipe Post: Chicken Piccata Plus

Why the “Plus?” Because sure, this is a piccata in that it’s got a sauce of butter, lemon, and capers, but it also has tomatoes and green olives too, and if you think that’s weird well just you… hey! WAIT, okay? I promise it’s good! And it’s my 10 year old’s favorite meal! And her friends down the street who said they didn’t like olives liked it too! I PROMISE you need to give this one a shot.

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Olive Tree. I was actually looking for an olive image to include here but I like this composition- think I’ll try to paint it… brb.

There is a lot of sauce in this one, so serve this with a nice big pile o’ carbs- I suggest rice, myself. But a bunch of crusty bread or maybe noodles would be good too. Not potatoes though, I can’t really see that.

And I was about to write “4 chicken breasts” in the ingredients, but honestly pretty soon that’d mean 10 pounds of meat! The size of these chicken breasts these days… I’d be terrified of what those chickens must actually look like if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve seen turkeys before. The truth is I usually just use two chicken breasts, pounded to ½ an inch thick and cut into 2 or 3 pieces each and it’ll feed my family of five with some left over. And that’s plenty because it’s not just the chicken breast sizes that have gotten out of hand; it’s our portion sizes too. A serving of meat should be the size of a deck of cards- not a file folder, and a bowl should hold about a cup of something, not those serving platters they give us in restaurants these days! Lord, I could talk forever on this one… it’ll be plenty and just round out your plate with a few carbs and a big salad. You’ll live longer for it. Promise.*

2-3 chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2in thick and cut into 2-3 pieces each
½ cup flour
1 lemon- juiced (reserve) and then slice peel into strips
1 Tablespoon capers
¼ cup good green olives, sliced (I buy whole olives in jars and slice myself. I like the pimento stuffed for this)
½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
3 cloves garlic, crushed and rough chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth or mixture of ½ chicken broth and half white wine)
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt
Black Pepper
Paprika
Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped

1 cup white rice or noodles, cooked separately. You should start on that before you start on the chicken.

Pound chicken to ½” and cut into reasonable serving sizes and season both sides with salt and pepper. Mix flour and paprika on a plate and dredge chicken on all sides, shaking off excess and set aside. Heat oil and butter over medium/high heat until hot. Add chicken pieces and brown on all sides, about 4 minutes per. Add garlic, tomatoes, capers and olives, cook for 1 minute. Add chicken broth or broth/wine mixture along with lemon juice and scrape up the brown bits from the bottom. Liquid should come up ½ to ¾ of the way up the chicken in the pan… add more if needed. Top chicken pieces with slices of lemon peel. Cover the pan and reduce heat. Simmer for 10-5 minutes or until chicken is done.

Serve over rice and pour plenty of sauce mixture over the chicken. Top with fresh parsley. And while you could eat the lemon peels I usually don’t. I do serve it on the plate though. It looks purdy.

 

*Promise of longer life contingent on no cave scuba diving.

So this one time…

So this one time my doctor found a lump in my breast and after my mammogram and breast ultrasound the radiologist’s office stamped my credit card receipt with a stamp that said “Have a nice day!” (I was fine, by the way.) I sure as shit hope they have other stamps. “Hey. It’ll be okay. or “Sorry about that, life sucks sometimes.” Stupid radiologists.

So this one time I was taking a field sobriety test (long story. I wasn’t driving, but a group of us were parked on the side of the road and since no one would admit who was driving originally SOMEONE who passed a field sobriety test had to drive so they gave us all tests. I guess that wasn’t too long of a story, actually.) Anyway, while I was taking the test a june bug flew in the cop’s eye and he never ended up finishing the tests after that. And that’s how I got to drive everyone home. I ran over the curb on the way out.

So this one time I showed up for a college class I’d been skipping and realized there was an exam and I HADN’T BEEN TO THAT CLASS SINCE THE LAST EXAM. I eavesdropped on a study group- they were discussing the five possible essay questions the teacher had given out and they covered two of the questions while I  furiously wrote notes. When I got the test it was one of the questions that group had discussed. I made a B.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then sometimes…

I sent this text to my husband and best friend the other day:

 

Some days I have so much belief in the goodness of our species, and the next day I look down and there is a pile of fingernail clippings on the floor under my chair at the oil change place.

 

 

 

 

Bathroom Billy Holiday Impersonator

So guess what would be the MOST reassuring thing to hear if some weird psycho burst into a ladies room?

Some 6’6″ drag queen with muscley arms and a cigarette raspy voice tell me: “Honey, hold my purse, I got this.”

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Best defender ever!

Seriously people, not a woman alive dislikes drag queens- they’re the best! This Bathroom Bill thing is full on ridiculous. I’d pee next to a set of size 13 heels pointing the “wrong” way in the stall next to mine, no problem.

Also- because I can’t let this go- the conservative right thinks “psychos will use the bill to enter women’s restrooms.” Yeah, hi. That’s already a thing? No one is protecting the women’s bathroom door- they know that right? Can someone please tell the conservatives that it’s heterosexual men attacking women? And to maybe focus on fixing that instead and not use it as an excuse to jack with transgender people?  ‘Kay thanks.

I blame The Silence of the Lambs for this. It’s not the dress part of the “dress made out of other peoples’ skin” that is the problem…

Lua’i

It was a normal day.

Heading to our niece’s birthday party, we were ALMOST there when the toddler started throwing up. Our eight year old was sitting next to her and gagged and puffed out her cheeks and turned towards her older sister. Monty Python came instantly to mind.

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Accurate Squash Recreation

Screeching halt. Older children pile out of the car. Clean up is spotty and Mcguyvered from a Target bag, napkins of various origin, and an old water bottle from under the drivers seat. How long it’d been there I have no idea, but maybe the leached out phthalates would have a disinfecting property. I have my doubts, but beggars and choosers and all.

Once we’re at the party the toddler gets a bath because of Puke Hair and we chalk it up to a long car ride after a lunch of raspberries and cheese cubes.

It wasn’t the car ride.

After having to borrow not one but two teeshirts for myself from my sister in law, no extra clothes remaining for the toddler, and the other brother and sister in law vowing to take the older girls home later- my husband and I set off for home, over an hour away. Me in the back seat (puked on again at this point, but I’m not asking for shoes this time for Christ’s sake) holding a towel around the baby, and we’re trying to navigate by memory through the neighborhood.

And that’s when this happens.

“Did we take a left on Kaanapali Ln. or was it Kipahulu Dr.?”

“No, no, left on Manawianui Dr., right on Moku Manu Dr., and then another right on Heleakalaka Dr.”

“Man, I don’t recognize Keanahululu Ln., I think we went to far.”

“Does Lamaloa Ln. run into Nuuanu Dr., you think?”

“Crap! There’s Keanahululu Ln. again!”

That’s right, on top of everything else we were now lost in Tahitian Village in Bastrop, where all the streets have Hawaiian names! LONG and difficult and inexplicable Hawaiian names- none of which is “Aloha.” (Someone tell the developer Tahiti isn’t Hawaii)

THIS SHIT ACTUALLY HAPPENED IN MY LIFE.

(We made it out of the neighborhood and the toddler was fine the next day, but it was a confusing and puke filled commute. Commpuke? Maybe. And if you think for a MINUTE that I didn’t google map the neighborhood so I could use accurate street names you don’t know me very well.)