Cooking Adventures: Roast Chicken

The hopelessly Instagrammed version...

The hopelessly Instagrammed version…

Happy Friday! As the weather gets colder, I start wanting all my food to be warm and comforting. I have enough trouble staying warm without my food working against me…which is why today’s recipe is one of my favorite comfort foods: roast chicken.

Keep in mind, this is the way I usually do it! There are tons of variations available: using different spices, adding marinade, stuffing the bird, having different sides…this isn’t quite as flexible as “what’s in my kitchen?” soup, but seeing as I’ve never made it the same way twice, I see no reason why you should!

Roast Chicken (adapted from “Nourishing Traditions”, by Sally Fallon)

1 roasting chicken, about 4 pounds
Root vegetables, diced:
 – carrots
– parsnips
– potatoes
– onions
– garlic (and seriously. If you’ve never had roasted garlic cloves, do this. Throw a whole head of garlic in. Separate the cloves, but don’t chop them. They taste simply incredible.)
Herbs, like thyme, oregano, or terragon – preferably fresh
4 tbsp melted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place the vegetables in the bottom of a roasting pan, making sure you leave enough room for the chicken. Stuff the herbs in the cavity of the chicken, and place in the roasting pan, underside up. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake for 1 hour. Turn chicken by inserting a wooden spoon into the cavity, lifting it up and rotating it around. Brush with more butter, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake for 1 more hour. Eat!

Finally: when you’ve picked the chicken clean, don’t throw out the carcass*! It – and any leftover vegetable scraps or other meat bones – will make a great chicken broth, so you can have soup in the winter too. Add all the bits to a stock pot, add water to cover everything, and add a bit of vinegar (to draw out the minerals from the bones). Let it simmer for 12-24 hours or so, adding more water if the level gets too low. If you don’t want to make soup immediately, broth will keep well frozen: I just thaw as many jars as I need. Enjoy!

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Cooking Adventures: “What’s In My Kitchen?” Soup

Soup

Your soup probably won’t look like this. You don’t have this lovely lady’s kitchen! http://cookingweekends.blogspot.com/

 

This isn’t so much a recipe as a framework, because soup should not be a meal you have to go out and buy ingredients for (provided, of course, you have more than ramen in your kitchen!). When I make soup, I use whatever ingredients I have available at the time. It’s a great way to use up miscellaneous ingredients that might be hard to assemble into a full meal otherwise.

Here’s the framework I use:

 

“What’s In My Kitchen?” Soup

  1. Stock pot! If you don’t feel like making ALL THE SOUP, use a regular saucepan instead. Alternatively, use a crock pot. If you leave things to cook for longer and use less liquid, you’ll end up with stew.
  2. Liquid: generally water, milk, or some form of broth. I make my own broth by simmering chicken and steak bones with vegetable scraps (onion and carrot skins or other bits that you wouldn’t want to eat on their own, but which still have plenty of nutrients) in water with a bit of vinegar for 12-24 hours. Making your own broth gives a much tastier and more nutrient-dense result than storebought varieties, and it’s cheaper too.
  3. Protein: anything goes here. Chicken, beef, sausage, bacon, pig snout…this can also be a good way to use organ meats, if you don’t know how to cook them on their own. They’re much less scary as part of a mixture like this. If you don’t want to use meat, try dried beans or lentils instead – though you’ll probably want to soak them first so they finish cooking at the same time as everything else.
  4. Vegetable: well, what’s in your kitchen? I usually keep onions, garlic, carrots, and potatoes stocked, which is a good start. Root vegetables like turnips or parsnips work great, as well as green beans or peas, or leafy greens like kale or bok choy. When to add the ingredients is determined by their hardness. Root vegetables can be added at the beginning, while leafy greens should only cook for a few minutes right before you serve the soup.
  5. Carbs: this isn’t required, but can be nice for adding more bulk to your soup. Options include rice, barley, or quinoa. These grains are generally unexciting on their own, but in combination with the soup they can combine really well.
  6. Seasoning: I always enjoy this part. One of my favorite memories of learning to cook with my parents was making burgers with my dad. We’d add the ground beef, bread crumbs, and an egg, and then stand in front of the spice rack pulling out whatever looked interesting at the time. For a start, I’d recommend salt! One of my other memories is always having to add salt to my mom’s soups, because she was of the opinion that 1 Tbsp was plenty for a pot 🙂
    Otherwise, have fun with it. Use your nose to find out what works for the particular combination you have in the pot. Possibilities include pepper (black, white, or cayenne), red pepper flakes, curry powder, oregano, thyme, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, basil…the list goes on. If you want to use fresh herbs, add them near the end of your cook time so they retain their flavor.

So, you’ve gathered all your ingredients. Turn on the heat and let things simmer until the vegetables and meat are all cooked through. Congratulations! You have now accomplished soup.

 

Cheers,

  • H

Cooking Adventures: Sauerkraut

Happy Monday, and happy Autumn Equinox! As the weather changes, it gets harder to remember to eat fresh vegetables. Remember to listen to your body: it knows what you need to eat more than you do. As an example, I was making mulled cider this weekend and using citrus fruits. When I licked the lemon juice off my fingers and immediately thought “yeah, I could go for a lemon right about now…” that was a good sign I was missing Vitamin C!

One tasty way to get Vitamin C during the winter is with lacto-fermented vegetables, such as sauerkraut. It’s ridiculously easy to make and I guarantee you’ll make a tastier version than the ones you buy in the store.

 

Sauerkraut

This hardly counts as a recipe at all, honestly. Make it the way sounds good to you: add other vegetables, use different herbs and flavors, ferment it for a longer or shorter time…you’ll be the one eating it, follow your taste buds!

Start with a cabbage, chopped into small pieces. Add other vegetables if you like: onions, carrots, garlic, or radishes, for instance. Chop everything up, put it into a bowl, and add sea salt. You’ll want a fair bit: the salt acts to draw moisture out of the vegetables, so they effectively sit in their own juice. Mix the veggies and salt with your hands, then let it sit for a while, until moisture starts to collect in the bottom of the bowl. At this point you can add other seasonings, such as caraway, thyme, oregano, or red pepper flakes (my personal favorite!)

Get a mason jar (or a pickling jar if you’re feeling fancy!), preferably with a wide mouth. Start adding the mixture to the jar in layers, pushing down the vegetables each time so they pack densely. As you pack, you’ll notice the liquid starts coming up to cover the vegetables. If you get to the top of the jar and the veggies are not submerged, add some water to cover them. This is key for lactic acid fermentation: the bacteria involved like an anaerobic environment, without any oxygen, so it’s important for the vegetables to remain under the water. Otherwise, mold can grow (note if you do get mold, it’s not a disaster: just skim it off the top and make sure everything else is submerged).

Get a rock, glass plate, or container of water to push down on the top of the vegetables to keep them submerged. Then, put your jar on the counter and wait! You might see bubbles forming in the jar: that’s a sign that fermentation is going on and the bacteria are producing carbon dioxide as a byproduct. Taste the sauerkraut every few days until it tastes good to you. Then, you can stop the fermentation by putting the jar in the fridge.

 

And that’s it! Feel free to experiment with other vegetables and seasonings. Fermentation is one of the easiest kitchen experiments to do: it takes very little set up and the results are delicious. Enjoy your sauerkraut this winter!

Cheers,

  • H

Cooking Adventures: Chili

Usually when I cook, I make big portions. This leaves plenty for leftovers for the next few days, which means I don’t have to cook every day. With my schedule, that’s really important – if I had to cook every day, I’d either spend all my time doing that, or I would be eating fast food a lot more often…

One of my favorite recipes is chili. It’s a big recipe, and very tasty, and it reheats well in the microwave. Here it is:

 

Chili

Brown 2 lb ground beef and add to the pot (you’ll need a big one – I usually use a soup pot).

While the ground beef is cooking, chop up a medium onion and 2 cloves of garlic (or really, as little or as much garlic as you want. I’m biased. I really like garlic) and add to the pot.

Add 1 pint (or one can) of beef broth, one can of stewed tomatoes, and one can of pinto beans to the pot.

Add 1 hot pepper and bring to a boil. When the boil starts, add 1 tbsp chili powder.

Cover pot, reduce heat to simmer for 1 hour. Remove the pepper and crush the juice into the pot.

Add:
2 1/2 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cube beef bouillon
1/2 cube chicken bouillon
1/2 tsp brown sugar

Continue simmering with lid on for 30 minutes.

Add:
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
Salt to taste

Simmer covered for 15 minutes more, then serve.

 

This is my favorite recipe. I pulled it from a website many years ago and have been making little modifications since then (the original used garlic and onion powder, and no beans). I’m one of those people who is completely happy eating the same meal several days in a row, so I’ll gladly make a pot of this and feed myself all week.

¡Buen provecho!

  • H

 

Source: well I got it from a site called http://www.goodchilirecipes.com, but it seems that domain has expired in the past, oh, 6 years. Good thing I kept a printout!