"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: roast chicken

sunday supper . . .


baked potatoesTwice-baked potatoes are a favorite of a friend of ours. He’s joining us for dinner tonight and everything on the menu can be eaten easily with just a fork: roast chicken, yellow beans and the baked potatoes. I put them in the oven midday, oiling the skins with a little vegetable oil after pricking the skins all over – having had a burst baked potato in the oven when I forgot to do that.

They came out of the oven beautifully baked, slightly soft to the touch and yielding their tender insides to the mixing bowl, beaten gently using an electric mixer, the milk, butter and salt combining smoothly into a thick, creamy mixture. Scooped back into the baked skins, I mounded them high and sprinkled grated cheddar cheese on top.roast chicken

When the roast chicken is done, resting after its own high-temperature stint in the oven, unsalted butter slathered all over the golden skin anointing the bird at the end, I’ll place the potatoes to bake its second time, melding the flavors and melting the cheese on top. The yellow beans take awhile to cook so that they are tender to the bite.

And so this meal is our supper on a cool, September Sunday.


silver linings . . .

Loon & orchid 1Being laid up (translate immobilized) in order to allow my injured ankle to heal, the pace of our days in the past weeks has been transformed. Our priorities shifted in favor of settling into a new routine. Appreciation for each other and our lives has emerged in ways we might not have experienced so poignantly without the injury. We are thankful.

In the mornings, there are brief stints of activity that I carry out each day: cleaning off the kitchen counter of yesterday’s cooking ingredients and used dishes; wiping off the stove top and cleaning off detritus unseen before but now so newly visible at eye level from a wheelchair; straightening off the large curly maple table we use for our meals, emptying crumbs and spills from the braided hemp placemats; watering the plants, replacing spent flowers with a just-in-bloom orchid plant from those flowering in the other room.

There are moments of quiet joy, watching the morning sun move across the large kitchen/great room from the skylights illuminating the wide board pine floors. Today, I noticed those moments that probably would not have come to the fore of my consciousness without the imposed quiet of staying still:

1.  Listening to Peter Serkin’s recording of Bach Inventions Part I & II, the simplicity of these compositions more fitting (than the preludes/fuges, partitas, suites) to the reduced tempo of the day.

2.  After two fruitless tries (each day taking apart the day’s knitting) to make something that finally pleases me from leavings of Noro “Mossa” yarn, casting aside (80%) of the yarn’s over-fluffy white and purple bits, finally knitting a scarf of the most beautiful lichen, moss, gentian and twig brown colors. A glorious little (emphasize small) piece that justifies having spent the money to buy the yarn in the first place that didn’t quite measure up but has at last yielded some beautiful textures (like nuggets of gold after sieving lots of washed dirt.)knitting swatch

3. Learning that my granddaughter has been accepted to, visited and is overjoyed with her college of choice, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md. where she may pursue her interests in applied math, biology and all sorts of arenas such as international affairs.

4. Looking forward to my daughter, C.’s visit tomorrow. She teaches high school French and tells me she’s at the end of the quarter with grades due but will have some time to spend with us this weekend.

She’ll be doing some shopping at an organic farmstand on the way between her house and mine and arrive in time for a late lunch. I’ve been waiting for a pizza stone to arrive and if it does, I’ll make up some homemade pizza dough and we’ll try our hand at making a Margherita pizza tomorrow with San Marzano tomato sauce, cheeses and fresh basil leaves on top after it comes out of the oven.

We have also saved up so that we can watch “Frozen,” the Walt Disney animated movie together. My granddaughter, Josie, (who is four)  has taken to swaying and singing “Let It Go” on Skype this past week. I sent the Disney Golden Book versions of “Frozen” to her and I’m told she sings along while being read to and looking at the many illustrations from the movie.

5. Catching up with my daughter M. on Skype along with Josie (above) I heard about an  effort to communicate becoming a positive catalyst for change and improvement all-around in her nursing school classes. A busy Mom and student, M. somehow manages to be centered while making healthy juices from organic vegetables and fruits to take care of her own needs.

Tomorrow night, I’m planning to roast a small (under 3 lbs.) organic chicken with fresh rosemary and thyme for our dinner tomorrow night along with carrots, onion and yukon potatoes to cook alongside the bird. For dessert, we’ll have some chocolate cream pie that we devoured the last time she came out to visit G. and me.

yellow roseThis is a long list of things that gladden my heart. Plus, during my idle time last week, I won an eBay auction for a song and a wonderful loon decoy arrived yesterday. Then, G. came home last night with a single yellow rose at suppertime along with the fresh cilantro and lime I asked him to pick up to go with the Pad Thai I was making.

There are so many blessings for which I am thankful. It has been raining good fortune ever since I took that fateful fall and broke my ankle. Who would have known?


unmasked . . .

DSC_0415_2Hey, I just discovered something interesting. At least to me. Which is that unwittingly and unknowingly somehow, I have thought it was my job in life to know-it-all. That’s probably because I figured out at a young age that to be able to contribute to a situation or to people was to know more than anyone else so that I could help out. This may also have had to do with feeling that just being myself wasn’t sufficient enough to get along in life.

Guess what? It didn’t work. Oh, in some ways, it did because I was able to provide a living for myself and my daughters when they were in college. I wondered also if it’s a partly cultural thing because I’m Asian. You know, performing in school and getting all A’s because that’s what was expected without anyone ever mentioning it aloud. Also studying to be a concert pianist and wanting to be a neurosurgeon or something when others were playing sports and going to proms.

Wow, those were high expectations of another era, or a bunch of eras ago. Now, nobody cares about knowing stuff because all you have to do is click onto Google. The fallout for thinking one’s purpose in life is to be the smartest one in the room though, is that people run away from you as though you have the plague. Nobody seems to like being told what to do, even if I’m just being a Chinese Tiger-Mother to my kids. Poor things.

As for my husband, G., I am in awe realizing his love for me because he has kindly borne with me and my opinions for over two decades. Now that I realize that I don’t have to know it all in order to fix things, I can relax and maybe begin to enjoy life a little. All those romances on TV where people look into each other’s eyes and say that they want to get married so that they can grow old with each other? Well, that’s what G. and I are doing right now, being married and growing old together, a lifelong dream. Lucky us.

Roast chicken and twice-baked potatoes for dinner tonight. Along with yellow string beans, his favorite.

nourishment . . .

DSCN4691I was skype-ing with my daughter, M. this morning when she skipped into the kitchen to show me the dish that had just finished cooking in the rice cooker. To my astonishment, she spooned out what can only be called a melange of rices (arborio, minnesota wild rice, sweet brown rice, Japanese medium grain rice). She then proceeded to tell me, between mouthfuls of rice, that she had not eaten meat, dairy or eggs for the last four weeks, nourished mostly by grains, vegetables and a few treats (like sugarless reese’s peanut butter cups) that she had made herself.

Since she also goes to school, she sometimes presses the rice into the palm of her hand, adds fresh edamame (soybeans) and sometimes wraps the rice balls in nori (seaweed sheets) and brings them for lunch or mid-afternoon snack. By this time, I had mentally scuttled my plans for dinner tonight. I had a cornish hen in the fridge that I usually cut in half, make a little herb bread dressing and then roast the halves on the dressing, basting the hens with melted orange marmalade. This is after I’ve browned the cornish hen halves in a little olive oil and a pat of butter.

Changing gears, I rummaged around my pantry this afternoon and came up with Chinese sweet sticky rice, brown rice, white rice and some wild rice packets. M. had also said that sometimes she cooks the rices with a bit of shoyu and fresh cut up button mushrooms. So my first experiment with this was to combine the three rices with the wild rice packet including seasonings. Then, I cleaned six button mushrooms, sliced them in chunks and plopped them into the rice mixture along with spring water, scantly twice the amount of the combined rice in the rice cooker.

I looked at the cornish hen, rinsed it in cold water, dried it and then cut it into small pieces–legs, wings, and split the breast. Then I marinated it in a small amount of Korean Bulgagi barbecue sauce, sliced green onion and fresh ginger root for about an hour. Broiled the pieces with a quick brush of honey to crisp the skin.
The rest of the meal consisted of cucumber salad, the tiny crisp cucumbers quarter sliced, then dressed with a small mix of Ohsawa unpasteurized soy sauce, Marukan flavored Japanese vinegar and a little sesame oil. I boiled up a handful of edamame beans to serve as garnish on top of the rice when it was served. DSCN4685

This meal was far more interesting and contained a lot less fat than the dinner I had planned earlier (stuffed cornish hen with baked potatoes.) My thanks to M. for her ideas–she looks radiant from her new regimen and is moving toward vegan/macrobiotic eating. I took a macrobiotic cooking class at Kushi Institute years ago when I had a form of viral meningitis and was determined to heal myself with food and Chinese herbs. G. enjoyed the new rice melange with mushrooms and we made up a plate for our tenant who lives downstairs.

With a blizzard forecasting anywhere from a foot to two feet of snow this weekend, I’m already thinking about the best time to make a large pot of beef shin and vegetable soup with fresh cabbage. On Friday before the storm hits, I’ll slow roast a large chicken that was on sale at the grocery store today along with a handful of baked potatoes. If the power goes out, we’ll have food to provide for all who live here. And then some.

Postscript: I’ve found that by starting three rices (brown, sticky and white rice) in the rice cooker using chicken broth earlier than usual, then letting the cooked rice steam in the cooker for an hour or so afterwards produces delicious, chewy, rice that goes well (better!) with just about everything than plain white rice. I cook twice as much as I need because the leftover rice is also tasty the next day with our evening meal.