How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Friday, April 25, 2014

No-Recipe Chicken Noodle Soup

We had chicken, and we had noodles, and no other ideas for dinner last night, so I decided to try my hand at a "stone soup" version of chicken noodle soup. I used some of the herbs and vegetables that James had bought for the pork chops he prepared on Tuesday, along with some other ingredients I found in the kitchen. I started with two boneless chicken breasts which I diced and cooked. Meanwhile I chopped some carrots, celery, mushrooms, onion, and garlic; and boiled some fettuccine noodles. I drained the pasta, than used the same pan to cook the soup. I put the cooked chicken, some prepared chicken broth, and some water into the pan, then added the noodles back in, along with the diced vegetables, and some fresh herbs. I brought the soup to a gentle boil, then let it all cook for about 15 minutes. I removed the herbs and ladled into bowls. This was delicious. Some of the best soup I ever made, in fact.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Dishing Up Chops

I include the cover of Dishing Up Maryland for this post, in part because I could tell right away that this was going to be a dinner that looked much better in person than it would in a photograph. I also want to draw attention to what is shaping up to be a very nice part of our cookbook collection -- both on our shelf and in our church's online store.

The selection of Tuesday's dinner menu started last week, when we decided to add a package of Farmer's Choice pork chops to our weekly order of delicious, organic milk from Crescent Ridge Dairy. We turned to the Dishing Up Maryland book when looking for a way to do justice with this pork that began with local grain fed to free-range, local pigs.

The only pork-chop recipe in the book begins with recommendations to shop the Greenbranch or Whitmore farms in Maryland -- this is a volume that celebrates local food! Of course, adjusting to our own locale was perfectly appropriate.

The recipe calls preheating the oven to 350 and then nearly splitting the chops lengthwise to form little pockets -- for the small, boneless chops we had, this was a bit of a challenge. I seared these in a small amount of EVOO and then set them aside. I added a bit of butter to the pan (indispensable cast-iron, of course) where I cooked finely chopped onion, celery, and apple. Here Snodgrass has specific apples to recommend, but I used what was in our fruit basket. Once the onion was soft, I added some cubes of wheat bread and salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, and sage. I had never used fresh sage in my life. I had no idea what I was missing! I then added chicken broth (she calls for beef or vegetable) and dried cranberries and stirred until it looked like stuffing.

Rather than try to toothpick the chops back together, I spooned the stuffing in snugly, and set each chop on its side in a baking pan. I then baked for about 25 minutes. These chops were thin; otherwise the recommended 45 minutes might have been required.

We each enjoyed two small chops with some basmati rice left over from a recent burrito night, and considered it a complete -- and delicious -- meal. The stuffing was amazing and will give me plenty to think about in November, as I plan the Thanksgiving stuffing. I am very glad Pam found the high-karma dried (albeit sweetened) cranberries at Trader Joes. Had I gone with Craisins, we would not have known how delicious this stuffing could be. Of course, with a 45-minute cook time, blanched fresh cranberries would also have worked.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Overdue Chicken

It has been almost a month since the equinox, which we did celebrate with a dish from our Wicca Cookbook. We have fallen a bit behind on our once-a-week recipe concept, and I have fallen even further behind in my blogging!

I modified the recipe for Divine Skewers (p. 82). It calls for marinading chunks of chicken and then grilling them, along with bell peppers, to cook on a grill. In the recipe, cherry tomatoes are to be added to the hot skewers about halfway through the cooking process.

Not having set up our grill yet this year, I opted simply to cook the marinated chicken in our indispensable cast-iron skillet, adding the cherry tomatoes halfway through. Somehow, I completely forgot to include the peppers, which we had in our freezer from last year's farm box.

The result (served over rice): fantastic! The marinade is easy to prepare, a bit unusual -- I have never used yogurt in a marinade -- and the key to the success of this simple dish. To prepare it, the following is simply placed in a blender and pureed, as they say, until smooth:

1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 onion, quartered
3 large cloves onion, chopped (I used a small handful from the farm-box stash in our freezer)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (I think I cheated here and used some from the bottle we keep on hand)
1-inch piece fresh ginger,  peeled and chopped (never cheat with ginger!)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil (I used EVOO, and will try to think of a good flavored oil to use next time)
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
salt and pepper to taste

We might need to try this recipe again in a couple weeks, as we made a bit of a pagan calendar mistake! It is probably no surprise that the The Wicca Cookbook is arranged according to the wheel of the year, with a section for each cardinal date, and a section in between for each cross-quarter date.
Image: The Mother House of the Goddess

We started browsing in the Equinox section of the book, and did not realize we had skipped right over the Beltane heading. So look for a reprise of this recipe, on or about May Day!