Monday, March 14, 2011

Things I've learned today

Or relearned.

1.  Mayonnaise and Miracle Whip are not the same.  I'm a mayo girl.
2.  The expiration date on Coke is there for a reason.
3.  If you have to turn off the hot water heater, the dishwasher will not work.
4.  I hate making out a grocery list.  Hate with the white-hot heat of a thousand suns.
5.  A missing phone guarantees that at least five people will need to get in touch with me RIGHT NOW.

And it's only 1:30.


6.  I shouldn't have looked up.  Too many cobwebs.
7.  "Toes" by the Zac Brown Band is inappropriate for a piano recital.  An eleven-year-old will NOT understand this.
8.  It is going to cost a hell of a lot to replace my phone. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Vacation eating--and good at home, too

We were in Montana a couple of weeks ago.  Can it really be a couple of weeks ago?!  We rented a house and spent our days skiing our legs off.  So at the end of the day, we'd pile in the hot tub and then relax in front of the television.  The last thing I wanted to do was whip up a gourmet meal in the kitchen!  And the second-to-last thing anyone wanted to do was sit in a restaurant to eat anything.  We wanted easy and comforting after a long day on the slopes.

Here's one dinner that I make at home all the time, but hadn't realized how really simple it is.  We had a simply-stocked kitchen, and I had also picked up Bisquick along with our other staples because we like pancakes or biscuits in the morning.  One evening we were hungry for a little taste of home:

Chicken and Dumplings, Vacation-Style

Two or Three Chicken Breasts--boneless or not.  (Pick bone-in for better broth, but boneless for quicker cooking)
Onion if you have one (I didn't)
A couple of celery sticks if you have them (I didn't)
A couple of carrots if you have them (I did)
Two cups of Bisquick
2/3 cup milk
A bag of mixed frozen veggies (the old-fashioned cubed kind)

Trim as much fat as you can from the chicken.  Place the chicken in a pot and cover with water.  Season with salt and pepper and add the fresh veggies if you have them.  You can also add thyme and oregano if you have them.  Heat over medium heat and boil for  little while.  For boneless chicken I always go about twenty minutes.  That might be too long but I am completely paranoid about undercooked chicken.

Remove the chicken from the pot and shred it.  Pour the broth into a bowl and strain it back into your pot.  Make sure you remove your cooked veggies.  These should look gross now anyway.  This is where it is important to have trimmed a bunch of fat off the chicken--it's really hard to defat your broth because you don't want to wait around for it.

Put your shredded chicken into the pot with the broth.  Add more water (or canned broth if you have it) to cover the chicken and a little more.  Toss the frozen veggies in, too.  Bring this to a boil.  While it's heating, mix the Bisquick and milk.  When the broth is boiling, drop small biscuit-size pieces of dough on the broth.  You'll end up covering the entire surface of the broth with the dumpling dough.  Cook uncovered for 10 minutes, and cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes more.  
That's it.  Not fast, but easy, hands-off, and really tasty and warm.  The frozen veggies let the mom in me feel okay about the endless chicken fingers, hot dogs and hot chocolate we were consuming during the day. 

I didn't think about a picture of dinner when I made it, sorry, but the picture up there sums up part of our apres-ski routine every night.  I think they were watching Idol or something.

This post links back to my friend Mary's blog at Homegrown Learners, and her "Wednesdays What's for Dinner."  She is such an innovative mom, full of great ideas for homeschooling and being a mom in general.  Of course, she's also a really nice person, too.  Hopefully I'll have a French Fridays with Dorie post again, but for now my quick recipe here will have to do!


Were you curious?

Here's the book I was readingFrench Cooking in Ten Minutes a Day.  This remarkable little book was written in 1930 by a physician who decided that French cooking wasn't all that.  It was just about the freshest, most delicious ingredients possible, while always remembering how flavors will combine.  No braising, baking or roasting here, but great ideas for pan-frying and sauce-making.

I'll share one great piece of advice Dr. Poulaine gives:  as soon as you walk in the door, put a pot of water on to boil.  Why?  Well, you don't know yet, but chances are you'll need it for something, and you'll never get your meal made in ten minutes if you have to wait on the pot of water.  This is something I've started doing, and it works!  I almost always need it for something.

Now, the reason there is no picture is that I have lost the book.  It is somewhere in my house but I don't know where.  This is the second thing this week I've lost.  Sunday I lost my phone and I just don't know what to do.  It's out of power (of course) and I've retraced all my steps.  How long do you go before you get a new one?  I wanted a new iPhone but not this way. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

What book is this?

Cooking like a madwoman (why oh why can I not over-commit?), but I got the most wonderful book today via Amazon Prime.  Here is the first paragraph:

First of all, let me tell you that this is a beautiful book.  I can say that because this is its first page.  I just sat down to write it, and I feel happy, the way I feel whenever I start a new project.

Now, I have to put this wonderful book down and go make a breakfast casserole, but is that not the most delightful introduction to a book?  And what in the world could this book be about?  I want to sit down with a lovely glass of wine and marinate in this writing, but I have to run.  I want to hear your guesses!