I like to keep chicken thighs in the freezer, they thaw quickly and make a good dinner. Today I'm using my new carbon steel wok, which my mom bought me for Christmas, from the Wok Shop in San Francisco's Chinatown. I'll tell the story of that later. It works much better than my old, heavy, cast iron wok made by a German company.
The chicken is already made, it joined some swordfish on the grill while I was making dinner Sunday. Cooking two meals at once, both from the new Canal House Cooking Volume 8, was motivation enough for me to fire up the charcoal grill out in the yard. Lighting an actual fire is always more satisfying than pushing the button on our gas grill, even though it takes more time and effort. Plus, the food always tastes better.
This is now one of my two favorite ways to roast chicken. The lemons and potatoes that cook *under* the chicken add more to the usual crispy golden goodness. Unfortunately, roasting a chicken seems a better weekend than weekday endeavor, once again we didn't eat until after 7 pm, and that is just too late. But the chicken was still delicious.
I have loved the Canal House Cooking series ever since I encountered the very first issue nearly five years ago, at Omnivore Books . It opened my eyes to beautifully simple dinners made with produce from the garden or grocer and a new style of periodical - precious yet useful, with photos of what seemed to be actual food.
Chicken soup has long been recognized as a balm for troubled tummies, a warm and healthful food for cold, turbulent times and a delicious way to stretch one last meal out of nothing more than the leftovers from a roasted chicken and a few kitchen staples. My kids have loved it unquestioningly since they were babies and I still enjoy it myself.
In the past couple of weeks we have eaten at least five cabbages. Winter, or spring in some places, is cabbage season. They are beautiful in the garden, gathering dew with dusty hues of plum, pale and bright green. And they are great in salads of all sorts, stir fried and steamed. But sometimes I'm just not sure what to do with them all.
Tonight's chicken tacos were the best dinner ever. In addition to both kids eating it, my daughter ate five radishes. Five! I've been putting beautiful little radishes on the table and eating them with great relish around my family for years now, but I I've never seen her eat more than one tiny nibble, until tonight. Truth be told, I don't even like radishes that much. But I eat them anyway.
This morning the kids and I harvested breakfast and dinner from our garden. Not a full meal, but at least part of it. For starters, we had a handful of home grown strawberries - a few of the tiny white alpine ones, and half a dozen nice red ones, minus a few slug bites. It turns out that a strawberry takes at least a week or so as a red berry to become fully ripe. We didn't realize this right away, and I had doubts our garden could actually produce sweet berries. But now I know, it just takes a long time for them to be ready. The red berries need to be dark red and super shiny, swollen looking, almost. Just turning red isn't enough. The little white ones are harder to gage, but the best indicator seems to be that they get larger than I expected, soft, and dry out a little, so that they are lighter in weight than their less sweet neighbors.
I love the way that rolls off my tongue - fava bean tagine. I bet if I made it into a little song and dance, while I served dinner, my daughter would repeat it all day long - just to annoy me. But would she eat it? Well, yes, under duress. I spoon fed her all the fava beans (which she enjoys raw, but not cooked) and sweet potatoes, in exchange for a bowl of super sugar clifford crisps, or some other fake-healthy organic sugar cereal. The chicken and cous-cous she ate on her own. My son refused the vegetables outright, but that is nothing unusual.
To come clean, lemon chicken salad makes our dinner sound more special than it actually was. Ina Garten's recipe in The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook calls for grilled lemon chicken, which I'm sure is delicious, but was just not in the cards tonight. I used the remainder of our roast chicken from earlier this week, and while slicing it up, marinating it and then cooking it again on the grill was enticing, it was also too ridiculous.
Today was a near perfect spring day - fitting, since May Day was this past Saturday. We had no plans this morning, which allowed me to tidy the kitchen to near acceptable standards of cleanliness, something it hasn't achieved since early two thousand six. There was only one timeout for the kids while I swept and rinsed and scrubbed and sorted, they were largely good on their own, playing "camping" in the sunny living room by redesigning the sofa into a tent complete with special secret agent devices.