6.7.13

Welcome, July / Buttermilk Grilled Chicken.






Hey guys. 
It's been busy around our apartment the last three or four weeks. We're not used to so much commotion.  Nearly every weekend has been filled with friends visiting, celebrating something, mostly eating. 
We had a little cook out for Independence Day and I thought I'd share the "recipe" for the grilled chicken we shared. It was truly the best grilled chicken I have had, and was really simple to prepare. Well, I guess I have to say prepare because thats about all I did. I am feeling myself more drawn to cooking outside over open flame though, perhaps because I just finished reading the first section of Michael Pollan's new book "Cooked" in which he highlights "Bbq" and points out that for some reason women leave grilling or "Bbq" to men. The tiny feminist in me started shouting "I can grill too. Im going to grill this chicken!" but then I handed the marinated chicken strait to Xavier, happy to have one less thing to worry about getting on the picnic table. So, this isn't really a recipe because its just a few things tossed together willy nilly and then thrown over an open flame, and there are countless versions of it available online anywhere else. 

Buttermilk Grilled Chicken

3 lbs  various bone in, skin on, free range chicken parts,
 -or- one whole cut up chicken*
2 - 3 c buttermilk 
A huge bundle of thyme 
A large smattering of smoked spanish paprika 
s/p

-

-rinse off the chicken in cold water, set aside. 
-prepare marinade by throwing everything else in a huge bowl and stirring a few times. just throw all the thyme in there, don't even worry about picking off all the tiny little leaves, just toss it it. 
-put the chicken in the bowl, smush it around a few times to get the marinade into all the little crevices and ensure that each piece gets coated
-cover and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours while you do something 
more involved, like make buttermilk ice cream with the rest of the buttermilk in the carton. 
-remove the chicken form the marinade, pat dry and transfer to whom ever will be grilling. 
-have a beer and wait for your chicken.

We served it with some cilantro & lime corn, grilled asparagus with toasted almonds & crème fraîche  (my new favorite ingredient to secretly eat out of the container at night) dressing, cornbread with chili butter and a fingerling potato salad. Xavier also, for some reason unknown to me, put a couple of my homemade meatballs (the ones that make my son so terrifyingly strong) in some sauce and on to a sheet of foil and put it on the grill. I guess he wanted some meat balls with his grilled chicken, husbands are weird. 

How was your long weekend? Id love to hear. 
Thanks for reading!
-K 


*I have a love hate relationship with chicken. Not the animal itself, but the whole industrial farming (specially poultry) industry. It might sound ridiculous, but I refuse to buy only specific parts of the chicken. It's too expensive, wasteful and honestly a little creepy to me. I don't care if that makes me seem like a overly zealous, elitist, foodie, hipster, (which I have been called before) I vote for a better environment and for animal welfare with my money, even if I don't have a ton of it hah! I probably wouldn't eat meat if I wasn't married to someone who enjoys it so much, but life is about compromise! (As in if you want me to make you a meal based on animal protein you damn well better expect it was happy animal and were eating lentils for the rest of the week!) It's not a new concept, but I do really love the movement I'm referring to here. I look for packages of whole cut up chickens, or buy the whole chicken in tact and ask the butcher to cut it up for me for free. The price per pound is incredibly reasonable for "happy chickens", a.k.a free range, preferably locally raised chickens who ate bugs and grass and are not covered in feces. Not only can you get a better price for the bone in, skin on chicken, you can also save the bones, cartilage and skin (if you don't get it all crispy and devour it like my husband does) and make a serious stock, which you can then use to make soups or sauces (or in the lentils hah). That makes me feel a little better about eating the chicken in the first place, that every single part is used and nothing is left for waste. 











19.6.13

Garden Tour













From Top:

Speckled Roman Tomatoes 
Sungold Cherry Tomatoes 
German Pink Tomatoes 
(with Genovese Basil and 
Rosemary as companion plants 
and a horsie for good measure) 
-
Herb Table: 
Lemon Balm, German Thyme,
Lemon Thyme, Silver Thyme
Basil, Oregano, Mystery Herb
-
Various Found Containers:
Baby Salad Greens, Sage,
Purple, Thai, Sweet, and 
Genovese Basil, Lavender, 
Majoram, Chives, 
Mexican Oregano 
-
Back Raised Bed:
Bordeaux Spinach 
Tuscan Kale 
Patty Pan Squash 
Strawberries 

So far so good! I also have some lemon cucumbers and more salad greens planted in the other raised bed. The plan is to plant the salad greens in succession for as long as I can. I tend to buy bags of baby greens and can't eat the whole bag by myself so some of it gets waisted. With the huge selection of baby greens we have growing I can pick enough to have my daily salad instead of buying a bag, saving some money and feeling less guilty for waisting food! 

Can you tell that I love love love basil? I have, I think, about seven varieties of basil growing and I know we will use it all!  My goal this year was to grow things that I know that I love and will use, and that may be a rare heirloom variety or more expensive in the markets that I frequent. Im probably most excited about the tomatoes, lemon cucumbers and bordeaux spinach. I've been having a hard time with aphids on the tomato plants, which my friend Ellen informed me was because of a lack of lady bugs, and good sun this season. I love her, she shepherds me so well through these things I'm still so new too. She said I could spray them down with a solution of any sort of castile soap (like dr bronners) and water to combat them, or plant herbs or marigolds with or around the tomato plants themselves since aphids don't like the smell. The tomato plant with the rosemary and basil seems to be having less of a problem with the aphids so I'll try to deal with that more this weekend. I'm still entertaining the idea of tracking down some tomato plants good for making tomato paste and canning, (San Marzanos to be exact.) and also some beautiful black krim tomatoes as well. I also just received a lovely sour dough starter from a friend visiting from Detroit, I foresee many a sourdough pizza with fresh basil and heirloom tomatoes, tomato tarts with caramelized shallots and feta, tomato jam with balsamic, the list could go on.

Funny story about the spinach. I meticulously put down the seeds in nice little rows while singing Bullet to Bianary (pt two) myself (lettuce grows, lettuce grows in neatly sectioned beds and rows!), only to turn my back for three seconds and discover that Julian had joyously tossed the packet of seeds all about the bed and then dumped the whole remaining contents in one spot. There is now a jungle of bordeaux spinach that he calls "Juju's spanich". Im not that upset about it. 

So there we have it so far. The weekend after next we will be having a little birthday get together with my friends, it will be fun to share my little garden with them. On a depressing side note. My landlord came to mow the lawn (the arch enemy of any wanna be urban homesteader, the lawn, what a waste!) and tend to her massive rosebush, in which I only mildly enjoy because it smells beautiful. She proceeded to uproot and THROW AWAY my three foot diameter chamomile bush, along with seven patty pan squash plants, three kale plants, and one swiss chard that she thought were "weeds". Lord have mercy on me for my thoughts towards her. Even Xavier, who with no shame admits his lack of affinity towards green things and identifying plants, was outraged at the idea of her thinking my chamomile was a weed. "It had a lovely floral, honey scent you could smell if you walked within ten feet of the thing!" he said! She also mowed over our upstairs neighbor's baby sunflowers, twice. Such are the perils of apartment living.

Do any of you deal with pesky land lords, or does maybe the fact that you are renting prevent you from looking into having a bit of a garden? Im curious!

Thanks for reading,
-K  








13.6.13

You Dont Have to Tell Me

Let's set the scene. 

I have the new baby in the ergo (Vivian, 6 months, the sweetest little thing I started nannying, don't worry I didn't have a baby and not tell you about it), and in the other hand I have a flopping, long haired, peanut butter schmered alligator in human form dangling from him arm, doing what his father has deemed "the death rattle", screaming "TRAINS! NO! NO! TRAINS! I WANT THE TRAINS!"  in the middle of the Chicago Children's Museum gift shop (which is conveniently located so that you can not EXIT the museum with out passing through) 

He fights me hard and I loose my grip. Julian flumps dramatically onto the floor, rolling around just screaming, nothing intelligible, just screaming in a pitch so high I am waiting for the glass to shatter. I imagine Will Farrell in his place, and laugh just to keep myself from falling apart or hiding behind the wall of over priced natural color change mood rings and bpa free recycled plastic slinkies. Vivian is passed out, dead weight in the carrier, with her rubber pacifier dangerously teetering on the edge of her tiny mouth, if she drops it will I could potentially collapse out of sheer frustration. 

Elderly woman in a muumuu (seriously) walks by and says, "Mmm Momma, you cant let that chil' do that, you gotsa take him home." and shuffles away, tisk - tisking at me. 

I'm not mad at her. She is right, I gotsa take this chil' home. Thats exactly what I'm attempting to do,  but he is so strong from eating so much kale, buckwheat pancakes and local organic grassfed meatballs that he can outrun me and knock me out if he gets a good one in, 38 pounds of terrifying toddler furry. I promise I am not mad at her. I even told my husband I wasn't mad at her, and that I didn't say something witty in return like I did that time the guy on the Amtrak train said "Some one is a little cranky!". ( I promise you that if you run into that guy and your baby is crying he will not say anything to you, and probably offer you chocolate, or hide from you. You are welcome. ) 

They tell you all about horror labor stories, 12th (!) degree vaginal tears, cracking nipples, sleepless nights, colic and teething. They have the term "Terrible Twos" but no one really tells you what that really means, they don't want to relive it. When Julian turned two we thought maybe we got by unscathed! He wasn't acting terrible at all! He was in that cute transition between baby and toddler, loving, sweet, super cuddly and tolerably inquisitive, impressively cooperative.

Last month we visited my parents in Michigan and my Dad bought him this massive rainbow lollypop. You know, the ones they have in old cartoons that were really just exaggerations of logically sized lollypops but then they started actually making them that big kind of lollypops. The rest of the trip went terrible (like they say the two's are.) I swore it was the damn lollypop. 

I know it's not really the lollypop, or the fact that I let him watch a few episodes of little Einstein's, or that sometimes he gets to bed a little late. He is a handful because he is two years old, a blossoming tiny person with limited communication, a short temper and a hell of a lot of passion. My husband would say "That sounds a lot like you!". I can surly empathize with my tiny man. I can't imagine having the determination to want to tie my shoes and not have the dexterity, that must be infuriating.  It has got to be maddening to be told you can not touch things that seem so interesting or soft, or lick the subway window or the street, bite the cat's tail, or say, jump off of really tall things and go up the slide instead of down when other kids are doing it too. (Note to other parents standing around the slide chit chatting: let's please teach our children to go DOWN the slide one after the other instead of knocking over the smaller children like bowling pins.)  It's a hard knock life for a toddler, everyone is bossing you around, treating you like a baby but expecting you to contain yourself like an adult, and pee on demand. 

I guess I could say I have high expectations for him when it comes to behavior, and that is perhaps why I get so flustered when things become difficult for us to work out together. I understand that it is difficult for him to endure all these changes, to face the world that is now a little less about him and a lot scarier, but I know he has it in him to learn and understand what is expected of him. I feel like taking the "avoidance route" isn't best for him in the long run, he will have to learn at some point. I've come to the conclusion that the only thing, and the best thing, I can do for him in those moments of uncontrollable toddler defiance and anger is to TRY my hardest to understand him, but stand my ground as his parent and TEACH him the right thing to do. This is a lot harder to do than it is to say you are going to do. I think a lot of times when we have to deal with these situations in public we tend to worry about what other people will think. I don't really care what they think, but I want him to understand that we should have respect and consideration for the people around us, even when we are upset or frustrated. I don't mind if he makes a fuss and learns a lesson from it.  

Back to the museum gift shop. 

I almost literally have to drag him outside of the store, still screaming, in front of everyone ( I smile at them). I have to get down on his level, look him in the eye and get him to focus in on me (with a little wrangling and shoulder shaking). I tell him, "You want those trains! I know! You love them! But they don't belong to us. Are you angry?" Tears of embarrassment well up in his eyes, I can tell, and he sadly nods his little peanut butter shmeared face. I give him a big hug (the best I can with sleeping beauty sitting in the ergo between us) and actually feel so sad for him. He really does not understand just yet that he can not have anything he wants, he just doesn't get it. I can't fault him for that, for not understanding yet. We walk back to the car and of course In my mind I start to blame my child's tantrum on manipulative marketing techniques and the consumerist culture we thrust upon children....

the end. 


Care to share similar stories or thoughts. I would love to  hear. 
Thanks for reading, 
-K 






21.5.13

Chamomile Blooms






While I was in Michigan camping and fishing with my parents, my sweet friend Ellen watered my garden for me. Yesterday she asked me if I knew how large my chamomile plant had gotten and I told her I didn't even know I had one! I planted some seeds last year and forgot about them. Upon my arrival this afternoon I was so delighted to find the biggest chamomile plant I have ever seen, blooming and magnificent! It's incredible how much things grown with in a week of good sun. 

I have plans for chamomile infused sugar, some salves and of course, lovely tea.
Here's to summer, and feeling better. 

Thanks for reading
-K 



13.5.13

To have Dignity, To Create.





Today in the world this slavery is being committed against

 something beautiful that God has given us – the capacity to

 create, to work, to have dignity."

-Pope Francis 


Last month the largest and most deadly garment factory accident in history took place in Bangladesh. I've been following along, listening to BBC world news on npr as I fold laundry, not being being able to help feeling a sense of irony. I am not surprised that things like this happen, it makes sense, unfortunately, that for most big companies the bottom line is more important than the hands sewing and seaming their products. Faster, cheaper. It's not worth it. It's slavery. 

Let's choose to deliberately live intentionally, and break the cycle of consuming by creating. 
It's more expensive, it takes longer, but it's worth it. 

Yarn: Quince & Co Sparrow: Organic Linen in Sans
Pattern: Kit by Bristol Ivy

Thanks for reading,
-K 

27.4.13

April


It seems as if the little plants in my garden are poking their heads up to see if it's safe, to see if the late winter is on it's way out. The strawberries are already coming up from under the winter soil, and the little scrawny sage bush in the pot by the stairs is softening up, growing greener by the day.  

They are not unlike myself. Late winter seems to be the most difficult season for me, annually. This is the time of  year that my dependence on sunlight becomes the most evident, my moods can be almost predicted by the cloud cover. I don't mind the cold, but it's the dark that causes me to loose motivation, and feel downright sad. With every late winter that passes I get better at managing it, accepting that seasonal depression is a part of my life but moving forward despite it. That's the best you can really do though, honestly. 

The good news is that it's raining, and that's what the little plants and soil need. This year I have exciting plans for the back yard garden, but still need to devise how to convince the land lord that they are legitamate. Anything out out of the ordinary freaks them out, so you can guess that last year when I asked to instal a chicken coup the answer was no. Hopefully a few trellises won't make them too uncomfortable. Have you started your plans, or even seeds? I missed the start date for my tomatoes so I'll have to purchase some starts. Sharing this little garden with Julian this year will be so rewarding, he is after all, my little weed. Why must they grow so fast? 



















27.2.13

Sunshine in a Jar









Have I ever told you about the market here in Chicago, on North Ave, Stanley's? It's sort of infamous around here, especially with recently graduated hipster foodies with tiny budgets (it takes a lot of money to look so minimalistic!) and or "people who juice". They have the cheapest organic produce in the city, hands down. It's also probably going to go bad tomorrow, but if you are smart, you can really benefit from shopping there. I usually plan my meals around what I know will go bad first, something with tomatoes will be early in the week and the meals with potatoes, carrots or squash at the end of the week and so on. It might sound like too much work but every dollar counts, especially if it means I can splurge on something yummy like gruyere or smoked paprika. (Or, ok, good chocolate, since I don't make a habit of lying.) 

Last weekend I picked up a few pounds of organic lemons ($3 for five pounds) for two recipes I wanted to try out of Canning for a new Generation. I thought it was interesting that these two recipes were included considering they aren't "canned" but they go along with the theme of general creative frugality. It's astonishing what you can do with pantry staples and simple, often under appreciated produce like lemons. The first thing I tried was the salt preserved lemons. I could not believe how simple it was; slice some lemons and put it in a jar with some kosher salt, a few weeks later you have a nice accompaniment to salad or even rich meats like lamb. I got a letter from my sweet friend Emily which included a recipe for an Iranian lamb stew that called for preserved lemons as a garnish, and that is what peaked my interest. Recently I saw a fennel and preserved lemon salad recipe as well, that sounds delicious. The recipe for the lemon curd was on the previous page in the book, doing them together would be a good idea.  

I'm apparently late to the fruit curd party, but I'm glad I'm here. This mix of butter, egg, sugar and fruit is literally, sunshine in a jar. I get so down in the winter when the sun is hiding away, but just looking at this beautiful bright yellow jar of yummy sour sweet spread perks my day up just enough. Today I slathered it on some banana oat bread (since those bananas from Stanley's only last about two days and then you have to cook em' up!) but that day I made some greek yogurt scones to go with it. They were so good I didn't even get a picture but I will share that recipe with you anyway! (That sounds a little outrageous to me, are we really at that point in our culture where we have to take pictures of our food before we eat it, Im guilty, and laughing at myself.) I won't share the curd recipe since it's not mine, but I'm sure Martha's  would be great too. These scones get massive, and are really light and fluffy on the inside, which I love. I find a lot of scones I buy at cafes tend to be too dense, but maybe thats the point of a scone? Who knows!?

Honey, Thyme & Coconut Scones


2 c unbleached all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder 
Pinch of salt 
1/2 tbsp sugar
1 egg
About two tbsp of honey 
1/2 c Greek yogurt (2%) 
1/3 c whole milk 
6 tbsp unsalted butter 
1/2 tbsp fresh thyme 
1/4 c unsulfured, unsweetened shredded coconut 
Citrus zest 
A little milk and turbanado sugar for the top

Oven at 400.
Sift and mix the dry ingredients together. Cut in the butter. Mix together the egg, yogurt and milk, honey, add to dry mixture, stir until just combined and no longer. Lightly flour a surface and knead for about 15 times. Pat or roll dough into a circle (1/2 thick). Cut into 8ths ( or you could make circles) and place in parchment lined baking sheet. Brush tops with milk and dust with sugar. Bake for about 10 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Remove from parchment immediately and let cool or eat them hot! 



Thanks for reading, 
-K