From time to time we get hungry. And sometimes we try to put something on the table that’s a little nicer than Ramen. And sometimes we get a little carried away trying to accomplish that. There have been numerous times when we haven’t sat down to dinner until almost 8:30. Fortunately for us, the wait usually pays off. I think the only time it didn’t was when Katie decided to deep fry tortellinis. Other than that, Katie is pretty much an all-star chef, and thanks to the Pinterest gods, she’s never short on ideas. You can find most of them here.
There’s that good old saying that goes like “blood is thicker than water.” Let me tell you my own version:
Chicken is cheaper than beef.
That’s probably why most of our little dinner experiments center around the bird that clucks. Chicken is mostly an empty canvas; throw any number of spice patterns at it and it will hold them together. That is, except curry. Curry is evil.
Chicken piccata is one of those dishes that has a great potential to make people angry because it tastes like pine sap. But the good news is that with the right ratios of lemon, vermouth (heh heh), and capers, you can end up with a really wonderful variation of the bird that clucks. The second time we made it, we marinated the chicken breasts in a little lemon and pepper before cooking them, and I think it made the dish even better.
This past weekend, I tried to make chicken lollipops. I had seen this at some point on the food network (it is educational, I swear!), and thought I’d give it a shot.
I started by removing the skin and tendons from the lower part of the chicken legs by just chopping the joint off. Once I scrapped the meat over towards the other end, I put them in a Ziploc and marinated them in our super top secret family chicken marinade recipe. That was a nice touch. Like I said earlier, chicken can get kinda boring on its own.
So dinner came around that evening, and I started by searing the lollipops with a little cornstarch in our cast iron skillet.
Then I threw them in the oven with a half onion, a head of garlic, carrots, and a red potato. About half an hour later, the kitchen smelled like the cloud of steam that comes out of a red hot dutch oven, and the meat thermometer made the happy noise. With the softened garlic, I added some olive oil and a bunch of parsley and made a sauce out of it. Here’s the finished product. It was pretty damn great.
Pork is more than chicken but still cheaper than beef.
Everything is cheaper than beef.
One time we had some pork, and Katie made this wonderful glazed deal. It might not look super fancy, but let me tell you, I’d never had a pork chop I liked until then.
One time we had a couple sourdough loaves from Pittsburgh’s strip district and turned them into bread bowls. There’s something very comforting about soup and bread, probably because you eat soup when it’s cold and rainy / you’re dying from pneumonia, and bread is, well, bread.
Let’s face it though; there are lots of times when the table is not the place to be for dinner. For us, that’s usually for two reasons:
- The table is covered in crap
This happens about 100% of the time, so we improvise and make a few plates of odds and ends that we can snack on until we feel fat. My family has always called this sort of thing a “nosh.” Really it’s mostly like eating appetizers for dinner, or dining at a tapas bar. There have been more occasions than I’d like to admit where dinner was just a giant bowl of guacamole. (#guacfest)
I hope you’re hungry now. I am. But that’s mostly because Katie’s cooking bacon.
There are days when we get an immense joy out of cooking together. Don’t get me wrong, cooking can be stressful when you have to do it. But with the realization that the experiment you’re about to start can be both exciting and extremely rewarding, I think it’s one of the very best stress relievers. I don’t plan on giving it up any time soon, that’s for sure.
Anyway, this is just a little insight into our life. Or our food. Or our life of food. Let’s face it, life’s pretty boring if there isn’t nice food. I guess that’s why there’s Netflix.