A blog is about putting oneself out into the world, right? Being honest and open. So, I have a confession. Prepare yourself. I have a condition that is scientifically classified as carnivorium grandiosium trepidatia, or CGT for short. It's not hereditary, so I'm not sure how I got it, but I began to notice it springing up about 3 1/2 years ago (oddly enough, coinciding with getting married and being on a budget). It is sometimes vicious, leaving me stranded in the back of the grocery store, clutching my food dollars and wishing I could make a quiet escape without anyone noticing. Horrifying, really.
So, I was visiting my counselor the other day (I know a really good one, by the way - let me know if you need a recommendation) and I saw this pamphlet that caught my eye:
Meat & Greet:
How to Avoid Being Intimidated
When Large Cuts of Meat Come to Dinner
Published by the International Consortium of Members Engaged in the Advancement of Tender Sustenance (ICMEATS)
I was startled - there's hope for people like me! I don't have to live with CGT forever! I, too, can face my fear of large cuts of meat and prepare them, boldly facing even the largest roast with a dry-rub and the glint of a sharp carving knife.
So, I, having faced my fear and gained some ground over this hobbling condition of carnivorium grandiosium trepidatia, am now ready to share with you some of the things I've learned about dealing with large cuts of meat. You know which ones I'm talking about: the Pot Roasts and the Whole Chickens and the Boneless Pork Shoulders in Heavy-Duty Shrink Wrap (how do they do that, anyway?).
Today, I would like to share some insights into the Whole Chicken, Crock-Pot method:
- Of primary importance is reremoving (yes, re-removing) the innards that were so perfectly removed and packaged and placed BACK into the chicken cavity for you to purchase. Seriously, do they REALLY think that I want a liver pouch? OK. So, just remove it. Throw it away. And take out the trash.
- Next, rinse the Whole Chicken under running water, and pat dry with paper towels. Throw THOSE away too, and take out the trash again. Remember, you're preparing a DRY rub, so make sure your chicken is satisfactorily dry.
- Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. You're going to want the oil to be really hot - almost smoking - when you're ready to put your Whole Chicken in.
- Set the Whole Chicken aside on a plate or dish, and prepare your dry rub. Here are a few suggestions:
1. 1 Tbsp salt + 1 Tbsp pepper
2. a Cajun Dry Rub found here
3. pre-packaged spice and herb mixtures like Mrs. Dash Steak Seasoning or Cavender's All-Purpose Greek Seasoning (both are personal favorites)
4. 1 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. black pepper, 1 tsp. chili powder, 1 tsp. oregano, 1 tsp. garlic powder, and 1 tsp. onion powder (a little fajita-y dry rub for you there)
- Combine the dry rub in a small dish or jar, mixing well.
- Sprinkle liberally on ALL parts of the Whole Chicken and rub in. It's called a dry rub, people, so just do it. If you have any leftovers, just keep it until next time.
- When oil is hot (it should sizzle like crazy if you sprinkle a few drops of water in there), carefully place Whole Chicken in the pan, and if you're like me, grab the lid as a shield for the splattering. I usually use my kitchen tongs for moving the Whole Chicken around - you want to make sure you've got a good grip on the chicken, otherwise it might fall into the oil suddenly, splatter, and burn you.
- Leave it for 5-8 minutes or until the side that's down has turned a crispy brown color. Turn the Whole Chicken over, and leave it for another 5-8 minutes. At this point, you face a choice: you can turn the Whole Chicken on one end and brown that (hot buns!), on one side and then the other, or remove the chicken. It's completely up to you. The point is to sear the outside of the chicken to lock in the moisture when you're cooking it.
- Remove Whole Chicken from the pan and place it in the crock pot.
- Add about 1/4 cup of liquid to the pan that you just seared the Whole Chicken in - it could be water, broth, or cooking wine - I'd suggest you avoid milk and orange juice, but if you do go down that road please let me know what happens. Reduce heat and stir to loosen the stuff on the bottom of the pan - it should simmer for just a minute or two. Pour this over the Whole Chicken in the crock pot.
- Cook in the crock pot for 8-10 hours on Low or 4-5 hours on High.
- At this point, the chicken is going to be so fall-of-the-bone that you can't really serve up a leg, thigh, or breast to fulfill the usual expectation. But you do have a number of possibilities, including de-boning the meat and using it for chicken salad, on pizza, or in pasta dishes. Or you could just pull meat out of the crock pot and eat it with mashed potatoes and green beans. It's your call.
I hope that this has been helpful in some way, especially for those closet sufferers of carnivorium grandiosium trepidatia. There is hope! Just reach out and find it here!


Veggie Table

Eggplant, Squash, and Tomato Saute adapted from this Serves 4 1/4 c. chopped onion 1 clove garlic, chopped 1 Tbsp. olive oil 1/2 c. diced eggplant (I found that this was about four 1/4-inch thick slices of a mondo eggplant) 1/2 c. diced yellow squash 1/2 c. diced tomato 1 Tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped or 1 tsp. dried oregano 1 tsp. salt 1/2 tsp. black pepper Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat; saute onions and garlic for 4-5 minutes or until onions start to brown. Add eggplant and squash. Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until the eggplant starts to get soft, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes, oregano, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook another 5 minutes or so. Serving suggestion: Spoon it over hot rice with plain yogurt on top. Sounds weird? Absolutely. Try it though, and tell me what you think. The first time I made this, I added some sweet corn (maybe 1/2 cup?) somewhere in there - maybe when I added the tomatoes - and also substituted fresh basil for the fresh oregano (I know, I know. They're not interchangeable. But they are both fresh, which beats dried in my book). The second time, I forgot the corn, but it was still really good. I even got my husband to eat it. And he had told me he wasn't a fan of eggplant. BAH! I showed him. A few little snippets of thought: 1. I love poetry so much, and I think my parents are to blame. Mom used to make us memorize a poem a week if we wanted to have the privilege of watching TV on the weekend. I'm totally going to pull that one on my kids. Last night at the dinner table, something that my husband said made me think of a poem, so I pulled my copy of Best Loved Poems of the American People off the shelf and proceeded to sing a poem about dried apple pies. He laughed at me, but then we read poetry together for another few minutes and decided that we were going to subject our own children to Casey at the Bat in utero and that poem about Paul Revere when they're in diapers. (By the way, this isn't a subtle disclosure of any sort. Just a thought). So, in honor of my poetry-stuffed childhood, I have composed a simple end-of-summer Ode to Veggies:
Peppers and squash
Apples and berries
Picking and eating
Cooking and sharing
Freezing and jamming
Preserving and drying
This poem isn't much
But at least I'm trying.
2. I'm going to see the movie Julie and Julia tonight with 4 girlfriends. I am really excited and will share my thoughts in a coming post!
3. Does anyone have knowledge of dehydrating? I'm thinking of borrowing a dehydrator from a friend and working up some apples, but I don't know how long home-dried fruit will last, and where I should store them. Any dried apple skills you have would be appreciated.


Blueberry Summer

Blueberry Buckle 2 c. flour 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder 1/4 tsp. salt 1/2 c. shortening 3/4 c. sugar 1 egg 1/2 c. milk (or substitute 1/2 c. buttermilk or sour cream) 2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries Grease a 9-inch square pan. Set aside. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a separate mixing bowl, beat shortening on medium speed for about 30 seconds (it gets a little fluffy). Ad the 3/4 c. sugar. Beat until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat well. Add dry mixture and milk (or buttermilk, or sour cream) alternately to beaten egg mixture, beating until smooth after each addition. Set aside. Just kidding. Pour it into the greased pan. Sprinkle evenly with blueberries.
Prepare topping by mixing:
1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Cut in 1/4 c. butter until the topping looks crumbly.
Sprinkle over blueberries.
Bake at 350 for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes or until golden and knife inserted in center comes out clean.
Makes one 9-inch square pan of blueberry coffee cake, which can be as many or as few servings as you like. The recipe says 9. We downed it in 6 (one dessert and two breakfasts). As you wish.
I think the only food I love more than blueberries is ice cream. I'm a little sad now that I've started to notice that summer is coming to a close ... BUT, to cheer me up all year long, I've been picking blueberries at a nearby farm and have now squirreled away 2+ gallons of the delicious fruit. The summer has been so delicious in so many (literal and figurative) ways that it's a little hard to see it go.
Blueberries, though.
That's where it's at.
You can't think of blueberries and not smile.
Or at least, I can't.
Goodbye summer!


Trial and

Error: my favorite pizza dough recipe doesn't work in the bread machine. Instead of rising to three times its size and having a lovely, soft, airy texture, it turned into something that looked like pancake-batter syrup. I guess it's a tender dough and should not be beaten as vigorously as my BreadMaster2000 thought. I used it anyway, and it turned out ... well ... OK. Just OK though. After letting it rise its regular 20 hours, I poured it into two 8-inch cake pans and baked it at 450 for 15 minutes or so. It was chewy but ... weird. Just thought I'd share that.