I was sitting on a park bench in the exact spot where I first laid eyes upon Amber. I got a warm and fuzzy feeling all over, even though the air was crisp with a breeze that hunched me over. The geese and ducks splashed in the pond and posed for camera-poised pedestrians. I snapped a soon-to-be Instagramed photo of the afternoon light passing through the fall-tinted tree in front of my vision.
And as I sat, shivering with each passing, bone-chilling breeze, I thought about pictures and my blog and its evolution. I’m becoming more interested in photos that capture the perfect moment instead of trying to take pictures of flawlessly plated food; contrived and lacking any form of intimacy.
Some of my favorite recipes from magazines and cookbooks are the ones without an image. Maybe I’m missing something I thought, as I flipped through my photo stream, stopping on a picture of an over-sized leaf of rainbow chard. Maybe telling stories isn’t always in the finished dish; it’s in the ingredients.
I’ve always been the person that finds the layers of the slices of life the most interesting. It’s not just about one bad day, followed by one great day; it’s the minutia from bad to great that is interesting: the pink and purple globular clouds that hovered over the tips of the mountain range on my drive home; the joke the keeps on giving; the frosty layer of ice on my car, and extra blanket on my bed insuring me that fall/winter has actually arrived. It’s about my argyle socks and a Friday night with Amber. It’s about that giant leaf of rainbow chard.
This blog is evolving, and it’s about ingredients. It’s about memories and smiles. I’m not a recipe blogger; I’m a storyteller. If you’re here for my recipes, the recipe can still exist without a deliciously framed image. The story is where it’s at.
Friday night I made a nearly perfectly roasted chicken. I’ve roasted plenty of chickens in my time; and every time I’ve roasted them perfectly – rub it and stuff it with choice seasonings and flavors – I like lemon and herbs under the skin, garlic in the cavity, and a little salt, pepper and paprika and herbs all over. Crank the oven to 425; roast for 30 mins to get a nice crispy skin; then turn the temp down to 350 and roast for another 40-50 mins depending on the size of the bird. For some reason, it was slightly under done. It didn’t make any sense. I scratched my head and shrugged it off, put the bird back in the oven for a few more mins and continued to warm the sides: roasted cauliflower purée (think mashed potatoes, but with cauliflower instead) and sautéed rainbow chard with onions. This is the kind of comforting meal that gives me warm and fuzzy feelings.
So here I sit, pontificating. And half of you probably already checked out when you scrolled to the bottom looking for a picture and a recipe, found what you needed and clicked away. But for those of you who stayed and read; and continue to share and tell your friends to read; I’m sprouting this blog in a new pot (still with recipes) but with more depth. You might not get a post every week, but you’ll get (hopefully) a story that will make you wistful or nostalgic or happy or sad or hungry; and it will leave you with those wonderful, warm and fuzzy feelings.
(While everyone has their strategy for roasting a chicken, I’ve always preferred this method – you get crispy skin and no worry of over cooking with too extreme of an oven temp)
3-4 pound chicken
fresh thyme or rosemary, finely chopped
1 lemon – 1/2 thinly sliced, ½ reserved
2 cloves garlic
Preheat oven to 425. Slice open the skin on the top of the chicken and stuff with think slices of lemon and herbs. Sprinkle salt, pepper and paprika over entire chicken and rub to get even coating. Put garlic and remaining half of lemon in the cavity of the chicken. Roast for 30 mins at 425 and turn heat down to 350, roasting for another 40-50 mins or until chicken is completely cooked (165). Let chicken rest for 15-20 mins before carving.
Roasted Cauliflower Purée
1 head cauliflower, core removed and florets cut into uniform sizes
1 large potato (optional) peeled, cubed and boiled until soft
1/8 cup chicken stock
¼ – ½ cup milk
1 TBSP butter
Preheat oven to 425. Put cauliflower on foil-lined roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to evenly coat all pieces. Roast for 25 mins or until fork tender. Place cauliflower (and potato if using) in blender with milk and stock and purée until smooth. Add more milk if necessary to achieve your preferred consistency. Add purée to sauce pan and butter. Keep warm until ready to serve.
Sautéed Rainbow Chard
1 bunch of rainbow chard, stems removed and roughly chopped
½ onion, thinly sliced
1/8- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
Heat oil in skillet over med-high heat and sauté onions until soft. Add chard, season with salt and pepper and stir until wilted. Add a splash of chicken stock or water or wine and cover with lid for a few mins. Finish with vinegar.