Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Nice and slow

I just a slow cooker.  For those of you who grew up in the mid-west, or in a family of home cooks, its also called a crockpot.  My mother's had a red brick pattern on it that reminded me of the 70's.  Which is probably when she got it.  Probably as a wedding present.  I have to admit a little bias here.  I love my mother's cooking, but it always reminded me of a farm.  Not in a bad way, but in a down-home, rustic sort of way.  I spent most of my adult life moving in the exact opposite direction.  Living in a foreign country, eating things like foie gras and escargot, learning to cook veal Prince Orloff (with 2 different stuffings), living in a glass and stone penthouse apartment, traveling the world, and generally trying to be more worldly than my mother's cooking.  And I'm certainly not saying the I've abandoned the desire to spend my days overlooking the Med and eating caviar and blinis (or at least quite a few days doing that) but I suppose I've started to see some of the value in rustic food.  And maybe even that sense of farm land and family and permanence.  After all, a slow cooker is a pretty permanent investment.  It takes up a lot of space on your counter, and if my mother's is any indication, this thing will last forever.  I'll be slow cooking the cockroaches that are left after the apocalypse.  As long as they have some good red wine to braise them with, I think we'll be fine.

However, since we aren't at the end of the world and I do have more options than cockroaches, I've decided to make chicken in a white wine, garlic, and thyme sauce.  The smells coming from the kitchen actually remind me of a farmhouse in Burgundy.  I think that's probably the right level of combination for me.  A little homey and a little exotic, all mixed up in my own kitchen.  Now, I think I'll enjoy my glass of American Chardonnay and pet my French Bulldog while I wait for dinner to be done.

Chicken in Wine in a Slow Cooker
1 C wine (or 2 cups, start with 1 for yourself)
1/3 C flour
1 1/2 t thyme
1/2 onion
4 garlic cloves
4 chicken breasts
1T olive oil

Salt and pepper chicken.  Make sure the wine is the right level of slightly oaked and slightly grassy.  Taste again just to make sure.  Brown the chicken in olive oil.  If your slow cooker has this function too, use it.  I'm all for keeping cooking juices in the same pot.  Are you sure the wine is right?  Better check again.  Take the chicken out.  Lay onion, garlic, and thyme on the bottom of the slow cooker.  Put the chicken on top.  Mix the wine and the flour together and pour on top of the chicken.  Put on the lid and set to cook for a few hours.  Maybe until its dinner time.  Taste the wine again.  Freak out that you forgot to change the setting from "brown" to "slow cook for a long time."  Adjust to slow cook.  Take a couple sips of wine while you try to figure out when you husband will come home and want to eat.  Decide that you should cook it for 5 hours so it will be ready you want to eat.  Take another sip of wine.  Make sure you have an extra bottle in the fridge, because its always nice to drink what you cooked the meal in.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Crummy Stuff

I know, I haven't written in a while.  It's taken me a while to get back on this particular horse.  Partially because Trey is on a diet, and partially because he spent six weeks in New York after Sandy doing clean-up.  Which, as my sister-in-law pointed out, means I should never have to worry about making garbage pick-up again because he is an expert at taking out the trash now.  And of course while he was gone I subsisted on micro-waved soybean patties, chardonnay, and whatever is left on my kid's plate when she's finally convinced me she would prefer to watch Dora the Explorer than eat dinner.  The one cooking episode while he was gone was when my family came to visit me for a week.  I decided to make Thanksgiving dinner for them, about 2 weeks early.  My brother can't eat glutin, and my sister-in-law is a vegetarian.  Hmmmmm.......soooooo........ peanut butter for dinner?  Well, turns out my sister-in-law does eat some meat, and there are lots of glutin-free substitutions you can make (yup, that was me at Whole Foods scowling over the ingredient list of flour, I bet you walked by and thought "lady, its flour, what else are you expecting in the bag?").  We ended up having a great dinner.  Turkey turned out wonderful, bathed in herb butter of course.  The mashed potatoes and gravy were pretty standard.  The mac-and-cheese was great, despite being made from glutin-free pasta, perhaps it was the sheer volume of cheese and butter.  And the two deserts, pumpkin pie and flour-less chocolate cake, were a big hit.  The best part though was that I made homemade stuffing from a dried french-bread loaf which, in my opinion, was a little soggy.  But it was all worth it when my 3-year-old nephew asked "can I have more of Auntie Em's crummy stuff?"

Recipes to come when I have some free time.......  Perhaps in a few years........