Monday, April 30, 2012

Blackbird Chicken

This one takes a little shuffling, but it's basically a one-dish meal, which is nice for clean-up. Preheat your oven to 350F.

Sprinkle 4 large boneless, skinless chicken thighs with kosher salt and pepper, and coriander and cumin. You'll probably need about a tablespoon each of coriander and cumin.

Get out a large cast-iron skillet and heat over medium heat. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil, and toss in one diced onion. Sweat the onion until it's translucent, then remove it from the skillet and put it in a medium bowl. Add a can of black beans to the bowl and stir the onion and black beans together. You may want to add a pinch of salt.

While the skillet is still hot, put the chicken in and brown it on each side. Remove the skillet from heat. Remove the chicken for a moment and fill the skillet with about 3/4 of a pound of fresh spinach.

Now put the chicken back on top of the spinach. Add the black beans and onions, top with a little more spinach, and top with shredded mozarella.

Put the skillet in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly. When you pull it out, put a towel or something around the handle of the skillet to remind you that it's hot. I've learned that the hard way more than once. (I'm a little slow on the uptake.)

Serve garnished with sour cream and cilantro, if you're one of us who doesn't think cilantro is of the devil. Here is the .pdf if you'd like to get your cast iron skillet down and give it a go.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Lamb, Potato, Bean and Spinach Salad

This one is appropriate for Spring and Almost-Easter.

Now THAT'S an Easter Bunny!

It has several components, but really isn't all that difficult to make.

For the dressing, sweat about a tablespoon of shallots (or use them raw if you have no interest in kissing or breathing on anyone for the next 24 hours). Put them in a small bowl and mix with 3 tablespoons of white wine vinegar, a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, a teaspoon of honey, a generous pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Then whisk in about 5 tablespoons of olive oil. You can add more oil if you like, I just prefer my dressings to be not so oil-heavy.

Sprinkle kosher salt over a rack of lamb, then brush with a couple of tablespoons of Dijon mustard, and sprinkle with fresh ground black pepper and chopped fresh rosemary. Put that on a foil and parchment-lined roasting pan and set aside.

Boil about a pound of small white potatoes or red new potatoes. When you can easily pierce them with a fork, drain them and set them aside. Boil a pound of mixed green and yellow beans in salted water until crisp-tender - about five minutes - and drain and set them aside. If you want more vivid color, you can shock them in an ice bath.

Preheat a gas grill or oven to about 400. Roast the lamb rack about 10 minutes, or until medium-rare. You may need to use a meat thermometer for this one. The length of cooking time is going to depend on how big your rack is. Yes, I just said "how big your rack is". Mine's not so big anymore, which is fine by me. Now let's stop giggling and acting like 12-year-old boys.

Bring in the lamb and let it rest for about five minutes. It's worked very hard, you know.

Meanwhile, line a platter or individual salad plates with fresh washed-and-dried spinach. Slice the reserved potatoes and put thoes on top of the spinach. Sprinkle with a little salt. Top that with the green and yellow beans. Drizzle with the salad dressing. Then cut the lamb chops.

Top the salad with the lamb chops and serve.

Happy Spring and Easter, everyone! If you'd like to try this one out yourself, here's the .pdf.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Andie's Big Adventure: It's Back On!

Some of you may recall that last year, we were supposed to temporarily relocate to Newfoundland so that Pootie could begin work on his PhD in Maritime History at Memorial University. And if you were following along and not skipping those posts, going "holy sheez, this has NOTHING to do with food!" you may also recall that on August 10 of last year, two weeks before we were supposed to leave, our plans came to a screeching halt because I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Go, me.

Please notice the difference in the Before and After. The first picture is me after they woke me up from my biopsy and gave me a cup of coffee that I was obviously very happy to get. The second picture is me after my second surgery.

Check Clueless there on the left. She obviously had NO idea what she was in for.
(Warning: The next couple of paragraphs I am going to complain and moan. You may want to skip those. )

The past seven months or so have been a complete bitch. Sorry, but there it is. Call me a sissy all you want to, but if anyone tries to tell you that having a bilateral mastectomy and reconstructive surgery is no big deal, they either haven't had it, or they're lying. Or they're high. Also, I discovered when I was in the middle of the whole biopsy, surgery, drains, pain, drugs, more surgery, more drugs, more pain and completely useless T-rex arms thing, there is no "bright side". I confess to sometimes wanting to kill or at least seriously maim all the well-meaning people who started their sentences with "Well at least...". 

I understand. They wanted to cheer me up by telling you how lucky I was because it could have been so much worse.

Please allow my friend Eef Barzelay to address that.

After the first fairly horrible surgery, I didn't really care that it could have been worse. It was bad enough for me. And to some degree, all the "Well, at least..." comments made me feel robbed of my right to feel bad and whine about it. Which I needed to do from time to time.

And throughout all this, I had to deal with the guilt I had over ripping the rug out from under Pootie, who had worked very hard on putting this whole PhD/Canada thing together. There was lots and lots and LOTS of planning involved, if you will recall. Because remember who I am, y'all.

Not that Pootie ever made me feel guilty, and I know it wasn't really my fault, it was just terrible timing. But I will say that when he and I had to make all the phone calls cancelling all the arrangements we'd made... well, it was a pretty black day around here at 305.

Except for Dinky. He didn't care.

"Could y'all stop with all the talking and phone calls? I'm trying to sleep, here."
Of course some of the logistical acrobatics we went through had to do with getting Brontosaurus Butt there on the ferry, since apparently we can't just put a hat and some pants on him and shuffle him into our cabin. The people at Marine Atlantic were awesome, especially Martina. They worked and worked and worked with me, talked to the captain, and jumped through all kinds of fiery hoops to get us situated. And ironically, the day they called to tell me that they had a spot in the kennel room big enough for my furry dinosaur's crate also happened to be the day I got the biopsy results back. It felt kind of like throwing a bowling ball at an awesome Lego structure that took three months to build.

But, Memorial was kind enough to let Pootie defer for a year, and he got notice the other day that his funding is in place, so we are officially back on! This time around, the logistics will be loads easier, because we've already done the legwork. I called Marine Atlantic this morning, and my good friend Martina answered the phone and exclaimed about how glad she was to hear from me, and how was I and she wanted to send a card, but couldn't find my address and yes they do have that kennel spot available on the boat and by all means, let's Book this Bitch! So it's done. We board the boat August 31. (Happy Birthday, Mom!)

We just have to call the hotels we already checked with on the whole pet thing and make our reservations. Except we have to find a new place in Camden. The Camden Riverhouse Hotel and Inn guy there was kind of a jerk. When Pootie called to explain that we needed to cancel our reservation and why, he said fine, but I'm keeping your deposit. Really, guy? It's not the money, it's the principle of the thing. I mean, come on. So we will be looking for other accomodations there.

Our wonderful landlady Coleen has reserved our house for us, and we're good to go there as well. 

From the water, ours is the blue one on the right .

Everyone we've talked to in Newfoundland has been so nice. And when I was in Toronto for work and told some of the Canadians there that we were going, every one of them started talking about how beautiful it is there and how friendly and wonderful the people are, and how it's just one of the best places in the world and that they were jealous that we got to stay there for eight months.
Which helps Anxiety Girl a lot.

But you know, I've had a lot of time to get used to the idea of leaving home for that long, and I'm ready. It's going to be a fun adventure, and I'm looking forward to it. Target date of departure is last week of August, set to arrive on The Rock September 1.

Look out, Canada. We're comin'!