Saturday, December 25, 2010

Slow Roasted Chicken with Lemon, Garlic and Rosemary

Hot from the oven!  I have to say that this was a successful experiment.  I wanted to slow-roast primarily to keep my oven from spattering (sad, but true), but also because it's supposed to produce succulent results.  I think both ideas worked, although after a couple of hours at 300 degrees, with a few spatters appearing on the pan, I turned the oven up to 350, covered the pan with a big sheet of aluminum foil, and let it cook another hour or more until I was reasonably satisfied I had the instant-read thermometer in the right place and it was sufficiently cooked.  This was a big chicken: 7.33 lbs, so it took awhile. Sorry I didn't keep better track of time or I could tell you exactly how long, but about 3 hours total, I think. The breast meat is as tender and succulent as anybody could want.  Haven't tried the other parts yet, but much of that will be used for chicken soup, so if the joints are still pink, it won't matter.  The skin was a bit tough, rather than crisp, but I guess that's the price I pay for keeping my oven clean.

The Recipe: Well, it isn't much of a recipe, more of an experiment and a process.

First, I put some raw onion wedges, a few lemon slices, some garlic cloves and a couple of spears of fresh rosemary from my garden into the pan.  The chicken went on top of all that.  Then, I melted some butter with more garlic, chopped rosemary and salt and pepper.  Once that was cooled and congealed enough that it was nice and thick and spoonable, I very carefully eased the skin away from the breast meat and spooned the butter mixture underneath, spreading it gently using the skin itself.  You don't want to tear the skin, as it helps keep the meat moist.  More rosemary, garlic and a lemon wedge or two went into the cavity in lieu of stuffing, then I sat back and watched and waited and wished it wasn't taking so long.

Dinner!  Gravy made from pan drippings over cornbread dressing, with a side of sweet potato souffle. When I cook for just myself, I don't bother with other sides.  I go for what I love and want and stuff myself to the gills.  It's only once a year, after all.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Movie for Cyclists

One thing I love about my Netflix subscription is that all kinds of movies that I've never heard of come across their pages and somehow, attract my attention.  I have a queue of something like 38 movies on my 'instant watch' list, and every time it gets low, I manage to find a bunch more to add to it.

Tonight, I watched a movie that's been on the list for awhile: American Flyers.  Now, nobody is going to win any acting awards from this 1985 Kevin Costner blockbuster (not), but if you like cycling, bicycle racing, and/or the Colorado Rockies, you'll like this movie. 

Set around a fictional bicycle race (thinly disguised from the Coors Classic, complete with Coors Classic signs at various finish lines), there are some fabulous cycling scenes with people who are clearly real cyclists (you can't fake those quad muscles), amid the Colorado Rockies and a plot that's not all bad.  This was one of Costner's first movies where he actually had billing -- he was really young.  But, the bikes are the stars of this show.

Kind of reminds me of my own summer spent bicycling around the Colorado Rockies, except that I wasn't racing (although I did watch a segment of the Coors Classic in Estes Park one day).  On the other hand, I had a heavy touring bike and a good 50 pounds of equipment on 4 panniers and the rear rack.

My bike atop Trail Ridge Road, in Rocky Mountain National Park outside Estes Park.  This was the true beginning of my summer cycling adventure.  I'd wimped out on the road up to this point, hopped a ride on a shuttle, then started down the other side.  In the meantime, and always, the scenery was spectacular!

But, I digress.  The movie was good.  Actually kept my attention, which takes a lot when I'm sitting here watching the computer with two cats doing crazy cat things around me.  If you like cycling, and if you can find it, give it a try.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

This is More Like It!

Granted, it's still not exactly toasty here, but the temp range is far more to my  liking and expectations for the three places involved than what I posted a couple of days ago.

Can you believe that yesterday morning it was in the mid-teens and we had ice storms late in the day, and now it's sitting at 61?!?  The weather gods have indeed run amok.  PV is still sounding pretty good, but I'm afraid I'll be staying right where I am, itchy feet or not.

Health Trivia

Did you know.....

..... of all the cooking oils, only real butter and coconut oil can handle the heat of cooking without turning into the dreaded trans-fat?  Even olive oil, which is still great for you as long as it's not heated.  Keep it for salads or dunking bread, but don't cook with it.

.... cod liver oil, which is a fantastic health supplement, turns rancid during the process of heating in order to put it into those convenient gelcaps?  Take your cod liver oil, but take it from a tablespoon, right out of a bottle.  Toss the gelcaps.

.... fresh eggs are good for you?  There's a component in egg yolks that is one of the best cholesterol-fighting substances available.  Science has long discarded the 'egg yolks are bad for cholesterol' line, but marketers are still using it to sell you artificial eggs or egg whites and sadly, many doctors haven't gotten the message, either.

.... you can boost your immunity to colds and flu and other such things by eating more of certain foods? Garlic;  mushrooms (any mushrooms, but shiitake, maitake and reishi have the biggest punch); yogurt that contains lactobacillus reuteri, which stimulates white blood cells.  Most brands don't contain this particular bacillus, so check the label. Stoneyfield Farms has it and so does Nancy's, if you can find it. Oats and barley, fish, black or green tea, beef, sweet potatoes all help keep you healthy.  And don't forget grandma's remedy of old fashioned chicken soup, which blocks migration of inflammatory white blood cells.  Garlic and onion added to the soup add flavor as well as even more immune-boosting power. 

.... using anti-bacterial soaps and gels can actually lower your immunity to colds and flue and other nasty bugs because those products kill off the good bugs as well as the bad bugs?  Your body's good bugs will fight off the bad bugs if your immune system is in good shape to begin with.

.... Grandma was right about something else, too. You are what you eat!  If you eat healthy foods, your body will be healthy.  If you eat junk food and processed foods, your body will be, well, junk.  Your body makes new cells every day.  It will make new cells tomorrow from the food you feed it today.  Think about that before you decide whether to take the shortcut at a drive-thru or take a little time and eat something healthy -- perhaps from the immune-fighting list above. (She says, as she opens a can of  very processed soup for lunch -- yuk! But, I had farm-fresh organic eggs scrambled in coconut oil for breakfast, will have beef with onions, garlic and mushrooms for dinner.  Nobody's perfect all the time!)

Just want y'all to stay good and healthy this winter, amigos.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Perception vs. Reality

Have you ever noticed how often what you perceive is totally different from reality.  By reality, I mean truth, not reality slanted by bias or yes, our own perceptions. Going around in circles here, I know.  And, I'm not trying to be either philosophical or political, merely noticing my own perceptions of temperature today vs. what is really happening and forecast to be happening.

Because of all the ice/snow/sleet warnings, and because birdbaths and driveway puddles have been frozen solid for a week or so, and because the lake not far from here was icing over when I drove by a short while ago, I've been running around here turning all the heat on and up to take the chill off before night falls.  That's my perception.  Reality is that while yes, my windshield was icing up in the bottom corners as I drove home, from light sleet falling, the outside temp was and is hovering around 33, whereas it was around 16 when I left home this morning.  Reality is that the ice/sleet is due to pass by quickly, temps are due to stay slightly above freezing tonight and tomorrow should be relatively balmy, in the 50s. 

So -- perception vs. reality: the cold wave we've been living with for a couple of weeks now is on its way out the door but I'm suddenly trying to batten down all the heat hatches as if it were going to be below zero here tonight.  Silly me. My perceived reality is that it's damned cold and has been all day!

But, I did hear on the local radio as I was driving home that this has been the coldest December on record in this area for the last 100 years, which predates even my childhood memories of what December ought to be like.  And to think I heard not too long ago that we were forecast to have a warmer-than-usual winter.  So much for the weather guessers.

Monday, December 13, 2010

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Real time temps, just a few minutes ago.  Did I not move south from Eugene so I'd be warmer?  Right now, I'm seriously wondering why I wimped out of moving to Mexico near PV when I retired so I'd really be warm.  Granted I wouldn't have had a lot to do down there to fill my time, but right now, 77 sounds one hell of a lot better than 26.  I could stand the boredom, I think.  Always a beautiful, warm beach to walk on.

It's kind of too late now, but I gotta did I screw this up so bad?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Not So Fancy Decorating

 Open, to let the sun's warmth in.

This drafty room has had me looking seriously at ways of keeping the drafts down during these cold evenings.  One of my favorite bloggers, Layla at The Lettered Cottage, has used plain old painter's drop cloths from HD as curtains in her house and they look great.  It's an idea I've wanted to copy, but right now I can't afford to do it right (with nice black extra-wide rods so the curtains don't cover the window). I just wanted to see if it works, so I took a used one and clipped it roughly to a rod that came with the house so it will close over the window at night.  Not sure how much good it's going to do for drafts, but we'll find out later when it's cold again. Certainly provided The Brat with one more thing to be curious about.

Closed, to hopefully keep the cold drafts out.

I also found that some serious cold air is coming from around my front door, at the bottom corner.  I bought some of that cheap self-sticking foam tape yesterday, but it was too thick so the front door wouldn't close enough to lock.  I did use some in places and while it isn't pretty, it's helping.  Then today, once the outside temps warmed to their highest (around 45), I opened the door and did some serious caulking on all sides where there were spaces.  The door is still open to let it dry, and it almost feels balmy.  Almost.  Some foam inserts that go behind electrical outlets and switches completed my day's work of more winterizing.  Let's hope it works.  I really hate the draftiness of this room, and the cold spots.

I really should have moved a lot further south! Mexico is sounding really good again (but no, I'm not moving again).