garlicky garlic baked chicken

Jeanne here.

The Cowboy (aka my husband) has been working in Canada for a few weeks, and the littles and I were finally able to make the drive to meet up with him just a few days ago at his sublet apartment in Vancouver, BC.

A word about Vancouver: holy COW is it expensive! But that’s not news. It was reported last week to be the most expensive North American city for living. And I believe it. $11 to park in public parking lots. $7 for one package of wipes because I accidentally left our wipes at the apartment and really needed them but didn’t have an extra 30 minutes to drive home to get them. $40 for lunch for one adult and two toddlers at a pizza joint near the Cowboy’s office. Crazy.

And we’re deep in the heart of downtown. Skyscrapers. Asphalt Jungle. Coffee shops on every corner. Hot dog carts and soft pretzels on every other. Rear Window living as no one closes their shades on the 33rd floor of a high-rise. Aquariums. Art galleries. Science World. Museums. And it never gets dark. The lights from all the buildings keep the rooms lit almost to dusk even at 2 am.

I’m amazed at how amazed I am.

I mean, I lived in Los Angeles for 16 years. And before that, I lived in Washington, DC. I’ve worked on movies in San Francisco, Atlanta, Detroit and Albuquerque, and spent a lot of time in New York and London, so it’s not like I’ve never experienced city living. I’ve only been in Montana for 4 years. Well. Almost 4 years. It’ll be 4 years in June. But I’ve come to really like seeing stars at night. And not hearing the constant hum of cars. And sirens. I guess I’ve really done it. I’ve gone Montana.

I could wax-nostalgic for hours but what I really wanted to say is that we are here for two weeks and I don’t want to eat out for every meal. I also don’t want to stock a second kitchen like ours at home so I’ve been making simple foods and it turns out that the kids and the Cowboy are pretty happy about it.

A few nights ago, for example, I made this:

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Looks a little boring, right? Baked chicken and a salad.

But I’ll tell you something: It’s five ingredients. 20 minutes. And it’s flavorful and made for four happy eaters. So happy, in fact, that I made it again a few nights later.

Garlicky Garlic Baked Chicken

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 2 Tbls sesame oil
  • 6-8 cloves garlic (rough chopped)
  • 3 Tbls grade B maple syrup
  • sea salt & fresh ground pepper (to taste)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Rinse and pat dry the chicken breasts. Patting the chicken dry seems to help ensure moist chicken. One day I’ll figure out the science of it. But in the meantime, I highly recommend patting it dry. Set in a non-reactive roasting pan and season the chicken with salt and pepper. (We use glass or ceramic. I’m happy to say that the owner of this apartment left one glass baking dish.)

Heat the oil in a small saucepan. Add the chopped garlic and sauté until translucent. Remove from the heat and add the maple syrup. Pour the mixture evenly over the chicken. I lift each chicken breast to let the mixture get under the meat as well.

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the maple syrup gets all frothy and the liquid from the chicken runs clear.

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Remove from the oven. Let stand for 2-3 minutes while you plate your side dish (we had a mixed green salad with pink lady apples and a balsamic honey mustard dressing). Slice and serve.

What do you feed your family when you’re on an extended trip that’s not really a vacation?

it’s September and we’re freezing in Montana … and pickling, too.

I hope you’re having as much fun as we are in the garden this year.  It’s been a bumper crop so far.

We’ve already eaten every last of our carrots.  (We’re going to have to plant more next year.)

And broccoli. (Another crop we’ll need to expand next year … good thing we just added two more raised beds!)

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We have too much zucchini that ripened all at the same time (and just as many left on the vine to ripen in the next week).

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A lot of tomatoes …

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 … and again, even more on the vine waiting to ripen.

A few pounds of cucumbers.

More than a few heads of garlic.

A good amount of basil.

And not enough peppers (It’s not easy to grow peppers in a raised bed in Montana … the nights are too cold and the season too short).  But we were able to grow ONE (out of  8 plants).

lone pepper

I’m re-thinking the strategy on peppers for next year.  Does anyone have an easy how-to build a cold frame they’d like to share using old storm windows?

So now that we’ve harvested so much of our bounty, my brain is turning to food storage.  Because we want to take advantage of all this goodness, but know we can’t eat it all before it goes bad and as much as I appreciate our compost bin, I don’t want to see this goodness wind up there.  So what to do to preserve and store?

ZUCCHINI

My hope is to preserve as much of the “freshness” as we can with zucchini.  We’re blanching an freezing most of the what we’ve plucked from the garden this year for use in stews and soups as the weather turns colder.

But blanching veggies that you’re  going to freeze is a little different from blanching veggies you’re going to eat right away. When you’re blanching to freeze, do NOT salt the water.  Salt will break down the cell walls and you’ll end up with mushy vegetables.  And that’s not what we want.  We want a bit of crisp fresh goodness in the midst of our winter.  At least, that’s what want.  Maybe you like mushy zucchini?

Here’s how we’re doing it:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Meanwhile, half-fill a large bowl with cold water and some ice to use as an ice bath.  While the water comes to a boil, chop the zucchini into similar-sized pieces (rounds, squares, wedges … whatever shape you’re hoping to use in the coming months).  For this batch (which is a soup-batch) I chose to chop them into 1-inch bits.  Regardless of their shape, keep the size roughly the same.  It will help ensure even cooking time when you go to use them.

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Once the pot of water is at a rolling boil, carefully add cubed or sliced zucchini (in batches if necessary).  As soon as the skin turns “bright green” and the zucchini is a nice firm al dente texture (just about a minute for smaller bits, one to two minutes for larger chunks) use a slotted spoon to remove and add to the ice bath to stop the cooking.

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From the ice bath, I move the zucchini to tray lined either with paper towel or a flour-sack towel and let drain for just a few minutes before I put them in Ziploc freezer bags that I lay flat to freeze.

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IMG_1022 (NOTE:  I feel funny using plastic for this food storage, but I haven’t found an alternative yet that works for freezing.  And I don’t love what happens to summer squash in canning.  If you have a suggestion, I would LOVE to hear it!)

TOMATO 

Unlike my sister Teri, who gagged when I sent her the photo from above of our tomato-bounty :), I love tomatoes.  (In her defense, she had a tomato soup incident as a 4-year-old that pretty much sealed her never-eat-a-tomato-even-ketcheup fate.  I don’t want to tell you about it because it was gross. Needless to say … she doesn’t eat tomatoes.)

But as I said, I love tomatoes. Fresh, they are bright and sweet and perfect.  Heated, they get even sweeter and warmer and

Our littles love tomatoes.  But even so … there are just too many in the garden this year to be able to eat them all fresh.  I can only eat so many tomato sandwiches, caprese salads and ratatouille in one day.  So what we can’t eat fresh, I’ve decided to turn into three staples we need in the kitchen all year long and then freeze.

I’ve already made 1 1/2 gallons of this Tomato Sauce (which I will use for pizza, pasta, meatballs, soup, etc).  I’ve got enough tomatoes in the kitchen this morning to make another half gallon.  When all is said and done, I’ll have up with three gallons in the freezer.

Taco Sauce.  After we’ve got the tomato sauce stored, I’ll turn to taco sauce and do the same process.  My goal is to have at least half a gallon of taco sauce in pint jars for easy use.

And then Tomato Paste … a recipe I’ll share when I have a chance to get some photos of the process.  I just don’t love that most tomato paste comes in BPA-lined little cans.  Tomatoes are so acidic.  And often, recipes call for just a tablespoon or two of this burst of brightness so then you end up using just a little of the 2 oz can and the rest goes to waste.  SOOOOO … I’m off to Owenhouse Ace Hardware for a 12-pack of 4 oz ball jars to prep for the tomato paste adventure.

CUCUMBER

We used This Recipe to make garlic dill pickles.

BASIL and GARLIC

I’m going to have to plant even more garlic this year because I’m using so much what we harvested right now.  I’ve used several head in the tomato sauce.  I’ll use more in the taco sauce.  I’ve been on a bit of a hummus-jag these days.  And whatever’s left of the garlic will end up combined with whatever’s left of the basil in a pesto.

All this food-stuff … it gets me so excited for next year’s garden!  I’m already making lists and plans.  And we’re only about a month away from having to plant the garlic!

I need to make a seed order … STAT!

xo,

Jeanne

Asian-like slow cooker short ribs

I don’t usually make the short ribs in our house because the Cowboy likes to make short ribs.  He uses a recipe from a Thomas Keller cookbook … Ad Hoc at Home, I think.

But this week, the Cowboy was busy.  We had a fridge full of thawed short ribs that needed to be cooked.  We had company.  And that company needed to eat.

Now … these short ribs might not be pretty …

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… but let me tell you something:  there were five adults and two small children at the table … and when all was said and done, there was not one bite of short ribs for leftovers, and seven very full, very happy bellies.

I call them “Asian-like” because there’s ginger in this recipe and ginger reminds me of Asia.  So does the rice wine vinegar.  And the hot chili garlic sauce that’s got Vietnamese origins.  And rice.

But they’re not Asian.

They’re just tasty.

And if you like short ribs, I’m pretty sure you’ll like ’em:

Asian-like slow cooker short ribs

INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 1/2 lbs short ribs
  • sea salt
  • pepper
  • 2 onions (peeled and cut in large strips)
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup Bragg’s Aminos
  • 2 tablespoons raw local honey
  • 2 bottles good quality ginger ale (we used Reed’s Organic Ginger Ale)
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce (or your favorite chili-garlic sauce – more if you like it spicy)
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger (peeled and diced)
  • 1 cup filtered water
DIRECTIONS:
Trim the excess fat from the short ribs, salt and pepper the beef, then sear in a very hot frying pan.
Add the beef and onion to the slow cooker.
In a medium bowl, combine the vinegar, soy sauce, honey, ginger ale, Sriracha, garlic, ginger and water. Whisk until well mixed.
Pour liquid over the beef and onion. Cook on LOW for 6 hours (or until the meat is tender).
And don’t be surprised when there’s nothing left for lunch tomorrow.
xo,
Jeanne
We’re linked up on The Nourishing Gourmet and This Chick Cooks!