Monday, September 29, 2014

Sunday. Super Sunday.

I have suffered only one breakdown/panic attack in the almost-week I've been in Iowa.  That one occurred on Friday when I felt compelled to tidy up the laundry room...and became completely and utterly overwhelmed by the amount of, pardon my French, shit my family and I have managed to accumulate over the years.  The piles of clutter were insurmountable and I felt like I would never be able to conquer them.  Ever.

So I hyperventilated.  I panicked.  I cried.  I freaked out on my husband.

It was a very sad Friday, indeed.  But, I managed to pull myself up by the shoestrings on my Asics and get on with it.  And I ended up having a great weekend.

Of course, it helps that it was, like, an unseasonably 82 degrees here in Iowa...which allowed me to do this:

Brent and I have decided to do our grocery shopping biweekly, as opposed to once a week.  Perhaps it seems like a waste of time, but we found we were dealing with more spoilage or menu items not being used, etc.  You know, from those little pesky life things that pop up every now and then to disrupt your routine?

Anyway, doing groceries on bike is a great way to make sure you stick to your list.  I got a lot of interesting looks from the other shoppers at Fareway, and frankly, I look forward to shopping there again and letting the bag boy take my groceries out to my "vehicle" for me.  Ha!

The majority of the rest of the weekend was spent watching kids' soccer games and getting sunburnt.  Until Sunday morning when I decided to try to recreate one of the meals I'd eaten on the island, thanks to the Jamaicans - Chicken Fricassee.  I did *not* have any jerk spice, but instead an amazing hodgepodge of Asian sauce bottles...all of them with just "a little bit" left in the bottom.

The word 'fricassee' is beauty to me because it's fun to say, not to mention most people don't really know what it is, so they're impressed.  And, as it turns out, it's fairly easy to do.

1. Procure bag of chicken pieces (Wings, thighs, drumsticks, etc). Do not remove bones.

2. Rinse.  Toss in a large bowl with salt, pepper, soy sauce, Korean BBQ sauce, sweet chili sauce, etc., whatever you have left that will expire soon.

3. Let sit for a few minutes.  Meanwhile, chop vegetables (carrots, celery, onions, green peppers, jalapenos for this recipe, wish I'd had some ginger on hand).

4. Heat oil in a large skillet.  Choose an oil with a high smoke point (I used corn, but peanut or soybean oil would work too).  Heat to high, look for the "shimmer" on the surface, and put chicken in carefully (and maybe even using the lid as a shield).  Turn down heat a little if the popping and splattering continue.  We only want color here, so turn pieces over after 3-4 minutes.

5. Transfer chicken to crockpot.

6. Drain all oil except for a couple of tablespoons.  Saut√© cut vegetables for a few minutes until tender.  Add to crockpot.

7. Deglaze skillet with white wine, and lift up all the browny bits.  Add chicken broth, sauces from the marinade, herbs like thyme and parsley, other seasonings (onion and garlic powder here), more soy sauce, etc. etc., and let it reduce down until it's as thick as you want it.  If you're in a hurry, do the cornstarch-and-cold-water slurry to thicken it.

8. TASTE YOUR SAUCE AS IT COOKS DOWN.  Correct seasonings, add salt, etc.

9. Pour over chicken in crockpot.  Turn on low and let cook for six hours.  Meat will simply fall off bone.

10. Cook rice and red beans and serve the fricassee over it.

Yeah.  It's as easy as that!  I know, I know...I didn't include any measurements.  How much of this?  How much of that?  I did one onion, two carrots, three stalks of celery, one jalapeno, two green peppers...and I just threw in the dried parsley and thyme.  Frankly, I wish I'd done more jalapeno and herbs.  Tasting as you go is crucial.  If you're not in the habit of tasting your food as it's cooking (or even before it cooks), do it now.  It's really important.

Now.  Depending on what ingredients we happened to have on hand, this fricassee would taste different.  Sometimes there would be curry and coconut milk, sometimes just a plain brown sauce or demi-glace, or sometimes it would have the Asian flavor, like the one I created yesterday. 

I do love this's very open to creativity.  Go fricassee for yourself!

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