Remind me to tell you all about my break from blogging and social media. For now, I want to welcome you back to DebsPots blog with a little story and tell you about some of the cooking I’ve been doing lately here in the house in the woods.
This morning, I stepped out of my car and looked into the angelic face of a curly haired 3 year old wearing a jean jacket and a pair of khakis. He gave me a huge smile, then made his hands into claws and growled. I said “hi,” and then he yelled “Spider Man!” Smiling back, I walked away wondering about the interaction. Then I realized: Verbal Halloween Costume!!!
Everyone in my family has a weakness for Carr’s wheat crackers; I served them in When Life Gives you Lemons. So, when Stella published a recipe for a homemade version on Serious Eats, she had me at “wheat.” Now, I keep the ingredients (all organic, mind you) on hand and bake them every week. If you do make them, and they’re not quite crisp enough, pop them into a 250° oven for a half hour or so, preferably on a rack so the air can circulate.
They are the perfect snack when you need a little something. They’re crisp and toasty and terrific all on their own, but even better with a schmear of peanut or almond butter. Nothing beats a layer of cream cheese and some apricot or fig jam. Or lemon curd. There’s nothing lovlier next to a cup of Hot Chocolate. Or a bowl of ice cream, with or without warm chocolate or caramel sauce.
But we all need protein sometimes, so I spatchcocked (I love that word), seasoned, and roasted an organic, free range, chicken under a brick. I’m not sure I’ll do it that way again because the skin stuck to the nonstick skillet and I lost half of the crispiness I’d worked so hard to achieve. But the meal was yummy and there was more than half a bird leftover.
The next day, I pulled all the meat from the bones. Do you enjoy that task? I always do it when I’m a little peckish and reward myself with some of the choice bits, like the oyster. Saving the meat for later, I dumped the bones and skin into a pot and brewed up some bone broth. Bone broth is the lazy cook’s version of stock, no need to add anything else; tasty and useful!
Later in the day, I trimmed and blanched some baby artichokes. Parcooked a local yukon gold in the microwave, and cubed it up. Sautéed green onion, local carrot, the artichokes, the pototoes, and some minced celery in leftover chicken fat combined with olive oil. Threw in a spoonful of flour, then the drippings from the chicken, and a good pour of bone broth. After a few minutes on a low heat, I had a gorgeous stew, into which I tossed a handful of spinach for flavor and color.
I could have stopped there, but I’d promised Bob a pot pie, so I set about making a biscuit crust; an old favorite from my beloved Laurie Colwin, but with the addition of some organic whole wheat flour (again, pretending to be a bit more healthy) and a bit less butter. You can sub some olive oil and/or chicken fat here, too, if you like. This supple crust is a dream, comes together and rolls out in a flash.
In lieu of a pie plate, I used a low-sided, wide, wood-fired stoneware bowl. Slid in the stew, arranged the dough on top, and made some air vents. Baked the pot pie in a 350° oven for 40 minutes. Savory and delicious! You could sub the artichokes for more traditional peas, a less labor intensive option.
Oh, and I made some not-fried green tomatoes to go with. A lovely friend gave me a big bag full of very unripe San Marzanos last week. So I sliced them up, drizzled them with some panko, lots of salt and pepper, plenty of parm, and a glug of excellent olive oil, baked on a sheet pan on the other rack. Heaven with a glass of sparkly.
I wish you a happy halloween, and a beautiful start to your November!