Wednesday, June 18, 2008

If Stephen King Were Here ...

Once my sister thought she saw Stephen King at the mall eating soup(!). She went up to the man who had been eating with him and said, "Excuse me, was that Stephen King?" And of course the man said "No." But I like to think it was him, perhaps in town on assignment, doing research for a book. Stranger things could happen.

If Mr. King really was in my neighborhood, he'd probably be writing about psychotic, mutant critters, wreaking havoc on the neighborhood, gnawing their way into people's homes and taking over the universe. He could title it Creatures of Wrath. I say these things, because we do have a lot of critters around here. Namely tarantulas, snakes and scorpions. This week, I have found a tarantula on the front porch, a snake in the garage, and a scorpion in my daughters closet. The scorpion was dead, thank goodness. I don't have pictures of these critters - you'll just have to take my word for it. It's a creepy crawler world out there and I get the willies just thinking about it.

Here are some of the less formidable critters we've encountered lately ...

Mr. toad - who crawls out of the pot every time I water the ivy and clings to the edge until it's safe to crawl back inside again. So cute!

This one's hard to see. But Rocky the Flying Squirrel landed on the brick next to the back door after being chased by the neighbors big yellow cat. You can see the cat on the corner of the fence. Would you believe this is the first squirrel I've ever seen in my yard?

I am a fan of Stephen King ... and all books and literature for that matter. There's something so satisfying about curling up with a good book and a steaming hot bowl of soup.

Wonder what I would serve if Stephen ever came for dinner? ...

He's just one of those people you'd love to chat with.

I assume he'd enjoy a nice bowl of soup. Nothing fancy, since it's summertime. I'd probably make some White Chicken Chili. It's hearty, but lighter than regular chili and has a certain freshness to it.

I'm a little worried about the spice, though, as I'm addicted to the flavors of the Southwest. But living in Maine, Mr. Nightmare seems more of a chowda kinda guy. Oh, well. Stephen, if you're out there, you're welcome for soup.

White Chicken Chili
adapted from

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 tsp. cumin
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 lb. Anaheim chilies, roasted, peeled and diced,
or 3 cans (7 oz.) whole fire-roasted chilies, diced
4 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 lb. diced cooked chicken breast
2 cans (15 oz.) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed.
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro
1/4 cup cornmeal
Shredded jack cheese, sour cream and lime wedges for serving

In a large saute pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 minutes. Add the cumin, garlic and jalapeno and cook for another minute. Stir in Chilies and 4 cups of the chicken broth, then transfer to a slow cooker. Stir in chicken, beans, oregano and cilantro.

Put the cornmeal in a small bowl and slowly mix in remaining 1/2 cup of the broth. Stir the cornmeal mixture into the chicken mixture. Cover and cook in the slow cooker on high for at least 3 hours. Thin the chili with more broth if needed.

Serve with cheese, sour cream and lime wedges.

Note: This recipe was originally for White Turkey Chili - but I subsituted Chicken instead and it turned out great.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

What Else Does One Really Need?

There hasn't been much time for cooking this week but there have been a few nice foodie moments...

Foodie moment number one: Found the Soup Man frozen soup at my local grocery store.

This came as a surprise. I mean, being a soup-junkie and all, and a fan of Seinfeld, I had heard of this guy and his restaurant in New York, but had never been lucky enough to eat some of his soup. So you can imagine how thrilled I was when I stumbled upon his soup in the frozen food section of my local grocery store. Normally I don't like store bought soup. But it's nice to know there's something out there for my poor starving children to ladle up while Mom's at work. Soup Man, you saved the day!

Foodie moment number two: Lee's Sandwiches

This franchise opened a few months ago, and although I'm not a fan of Asian food, this was fun. Lot's of sandwiches to choose from and there was a big bonus, Great bread! Crispy on the outside, hot and tender on the inside and only $1.00. One Dollar! I wanted to buy ten loaves, but knew I'd weigh about ten pounds heavier if I did.

Foodie moment number three
: The Farmer's Market

I love shopping at farmer's markets. If anyone has read any of my previous posts, they know I like to grocery shop. Once I heard Nigella Lawson say, "some girls shop for shoes on the weekend, I shop for food." I always new I liked that gal. Here's some of our loot - including some squash from our own garden.

And last but not least...

Foodie moment number four: Girls Night In

My daughter and I found ourselves home alone on Saturday night with no men around except for the cat. We prepared a meal with local everything (except for the wine and olive oil.) A roast chicken with new potatoes and garlic bought at the farmer's market along with some thyme and rosemary from our garden. Also some sliced zucchini from the garden, sauteed in a bit of olive oil, butter and thyme. Also a nice Cesar salad and afterward watched The Other Boleyn Girl. A perfect evening.

Roast Chicken with Potatoes
adapted from Jean-Georges Vongerichten's recipe on The Martha Stewart Show

Serves 4
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound of new potatoes
1 whole (2 1/2-to-3-pound) chicken, wings removed
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 head garlic, halved crosswise
Fleur de sel, for serving
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Butter a medium roasting pan with 3 tablespoons butter and 3 tablespoons oil. Place potatoes in a single layer in roasting pan. Season chicken inside and out with salt and pepper. Place rosemary, thyme, and garlic inside cavity of chicken; using kitchen twine, tie legs together to enclose. Rub chicken with remaining 3 tablespoons each of butter and oil. Place chicken on top of potatoes on one of its sides.
Transfer roasting pan to oven and roast for 20 minutes. Turn chicken onto its other side and continue roasting 20 minutes more. Turn chicken, breast side up, and add 2 tablespoons water to pan; continue roasting until juices run clear and the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 10 to 20 minutes more.
Carve chicken in roasting pan allowing the juices to combine with the potatoes. Serve from the roasting pan, spooning pan juices over potatoes. Sprinkle with fleur de sel.

(I waited until the last 20 minutes of cooking time to add my potatoes to the pan as they were just a few tiny, new potatoes and I knew they wouldn't take long to cook and they turned out fantastic).