A Perfect Roast Chicken in Your Dutch Oven

If you’re like me, you’ve probably been relying heavily on your Instant Pot and allowing your once trusty and well used dutch ovens to sit there just waiting to be loved again. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Instant Pot, but in all that hastiness I miss the lingering fragrance of a slow roasting chicken, beef roast, or baking bread, along with the anticipation it creates.

I am going to revisit a few of my favorite dinners, which are best suited to baking, roasting, or braising in a dutch oven.

The following chicken recipe is perfect. No lie. The brilliance of how the crusty bread and vegetables create a rustic dressing is really nothing short of genius. So simple and so amazing.

My 21-year-old oval 5 qt. Dutch oven has been benched for a while, it’s the perfect shape and size for a chicken and trimmings.

I roasted mine with ciabatta, carrots, and red potatoes because I’d already used my butternut squash for soup, and was not planning to put on real pants and go shopping. I drizzled extra virgin olive oil on everything before popping it in the oven. The recipe didn’t cal for it, but I felt it needed a litle. Next time I may make it without. Oh, and I didn’t bother trussing it either.

The ciabatta proved to be the perfect choice, the edges were toasted and the rest chewy and flavorful. A baguette would be great too. You want lots of crust in this dish. Trust me. The carrots and potatoes were yummy, but I’m already thinking of other veggie combinations:

  • mushroom, leek, and fennel
  • wild rice, mushroom, and leek
  • Sundried tomato and artichoke hearts

Note: Just leave all the leftovers in the Dutch oven and refrigerate. I popped mine in the oven at 350º for about 30 minutes to reheat. The trimmings were even better reheated. I swear.

I took this one step further and tossed in some aromatics, filled the pot with water, and placed on the stovetop to make stock. Why not?

Here is a link to the recipe here

PS. Try this Buttermilk Roast Chicken and catch up on Conan O’brien Needs a Friend

The Sound of Her Voice

I was really surprised at how much I loved the documentary about Linda Ronstadt The Sound of My Voice. I guess I never realized how much of a maverick she was.

In the mid-eighties I waited tables at a small Mexican restaurant in the southern California mountains, and Canciones de Mi Padre and Trio were on heavy rotation. Hard to beleive both those albums came out in 1987. People would always jump a little when she belted out the first two notes of La Charreada. It was fun to watch so we always made sure to have it at full volume. Her voice was crystal clear and powerful!

Links

Watch it on CNN or Amazon Prime
Canciones de Mi Padre, Linda Ronstadt
Listen to La Charreada
Trio, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt

Hedgehogs, Squirrels & Snails… oh My!

Craft the Seasons by French artist Nathalie Lété.

I’ll admit to fangirling and being easily swayed by an Instagram post on @looplondonloves of Helena Bonham Carter clutching a copy while shopping at Loop. I was intrigued by the cover art enough to order one. Yes, I usually do judge a book by its cover.

When I received my copy I was struck by its whimsy and beauty so much I quickly ordered one for my niece for Christmas, thinking she’d like it too. The projects in the book are meant to be cut out and used. If I can ever bring myself to pull these pages apart I may need another copy to have one intact. This book is so lovely. IMHO it would be appreciated by all ages 7+.

Links

Buy the book Craft the Seasons by Nathalie Lété
Website Nathalie-lete.com
Instagram @nathatlie_lete
Loop website loopknittingshop.com
Instagram @looplondonloves

Resolution #1 Keep Learning

If one of your resolutions is to learn mesoemthing new (hello ukulele), then the folks at Bluprint have a deal for you! Especially if you’ve been wanting to learn how to knit, quill, decorate a cake, or like me, crochet a cute cactus. My friend Martha let me know that Bluprint is offering free classes until 1/7. Sign up for free and craft your little heart out this weekend.

I’ll be crocheting a cactus this weekend, what will you make? Time to get crafty my friend.

mybluprint.com

Ceramic Christmas Trees

One of my favorite things to pull out every year is this lovely painted ceramic tree that my mother-in-law Edna sent to us years ago. I beleive she painted it in the 70’s but not really sure. I love how pearly white it is, somehow kitcshy and elegant at the same time. It’s a Christmas miracle!

Obviously you can buy these ready made and just plug it in, but if you want to get your hands on an original vintage tree, you’ll need to search eBay and thrift stores. Better yet, ask your aunts and grandmothers if they may have one tucked away.

Read about the history of these DIY gems here

Holiday Gift Guide 2019

Here is a short list of some of my favorite gifts this season. Some local, some not so local.

MAYO & TOMATO T-SHIRT $30
Such great gifts at bittersoutherner.com for your southern friends, and those who want to be southern. Nothing conures up memories of a perfect southern summer day than a tomato sandwich with home-grown tomatoes and mayo. Dukes or Blue Plate… please. bittersoutherner.com

GALENDARS from $10
Friends that I gifted with Galendars last year asked where to buy some of these tiny desk calendars for their friends this year. These gals only do two shipments each season so order now so your gifts will ship on their last ship date of December 14th! Oh, and they sell out fast! galendars.com

If you’re in the Austin area you can find them at Blue Genie Art Bazaar

MDK FIELD GUIDES $14.95
If there is a knitter in your life, they need one or twelve of these. These themed, pint-sized tomes are a perfect gift. Each beautifully designed volume explores a technique, yarn, or pattern style. My favorite so far is Wanderlust. masondixonknitting.com

DZIUK’S MEAT MARKET from $6.99
In my circle of San Antonio friends it is imperative if near Castroville, to make a trip to Dziuk’s Meat Market. Their Chunk Beef Jerky is like nothing I’ve ever had before. If dried sausage with wild combos such as quail and pork smoke your meat… look no further than dziuks.com

WHEN PIES FLY $21.59
This follow up to 2018’s James Beard nominated Pie Squared will make any pie lover a happy baker. I’ll be trying the apple strudel recipe over the weekend. amazon.com

Bring These to Your Next Cookie Swap

Coconut Macaroons

But if you work at a certain Texas magazine… don’t, because I’m bringing these.

I’ve been bringing these to every cookie swap since forever. I’ve recently started making these with almond flour instead of all-purpose. The structure is still the same, and my gluten free friends can enjoy them too. You can use half the extract that I do, but they will be less fragrant.

Preheat oven to 350° F.

2/3 cup all purpose or almond flour
14 ounces shredded coconut
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons Mexican vanilla or almond extract

Mix dry ingredients together. Mix in condensed milk and vanilla. I use either a 1″ or 2″ cookie scoop. They only need to be about 2 inches apart since they don’t spread much. Bake about 20 minutes or until golden brown at the edges. I like the edges a little crispy (see above)

Dip the bottoms in some melted chocolate if you must, but I like these just as is.

Cool on rack and enjoy. But be sure to enjoy at least one of them warm. Makes about 2 dozen cookies… depending on the size of your macaroons.

My Slow & Small Weekend Plans

The day after Thanksgiving is my favorite day of the year. I relish the excuse to enjoy a slow day of reheating starchy foods, some quality knitting time, and drinking hot beverages. The fact that my back is a little wrenched this weeekend makes it easier to slow down.

Snuggled up on the couch with two dogs that are knackered from all the entertaining, I’m grateful for a life far better than one I thought I would have, or even deserved.

And so it begins…

The day after Thanksgiving also marks the beginning of the Christmas tree season in my small town. Elgin is home to two Christmas Tree farms, and already the daily parade of Christmas trees on top of cars has begun.

The photo above is the beginning of a lighted tractor display that happens each year. It should be lit up by the next Saturday’s lighted parade.

Evergreen Farms
Elgin Christmas Tree Farm

Shop Small Saturday

Today is our annual reminder of the importance of shopping small and supporting our local businesses. Not sure where to start? The following link has a map of all particpating small businesses near you.

Shop Small Map

P.S. A list of some of my favorite local shops