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citrusfish.jpg
zest of each ~ 1 grapefruit, 1 lemon, 1 lime and 1 tangerine (mixed together)
juice of each ~ 1 grapefruit, 1 lemon, 1 lime and 1 tangerine (mixed together)
4 TBSP unsalted butter
2 TBSP olive oil
3 shallots diced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp each of Thyme and Taragon
1 pint heavy cream
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 tsp corn starch

10 tilapia filets (fresh or thawed)
salt and pepper
flour
Oil and butter for frying fish (I just cover the bottom of the pan with oil and then add a few TBSP butter)

Angel Hair or Thin Spaghetti

1 dozen fresh Brussel sprouts, trimmed and shredded.
2 TBSP butter and 3 TBSP olive oil

Melt the butter with the olive oil over low/med heat. Add shallots and garlic and saute until tender. Gently add a cup or so of chicken broth and cook just a moment, add herbs and cook a minute or so more. Remove from heat and let cool a bit. Pour this mixture into a blender and pulse. Turn blender to low speed and slowly add heavy cream. Return to skillet and cook stirring constantly until mixture is well heated. Remove from heat. Set aside. Put your water on to boil for your pasta. Salt and pepper your fish and dredge in flour. Pan fry fish until golden brown,turning only once and placing just enough fillets in the pan as to not crowd them. Place fish to drain on a rack over a cookie sheet (the kind with sides so the oil doesnt run off into your oven. Set your oven to 425 while you are finishing frying the fish. When all the fish is done, place in the oven while you saute the spouts and cook the pasta. Listen for it to begin to sizzle – dont want to burn it! After 5-7 minutes or when you hear it sizzle turn the oven off. Leave it in the oven to stay warm while you finish.

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Place the skillet of cream sauce on a low burner and warm it back to nearly boiling. Add the balance of the chicken broth mixed with 1 tsp corn starch and zest of your citrus fruits. Stir occasionally to keep it from sticking or getting brown. It should thicken nicely. In the mean time, cook your pasta and saute shredded sprouts in a skillet with the butter and olive oil – browning very slightly. Salt and pepper to taste. Pasta – should take 4-5 mintues for the Angel Hair or 5-7 for the Think Spaghetti. When pasta is done, drain and plate, adding warmed sauce and to taste, top with a spoonful of sauted sprouts and place fish on the side and drizzle reserved citrus juices. YUMMY.

This is a “Susan Recipe” so if you have any questions, ask…I wrote it down as I went, trying to make it as clear as possible. It is definitely going in the recipe binder. I served this with a toasted bagguette.

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Sometimes when Husband asked what we are having for supper, what he is trying to say in a nice way is it is my turn (finally) to cook.  So night before last when he asked I said “I have been wanting to try this pasta dish.  How does that sound?”  Fine.  It sounded fine.  Even after I admitted that I only had it partially concocted in my head.  It actually turned out pretty delish.


I cubed some boneless skinless chicken breasts and sauteed them in a little butter/olive oil combination   with plenty of salt and pepper. In another skillet I sauteed a red bell pepper, 5 green onions, 5 cloves garlic,  and two ribs of celery until tender. While I was doing the veggies and chicken, in a separate pot I cooked the spaghetti and then tossed it in a big bowl with fresh lemon slices (3-4) and butter.

While everything was hot I tossed it all together and served with a toasted baguette and fresh spinach salad.

Crust

2 refrigerated pie crusts, softened to room temp or make your own pie crust (enough for a double crust pie ~see below for recipe)

Filling

  • 6 cups thinly sliced, peeled apples (6 medium)~ like to use Granny Smith
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Heat oven to 425°F. Place 1 pie crust in ungreased 9-inch glass pie plate. Press firmly against side and bottom. In large bowl, gently mix filling ingredients; If using a pie bird here is where it comes in! See directions below. If not using a pie bird proceed with the following:

Spoon into crust-lined pie plate. Top with second crust. Wrap excess top crust under bottom crust edge, pressing edges together to seal; flute. Cut slits or shapes in several places in top crust. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until apples are tender and crust is golden brown. Cover edge of crust with 2- to 3-inch wide strips of foil after first 15 to 20 minutes of baking to prevent excessive browning. Cool on cooling rack at least 2 hours before serving.

How To Use a Pie Bird

(1) Place your unbaked crust in your pie plate.

(2) Put the Pie Bird in the center of your crust.

(3) Pour your pie filling in the crust evenly around the Pie Bird.

(4) Cut a small slit in the top crust.

(5) Gently place the top crust over the pie, easing the Pie Bird through the slit. Let it rest on the “shoulders” of the Pie Bird.

(6) Wrap excess top crust under bottom crust edge, pressing edges together to seal; flute.

(7) Bake per pie directions.

(8) Remove the Pie Bird when you cut the first piece of pie.

Gently clean your pie bird with mild dishwashing liquid ~ do NOT place in dishwasher.

My Best Basic Pie Crust

No-fail. Works every time. You will find other crusts throughout this book…but as far as a basic unsweetened crust good for general pie making…you won’t do better than this one! It can be prebaked for cream pies or used unbaked for filled pies. I even use it for pot pies.

This recipe makes enough dough for four 9” pie shell bottoms for cream or meringue pies or two pies with top and bottom crusts such as an apple pie.

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups shortening (chilled)
  • 1/3 cup cold water
  • 1 TBSP vinegar
  • 1 egg, beaten

Stir the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Cut the chilled shortening into the dry mixture using a pastry cutter or by pinching the fat into the mixture with your hands. The resulting mixture should have fat lumps no smaller than peas.

Pour the cold water, a small amount at a time, into the dry mixture; mixing gently with a fork until the dough is wet enough to be packed into a ball. ball. The dough should be handled as little as possible to prevent the blending of all of the fat lumps, as a crust with no fat lumps will be dense and hard. Split the dough into four equal amounts, roll them into balls and wrap them in plastic before placing them in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes.

Chilling will prevent the fat from absorbed by the flour and give a lighter texture to the crust when it is baked.

Generously dust a clean, dry surface with flour and remove one of the packages of dough from the refrigerator. Flatten the dough slightly and dust the dough’s top before rolling the dough out with a rolling pin . Start rolling at the center of the dough and work outwards. Some people prefer do this between sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap because it makes clean up and rolling easier.

Quickly roll the dough into a circle 1/4 or 1/8 inch thick. The size of the circle should be about four inches wider in diameter than the pie pan.

A trick for getting the dough positioned in the pan correctly is to fold the dough in half and then into quarters. Gently pick it up and place it into the pan so that the center point is in the center of the pan.

Unfold the dough into the pan and it should be perfectly centered. If the dough cracks a little during this process, press it back together with your fingers or patch the cracks with a bit of dough from the outer edges.

At this point you can fill your crust according to your recipe or you might want to consider freezing the crusts for later use. I roll out my circles place them individually between sheets of waxed paper and gently fold in fourths. I then place them carefully in zipper plastic bags and lie flat to freeze. When a crust is needed, take it out leave it in the bag to come to room temperature and then proceed with recipe.

PS If you need a pie bird (or two) click on him and it will take you to my etsy!

Paris Puffins

My dear, dear (sometimes neglected, I am ashamed to say) friend Kim sent me this recipe. I can tell you they are amazingly good. Read the email from her containing the recipe, got right up and made them! And yes, use the mini muffin tins, they are just bite size!

Paris Puffins

1/3 c. soft Shortening
½ c. Sugar
1 egg
1 ½ c. Flour
1 ½ t. baking powder
½ t. salt
¼ t. nutmeg
½ c. Milk
1/3 c. butter, melted
½ c. Sugar
1 t. cinnamon

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12 muffins cups (these are best to me, baked in mini muffin tins.) Mix shortening, sugar, and egg. Mix dry ingredients in separate bowl and add to sugar mixture alternately with milk. Bake 25 minutes. Combine cinnamon and sugar. When cool enough to handle, roll muffins in melted butter and cinnamon sugar mixture.
These little mini muffins are not too sweet and taste divine with a good hot tea sweetened, and a bit of cream!

2008, January 22

Giveaway Winner

The winner of this special giveaway…

2008, January 20

Tea and Sympathy

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If I could invite you all over for a cup of tea, I would.  You are all too, too kind and generous with your sympathies.  I think unless one has lost their mom, it is hard to imagine how you will feel. As I have honestly stated before my mom and I didnt always see eye to eye and get along perfectly.  But we always loved each other regardless.  And I knew I would miss her, I just didnt know how that would feel.  Or how I would handle it.  If I would just have sad moments where something made me cry or if I would have days where I stayed in bed and felt sorry for my orphaned self.  I have had both now.  That of course doesnt mean the end of it.  I doubt it will ever end.  If I could bring myself to get busy with things it would help.  But even with all my cleaning plans, and sewing projects, I didn’t do much yesterday.  Just vegetated.

Today is a new day and I AM going to do more.

2008, January 19

An Award!

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A You Make Me Smile Award from  Ruthann over at Warm Pie, Happy Home

She will probably want to take it back after today’s post!  Sorry to let you down Ruthann…caught me on a rough day!  BUT I will play along.  I am working on my post where I list 6 random habits/facts about myself and then tag 6 women with blogs who make me smile! Thank you Ruthann and I will cheer up, I promise!

2008, January 19

Baby, it’s cold outside! Plus a recipe.

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And apparently, there is snow just an our East of here.  How unfair does that seem?? My kiddos would love a little dusting of white just every now and again.  I really dont know how cold it was at the lowest this morning but it is just above freezing at this moment.  And according to weather.com it will be a chilly 25 tonight.  YIKES!  So happy tomorrow is Sunday and no one has to go to work early. 

Don’t forget the giveaway is Monday!! 

I think maybe finally I might be beginning to grieve a little from the loss of my mom.  I know I initially grieved as anyone does but I am “feeling” it a little more these days. When she died I told myself I a) was not sad because no one should have to live like she was living b)I had nearly 6 months to prepare myself for her passing and c) I really never saw anyone grieve before so I didn’t really know what to expect from myself. My family tended to ignore the grieving process and jump right back into things.  Good or bad, that’s just how it has always been.  And with Husband’s family as well.  Add up the lull after the holidays, the dreariness of winter time – dark and damp and dull, my husband being 6000 miles away, really feeling like I need a new focus business-wise and not knowing which way I want to turn.  I am afraid my worst days are ahead where the feeling of loss is concerned. Everything I do, make, cook, plan…I think of her. Oddly, I don’t think I thought of her this much when she was alive and just across the road. It makes me want to live my life to the fullest with no regrets yet, in the past few days I have felt it very hard to be motivated. Mom never allowed herself the pleasure of a vacation and she never considered herself good at things like sewing and crafting. She lived vicariously though me in those areas. Everything I have made since her passing, I have wished to be able to show her because she got so much pleasure from things I made. Our upcoming vacation to Europe is one she longed for but would never take the time or spend the money. I saw as she was dying that she wished for so many things. She told me over and over and over…do the things you long to do, life is too short. I think the feeling of loss and separation has taken a hold of me just a bit.  But three months in seems a little late to crawl in the bed and cry for days doesn’t it?  I have often believed that I have SAD (seasonal affective disorder) but you have no idea how I hate labels.  I think these next couple of weeks might firm up that diagnosis.  I suppose if you came here for a chippy, happy post today you stopped off a the wrong blog.  I will try to do better but at this moment I just can’t.  But what I can do to make this a little less depressed is leave you with a recipe.  Then I have to go accomplish something.  The cleaning is going very very slowly.  And I have GOT to get these aprons finished and out the door!  Shame on me for dragging my feet.  Dragging my feet only makes me feel worse.  Vicious little circle isnt it?  Talk to you all soon. 

This is a recipe I have had for a long time but haven’t made.  I am going to give it a try tonight.  Don’t know how I feel about the mashed potatoes and may end up slicing them instead and layering with the leeks (or onions if I cant get leeks). It just seems like a fitting, comfort food. 

Cottage Pie 

Filling
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef or stew meat cubed
2 onions, peeled and diced
1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced or cooked carrot, diced
1  ounce butter
1 cup cooked English peas (optional – Husband can’t abide and English pea, I think I will serve ours on the side)
1 teaspoon dried herbs of your choice but we like thyme, chives and basil
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
8 ounces beef stock  or a couple of beef bouillion cubes in a cup of boiling water

salt  and pepper to taste

Cottage Pie Topping
2 pounds  potatoes, peeled and cut into small even sized pieces
2  large leeks, cleaned sliced into rings or sweet onions if you cant get leeks
2 ounces butter
2-4 tablespoons milk
4 ounces mature farmhouse cheddar cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste

To make the pie filling:.
Fry the onions and carrots if using, in the butter until they are becoming soft.
Add the beef and cook for about 10 to 20 minutes or until the onion and carrot have browned and the beef has taken on some color and is firm.  Season well with salt and pepper, then add the mixed herbs. Stir in the flour, and mix well. Mix the tomato puree and Worcestershire sauce with the beef stock and add it to the meat mixture, bringing it all to simmering point. Simmer until the stock has reduced by about a third, add the peas if using and take off the heat. Set aside while  you make the topping.

To make the topping:
Boil the potatoes in slightly salted water then mash them well, adding half of the butter and all of the milk gradually. Season to taste. If using fresh leeks, fry the leeks gently in the remaining butter, until soft and slightly colored.  Stir the cooked leeks into the mashed potato mixture and mix well.

Assemble:.
Put the meat mixture into a large and deep well greased baking dish and spread the potato mixture on top; then sprinkle with the grated cheese. You can also use 4 – 6 smaller pie dishes if you wish.   Put into a pre-heated oven 400F for about 25 to 30 minutes until the topping is crusty, golden and bubbling.

2008, January 16

Typical Winter morning here.

Gloomy and wet.  A good excuse to stay in and get that first room finished.  And some sewing done.  I have an order to get out of here ASAP! And another little something I am working on. So this is just a short and sweet “Good Morning” to you all.  I will post as I make progress – on all my endeavors.  Don’t forget to take a peek over at TheFarmHouseGourmet and get the recipe for Macaroons.  I will be in touch!  Happy Wednesday.  Oh!  And don’t forget you still have time to enter the giveaway!

Now here is your picture for today:

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2008, January 15

Organization

What exactly does that mean to me? Does it mean I can find what I need or what someone asks me for? I think I have set a goal for myself. I will have my house organized by the time my husband returns on Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day is VERY special to us. It is the anniversary of our first date 33 years ago. And it is our Benjamin’s birthday. And one very special gift for my very organized, together husband would be for him to walk thru the door and not recognize the house because it was so organized. And I know my life would be oh so easier if I had myself together. Today is haircut, eye appt day but tomorrow I am starting at the North East corner of my house and doing one section at the time. I am going to TAKE MY TIME AND DO IT RIGHT. There will be numerous trips to the dump as well as the storage building. I am going to stop each day before I get so tired I won’t want to finish. I want to do it in sections, stand back and admire my accomplishments and the next day move on to the next section. Now this does NOT include the children’s rooms. They are all old enough to do that themselves. So in this very small house surely I can do it in a month’s time. My shoppe will be first. OH lawd…what a mess. I kid you not, I would show you a picture but I am too embarrassed! It’s bad…ask Michelle! But I will show you as I am finished. Every nook and cranny, every closet, every cabinet, every shelf will be cleaned and dusted and straightened and rid of no longer needed/wanted items. And I will know where everything is – it will be in it’s place!

Wish me luck!

Oh…and I posted the recipe for macaroons over at TheFarmhouseGourmet.

2008, January 14

Giveaway Update: Please Read

I would like to let you know that the giveaway date has been pushed off to January 21st. There is a very important item I have been planning to add to the giveaway box and I cannot put my hands on it in time to draw tomorrow…sooo..pass along the information if you like. And I promise it will be worth the wait!!

You may enter to win here.

2008, January 13

Mad About Macaroons!!!

OH MY!!! They are much more than I expected! Now, I can bake a cookie and last I figured one year while I was catering I made about 14,000. So cookies, I know. These are just so much more than a cookie. They are a little puff of totally yumminess! They were NOT hard to make at all…just follow the recipe to the T. I will be posting a tutorial over on TheFarmhouseGourmet in the next few days. But until then…here is a glimpse at the little lovelies!

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Here are the macaroons all ready to devour!  And please notice the VERY VERY cute apron I am wearing – a Christmas present from my dear friend Michelle!!

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2008, January 12

New Post on April in Paris!

Just thought I would let you know!

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Not the “pour one can of sweetened condensed milk over 5 cups of coconut, stir and drop by tsp onto cookie sheet” macaroons. The REAL macaroons. The macaroons like people stand in line for in Paris. Now I won’t lead you to believe that I would know if my macaroons were as good or even close to the same as THOSE macaroons. But I will say this…if THOSE macaroons are better than MY macaroons well, no wonder people stand in line for them. These were delectable! Hey! Ladurée has been making macaroons since 1862 and I have been making them since…Sunday morning so why not compare????

Now a small confession: I almost croaked from eating them. Yep, severely allergic to almonds – only the KEY ingredient in macaroons. I think if I had just eaten a baked and filled one, slowly savoring every bite, I might not have had to pop two Benadryl and take a sleep in the middle of having dinner guests. But nooooo, I had to lick the bowl after we had them in the oven. Look, they were amazing, okay? Truly the best cookie or cake as Ladurée calls them. This is from their website:

The story of the Macaroon

These small, round cakes, crisp on the outside, smooth and soft in the middle, are the most famous creation of Ladurée.

The story of the Ladurée macaroon starts with Pierre Desfontaines, distant cousin of Louis Ernest Ladurée, who at the beginning of the 20th century first thought of taking two macaroon shells and joining them with a delicious ganache filling. The way of making them has never changed since that time.

These small, round cakes, crisp on the outside, smooth and soft in the middle, are made every morning in Ladurée’s “laboratory”. The pastry chefs measure out very precisely the required amounts of almonds, eggs and sugar, before adding one final ingredient, a pinch of unique “know-how”, essential to the making of such a delicacy.

Once cooked and filled, the macaroons are put to one side for 2 days before going on sale, the time it takes to achieve a perfect balance between texture and flavour.

Macaroons come in two sizes: the mini-macaroon or “gerbet” and full-size macaroons.

With each new season, Ladurée pays tribute to this its most famous creation by creating a new flavour.
The existing range of macaroons is always the starting point when a new one is created, as the variety of colours is as important as the range of flavours and a vital part of their appeal.

I don’t really know how they wait two days to eat them but whatever.  There aren’t any more here!  Below is the recipe I used with a few pictures of the process.  A tutorial if you like.  In the next week or so I am going to make some using pecans instead of almonds and just see if it works and what the differences are.  I want so much to enjoy these cookies periodically but don’t want the whole allergic reaction, pop benadryl, become comatose for 2-5 hours, feel like I have been hit by a truck for 12-18 hours, all the while making 15-20 trips to “the little girls’ room” .  So I must improvise.  Then again maybe moderation would help.  So do you think a town of 2889 is ready for a Macaroon Shoppe??? Me neither.   Until they are I will keep just making them for my friends and family.  Though at $2 each in the few US bakeries I could find that made them…it might be something to think about!

 Swiss Meringue Buttercream
• 4 large egg whites
• 3 sticks (1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons
• 1-1/4 cups sugar
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract ( I used vanilla bean paste and it was yummy!)

Macaroons
• 1-3/4 cup confectioners sugar
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or other flavoring or combination (again I used vanilla bean paste – I love the pretty brown flecks)
• 1-1/2 cups (4 ounces) sliced almonds, finely ground, or almond flour
• the whites of 3 large eggs
• Pinch of salt
• 1/4 cup granulated sugar
• 1/2 recipe Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Sift confectioners’ sugar into a bowl. Whisk in ground almonds; set aside. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment beat egg whites on medium speed until foamy; add salt. Gradually add granulated sugar 1 teaspoon at a time, until the whites reach medium-soft peaks. Transfer to a large bowl.

Sprinkle half of the sugar-almond mixture over the egg-white mixture. Using a large rubber spatula fold until just incorporated. Add 1/4 teaspoon vanilla and remaining sugar-almond mixture, folding until just incorporated. Firmly tap the bottom of the bowl on a counter or work surface to eliminate any air pockets.

Transfer mixture to a large pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip (I didnt have a tip this size so I just use the coupler without a tip…worked fine – or so Rachel said! ). Pipe mixture into 1 1/2  – 2 inch circles on parchment lined baking sheet.

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Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until macaroons feel slightly firm to the touch and can be gently lifted off the parchment (the bottoms will be dry), 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer parchment and macaroons to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Carefully remove macaroons from parchment. Spread Swiss Meringue buttercream on the flat sides of the half of macaroons; sandwich with the other halves, keeping flat sides down.

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Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes, before serving. Filled cookies can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days (This is comical isn’t it? The recipe made about  48 halves or 24 filled cookies so, I have no idea how long they will last in the frig!)

Isn’t this a beautiful cookie???? 

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And I was right…they weren’t nearly as hard to make as one would imagine.   Family consensus – they were lovely, delicious, oh so good but Cream Wafers are still the favorite. 

But now when I am in Paris, I can eat a REAL macaroon from Ladurée and see if I came close anyway.  Yeah, I am taking my Epi-pen to France.  And a big bottle of benadryl.

This post is copied from my other blog NotQuiteJuneCleaverAs I said earlier, I want to move my recipes over here and make them easier to reference.

Fried Chicken Tutorial, Chicken Gravy & Perfecting Rice

Let me tell you frying chicken, getting it just right and not fainting from the heat is quite an accomplishment. Frying chicken is an art, and while my meal yesterday was nothing short of delicious, it was NOT my granny’s chicken. Not even close. But it was much enjoyed and we have leftovers for lunch today. My mom loved it, ate every bite she said. That is well worth the work. Now if you like you may buy whole fryers and cut them up, but Husband suggested just buying the pieces everyone likes so breast, legs and wings it was. Here is our menu:Fried Chicken ~ Rice and Gravy ~ Corn on the Cob ~ Homemade Rolls ~ Coconut Cream Pie

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I forgot to get photos of the Rice and Gravy (which again was very good – just not what I remember my granny making) and Corn on the Cob. I had intended to get a photo of the table set but was busy as a bee and forgot!

Okay so start out with your chicken pieces and wash and dry them. Salt and pepper to taste. Let me say, I have yet to get chicken too salty. It needs salt on the chicken and in the flour you dredge in.

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Next dredge your chicken pieces in your seasoned flour (all purpose). Seasoned with your choice of spices, I used just salt and pepper. But you can use garlic powder, cayenne…whatever is your taste.

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Then dip the floured chicken pieces into seasoned buttermilk. Again seasoned to your taste.

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Then BACK into the flour for a second coating. This process is what keeps your crust on your chicken. The first dredging helps it all adhere to the meat.

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In the meantime you should have your skillet filled 1/2 full with oil – DO NOT USE olive oil as it will burn before it gets hot enough to fry the chicken. I personally use canola oil. When your oil is hot enough (ideally kept at 375) start carefully dropping pieces of your chicken in the hot oil. Depending on the size of your skillet and your batch of chicken to be fried, you could be in this stage a while. Never put too many pieces in at a time. Your chicken pieces should not touch each other. They need room to cook on all sides. It is best to let the chicken cook on one side until golden brown and then turn once. This will give you even browning and help your chicken cook all the way to the bone. I suggest you cook the pieces that take longest first ~ thighs, legs and large breast pieces. I cant give you a time, because it will vary depending on size of pieces, how large your skillet is…lots of things. Just watch it closely.

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As your pieces get done, place them on brown paper on a cookie sheet to drain. Paper towels will stick to your crust. After you have all your chicken fried and while you are preparing the rest of your meal, place your chicken on a clean piece of brown paper (a clean paper bag will do) on a clean cookie sheet, cover loosely with heavy duty foil and place in a 300 degree oven until 15 -20 minutes before ready to serve. Then turn the oven off and leave it to stay warm until the meal is ready. This baking is important to set your crust, assure the bigger pieces are done to the bone (nothing I hate worse than undercooked poultry!)and will stay warm for your meal. Refrigerate leftover chicken for chicken salad (sans the crust), or just to eat as a cold lunch. Leftover fried chicken is not great warmed in my opinion. May just be my quirkiness but I think it tastes of feathers. Not that I actually have ever eaten a feather intentionally, but that is what I think of.

Chicken Gravy

Take out one cup of your oil from where you fried the chicken and put it in a clean skillet. Add 1/3-1/2 cup flour and make a roux from this. A roux is just oil and flour mixed and browned…not too brown, not too light. NEVER stop stiring…I use a metal whisk. Cook to the color of say…a new copper penny???…does that make sense? Just do not get it too brown and remember even if you take it off the heat, it will still be cooking in that hot skillet. So…you are to the brown perfection, add one can chicken broth. Slowly! Continue stirring. Add 1/3 cup diced onion, and a clove or two of minced garlic. Continue cooking and stirring until the onion is soft. Salt and pepper and set off the heat. You will have to reheat, probably adding more liquid (water is fine) just before serving.

Perfect Rice Everytime

First suggestion…use bottled water. For our family I use 2 1/2 cups uncooked rice. So here is the ratio: 5 cups water, 2 1/2 cups rice and salt. Put the water on to boil in a pot that has a tight fitting lid. Salt the water generously…say a teaspoon. Bring the salted water to a brisk boil over high flame, add your rice – DO NOT stir. Gently shake the pot to distribute the rice, bring it back to a boil , put the lid on, turn the flame to the lowest setting, or simmer, set your timer for 20 minutes exactly, and DO NOT OPEN it. When the time goes off, set it off the heat and leave it. Fluff with fork when ready to serve. Different water makes for different rice. My well water is soft, very soft…so it make sticky, mushy rice…YUCK! I like my rice done, yet individual grains, you know??

We had a small crowd for supper. The 5 of us, my niece who is spending the week with us (the aspiring chef you met before), Oldest son and then I sent Mom a plate over. All in all, start to finish I fried 24 pieces of chicken, 9 large legs, 5 very large breasts, and 10 wings and it took me from 3:30 till 6:00 to get it all on the table. But during all that I was making a pie, rice, gravy, corn…so that wasnt too bad. Just to think my grannies, aunts and many times my mom did this every day of the week…not fried chicken but HUGE meals with lots of prep time…whew. Makes me old thinking about it. Not only do we not need to eat like this everyday…I dont think I could stand up to it!

Pie Crust Made with Butter

pie crust

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup cold butter
4 to 5 tablespoons cold water

Combine flour and salt in large bowl; cut in butter with pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in enough water with fork just until flour is moistened.

Divide dough in half; shape each half into ball. Flatten slightly. Wrap 1 ball in plastic food wrap; refrigerate.

For 1-crust pie, roll out 1 ball of dough on lightly floured surface into 12-inch circle. Fold into quarters. Place dough into 9-inch pie pan; unfold dough, pressing firmly against bottom and sides. Trim crust to 1/2 inch from edge of pan. Crimp or flute edge. Fill and bake according to pie recipe directions.

For 2-crust pie, roll out remaining ball of dough on lightly floured surface into 12-inch circle. Fold dough into quarters. Place dough over filling; unfold. Trim, seal and crimp or flute edge. Cut 5 or 6 large slits in crust. Bake according to pie recipe directions.

For baked unfilled pie shell, prepare dough as directed above for 1-crust pie. Prick crust all over with fork before baking. Bake at 475°F. for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.