Some years back there were weekends when I drove my kids to Rhode Island for soccer games. Rhode Island: the state. Six hours in the car for one hour's exercise. But it was elite, premier, and not necessarily a bad thing.
This weekend we put on our skis and shushed the short loop out the back door. The trail was almost bare but it worked.
We have been getting low on fire wood so we dropped a dead birch near the house. With direction from his Dad, son number two worked on his wood chopping skills. (Birch is soft and easy to learn on. Please notice who's doing the talking.)
Sunshine. Sweat. Close to home.
Followed by a roasted local chicken and a Maine winter salad.
Son shone. Sweet. Close to home.
Maine Winter White Salad
For the salad:
For the dressing:
Roast chicken, plump, golden, and juicy, is perfect for anything from a feast to a weekday family dinner. Happily, it is an easy dish to prepare, especially if you follow these few tips.
First and foremost: find a good chicken, one that has been raised with care. Because chickens are so widely available and inexpensive, we don't often think about where they come from and how they are raised. Unfortunately, these days most chickens are produced under factory conditions, cooped up in tiny overcrowded cages, de-beaked, and fed a diet that is heavily laced with antibiotics and frequently includes animal by-products. These conditions are unhealthy and stressful for the birds (and the workers as well) and produce chickens of compromised integrity and flavor. Organic free-range chickens are raised on organic grain, without antibiotics or hormones, in less confined and more humane conditions, resulting in healthier, tastier birds. Starting with such a bird is what makes a really delicious roast chicken. Organic, free-range chickens can be found at some farmers' markets. These are usually pasture-raised in small flocks and are the tastiest of all. If your butcher or market doesn't carry organic chicken, you can help create demand by asking them to do so.
If possible, season the chicken with salt a day or even two days before you roast it. If you roast it the day you buy it, season it as soon as you bring the bird home. The seasoning will penetrate the bird, making the meat more tender, juicy, and tasty. Make a mixture of about 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and a scant 1/4 teaspoon of fresh-ground black pepper. Unwrap the chicken. If it is wrapped in paper keep it right on the paper. Swivel the wing tips and tuck them underneath the bird; this keeps them from burning while roasting. Sprinkle the salt and pepper all over the bird, inside and out, wrap it right back up, and put it in the refrigerator. If you want to, this is the time to put herbs and garlic under the skin. Gently loosen the skin and slide thick slices of peeled garlic cloves and tender sprigs of fresh herbs underneath, working them under the skin until they are situated over the breasts and thighs.
Take the chicken out of the refrigerator at least an hour before cooking. A cold bird straight from the fridge won't roast evenly; the outside will cook but the interior will be underdone. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roast the chicken in an ovenproof dish or pan that's about the same size as the chicken. If a too-large pan is used, the juices that accumulate while the chicken is roasting will start to burn and smoke. An earthenware dish or small roasting pan will do, and so will an ovenproof skillet or a pie pan. Lightly oil the dish; put the chicken in it, breast side up; and roast for 20 minutes, then turn the chicken breast side down. Turning the chicken helps it cook evenly by circulating the juices and fat throughout the bird and allows the skin to brown and crisp all over. After another 20 minutes turn the chicken breast side up again and roast until done.
A 3-1/2- to 4-pound chicken takes about an hour or so to cook. Start checking after about 50 minutes. The bird is ready when the legs and thighs are no longer pink and the breast is still juicy and tender. With experience you will be able to judge the doneness of a roast bird by sight, but at first you have to do a little investigating. Don't be afraid to cut into it. The thighs are the last parts to finish cooking, so cut into the bird near the joint between the drumstick and the thigh. The meat should be hot and no longer red. After having roasted countless chickens, I rely on visual cues: I know that when the skin has started to separate from the meat on the drumsticks the bird is done. I also give the leg a little wiggle; if it moves freely, without bouncing back, this confirms what the skin has already told me. It's important that the chicken be cooked through -- but it's equally important that it not be overdone. A dried-out, overcooked chicken is a waste.
Let the chicken rest in a warm place for a minimum of 10 to 15 minutes before serving.The juices will settle, the internal temperature will stabilize, and the chicken will be much more succulent than if you carve it immediately. Remove the chicken to a warm platter. Skim the fat from the juices left in the pan and turn them into a sauce or a little gravy or pour into a pitcher to pass at the table.
To cut up the roasted chicken, slice through the skin between the thigh and breast. Put the bird back in the roasting pan to do this because this will release a lot of juices. Tip the bird forward to drain the juices and then remove it from the pan. Bend or pull the leg out from the body and locate the hip joint with your knife, slicing down firmly through the joint to remove the leg. To remove the drumstick, hold the knob of the drumstick and cut through the joint from the inside. To carve the breast, start at the wishbone at the top of the breast. Slide the point of your knife down each side of the breastbone. Then cut down along the wishbone towards the wings. Slide your knife under the meat, lifting it off the rib cage. Last, holding the meat away from the bird cut down through the wing joint, removing the breast and wing in one piece. Either carve the breast into slices or cut it in half diagonally, making the half with the wing attached slightly smaller. Save the carcass; it makes a lovely stock.
Remove the giblets from the cavity of:
1 chicken weighing 3 1/2 to 4 pounds
Inside the cavity there are frequently large pads of fat. Pull these out and discard them. Tuck the wing tips up and under to keep them from burning. Season, 1 or 2 days in advance, if possible.
Sprinkle, inside and out, with:
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper
Cover loosely and refrigerate. At least 1 hour before cooking, remove and place in a lightly oiled pan, breast side up. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roast for 20 minutes, turn the bird breast side down, and cook for another 20 minutes. Then turn breast side up again and roast until done, another 10 to 20 minutes. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving.
Reprinted from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters. Copyright (c) 2007. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Random House, Inc.
I have read that in China it is tradition to post a poem on one's door during New Years to scare away the monster Niam.
January 23th marked the beginning of Chinese New Year celebration which culminates during the Lantern Festival on February 6th, the 15th day of the lunar moon. In Chinese Astrology, 2012 marks the year of the water dragon considered sublimely auspicious: a symbol of power, creativity, wealth, success and health. Some consider it the luckiest year of the lunar calendar. (We could all use a bit of dragon right about now.)
I say any excuse for poetry is a cause for celebration!
Happy Weekend all. Around here, we will surely be cooking up an offering to the Kitchen God. Prosper in good health!
This should be available today to honor 50 years of Amnesty International. A nice soundtrack for January's creative projects and good way to support a just cause. I think I might just have to splurge!
To commemorate its 50th anniversary, Amnesty International has announced the release of an exhaustive four-CD collection of Bob Dylan cover songs. Spanning material from all parts of the folk singer’s long career (he’s been around for about as long as Amnesty International), the compilation, titled Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International, features a full 75 tributes to Dylan.
A ridiculously eclectic array of artists were chosen to cover Dylan’s music for the compilation, including Pete Townshend, Mark Knopfler, Taj Mahal, Elvis Costello, Dave Matthews Band, Lenny Kravitz, Ziggy Marley, Sinéad O’Connor, Bad Religion, Queens of the Stone Age, Cage the Elephant, Adele and Ke$ha, just to name a few. Some of the covers reportedly capture a facet of the artist seldom seen in their original work: According to producer Bob Ezrin, Ke$ha’s version of “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” is built around an emotional, acoustic-based recording the singer recorded in her bedroom, far removed from the dance-pop she’s famous for.
Chimes of Freedom is slated for a North American release on Jan. 24, with a worldwide release planned for Jan. 30. All profits from the collection will benefit Amnesty International. In the meantime, you can stream every track from Chimes of Freedom on Amnesty International’s Facebook page.
Check out the full tracklist below:
Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International
1. Raphael Saadiq – Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat
2. Patti Smith – Drifter’s Escape
3. Rise Against – Ballad of Hollis Brown
4. Tom Morello (The Nightwatchman) – Blind Willie McTell
5. Pete Townshend – Corrina, Corrina
6. Bettye LaVette – Most of the Time
7. Charlie Winston – This Wheel’s On Fire
8. Diana Krall – Simple Twist of Fate
9. Brett Dennen – You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere
10. Mariachi El Bronx – Love Sick
11. Ziggy Marley – Blowin’ in the Wind
12. The Gaslight Anthem – Changing of the Guards
13. Silversun Pickups – Not Dark Yet
14. My Morning Jacket – You’re A Big Girl Now
15. The Airborne Toxic Event – Boots of Spanish Leather
16. Sting – Girl from the North Country
17. Mark Knopfler – Restless Farewell
1. Queens of the Stone Age – Outlaw Blues
2. Lenny Kravitz – Rainy Day Woman # 12 & 35
3. Steve Earle & Lucia Micarelli – One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below)
4. Blake Mills – Heart Of Mine
5. Miley Cyrus – You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go
6. Billy Bragg – Lay Down Your Weary Tune
7. Elvis Costello – License to Kill
8. Angelique Kidjo – Lay, Lady, Lay
9. Natasha Bedingfield – Ring Them Bells
10. Jackson Browne – Love Minus Zero / No Limit
11. Joan Baez – Seven Curses (Live)
12. The Belle Brigade – No Time to Think
13. Sugarland – Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here with You (Live)
14. Jack’s Mannequin – Mr. Tambourine Man
15. Oren Lavie – 4th Time Around
16. Sussan Deyhim – All I Really Want to Do
17. Adele – Make You Feel My Love (Recorded Live at WXPN)
1. K’NAAN – With God On Our Side
2. Ximena Sariñana – I Want You
3. Neil Finn with Pajama Club – She Belongs to Me
4. Bryan Ferry – Bob Dylan’s Dream
5. Zee Avi – Tomorrow Is a Long Time
6. Carly Simon – Just Like a Woman
7. Flogging Molly – The Times They Are A-Changin’
8. Fistful Of Mercy – Buckets of Rain
9. Joe Perry – Man of Peace
10. Bad Religion – It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue
11. My Chemical Romance – Desolation Row (Live)
12. RedOne feat. Nabil Khayat – Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door
13. Paul Rodgers & Nils Lofgren – Abandoned Love
14. Darren Criss feat. Chuck Criss and Freelance Whales – New Morning
15. Cage the Elephant – The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
16. Band of Skulls – It Ain’t Me, Babe
17. Sinéad O’Connor – Property of Jesus
18. Ed Roland and The Sweet Tea Project – Shelter from the Storm
19. Ke$ha – Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right
20. Kronos Quartet – Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right
1. Maroon 5 – I Shall Be Released
2. Carolina Chocolate Drops – Political World
3. Seal & Jeff Beck – Like a Rolling Stone
4. Taj Mahal – Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream
5. Dierks Bentley – Senor (Tales of Yankee Power) (Live)
6. Mick Hucknall – One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)
7. Thea Gilmore – I’ll Remember You
8. State Radio – John Brown
9. Dave Matthews Band – All Along the Watchtower (Live)
10. Michael Franti – Subterranean Homesick Blues
11. We Are Augustines – Mama, You Been on My Mind
12. Lucinda Williams – Tryin’ to Get to Heaven
13. Kris Kristofferson – Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)
14. Eric Burdon – Gotta Serve Somebody
15. Evan Rachel Wood – I’d Have You Anytime
16. Marianne Faithfull – Baby Let Me Follow You Down (Live)
17. Pete Seeger – Forever Young
18. Bob Dylan – Chimes of Freedom
Those of you who have read this blog for a while know I have no business claiming a month as my favorite; as it has been done a couple times already and thus my credibility is shot. But, truly, I do love January.
In many ways January may not seem an obvious choice. Most of my lovies have gone back to their lives, the garden is impenetrable, local food is somewhat limited, outside the wind blows cold; yet all of this newly created space reveals so many possibilities.
Quiet. White. Bright blue sunshine. Thoughts finished, so finished that I often have to send them out the door with a hefty nudge. Schemes and dreams burn inside the fires. Sorting, releasing. Downton Abbey with the Earl of Grey (the tea), baby sweaters on needles.
And after a good long ski, bread is made for a Sunday Supper, topped with some Oyster Creek Mushrooms sauteed with olive oil, a couple of Squire Tarbox Farm garlic cloves and some melted Hahn's End cheese; served with a Goranson's Farm winter green salad.
A good long bath, a Patriot win, clean sheets, bone tired...
January, what's not to love?
... we shall overcome. And I believe it because somehow the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.
We shall overcome because Carlyle is right; "no lie can live forever".
We shall overcome because William Cullen Bryant is right; "truth crushed to earth will rise again"...
With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.
With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.
With this faith, we will be able to speed up the day. And in the words of prophecy, every valley shall be exalted. And every mountain and hill shall be made low. The rough places will be made plain and the crooked places straight...
An excerpt from Martin Luther King's final sermon in Memphis
April 3, 1968
Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968)
There are a myriad of reasons why having four (sometimes five) kids is not a good idea. First the obvious: economical and environmental; then the learned: chances of illness, accidents, heartbreak, are increased exponentially with the addition of each child; and finally the minutia: exceeding family cell phone maximums, twelve (sometimes fourteen) socks to match.
But here they all are and this is my life, so I choose instead to focus on the numerous reasons why having a big family is brilliant.
Number one being love and number two being fun.
And while I could easily ramble off over 2,000 reasons just like that of just how brilliant (a gratitude exercise I practice often when feeling low or writing tuition checks) today I would like to celebrate one single parenting joy that can be enjoyed regardless of how many kids you have.
The 5:30 AM snow day high-five.
After not one but two nordic races cancelled due to lack of even the slightest sniff of snow (see exponential kid heartbreak) son # 2 could not wait to get his skis on and get out the door. He watched carefully and calculated the perfect window of skiing that revealed the most snow and the least rain, and off we went.
Through the woods so well cleared, around Christmas Treeland, over the bridge recently built, along the field, beyond the pond, and back around to the house.
The perfect lunchtime ski. Then came hot chocolate and mix-matched socks drying by the woodstove followed (alas) by the rain.
Happy weekend all!
With the ice covered with snow and the snow covered with ice we'll have to get creative.
Sun streams through the big window. The first orchid has bloomed. There is a pepper plant in the orchid pot grown from an errant compost seed, hanging on since the spring, which I have often thought to pull up but resisted - honoring it's tenacity. Tonight we will eat that red sweetness, a fresh change up from the root vegetables. Lime blossoms are heady and tropical; the fruit is rich and ripe.
I am not sure why all of this brings me such joy. Perhaps it is because I have taken the time to actually see it; to rejoice for the pepper, to celebrate the orchid, to take in the smell. The moment is perfect.
Take the time to eat an orange in mindfulness. If you eat an orange in forgetfulness, caught in your anxiety and sorrow, the orange is not really there. But if you bring your mind and body together to produce true presence, you can see that the orange is a miracle. Peel the orange. Smell the fruit. See the orange blossoms in the orange, and the rain and the sun that have gone through the orange blossoms. The orange tree that has taken several months to bring this wonder to you. Put a section in your mouth, close your mouth mindfully, and with mindfulness feel the juice coming out of the orange. Taste the sweetness. Do you have the time to do so? If you think you don’t have time to eat an orange like this, what are you using that time for? Are you using your time to worry or using your time to live?
::Thich Nhat Hanh
After a heroic daylong clearfest thanks to son number one (with the help of the newest low-tech engineering marvel : the sno-wovel) it was time to skate. Cousins arrived!
And what better reward after you've left everything on the ice, except enough to trudge up the hill to the house?
Why pizza of course. I have written before about our pizza tradition and recipes here.
A fitting way to end his final day home.
And now we set the table for four.
Tonight the first full moon of 2012 is in big feeling cancer, the perfect opportunity to love larger with more intention. Read more here.
When my oldest daughter was six months old she was pretty attached to me. So attached that every time I put her down or someone else held her she cried - very hard. It wasn't great, but you could hardly blame her as we had spent a whole lot of time together. We were inseparable.
And now all these years later I am the one crying - very hard as I drop her off at the airport. Missing her already.
There is a slight panic that sets in right about now when everyone prepares to leave again, when we are all sitting reading in front of the fire in the evening and I hatch a plan in my head, a desperate plan: I know you could all live here forever, we have plenty of room, we all get along so well, we will grow our food together, I will cook and care for you, forever. It is crazy in the most selfish way. I keep it in my head.
Instead, I send daughter number one off with a handknit pair of fingerless mitts. Perfect for texting me, for drawing with, for using when operating power tools, for keeping her safe and warm, for living her own independent dynamic and creative life. It will have to be enough.
Happy perfect knitting weather weekend all!