Thursday, April 23, 2015

Chicken and Mushrooms, Jacques Pepin style

What is going on here in our part of world? Not much exciting actually. But that can be a good thing. No injuries, no sick dogs, no trees falling on the house. Our garden is coming along well and we have been fortunate enough to get quiet time for reading. Life is good.

As for the food department I have been looking into recipes by Jacques Pepin. They are into week three of cooking with Jacques Pepin at I Heart Cooking Club. Since we are big fans of any chicken dish I will be submitting this chicken thigh loaded with mushrooms.



Eating outside on the patio makes the meal even more enjoyable. The recipe calls for you to plate the thighs and then add the mushroom mixture. I just placed it all on one platter. I'm fancy like that.




Jacques Pepin's Chicken Thighs
From More Fast Food My Way

INGREDIENTS

4 chicken thighs, bone in with skin
3⁄4teaspoon salt
3⁄4teaspoon black pepper
1small onion, finely diced
3large garlic cloves, chopped
10 ounces mushrooms, chopped into 1/2-inch dice
1⁄3cup dry white wine
chives, chopped, for garnish

Method

Preheat oven to 175F. Cut extra skin and fat off each thigh. Cut a 1/2 " slit into meat on either side of the bone, so that chicken will cook faster and evenly. Season thighs with 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper.

Place chicken into non-stick skillet, skin side down, on high heat.

When chicken starts to sizzle, cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 16-18 minutes. If browning too quickly after 10 minutes, reduce heat to low.

Transfer chicken, skin side up, to a heat proof platter and place in oven to keep warm. Pepin recommends keeping your serving plates in the oven so that they will be warm when you plate the chicken.

Remove all but 2 tbsp of fat from the skillet. Add onions, garlic and mushrooms. Cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper and white wine. If any liquid has accumulated on the platter in the oven, add that liquid to the pan. Cook over high heat for 1 minute, to reduce the liquid a bit.

Divide the mushroom mixture between 4 plates. Place one piece of chicken on top and garnish with chives to serve. I just placed it all on one platter. It was great!

This is my offering to I Heart Cooking Club.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Reader's Workout #6

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Good day and welcome to my sixth link up with Joy at Joy's Book Blog for her Reader's Workouts series!

Rain can put a damper on daily walks but we do what we can by walking a bit after lunch at work. Fortunately there is a covered parking garage and while it’s not flat out sweaty-lose-weight kinda walking….it’s movement. We have done some walking back and forth up and down the driveway too I addition to the slow patrol with the dogs. Taking them to the park provides better walks and we try that a few days a week.

In regard to eating and imbibing I have been fairly good…well, ever since my doctor told me to cut back on alcohol and lose some weight. That was over those pesky liver enzyme numbers being too high.


When the weather gets nice enough to sit outside on the patio and enjoy dinner that’s when it’s tempting to have cocktail or glass of wine. A sample of our patio meals are:

Grilled chicken, potatoes, beans one night and sides of okra and black beans with leftovers.

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Cheese ravioli with homemade sauce, beans and a cool glass of Rose.

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Mostly it’s healthy fare but I surely do need to cut back on fats.

Since it’s Reader’s Workout let’s talk books! I just finished The Good Girl by Mary Kubica, The House at Riverton by Kate Morton and The Love Song of Queenie Hennessy. I am reading Caedmon’s Song now.

What are you reading now? What is on your to-read list?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Oysters and beer in Apalachicola

Sometimes you just need a mental health day from work. A day when you sleep a little longer. A day when you read during the day, drive to coast and eat an expensive lunch just because.

We set out for Apalachicola, a small coastal town an hour away from our home.

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Nothing like the salty air, the snap of the breeze and the seafood offerings at various locally owned businesses.
We opted for Boss Oyster, a place we have been before and loved.

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We started with a dozen raw oysters, lemon and hot sauce for Doug and horseradish me me.

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Red Stripe for him. Negra Modelo for me.

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Follow it up with a grilled crab cake sandwich and cheese grits. Yes, it's grilled and not fried! I didn't know they could do that.

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Nice view from the outside dining area.....

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We had a great time. I always have a great time with Doug. We walked around after the lunch and bought a few postcards and a box of chocolate coconut patties.

His handlebar mustache is coming along quite well, don't you think?

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A last photo from the bridge as we departed. Goodbye Apalachicola....for now.

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Pity I didn't take photos of the patio dinner we enjoyed that evennig. Grilled mahi mahi and fruit. That's for another time and post.

Now we are counting down the days until vacation. Time to make some plans.

Monday, April 13, 2015

It's Monday, What are you reading?
The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

Happy Monday! I have a haul of books from the library, both eBooks and hard cover versions.....it's hard to pick one to get started reading. Why do they always arrive all at once? The latest one I finished was fairly short, under 400 pages.

Mary Kubica is a new author for me and I am glad I grabbed her book The Good Girl.

This book is written with multiple narratives which I found interesting. The plot revolves around the kidnapping of Mia Dennett. From the beginning of this book you know Mia has been kidnapped and that she is sequestered in a cabin in Minnesota with kidnapper Colin Thatcher.



Mia is the daughter of a prominent judge James Dennett. Obviously she is being kidnapped for ransom – or so you would be led to believe at first. Each chapter shifts from the point of view of Gabe Hoffman the Chicago detective assigned to the case, Mia in her state of mind during the kidnapping, her mother Eve Dennett and the kidnapper Colin Thatcher.

This is a gripping passage:



As you shift between the different characters in the story you learn about the Dennett family as well as getting an unexpected look into the kidnapper’s life. Mia doesn’t fit in with the rich style and is the odd one out in her father’s affections. Her sister to Grace is a lawyer and has the same uppity attitude and lack of empathy the father displays. You’ll read how Mia was pressured to go to law school but she follows her own dreams and becomes an art teacher. She has a boyfriend, Jason, but he doesn’t play a big role in this book. He’s actually somewhat of a dick and she is better off without this guy! It seems like the book leaps all over in telling the story of Mia’s kidnapping and ultimate rescue, however the multiple perspectives make for a great story.

Mary Kubica is quite a story teller and I hope to read more by this author.

Next on my list is Caedmon's Song by Peter Robinson, The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson and Be Safe, Love Mom by Elaine Brye.

All look good so it will depend on my mood. Hooking up to The Captive Reader for Library Loot.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
and Leek and Potato Soup

This was my first book by author Kate Morton and I enjoyed it very much. I’ve referred to it as a written form of Downton Abbey as a form of comparison. But I didn’t like Downton Abbey when I tried watching a few episodes from the first season. Funny how much I enjoyed this book as some of the subject matter mirrors that show.

Kate

Grace is the narrator of this story, a proverbial fly on the wall at a great estate, watching and listening to the upper class as their lives unfold. Grace starts telling the story of her service at Riverton, starting when she was 14 years of age. In the present, Grace is 99 years old but as she describes her service and the servants she worked among you are swept into the past. Mr. Hamilton, Mrs. Townend, Nancy and Alfred all take on a life and I found myself picturing them quite vividly. The children of the estate – David, Hannah and Emmeline – are the beautiful upper class, destined for brilliant futures.

While the plot is unfolding and giving away what will happen in the future, I still found myself wishing for different outcomes.

*SPOILER ALERT* But then skip to the food below!

Grace talks to Ursula, the producer of the movie about Riverton, and tells her she never married Alfred. Then later in the story as Grace recounts Alfred’s courtship I still found myself pulling for them to become a couple. But I knew that wouldn’t happen because 99 year old Grace stated it didn’t happen. She also mused about what happened to Hannah’s marriage to Teddy (this was before Hannah was engaged to Teddy). Even though old Grace as the narrator gave away some of the plot there were still some twist when you read about the courtship of her and Alfred, and the interactions of Hannah and Teddy as well as a big fat surprise (for me) at the end of the book.

The poet who took his life by the lake at Riverton was mentioned from the very beginning but the circumstances and the truth was not revealed until the few last chapters.

There is food mentioned here and there throughout the book but it isn’t a food-centric novel. A few that jumped out at me, and made me hungry, were these three passages:

Sylvia has brought me a cup of steaming tea and slice of lemon cake.

Watched with wonder as after course of splendid fare disappeared up the chute (dumbwaiter) – mock turtle soup, fish, sweetbreads, quail, asparagus, potatoes, apricot pies, blancmange – to be replaced with dirty plates and empty platters.

I lingered by the window, hoping, imagining the soup - ham, leek and potato – bubbling atop our wood stove, filling our tiny kitchen with its salty film of steam. So vivid was my imagining I could smell the broth….


From Drop Box

Potato Leek Soup

2 tablespoons butter or extra virgin olive oil
3 medium potatoes, any type, peeled and cut into small cubes
3 leeks, white and light green parts only, washed and thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

Method

Put the butter or oil in a large, deep pot over medium heat. When the butter melts or the oil is hot, add the vegetables.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until starting to soften, 2 or 3 minutes.

Add the stock, adjust the heat so it gently bubbles, and cook until the vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes.



I will be joining Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday series this with Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series .

SouperSundays



Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Find Momo - Coast to Coast

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I know this comparison has been made with many reviews of this book but I have to say it – it’s a Where’s Waldo type book but stars a beautiful border collie named Momo. Look at his soulful brown eyes. You see such intelligence and personality. This is an entertaining book with lovely photography. Andrew Knapp is a talented photographer.

The photos of the southwest interest me as it’s an area of the USA I have always wanted to visit. The scenery covers all of the US and Canada and if you have wanderlust, you will soon be formulating plans to visit some of these cool places.

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Check out this little video and see Momo in action, finding a place to hide.

Find Momo Book Tour from Andrew Knapp on Vimeo.


Would you like to see more of this gorgeous dog? Check out Andrew Knapp on Instagram. I have already started following him.

Here is Andrew’s website

Here is one photo from the book. Can you spot Momo?

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Wednesday, April 08, 2015

An adaption on Jacques Pepin's Eggs Jeanette

Recently we had our kids over for dinner and I was inspired to make deviled eggs as an appie. It’s nice to sit around and chat, catch up on news and munch a light appetizer such as these eggs.



We ended up eating most of them with the meal but no matter. My trouble with preparation of appetizers is the timing. Getting things timed just right so you can relax and indulge while the rest of dinner is cooking. Maybe I should stick to a cheese tray….hmmmm.

The eggs I prepared are a broad adaption of Jacques Pepin’s dish, Eggs Jeanette. I placed a wee bit of bacon in the bottom of each egg before piling in the yolky mixture.



Pepin will be the featured chef at I Heart Cooking Club and they will be making dishes inspired from his recipes for the next six months. For my contribution to his first week I had planned on making Eggs Jeanette but I did not prepare well so…….this is an adaption of his creation. Invention in the kitchen was what this turned out to be!

I made little bacon sails on each of the eggs. Don’t you think they are cute?



Dressed Up Deviled Eggs:


8 large eggs, hard-cooked and peeled
1 scant teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 to 3 tablespoons sour cream
2-1/2 teaspoons mayonnaise
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper
2 tablespoons good-tasting extra-virgin olive oil
2 slices of cooked bacon


Welcome Jacques Pepin to the I Heart Cooking Club!


Saturday, April 04, 2015

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce.

queenie

Rachel Joyce is most certainly one of my favorite authors. I very much enjoyed her two previous books and this one about Queenie Hennessy was a page turner. It’s the other side of the story from Harold Frye’s Unlikely Pilgrimage. A story of loss, love, regret and forgiveness.

Queenie was spending her remaining days in a hospice in Berwick-upon-Tweed. This was established in the first novel about Harold Frye. Now it’s Queenie’s turn to tell her side of the story and leave a letter for Harold, explaining how she loved him and confessing her interactions with his son David. (No, it isn’t a squalid liaison) She spends time describing her cottage and her beloved sea garden, explaining what each object means and how carefully she put it together. The symbolism of the objects in the garden is important to her and she explains all that in her letter to Harold.

Some of the interactions with the other hospice residents is entertaining and I loved reading about several of them. Flinty, Mr. Henderson and Barbara are brought to life (no pun intended) as they live out their final days among the residents and nurses caring for them. Other patients arrive, some of them quite young, and they die during the course of the story. Some of the situations are very sad.

*Warning: Some Spoilers *

While Queenie writes out her letter there are many flashbacks to her employment at the brewery 20 years ago and her work with Harold. That’s where it’s revealed she spent time with Harold’s son David, but she had never let him know. David happened upon her one day and knew she worked with his father. There were quite a few interactions between them where Queenie tried to help David with his interest in the classics and listening to him vent. After David’s suicide she felt she couldn’t tell Harold about it.

I suppose you are meant to feel sorry for David, him being a despondent and possibly clinically depressed, but I found him an unlikeable character all the way around. He stole from Queenie, not just money but her poems which were secured in her purse. He later publicly mocked Queenie’s affections for his father and read her poetry aloud in public, adding innuendo and distorting her words into something sordid.

*More spoilers*

When I reached the end of the book and had read the last paragraph, there was a twist which caused me to reread the previous chapter. Then I had to search the book and find the first mention of the Hospice volunteer with the French sounding name. It ties to the ending. In spite of my warning about spoilers I don’t want to write more about Queenie’s letter and my thoughts on the delivery. Would love to know what anyone else thinks of that missive sent to Harold from the Sister at the Hospice.

Wonderful story. Please give us another one Ms. Joyce.

Adding my review to Goodreads and the The British Book Challenge.

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