Rolling Huts

Rolling Huts

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Aromatic Dinners...beyond Chicken Marabella

Each morning brings the thought of what to make for dinner...I strive to put something on the table that is a balance of flavor, spices, texture and nutrition that everyone will enjoy..While not commonly thought of as an ingredient in a main dish, fruit brings an aroma to the kitchen and the meal that one finds surprising. Figs, apples, apricots and plums are among my favorites for cooking with..Pair this with olives, garlic, or another salty favorite and you will have flavors that are sure to please any palette. 
Busy lives often dictate the time that one has to put a flavorful, enjoyable meal on the table.  In these days of premade, take-out meals, one can often get stuck in the rut of repetition..
Striving for a balance is one that we constantly juggle.  Aromatic dinners often require a bit of marinade, but once that is done, there is nothing left other than to pop it in the oven. 
One tried and true favorite is Chicken Marabella.  The unusual blend of the olives, plums and spices make the lowly chicken thigh the delicious centerpiece of the meal.  Served with wild mushroom risotto, this meal becomes a true slice of heaven...

10 chicken thighs
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup dried oregano
15 cloves of garlic, peeled and slightly crushed
coarse salt and ground pepper to taste
1/3 cup capers with a bit of juice
1 cup prunes
1/2 cup spanish olives - often I just use what is in the fridge(stuffed with onions add another layer of flavor)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 dry white wine

Mix all ingredient together except the wine in a ziploc bag, mix until the sugar dissolves and put in chicken.  Marinate for at least 5 hours to overnight.  Place in baking dish, pouring all the marinade over the chicken.  Add the wine and bake at 350 for 1 hour..

Ladle the gravy over the chicken on the plates, add a few pieces of the fruit and olives, and as my daughter says, this dinner is the bomb! 
Experiment with the flavors of the season, granny smith apples, fennel and onions are great over pork chops..Butternut squash, goat cheese and apricots with lamb....A roasted cauliflower mash instead of the standard potatoes...

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Zest and Zing of Spices

Istanbul Spice Market

How many times a week to we randomly put a bit of salt, pepper, basil or rosemary onto our food to give it a bit of flavor?  To think of all the spices and flavors that are out there to give rise and pleasure to our taste buds, why do we so often stick with the tired and true?
While we all can't spend a day wandering the spice market in Istanbul, this is an experience that should not be missed in ones lifetime.  The vast aromas and colors tempt the array of senses.  This seems to be a one of a kind place that tempts us to try a new spice, venture out into the mix of spices that come from the east.  I am sure that the great market places of India and China can rival Istanbul....but.  You lose yourself wandering, amazed at the baskets after baskets of curry...Who knew that there were so many?  It has always been my preference to mix my own curry, rather than buying a "curry" from a jar.  What color, what flavor, what aroma do you desire when mixing,
Baskets of Curry
  All of this goes to mind as I start to make my chicken curry....Growing up, curry was never one of my favorite dishes.  As with most people, this is due to an over abundance of Indian restaurants that abound in cities across America.  However, having been married to an Anglo-Indian, at one point in my life, I have experienced a turn around towards curry.  Curry is not a spice that should be bought in a jar and used singularly to flavor a dish.  Rather it is an abundance of spices mixed together to form a "curry".  This is something that all good Indian cooks know.  Being able to look back at the time spent in the kitchen with Andrew stirs of fond memories of out times together.  So as I mix together the tumeric, cumin, cardammon, cloves, cinnamon, fresh ginger and garlic, cayenne pepper and yes, a bit of that curry, I take the time to reflect on past years and where they have brought me in life...And I find that,  as with a good curry, the blend is what it is all about.
So find your spice market, take the time to savor the smells, colors and vibrance of it all, and enjoy!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Arrival of Autumn

As autumn arrives, I find myself gazing longingly at my stash of yarn that I have accumulated over the summer months.  Colors and textures picked up and chosen on days when it was too warm to even think of beginning a project. But now with the crispness in the air, it seems to be the right time pick one of those skeins up and design the perfect cozy cowl, scarf or shawl. In this case, I will choose a shade of orange, mimicking the color of the leaves on the maple trees.  A lovely lace pattern will complete the design and all one needs is the choose how long you want the scarf to be.  I like to make mine extra long, as the double wrap keeps your neck cozy on cold autumn days. 

As the needles click together, knit, purl, yarn overs, the pattern begins to form.  Seeing the feathered lace start to appear, my fingers move more quickly, wanting to complete several repeats of the pattern.  The fire flickers in front of me as I become lost in the repeats of the pattern. Relaxation washes over me as the scarf grows longer.  While I carry my knitting with me is the perfect companion at basketball games and practices, the time on the couch in front of the fire, is the knitting time I enjoy the most.  There is a zen like quality to the simpleness of each stitch.  It is not about the finished product but rather the process uses in getting there.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Rejuvenation... make young again; restore to youthful vigor, appearance, etc, to restore to a former state; make fresh or new again.

How do we do this on a daily basis in our lives? We spend many hours worrying about aging, relationships going stale, personal belonging wearing out.  Often, we take a step back and look at our lives and how we are approaching relationships and what we can do to make them better, we go to the gym, look in the mirror for wrinkles, crows feet, etc.  

This last weekend, James and I drove over to Mazama for Saturday night.  In the daily rush of life, we rarely get hours in a row, to catch up on what's been going on, share feelings, hopes and just be in the quiet of life together.  In the four hour drive, one could feel the stress melting away from our bodies as we left the fast pace of the city behind and heading to the quiet hut and field of snow that awaited us.  As the moonlight reflected on the river, we wound our way down the road, talking about the change that our lives were taking.  I am starting a new business, as we drove we talked about the goals that I have, where I want to be in three to six months and how we can support each other in getting there.  I am doing this to start my life new again, a rejuventation of a sort, wanting to give my family a new peace in which we will live.

Wesola Polana was the perfect place to begin this journey, The small, but cozy Scandanavian  hut was inspiring.  As we bathed in the flow of the fire, overlooking the moon drenched snow field outside, I was able to find a new harmonious place in life, which will lead us down a productive path.  The simple beauty of nature reminds us of the small pleasures that we all need to find happiness.  For us, we are at our most peaceful when we are in tune with the outdoors.  We awoke in the morning to the sun reflecting like diamonds off the snow.  We walked down the path to the cafe, to enjoy a meal tinged with Spanish influenced flavors.  The espresso flavored with condensed milk and rum, the mollettes heaped with a homemade hot sauce, the roasted potatoes with tumeric and chili oil, allowed to dwindle away the morning.  There was no rush to leave, no rush to get home, we were there solely to enjoy the moment and the day.

When we finally arrived home, it was with a new sense of purpose and peace.  My hope for you all is to take the moment, the day, etc.. to rejuvenate and refresh our lives in which every way you find.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Welcome to My Kitchen

Well, I figured it was finally time to start blogging about all that happens daily in my kitchen and beyond...The kitchen is the hub of our daily activity, a place where we meet, mingle and renew ourselves each day.  Whether it be to test out a new recipe, plant the seeds for the garden, sip a glass of wine or just catch up at the end of the day, this is where it all happens.  As life spreads out in many directions, the kitchen is always the place one can return to either in person or in their mind, to recall the comfort of the room.  How many of us can recall the smells and sounds of our grandmothers kitchen?  The scent of fresh bread baking in the oven, as we waited with anticipation to cut that first slice and spread the butter across the bread, watching it melt..Or the days of picking strawberries and making jam..This simpler life is what we often miss out on in these craziness of daily activities.  We often forget that those simple things are the ones that will be remembered as we and our children age...

Last week a friend and I spent three days making sausage.  Now one may wonder why would anyone take the time to do this?  It is easy to run to the store, and buy your package of bratwurst, italian or chicken sausage and bring it home to cook.  I often find that it is the process that relaxes, rejuvinates and refreshes one.  The joy of using grandma's sausage press, cranking the handle, and pulling the meat into the casings brought back a simpler time.  Yes, it a time consuming process, but I know every ingredient that is in those sausages. In addition to being able to fill up the freezer, we were able to fill our hearts at the same time.  The hours spent with that friend, laughing, sharing recipes, and tasting the sausage is time I wouldn't trade.  Because like grinding the meat, mixing in the spices and pressing the sausage, friendships grow when we spend the time...So, here in the kitchen, I grow my many relationships and watch them rise, and yes, some do fall, and grow into a lifetime of memories.