Monthly Archives: June 2012

Summer Garden Chicken Dinner

Who Hoo! I finally created a recipe that I could easily share full of fresh garden goodness, with a lovely splash of white wine for a braised Rosemary and Chicken dinner that made my tongue do back flips! I love cooking, especially when 90% of the meal comes straight out of the backyard! I have been told I should write a cook book, but I am a “throw-it-all-together” kind of cook so I’ve never figured out how to pass on my ideas in a duplicatable way.

About three years ago, my health required switching to a gluten-free, dairy free diet. I am so glad I love cooking as it made the transition so much easier. Now, I don’t even miss the things I used to eat. I do eat some hard cheese now, but I am sticking with the gluten-free. This chicken dinner will fit into almost any allergy diet and is yummy enough for everyone to enjoy.

It is a lovely gourmet treat full of fresh garlic scapes and rosemary from the garden. It’s so simple, it’s really easy to share. I started with a lovely Rosemary infused olive oil in which to saute half a diced white onion and a few freshly snipped garlic heads, aka scapes. I only recently learned that the snipped-off-before-it-blooms part of the garlic head is called a scape, and that it is just as edible as the harvested garlic clove. For more information, here’s a lovely website to peruse and the source of the photo at right: http://chat.allotment.org.uk/index.php?topic=95067.0 I used about 8 scapes for this recipe.

They are good roasted, but for this meal I finely diced them along with the onion and sweated them in the rosemary-infused olive oil for about five minutes. It is pretty simple to make your own oil infusions – it  just requires filling a clean jar with fresh rosemary, pouring a good-quality extra-virgin olive oil over it, cover and let it work in the dark for about six weeks. Strain the oil and voila, you have yummy goodness!

However, if you you want a bit more instant access, I recommend using Olive Grand Brand infused oils. They have lots of wonderful gourmet oils and spices. Their website is full of great options! http://olivegrand.com/cmspage.php?page_id=4

Once the onions were translucent and the scapes very fragrant, I added the chicken quarters to brown on both sides. I then reduced the heat and poured a lovely Estate White from Pyrenees Vineyards http://pyreneesvineyard.com/ over the chicken (probably about a cup). I added a few sprigs of freshly-picked rosemary and allowed the chicken to braise until done – 35 to 40 minutes.

The chicken was so tender it fell off of the bone and the white wine reduced into the most delicious sauce – I’m telling you I had no choice but to spoon the leftovers into my mouth directly from the skillet. No wasting a single drop!

I served up the delectable cuisine with fresh garden greens, carrots, cucumbers and snap peas topped with a delicious white-wine vinaigrette recipe from Giada’s website: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/arugula-endive-salad-with-white-wine-vinaigrette-recipe/index.html, poured a glass of the wine to enjoy with the meal and fell into dinner heaven.

If you give this a try, I hope you enjoy the dining experience as much as I did -even better when enjoyed in your lovely garden! Are you hungry yet?

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The case of the disappearing Garden Mint tea

I was so excited to share with you one of my favorite Summer Garden treats – my mint blend sun tea. I spent the entire day getting it ready so I could enjoy a tall iced glass in our shady conversation corner. A great place to be during the hot afternoons.

I usually harvest the herbs early in the am while they are still wet from the morning dew. I use a combination of lemon balm, peppermint, orange mint, spearmint, pineapple sage and a bit of lemon verbena. Very refreshing! The lemon balm provides lots of vitamin C and a mood boost to boot!

To get maximum color and flavor, I de-stem and chop up all of the herb leaves.

I always give them a good wash, but just to be sure any added protein from a hidden garden bug dies quickly and gets sterilized, (I’d much rather ingest protein on my organic plants than cancer causing chemicals to kill the bugs – hmm poison or protein – no brainer!!) I pour boiling water to cover the herbs. I fill the rest of the container with filtered water and set it in the sun to soak up all those warm rays!

Alas, by the end of the day my mental and physical fatigue sets in from my constant struggle with metabolic myopathy and I made a devastating mistake! I decided to strain the tea and pour it into a smaller container to fit more easily into our over full refrigerator. I set the strainer in the sink, upended the fresh-brewed herb tea and watched it disappear down the drain!

Oh crap! Next time, I’ll remember to put a bowl under the strainer to save my hard-earned summer treat.

Here’s wishing you many summer moments with your favorite refresher and the hope that the only disappearing act is does is down your own summer-parched throat!

Finding your Shire

Just came in from the garden – fresh faced, rosy cheeked, slightly chilled from the damp, windy weather. My hubby planted more seeds and flowers while I harvested the strawberries, lettuce, spinach and Swiss chard. Yum! Fresh greens on the menu today!

Spring Harvest

As I was carrying my freshly picked basket, the smell of strawberries wafted up on the morning breeze. It put me in mind of the scene from the Lord of the Rings movie when Frodo and Sam were lost in the desolate, barren land of Mordor and near giving up. Sam said, “do you remember the Shire, Frodo? It would be spring there and the first of the strawberries ripe for picking. Do you remember the taste of fresh strawberries and cream?”

Living with a metabolic myopathy (a from of muscular dystrophy) is my Mordor. Like Sam, I find my inspiration in the simple pleasure of smelling fresh strawberries on the early morning breeze. My days always start with a list of things to do: dishes, projects, a few house cleaning or garden chores, posting a blog.  I move until I can’t and at the end of the day there are often still five out of the six tasks left undone.

There are times when I don’t have the choice to rest as much as my body needs. For instance, we spent a wonderful weekend at our grandson’s high school graduation. A joyous event celebrated with a family picnic at http://pyreneesvineyard.com on Saturday afternoon and attending the graduation on Sunday. I also have Celiac so I prepare all of my food to be sure there is something yummy available for me to eat. Thursday and Friday were spent cleaning house, food prepping and packing. By the time we arrived at my step- daughter’s house on Friday night, I was so exhausted I could barely make it into the house.

On Sunday, I was having trouble breathing (a sure sign my body is exhausted) and still had to make it through family photos with the graduate, and a long walk to the ceremony. If I move very slowly and have support, I can keep from collapsing. Probably could have used a wheelchair, but I’m not yet ready to surrender to that. I cut the photo session short by not posing for a photo of just me and my step- grandson. I chose that option for two reasons: Micah hates being the center of attention and I was running out of steam to stand and pose.

I spent all of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in an exhausted stupor unable to find my way out of bed, check emails, prepare food, etc. Those moments feel much like being lost in barren desolation like Frodo and Sam. There is muscle pain, weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath – all too overwhelming to fight.

So here it is Friday morning. I finally made it out to the garden. It is my Shire – my place of renewal. When I was first struggling with this condition, I kept expecting that I would get better. I’d get so excited when I’d have a good day, only to feel bitter disappointment when the pain, weakness and exhaustion returned even stronger than before. I wrote this poem on a warm, Spring afternoon while gently swaying in my hammock chair with kitty on lap:

Lilacs by the garden gate
Wisteria on the Wind
Come lovely garden mine
My broken body mend

For both my hubby and I, the garden is our haven away from the parts of life that aren’t so fun. We weren’t going to put one in this year due to my diminished ability to help and his need to put his energy into remodeling a rental house.

But we are connected to our personal little Shire. As we sat on the deck with our coffee one warm spring morning, we could feel it screaming at us for love and attention – it begged to be planted and we had no choice but to answer. And as I harvest what will be tonight’s dinner, I send out a little prayer of gratitude that we listened; we said, yes!

Say yes to what life brings you and there will always be a way to handle what must be handled. A very Taoist way of being, “do without doing.” Check out this article for a great explanation of that philosophy: http://laughteryoga.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2191:wu-wei-to-do-without-doing&catid=213:my-diary&Itemid=460

What is your garden of joy? What feeds your soul? I encourage you to find it, acknowledge it and cherish your time there. Those moments nourish us through the times of barren desolation. Wishing you many moments of joy in whatever your garden hammock chair may be.

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