Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Twine Keeper

I think I'm back. Due to the unfinished nature of my rental house (not enough insulation, doors fitting improperly, lack of heat) and a couple of nights hovering around freezing, I had to take a break.  My husband and I were huddling in the central room of the house around a space heater.

I finally joined pinterest and while my first week or so of using it was slightly frustrating (I could not get anything to be posted and viewable on any of the 3 browsers or 2 platforms I tried), I've somewhat started to appreciate it.  Instead of googling a craft I want to make, I can search for it on pinterest and then repin it so I can come back to it later.  That's how I'm using it at least.

 I discovered this easy craft of turning a glass jar with metal lid into a kitchen twin holder via a craft blog I follow.  Things like this justify my obsessive saving of jars for Future Unspecified Use. It's super simple to do, keeps your twine clean while cooking, and prevents it from rolling off the counter onto the floor.

this project's spiciness?  medium.

I found that a glass salsa jar was the best shape for my kitchen twine instead of the example of a glass peanut butter jar (I have a lot of those).  I had a tiny bit of difficulty making the hole for the grommet round.  I'm thankful the eyelet is wide enough that it covered pretty much all of the ugliness on this top! I used a hammer to dull down any sharp bits I had before setting the eyelet.

it looks great in the kitchen
I'm thinking about using this same principle to turn giant plastic peanut butter jars (think Costco sized Adam's Peanut Butter) into a yarn keeper.  I keep a project by the couch so when I'm watching tv I can feel a bit productive, but it's getting unwieldy and I dislike the thought that my dog's hair is getting mixed in with the fibers.  One of my former roommates and I went through a lot of Costco sized peanut butter jars but I'm not sure that I kept any of them.... maybe a post on craigslist will turn up something.

Friday, November 11, 2011

too cold to craft

It's too cold in the crafting room to craft.  I'll be back when my house has heat and/or my landlord finally does some basic cold weather proofing (like replacing doors with cracks I can stick my finger through.)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chicken with Tomatillos and Braised Fruit

I haven't posted in a week. Between my temporary job ending (yay!) and my husband's laptop batter/charger fritzing out (boo!), I have been busy cleaning all the little things I neglected while working and sharing my computer so he can do Important Law Studying.

I did make something amazing last week though.

We eat a lot of Mexican food, and usually it's prepared more or less the same way- rice, beans, some sauteed veggies, and chicken spiced with cumin and peppers and topped with cheese. The base of rice and beans is cheap, filling, and healthy, and by shredding the chicken we stretch it out longer for days longer than eating a breast each for dinner. As much as I like it, I was getting tired of it. Epicurious.com is my go-to website for finding new recipes when I'm not sure exactly what I want to fix, but I now I want something different (and Cooks Illustrated is my go-to when I know exactly what I want). My parents gave me and my husband early Christmas presents of iPhones and I've been using the epicurious app a LOT in the kitchen- I don't have to print out any recipes I find and I can double check the ingredient list in the grocery store.

I found a Chicken with Tomatillo Sauce and Braised Fruit recipe that is AMAZING and unlike any other Mexican dish I have prepared at home.  By using a few substitutions, I had nearly everything on hand.  The only "special ingredients" I had to buy were pears and tomatillos. I substituted dried cranberries for dried cherries, ground cinnamon for the stick, ignored the epazote leaves and green onions per the comments, and completely forgot to buy tomatillos.  I was really disappointed in myself for forgetting the tomatillos, but I discovered that in some recipes, green tomatoes and a bit of lime can be substituted for tomatillos.  Since my tomato plants decided to produce some late harvest tomatoes that would never have time to ripen before the first frost, I went out and gathered up all the remaining tomatoes I could find.  From what I understand, green tomatoes have a similar tartness to the tomatillos (but not a crispness) and don't cook down like ripe tomatoes. This recipe definitely tastes like fall/winter goodness because of the pear, but it was published in a June 2007 magazine - possibly because that's when tomatillos are in season.

I'm salivating just seeing this picture
It took me about two hours to prepare this recipe (which included the using my awesome cleaver to quarter the chicken).  I ended up throwing some chicken stock in the pot at some point because I didn't feel like the chicken was cooking fast enough and it seemed to need more liquid (I think there's a difference in water content of tomatillos and green tomatoes).  I think I added a bit less than a cup, use your judgement if you need it. We made rice and black beans to accompany this (the rice soaks up the extra liquid).  

  • 1 (3-pound) chicken, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, halved, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced chipotle chiles (from canned chipotles in adobo)* (or a cayenne pepper)
  • 2 pounds tomatillos, husked, rinsed, quartered (or green tomatoes cut into bite size pieces)
  • 1 cinnamon stick (or a generous helping of ground cinnamon)
  • 1 pound pears, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 4 ounces dried apricots (about 2/3 cup)
  • 3 ounces dried cherries or cranberries (about 1/2 cup packed)
  • Warm tortillas
Brine the chicken for at least twenty minutes.

Heat oil in a heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add chicken pieces and cook until browned, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to plate.  At this point, I took off the majority of the skin to reduce the fat content in the recipe. 

Add onion to pot; sauté 2 minutes. Add garlic and chipotles; stir 1 minute. Stir in tomatillos and cinnamon stick; return chicken pieces to pot. 

Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes.  I shredded the chicken after it was cooked.

Add pears, apricots, and cherries and simmer until pears are tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Serve with warm tortillas, rice, and beans.