Roast Chicken & Clementines

This time of year I just adore stocking up on clementines. I buy them by the box full and use them in almost everything I cook. And nothing goes to waste – I use the zest, the pulp, and the juice.

Last week when I was preparing our Chinese New Year’s dinner, I decided to roast a chicken.  As I’ve shared with you in the past, my husband is of part Chinese ancestry, so I like to honor his cultural heritage keeping his childhood traditions alive both for him and our son, by celebrating Chinese New Year.

Now getting back to the chicken…For those of you who know me, the fact that I’m roasting a chicken (yet again, Mary?)  will come as no a surprise.  I love roasting whole chickens…and just cooking with them in general.

In any event, once again, getting back to this chicken (I can be a terrible “digress-er”)…I propped her up on a beer can which was filled half with beer and half with the juice from about six clementines.  Next, I rubbed the chicken with a bit of softened butter then sprinkled it with a Chinese spice blend that included black and white sesame seeds,  garlic powder (yes, very retro but coming back into favor thanks to the fried chicken recipe in Bon Apetite Magazine this month), ground ginger, red pepper flakes, and just a touch of turmeric.  Then I topped it all off with a good dose of the clementine zest.

I tossed the used clementines into the roasting pan, added a bit of water, put a small foil tent* over the very top of the chicken, then popped the whole thing in a 450 degree pre-heated oven.  Within an hour my family and I were enjoying a succulent bird imbibed with the delicate citrus flavor from the clementines.  Just delicious!

Enjoy!

Love,
Mary

*I have a very small oven, and when a chicken is propped upright, the top of the chicken is almost touching the roof of my oven, so I tend to tent the chicken with foil. If you have a large oven, you may not need to do this.

Rainy Day in the Texas Hill Country


Hello to my sweet friends!

This cloudy Monday has found me reminiscing about the clouds and rain of last week…

Last week it was an absolute delight to be lulled to sleep by distant thunder and the patter of rain on our roof. We have been experiencing a terrible drought for so long here in central Texas, that when rain does come, it’s time to rejoice! Even the crashes of lightening that woke us around 1:00 AM were exciting to hear and not looked upon as a nuisance.

The “puddles” on our property with a view of our driveway and our home in the background

The rain came down so hard and lasted all through the night that in the morning our property – with the puddles and the tress boughs hanging down – all most looked like a bayou.  Well, maybe not exactly, but those puddles made us really happy. ;-)

More puddles

The patio wet and dappled with damp leaves

And a full birdbath…albeit a bit kattywompus

The following morning found the weather damp and cold.  So it was cause to light a fire in the kitchen fireplace and then enjoy some hot cocoa.

My son, Ben

Days like this are far and few between and will most likely continue to be so,  at least for the immediate future.  The weatherman tells us their is no end insight for the drought until late spring, at the earliest.

But there was more to this day than just being happy to see the rain.  It was a day when my son and I forgot about school books, homework, activities, and more and just set aside some time to chat about this and that.  Now that was something to be happy about!  Even though he’s a teen, he still likes to chat with his dear old mom.  I love you Ben!

Thanks so much for visiting with me today. :-)

See you soon.

Love,
Mary

Happy Chinese New Year!

One of Our Favorite Movies

As a family we enjoy celebrating the Chinese New Year – partly because it’s just fun and a partly because it’s part of our heritage – specifically my husband’s heritage.  So tonight, we’ll dine with red candles and enjoy some Chinese delicacies and hopefully get a chance to watch one of our favorite movies….Inn of the Sixth Happiness.

If you’ve not had a chance to see this movie, do try.  It’s a wonderful movie with something for everyone…adventure, suspense, and what I enjoy most…romance! ;-)  And it’s not just about any romance but a romance about a woman from England and man who is of part Chinese ancestry – just like my sweet husband – the love of my life!  This movie holds a special place in both of our hearts.

Getting back to our dinner…the reason we’ll use red candles at the table tonight is because in China, red is an auspicious color.  It is related to the Legend of Nian – how the Chinese New Year came to be -  which I’ll share here…

Today, in Chinese,  Guo means passing and Nian means year.  But Nian didn’t always mean year.  Originally, the word was related to a legend about farmers and a mythical beast.

Nobody knows when the legendary story about Nian began. Nian was a ferocious and carnivorous beast. It had a lion-type head with an elephant-type body. Legend tells that Nian couldn’t find any food during the cold winter months so it would come down from the mountain on New Year’s Day to hunt farmer’s livestock…and even the farmers, their families, and all the townspeople too!

Nian was too strong for the farmer’s to kill, so on New Year’s Day the farmers, their families, and all the townspeople had to stay inside their homes and hide from Nian. They would put food at their front steps hoping that Nian would take the food and leave them alone.  Years later, the farmers discovered that  Nian was afraid of red when he was afraid of a child wearing red clothing.  They also discovered that Nian was afraid of fire and noisy sound!

So the farmers developed a clever plan.  Everyone hung red-color peach wood on the front doors of their homes, placed red scrolls and lanterns in their windows and then made a campfire in the front of the door. When Nian approached the village, the farmers, their families and all the townspeople threw bamboo into the fires which made loud cracking sounds. They also beat metal kitchen and farming utensils to make more loud noisy sounds to scare Nian away.  It worked!  And Nian never returned.

The farmers, their families, and all the townspeople celebrated the defeat of Nian and decided that they wanted to institute a new starting point for their year to commemorate their defeat of Nian.  So, they called the old New Year’s Day – now New Year’s Eve -  Guo-Nian (passing Nian) and the new Chinese Year day – Nian – was born.

Enjoy the day!

Love,
Mary

And a Merry Christmas to All…

Luminarias light the way for the Christ Child

To my Sweet Friends and Dear Readers,

I wish you a Blessed Christmas and a Happy & Healthy New Year!  Bask in the joy of the birth of the Christ Child while sharing time with family and friends and savoring a delicious meal together.  Then, on Christmas afternoon after all are fed and happy…the leftovers stored away for another day…the dishes done…and the day begins to draw to a close, don’t forget to take time to just relax and even possibly enjoy the rejuvenating powers of a nap!

On Napping

When we were young, the tall ones told us to slow down.  When the demands of the world became too great, their powers of reasoning proved maddeningly accurate.   “I think someone’s tired ,” they observed.  And off for a nap we went.  Ten minutes later, our dreaming faces had put us back in good favor with our exasperated parents.  When we woke, the world somehow made sense again.  What kind of truth might a napping child impart to us?

Now we are the tall ones, living in a complicated world with no one to tell us when to slow down.  The slumbering little one knows the value of not having the last word, of accepting a minor defeat.  It’s so simple.  Miss out on something.  Put yourself back in your own good favor.  The world will wait.

 David Jacoby

So go take a nap and luxuriate in dreams filled with visions of  angels and the birth of our savior.

Love and God Bless,

Mary

Texas Cowboy Cookies by a Cozy Fire


As the weather cools (and sometimes gets downright cold!) in the Texas Hill Country, my family and I enjoy relaxing by our kitchen fireplace after dinner sipping a hot cup of tea while nibbling on a little bit of something sweet.  A cookie from my childhood is the treat most often requested by my husband and son making for a perfect accompaniment to hot tea on these chilly nights.

When I was growing up, my mom made a cookie I knew by a rather funny name.  As she mixed the ingredients together, she would say, “Oh my, these cookies have everything in them but the kitchen sink!”  My cousin Riva Jean and I, being five and six years old respectively, would giggle ourselves silly as my mom would laugh along with us and say, “That’s what the cookies are really called…Kitchen Sink Cookies.”

When I moved to Texas, I learned this same cookie was called a Texas Cowboy Cookie.  How fitting!  By either name, these cookies are delicious…crunchy on the outside with just a bit of chewiness on the inside.  And they’re chock full of a little bit everything…except the kitchen sink…or maybe I should say, “everything except the chuck wagon!”

Print recipe here.

Enjoy!

Love,
Mary

Flowers, Pumpkins, and Basil Pesto Spread

About two weeks ago, my sweet friend, Michelle, and I along with our kids visited a local farm in our area that was all decked out for fall.  Even though we have been fighting a drought here in central Texas, the farm still looked beautiful covered in fields of flowers and pumpkins.  We got to cut our own flowers to take home a beautiful bouquet and got to take home a big pumpkin too!

My son, Ben, surveyed the pumpkins so that we would be sure to go home with the best one.

But something that surprised all of us was basil growing amongst all the flowers.  The farmer let us pick lots of it along with our bouquets so we were doubly blessed with a bouquet and the makings for pesto!

I decided to use less olive oil and make the pesto a bit thicker to use as a spread for slices of baguette.  It turned out delicious and my son and I inhaled it!  This makes a tasty appetizer that is fast…and fresh. Enjoy!

If you live in central Texas or are visiting the area, be sure to swing by Sweet Berry Farm in Marble Falls.  It’s a delightful place and you’ll be sure to go home with arm loads of goodies.

Print the Basil Pesto Spread recipe here.

Love,

Mary

Farm Fresh Produce Deliverd to Your Front Door

Farmhouse Delivery is an absolutely wonderful all-local food delivery service in Austin and surrounding areas. (And they didn’t pay me to say that…I just love them!)

Each week, for a a very fair price, a beautiful basket of fresh local produce will be dropped off at your front door. Even though I love our local farmer’s market, there is something very special – and convenient – about having these wonderful goodies delivered directly to my home. Continue reading

My Constant Kitchen Companion

Thomas Jefferson Could Not Live Without Books…I Cannot Live Without Dogs!

Mary

OK – we’re not talking food today…but dogs are my passion, so I have to introduce you to one of the sweetest girls I know.  She is the love of my family’s life…

I love, love, L-O-V-E this dog. Her name is Obi and she’s the best dog on Earth. My husband is fond of saying that I pulled her back from the light. You see, I met her when she was 11 weeks old…lying on the floor at a Petsmart…on adoption day. She was sick. Very sick. And I couldn’t go home without her. Continue reading

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’ Day to all the Mothers, Mothers-to-Be, and all the woman who have been like Mothers to us throughout our lives!

And an extra special Happy Mother’s Day to my Mom…the best mother in the world!  Thanks  so much for always showering me with love, kindness…and fabulous food!  I love you mom!

Have a wonderful day!

Love to all,

Mary