Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Comfort in the eye of the storm

Talking on the phone to my grandma on Easter, she brought up a valid question about something that I wrote on here.
Yes, you guys, despite not having a computer, my grandma still finds a way to somehow read my food blog.

I'm over it.

Anyway, she presented a valid point having to do with my grilled cheese divine method to make you feel like a 10-year-old at 3:30 p.m.
"Why," she asks me, "don't you just butter the bread? It would be much easier than nuking it in the cancer machine and dirtying another dish."
[I paraphrase.]

Two reasons.

1. First of all, for even coverage. Dredging bread in butter is not only fun, but very effective. Streaks of black are not a virtue of the perfect grilled cheese, and nor are soggy sections where the butter has stayed in a clump.

2. Because I keep my butter refrigerated, and softening it for hours 'til it reaches spreadable consistency requires

planning ahead.

Which, as you all know, always works out for me. Every single time.
Like pita chips.

No, in all honesty, I am a second-semester senior. I have learned by this point that starting a project even a second earlier than absolutely necessary is just wishful thinking.
This normally ensues in short-lived utter raging panic the wee morning hours leading up to the final moment that the immaculate paper passes from my weary and caffeine-jittering fingers.
I do my best work in the midst of an emergency. Gets my adrenaline pumping.
I am a creature of the last minute, and may never be otherwise until I am my grandmother's age.

Since it is my last finals week evar (?), and since I fully plan to spend my next 4 days fretting and nights sitting on the floor with a cold cup of coffee staring at a the cursor blink on and off in a blank Word document until 6 A.M., I can't be bothered to cook anything that requires any rigorous planning. [And I consider rigorous planning to be putting a stick of butter on the counter to soften for a couple hours.]

I am making comfort food. Something to make you want to curl up under a warm, baby blue blanket and forget all about walking to class in a tornado warning (because that's what all of us did today, and will hopefully get to do tomorrow too!)

Crispy chicken drumsticks and creamy thyme-roasted veggies

The holy trinity of potatoes, carrots, and celery, sprinkled with mushrooms and a thick-sliced onion. Tossed around with olive oil, a few whole smashed cloves of garlic, lots of fresh thyme, and cracked salt and pepper. Roasted at 350° for 20 minutes, and then for another 20 with 1/4 cup of milk stirred in.

I coated the drumsticks by dipping them in an egg, milk, and worchestershire mixture and then dredging in Kentucky Kernel seasoned flour.
(There is no substitute.)

I only wish that I knew of a better method to keep all the golden crusty breading ON the chicken after it's initially coated. I didn't deep fry it, I browned each side in a pan and then finished it in the oven, turning about every 10 minutes until it smelled done.
It seemed like every time I turned it, though, more of the crispy skin and breading stuck to the pan. I would like to know if there is a better coating method that sticks forreal and makes a uniform crust.
Or maybe it has to do with the level of heat and fat in the pan. I'd be interested to know if anybody has any experienced opinions on this.

I finished the night with some whole wheat banana bread.
I sprinkled the top with brown and refined sugar for a sparklingly sweet top crust. I left it in a touch too long (on 375° for 55 minutes). It's very dense. That could also be the wheat flour. It's still delicious, you can't go wrong with warm, steamy banana bread with some butter!

The best part of all of these things is that they each had practically no prep time. Toss a couple things together and throw it in the oven for about an hour. The veggies go in. Veggies come out and in goes the chicken. Chicken comes out and in goes the banana bread! And that gives me tons of time in my busy school schedule to study....
well, we'll see.

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