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Two women in a kitchen can be great fun! Or not!
My mother was not a great chef but she was a good cook. She didn't have a vast repertoire of dishes but those she made were excellent. There was just not a lot of variety for a given food.
Potatoes could be boiled, baked or fried. That was the most variety allowed any single food.
Carrots were sliced in rounds and finished with browned butter (my mother loves browned butter!)
Chicken was cut into pieces, fried then finished in the oven.
Beef roast was, well, roasted.
Soup was made with potatoes, rutabagas, carrots, celery, onions and beef short ribs. She made potato soup once.
She also had a few standard hot dishes, chili; maybe a total of 25 different 'meals'.
She was a competent cook; she just didn't enjoy it. But she made the effort to pass on the information and skills she had to me. Thus the question about the beans. It wasn't the way I had been taught to cut beans. (Yes, I do realize that the creativity that can be applied to the cutting of a green bean is somewhat limiting but apparently I had found it. If I recall I was cutting them at an angle and a bit longer; rebellious soul that I am.)
It was the first time she had come to stay with me. Oh, my parents had come for dinner before, but never extended visits. My father had recently died and my mother was spending a week with me. The longer time allowed for a much closer examination of my so-called talents.
My mother was (and still is) a master of the subtle
criticism comment. In addition to the innocent question about the beans I heard:
Humph, I always salted my meat first.
Aren't you going to peel those potatoes?
Why do you have all of these spices…you surely don't use them all?
I would think you would want your burner/oven to be hotter/not so hot.
Do you always fix your chicken this way?
I don't know: where you get your ideas / who you take after!
And, the one still dear to me: What are you going to do with all of that green stuff? Those are herbs? You're not going to use all of them, surely. You are?!? Well, I never….
Did she like the chicken?
Well, yes, but it would have been just as good without all of those herbs and certainly less messy to make/cook/eat! I don't see the need to …… Yes, mother.
For countless years I made the Rutabagas for Christmas Dinner (with bacon and onions). On the other hand I was only asked once to make Green Bean Casserole. The incident has neither been forgotten nor forgiven.
Herbed Chicken, summer version
2 Cornish game hens or Poussin (little chickens)
2 tbs snipped fresh chives
2 tbs finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tbs finely chopped fresh thyme
2 tbs finely chopped fresh tarragon
2 tbs finely chopped fresh oregano
2 tbs finely chopped fresh basil
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3 tbs lemon juice
3 tbs olive oil
Snip, chop and mince herbs and garlic. I put them on a cutting board, about 1/3 at a time and cut with a large chef knife or mezzaluna using a rocking motion. You are making a paste so they should be fairly fine. Put all into a small bowl and add the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix well. Add enough olive oil to make a thin paste – it won't hold together but it shouldn't be like a vinaigrette. Wash hens and pat dry with paper towels. Carefully work your fingers between the skin and the flesh on the breast of the hens, loosening skin. When it is nice and loose, as far as you can do it without tearing, spread the herb mixture under the skin. Pat the skin back in place. Spread more of the herb mixture on the birds, put any remaining herbs inside the birds. Tie legs together with kitchen string and fold wing tips under back (at first joint) – keeps them from flapping. Cook hens on barbecue grill over indirect heat for 45 – 60 minutes or until done. Chicken is done at 160 F (70C) on your meat thermometer and/or the juices run clear when pierced with knife. Or they can be baked in a shallow roasting pan in a 400F oven for the same amount of time. When done, remove from heat, cut string and serve – don't forget finger bowls (it's messy) and bone bowls (to keep your plates tidy). Serve whole or cut each bird in half.
Note: Mon mari cooked these on the Weber (kettle-type), covered, and added some wood chips to give them a bit of a smoky flavor and color. The herbs on top looked burnt but they weren't. The taste was just right…
Don't forget to stop by In Mol Araan on Monday for the complete recap of all the Weekend Herb Blogging entries.