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One Adventure at a Time

food. passion. life.

Simple? Chicken? Gourmet?

img_20181106_1802141Have you ever gone out to a restaurant and had the best chicken of your life, only to think to yourself why doesn’t my chicken taste this good?

Chicken is one of the most  popular and readily available proteins in the world.  Almost all cultures have their own classic Chicken dish.  This is because chicken and eggs are both fantastic and renewable food sources.  They are fairly easy to raise as well.

Beyond the fact that it’s readily available and easy to source, chicken is also simple to cook, right? Well this is both true and not true.  Chicken is easy to cook and is extremely versatile, however chicken is also one of the easiest things to screw up.  So what takes a chicken dish from being a boring weekday “1950s mom” meal and pushes into a gourmet experience? Texture!

If you think about all the good chicken you’ve ever eaten in your life it doesn’t matter what kind of meal it was if it was good chicken it was juicy and tender. So today I am going to explain how to use two simple techniques that will elevate your next chicken from simple to scrumptious.   Why are rotisserie chickens so delicious?  because they maintain their juices.  So here are two ways to make your chicken both flavorful and juicy.

Spatchcocking:

No this is not some dirty new move for the bedroom.  This is the simple act of removing the spine of a bird.  Simple?  Really?  Yes! Simple!  I promise you, anyone can spatchcock a chicken, you can also use this technique for your Thanksgiving Turkey and cut your cooking time nearly in half.  Its an easy technique that will allow you to make sure you cook your chicken evenly.

Have you ever roasted a chicken and tested the breast and it seems to be cooked then when you pull the chicken out the thigh meat is raw and bloody?  Then to top it off you stick the chicken back in to finish cooking and suddenly the it becomes ridiculously dry.  What happened?  Well not only does dark meat take longer to cook, but when you pulled the chicken out to cut into it you removed that perfect layer of skin that was holding in the moisture that allows those juices to redistribute back into the meat when the chicken cools enough.

This simple technique will take 5 minutes and will keep that roasting blunder from being a problem.

Here’s the step by step:

Step 1. You need a whole chicken. (Here’s a tip when dealing with raw chicken. People are very afraid of raw chicken and for good reason, salmonella is no joke.  But if you keep your chicken stored in the container you’ll be cooking it in you can keep the raw chicken juice from leaking on your counter or refrigerator.)

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(Also when dealing with raw chicken for your countertop bleach will be your best friend.)

 

 

Step 2. Pull out the neck and giblets that may be in the chicken’s cavity and set aside in a container.

 

Step 3. Flip chicken over (breast-side down) and cut around the spine using sharp kitchen Shears. Set aside spine with giblet bowl, and clean out any other giblets.

 

Step 4. Flip your spineless chicken over and arrange it so the bones are down in the pan and the legs and breasts are right-side-up.

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There’s your Spatchcocked Chicken.

Now to prepare it for cooking…

I mentioned two techniques to make your chicken taste gourmet… here’s the second…  Butter-rub.

Fat is essential to any good food.  But when roasting chicken using a butter rub will greatly improve the texture and flavor of your chicken. Using a butter rub on chicken is like buying poultry insurance. It adds flavor while keeping the chicken from drying out and will help brown the skin. So you end up with a beautiful finished product.

Here’s how to cook your spatchcocked chicken with a butter rub.

Step 1. Preheat oven to 375.

Step 2. Dry the chickenmvimg_20181106_164641

Step 3. Rub butter on the chicken both on top and under the chicken skin.  (Use 1 tbsp per pound of meat for chickens.  Just an FYI This ratio doesn’t work the same for turkey.)

 

Step 4. Add salt, pepper and herbs.

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Step 5. Cut an entire head of garlic in half and place under your chicken.  (i used to place in the cavity of the chicken before I learned how to spatchcock a chicken so this mimics the same effect.

 

Step 6. Share a drink with your chicken! Add about a half cup of dry white wine.

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Step 7. Put your chicken in the oven for about 45 minutes. Here’s another tip for those of you on a budget.  I don’t have a convection oven so I store my stoneware in the oven and keep it in there when roasting food because I find that it distributes the heat a little better.

 

 

Step 8. Cook until chicken is about 160 internal temp. If your chicken didn’t brown as much as you would like, finish for 5-10 minutes under the broiler.

And voila!

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Check back for my roasted veggie recipe!

Bon Vivant on a Budget

(Re-)Introducing my new(/old) blog.  I know I didn’t have many readers but for those of you who did faithfully read, I apologize for falling of the edge of the earth.  I have been embarking on many new adventures and it has taken me a while to find myself in a place where I can rededicate myself to blogging. Just a little update… I moved into a new apartment last year and since April of this year I’ve expanded my family, first there was one cat…

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then there was another…

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and now I’ve become that crazy cat lady in the building.

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In fact, as I write this blog post there is a cat sitting in my lap.

Needless to say, life has been busier than expected.

With the addition of all these furbabies, searching for the adventurous life has been hard these days because of financial restraints… so I stopped blogging.  Then it dawned on me… this is what I need to be blogging about.  Many of you who know me know I enjoy gourmet food and wine.  When on a budget it is hard to eat anything “gourmet,” however, I have been realizing gourmet is more minimalistic than one thinks.  Simply put, you don’t have to be rich to be a foodie.

…you don’t have to be rich to be a foodie.

So starting this week I will be posting ideas on how to eat and cook gourmet food on a budget.  With the advent of home meal kit services, I realize that there is a hunger in our country for good food, but people don’t know where to start.  So, this is where a Bon Vivant like myself comes in.

bon vivant: a person having cultivated, refined, and sociable tastes especially with respect to food and drink

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I love excellent food, but have a very limited budget.  This doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy great gourmet ingredients and learn to cook them well.  And trust me it will be a fraction of the cost of Blue Apron or Home Chef or any other iteration of these meal kit delivery services.  I’m excited to share these tips and recipes with you and hopefully show how simple cooking skills and simple ingredients can be transformed into something extraordinary.  Let’s go on a culinary adventure together.

Ruddy Water

Part of successfully staying adventure ready is having a morning routine.  Every successful person has their “wake-up” routine.  I’m not suggesting that you have to be a morning person to have this routine, however, being a morning person helps.  I was a morning person for years, and now I find I can barely get myself up more than an hour before I have to be running for the door.

Making sure that I get up a few hours before I have to be ready for work is important to me, maybe that’s not as important to you.  Maybe an hour is plenty of time for you.  Whether you get up an hour before you have to start your day or whether you are like me and need another hour or two to feel like you got enough “you” time, everyone needs a morning routine.

Here are 4-steps that everyone needs in their morning routine to start the day ready for adventure:

Step 1. Wake up.  

I have the snoozer syndrome.  I almost always hit snooze a few times before I actually get up.  This is the worst thing you can do for your morning routine.  Speaking from my own experience the days I don’t hit snooze and get out of bed right away are always my good days.

Step 2. Hygiene.

Whether you shower in the morning or at night, we all need to have a morning hygiene routine.  I personally dry brush my skin every morning.  This helps me wake up and is a lymphatic cleanser. (Click Here to see the benefits of dry brushing) I honestly haven’t noticed a change in cellulite or muscle tone, but I just have more energy and I feel more awake after doing it.

Step 3. Stretching.

Whether I have time for 10 minutes or 30 minutes I start every morning with Yoga.  Whether you do Yoga, Pilates, or Static Stretching, getting your body ready for the day includes getting your muscles ready to move.  I recommend not stretching cold muscles, however, so it is important that whatever stretching you do, you don’t do it without some sort of warm-up.

Step 4. Hydration.

This is the last step but it is the most important step.  In fact, if you don’t have time for anything else, skip straight to this step.  More than 40% of Americans do not drink enough water and water is crucial for your health.  There are so many morning health drinks out there.  Whatever morning health drink you choose make sure it is at least 8 oz. of water.  Here is the recipe for my morning beverage that I make every day.


Ruddy Water Recipe

I know ruddy water doesn’t sound appetizing at all, and I won’t lie it does take some getting used to, but this drink has been my magical energy potion.  It contains 5 ingredients that have so many benefits for our bodies.

1 tsp. Blackstrap molasses

1 tsp. Manuka honey

1 tbsp. Raw apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup 100% Cranberry juice

1 tsp. Turmeric

This drink is my own creation, but I did my research of the health benefits s each ingredient possesses.  The osereason I chose these ingredients is mostly for their detoxifying qualities and their ability to boost immunity.  You can click on each ingredient to find out the health properties of each.  Below I will show you how I make my drink and why I ch

 

 

Writing every day – why the writer is blocked, and why that’s sometimes a good thing

A poem about how adventure is created not found:

Today, a new day of old experiences.

Nothing new under the sun, and nothing gold can stay.

Amber’s hue has melted into the white banks of snowy hay.

Life is boring and dull as the dewy haze.  Then the sun shone.

Looking back I see the maze.  The adventures begun and done.

Today was just experiences like any other day,

but now with eyes open I see today anew, and what a day.

 

This pithy little poem I’ve shared with you is my explanation for why as a writer seeking adventure, I often find a void of struggle and meaning.  Not because I really have nothing to say and nothing to experience, rather I find these things because I am sitting at the wrong vantage point.  This is true of most writers.  We struggle with finding our voice and finding our adventure because we can’t look on what is presently happening as an adventure.  Life is too humdrum or too full to find the time to write about it.  There is no happy medium because our view is obstructed by the words.  We can’t find the words and presume that means we have nothing to say.  In actuality the adventure is in finding the words and letting them finally come together and say what is meant.

That sounds obscure so let me explain.  We usually start with a need for meaning then want the words to follow.  Like this post I wanted to talk about writers block, but couldn’t find the words to explain why I think writers block happens.  Then I found the words above, and that was the adventure that broke through my writers block.  Now, the meaning of the words is ascribed in the words themselves and allowing them to say what I meant to say but couldn’t find the words to do so before.

This is often how our lives work.  We seek so hard to find meaning and adventure instead of letting ourself find meaning and adventure in daily living.  Letting daily life be an adventure instead of trying to create an adventure for each day.  It’s all in our perspective and allowing ourselves to see the adventures we have already travelled and are currently on.  We have to let the words come then realize the meaning of the words rather than trying to start with the meaning and forcing out the words.  Likewise we have to let the adventures come and realize that they do come every day rather than spending our days looking for the adventure.

Motivation for an Adventurous Life

Motivation for life changing habits is hard to find.  Either we sit around beating ourselves up for not having the life we want, or we think the life we want is unattainable so why try.  Either way, we end up sitting still.

Today, I had a rare day.  A day where I woke up refreshed and ready to change.  It’s hard to say what caused this blip in my slothful cycle, but I was happy to have it.  It could be that I finally slept well.  It could be that I finally bought a new couch after suffering through a terrible futon for years.  (Thus “going and doing” produced a positive result).  Or, it could be that having moved stuff around my apartment to fit the new couch, I may have accidentally stumbled upon some Feng Shui that was better for my psyche.  Who’s to say?

All I know is that I woke up ready to pray, meditate, work out, and eat a healthy breakfast.  All things that do not come naturally to me.  As I began my day, I wondered why can’t I wake up with this motivation everyday.  And saying things like, “It won’t last,” and, “I have to figure out how this happened.”  I was already sabotaging any chance of staying in the moment ready for change.  But, as I stated above there could be multiple reasons that can’t be reproduced for why I woke up today — Ready Player One!  (That reference is for my fellow nerds out there who can’t wait for the movie to come out.)

Then I realized something.  Motivation is a byproduct of decisions, not the cause of results. If we wait until we have a motivation to do things, we would never do them. Often what motivates us is the feeling of accomplishment after the doing.  For example, I know I need to work out and eat healthier, but I’m not motivated to do that after sleeping in and eating Portillo’s.  When I am motivated to work out, is when I decide to wake up and work out instead of sleeping in.  The feeling I get from working out in the morning then motivates me to have some healthy meals.  Then how I feel from eating healthy makes me feel motivated to meditate and go to bed early enough to get up and work out the next morning.

Motivation comes from the high we get from achieving our goals, not the other way around.  Sure you can wait for a random day like I had today, or you can save yourself weeks and months of disappointment, by just doing what you want to do.  Change is hard, it takes a lot of work.  But if you want motivation to change, then start changing, and you’ll find that motivation you need to keep changing.

finding inspiration

Inspiration doesn’t always come, and it certainly has not been my friend these last four months, hence my silence.  But like all good writers tell those of us who want to be good writers… Inspiration is not why we write, we write to inspire.

So, I’m learning that to find my inspiration I have to find my discipline.  It’s been a busy past few months, and now that we are in new year, I’m challenging myself to keep my promises that I made to myself last year.  I promised myself I would write more.  And write more I shall.

My inspiration is remembering that promises we make to ourselves are just as important as the promises that we make to others.  I’ve promised myself that this was going to be the year, I finally made myself stick to a regimen, and finally saved my money and adopted a simpler lifestyle.

I have made good on some of these promises to myself but this writing thing, has been on the back burner for far too long!  I’m ready to make good on this promise.  Starting today I will post every week.

Let the adventure begin!

adventure of the mind

I’m watching the new Netflix series, Anne with an “E”, it is based on some of my favorite childhood books.  Anne is an orphan child with a wild imagination.  I remember identifying with Anne as a child.  As a child I had an over-active imagination and an ever active mouth, much like Anne.  Revisiting this child-hood classic has helped me to realize how important the imagination is.

It is important that we don’t overuse our imagination, but too often as adults we never use it.  It is important to keep our imagination active because without the continual exercise it will atrophy.  Dusting out the cob-webs of our imaginations is difficult.  But without imagination we lose hope.

I hear from so many of my friends as we all grow older that they can’t hope anymore.  Hope becomes a difficult thing as we grow older.  We have had many years of disappointments to get accustom to.  As we learn to deal with disappointment we close off the mind to imagination and with it we close the heart to hope.

We need to allow our heart to hope and our mind to imagine so that we can move toward a better tomorrow.  When we can’t imagine anything but things as the are, we lose the desire to make things better for ourselves and for others.  If you can’t imagine what life would be like without debt, you would never attempt to break free of it.  If you can’t imagine life with love, you will never open yourself up to it.

So much of the risk we take in our lives is directly linked to how much we hope.  And, how much we hope is directly linked to how much we can imagine.  Imagination breeds hope and with it adventure.  Use your imagination today and find something to hope for, then take that hope and turn it into an adventure!

beautiful

You’ve got to get up every morning
With a smile in your face
And show the world all the love in your heart
Then people gonna treat you better
You’re gonna find, yes you will
That you’re beautiful as you feel

~Carol King

Recognizing beauty

Part of living the adventurous life is recognizing beauty in the world. Recognizing beauty in nature, others, and ourselves. This can be particularly difficult for us to do when we don’t feel beautiful. But sometimes we don’t feel beautiful because we are listening to the wrong voices.

I’m not usually one who listens to the “advice” of celebrities because often I feel like they don’t live in our world.  They live in a microcosm of reality and their advice leaves me wanting, however, just today I came across this video on Twitter. Julia Roberts was on Ellen and she had some really down-to-earth things to say about beauty.

I love the realism of this video.  Sure we don’t all look like Julia Roberts, and that’s the genetics part that she was talking about.  But we all can surround ourselves with people whose kindness and love inspires.  We can allow ourselves to feel beautiful by showing the world all the love in our hearts, as the song says.  There are so many times I find myself missing out on adventurous living because I’m too busy in my masochistic self-pity to stop and see all the beauty around me.

I am surrounded by people who love me, care for me, and see the beauty in me.  When I allow myself to see the beauty in my life I become grateful.  As I practice gratitude I become more loving.  And as I  become more loving I not only shine that love outward, but I start to see the beauty within myself.  Being able to recognize my own beauty, I start to recognize the beauty in others.

I don’t mean recognizing beauty in the way that causes us to compare ourselves and want to change things about ourselves.  I mean recognizing beauty in others because you can see them for who they really are.  Recognizing value and worth of every person you encounter.

It has been my experience that you can’t recognize the value and worth of others if we can’t recognize our own value and worth.

When you have a hard time seeing beauty within yourself, you will almost always miss it in the world.

How do we start to recognize that beauty within?

Listen to the right voices.

Listen to the people in your life who know you for who you really are, and love you for you.  Listen to the ones who will not bullshit you.  The problem with bullshitters is that even if they are saying kind and sweet things, those words don’t penetrate our hearts.  We don’t trust their compliments because we don’t believe those people really know us.

Listening to the right voices starts with recognizing who those people are in your life.  Who are the ones who have always been there for you?  Who are the people who would drop everything for you if you needed them?  Who are the people who know you, love you, and actually like being around you?  Listen to those voices.  Then speak your love for them.

When you speak your love into the world, you will become the beauty you wish to see in the world.  Adding to the beauty of the world is the privilege of being human.  Our humanity is fully realized when we add to the beauty.  When we add to the beauty and recognize the beauty all around us, it is then that being fully alive, we can live out the adventure we seek.

 

sweeter days

Have you ever had one of those days?  You know the kind I mean, the ones where you just never want it to end.  I have to be honest I have been privileged to enjoy far more of those blessed days than I should have any right to claim.  When these days happen, most of us have a tendency to hold them too tightly.  I mean that because we want to extract every last ounce of sweet nectar from those short 24 hours, we can at times self-sabotage and miss the pleasure of just being.

I am very guilty of this.  I tend to want to relive that moment again and again so much that I miss out on the beauty of the next moment. Or I entirely miss out on the joy of being in the moment at all, and it is stolen from me by the fear of impending day’s end.

I just had one of these days, and though yes, I didn’t want it to end, one of the things I’ve been working on is mindfulness.  Living in the moment and being mindful go hand in hand with an adventurous life.  We can never fully recognize our adventures without being mindful, and we can never fully enjoy our adventures without living in the moment.  Both are necessary to appreciate and live adventurously.

When we hold onto a moment too tightly, however, we miss something. We miss the beauty of the temporal state we are experiencing.

Just being present with people you love (or even at times alone) can be the difference between a great day and a forgettable one.  The more we learn to stay present in whatever moment we find ourselves in, the more we will see the adventure we seek is right before us.

I have added meditation to my daily routine, and by doing this I’ve been able to practice mindfulness and remain present in each current moment. The beautiful thing is that through this entire day, I didn’t even realize I was being mindful.  It just starts to happen as you practice more, the more naturally you will find yourself enjoying your present hour.

As my day has come to a close, I began my daily ruminations. I became sad, almost morose at the thought that today is over and it would not come again.  I was then reminded that part of being mindful and present in each moment means appreciating the day’s transience.

I was rereading a friend’s postcard that I had read earlier in the day.  In this postcard she lamented that the day on which she wrote to me was gloomy and dark.  She then said, however, “It’s these days that make the sunny ones sweeter.”

It’s these days that make the sunny ones sweeter.

These short words reminded me to appreciate my sweeter day for all it is, including the fact that it is not permanent.  I was sad that my day had to end, but like all things in life we often won’t appreciate what we have if we never know what it is like to go without it.  So my friend’s words stick in my brain as a reminder to remain present.  They teach me to stay present even unto the day’s end.

There is a bitterness to mindfulness because there will never again be a day exactly like this one.  It is easy and even tempting to let that reality make us grow sad or angry when the day closes, but without this day’s end we would never know days that make this one sweeter.   Impermanence is part and parcel of an adventurous life.

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