I know I've been M.I.A. this past week, but I most certainly have not been M.I.A. from my kitchen.
This homegirl has been cooking her little heart out over the past week. I cannot tell you how happy I am that I have finally embraced my inner domestic goddess and gotten to where I actually like cooking. What a battle it has been over the past few years between myself and my kitchen. It used to be that the thought of having to make dinner was pretty much the last thing on my list of fun things to do. I was very much intimidated by having to not only think of something to make, but also go to the grocery store to buy the ingredients (which I still don't like very much), and actually take the time out of my day to prepare the dinner. (I know, I know, insert a very resounding wahwahwah from Laura Ingalls Wilder or your other pioneer superwoman of choice.)
I have finally gotten into my groove and taken the time most every Sunday to sit down in the afternoon and make a list of at least 3 or 4 meals I'd like to make that week. (I remember my mom pretty much cooked 5 nights a week and Sunday lunch, but I'm not quite up to that speed yet.) Then I make up the grocery list so that Monday morning, the boy and I can head to our favorite neighborhood Walmart grocery store to buy the stuff. So far, the new groove is working. Of course, this plan of attack would not work so well if it wasn't for this item, purchased back in 2008 from etsy seller Jot It Down:
I think I paid $6 for this notepad, and let me just tell you, I luuuurve it. It is perforated down the middle, so you can rip the shopping list off, stick it in your purse to take with you to the sto' (duh), and then you can clip the weekly menu list up on the fridge for future reference.
One of the other magic items that makes my newfound love of cooking so much easier is this:
my recipe notebook. It's still a bit haphazard and unorganized, but at least you can get the gist of it. I need to go through and add dividers to organize it like a cookbook so things will be easier to find in it, but since I use it often, I pretty much know where everything is anyway. I basically bought a cheapo 3-ring binder and a package of clear sleeves at the Walmart. Since I am a magazine connoisseur (magazine whore just didn't have the same ring to it, even if it was a truly great description), I just cut (er, rip) out the recipes from my favorite magazines and put them in a sleeve. Most of the recipes come from Southern Living, Midwest Living, Martha Stewart Living, or Country Living magazines. (Hmmm, with all of those "living" magazines, I should have a better grasp on this domesticity thing, don't you think?) I do the same thing with great recipes I find online -- print them out and stick 'em in a sleeve. Then when I am cooking, I take the sleeve out of the binder, and if something splatters on the recipe, it wipes right off.
Because of the fact that most of my favorite recipes come from online or out of magazines, I have gotten rid of most of my cookbooks, except, of course, for my two signed copies from Ree and Serena, and a small assortment of booklets and such I've collected from churches, friends, family, etc.
What about you? Where are your favorite recipes from? Do you have a great way of organizing them?
And since I shouldn't have a kitchen post without a recipe, here is what's on my stove this very minute:
Angela's Stovetop Chicken (from Southern Living magazine, January 2009)
"Test Kitchens Professional Angela Sellers prefers to cook her chicken on the stovetop. Seared to a golden brown, then simmered with a small amount of liquid in a Dutch oven, the meat is extra juicy and fork-tender, making it perfect for chicken salad, pot pies, and dumplings -- plus you ge tthe added bonus of a delicious broth for soup."
Makes 4 servings; Prep: 10 min.; Cook: 1 hour, 5 min.
1 (4- to 5-lb.) whole chicken
1&1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
1. If applicable, remove neck and giblets from chicken, and reserve for another use. Sprinkle chicken with salt, garlic powder, and pepper.
2. Melt butter with oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat; add chicken, and cook, breast side down, 5 minutes or until golden brown. Turn chicken, breast side up, and reduce heat to medium-low. Add 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup wine to Dutch oven. Cover and cook 1 hour or until a meat thermometer inserted in thigh registers 180 degrees.
*I didn't measure out my dry ingredients, but instead just liberally sprinkled them on. That's how I roll. And I poured in closer to 1/2 cup of wine, because the less wine in the bottle I waste, the better, since I'm not a huge wine drinker.
And for your listening pleasure, one of my favorite "kitchen" songs...