Oh Mon Dieu! C’est Poulet à la Provençale!

I made chicken Provençal for dinner tonight and it was a smash hit! If I hadn’t stuffed myself on the actual dinner, I’d have licked the baking dish clean, too! Oh sweet baby jesus! This is the best chicken I’ve ever tasted! How the hell have I gone my whole life not knowing this beautiful melody of flavors on my palette?!

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Let me start out by saying how easy this is to make, and I really mean that! The hardest part of making it is the basting. It’s simple and bursting with flavor. I served it over a bed of plain polenta, with chunks of baguette on the side to mop up the sauce with.

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I don’t normally enjoy dark meat chicken, but I just don’t think this dish would be the same with breasts. The dark meat works so well and it doesn’t come out feeling overly greasy and yucky, even though this dish is heavy on the oil, because the skin gets crispy.

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The next time I make this, I want to try it with Cornish game hens. I bet this would work fantastically with them! I think splitting them down the back and laying them flat in the pan would keep them from drying out on one side while staying soggy on the other. Don’t be surprised if you see me post an update with Cornish game hens used in this recipe.

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There is one thing I’d like to make note of about this recipe: Don’t be afraid to use extra of ANYTHING (except the flour.) If it doesn’t look right, add more. If your liquid has evaporated off halfway through the roasting time, add more. Consider any amounts listed in this recipe as mere guidelines. It’s better to err on the side of more rather than less. Trust me!

Ingredients:
Flour, for dredging
Salt and pepper
AT LEAST 2 Tbsp herbes de Provence
olive oil
vermouth
one head of garlic
2-3 medium to large shallots
1 preserved lemon
1 fresh lemon
4-6 chicken leg quarters

Directions:
1) Preheat your oven to 425F.
2) Pat your chicken pieces dry if they seem wet. Season your chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge it in flour and pat/brush off any excess. You want your chicken lightly coated with it. Too much flour will leave you with a raw flour taste at the end.
3) Peel all the cloves from your head of garlic. You can chop the larger cloves in half if you’d like.
4) Quarter your shallots and your preserved lemon.
5) Drizzle olive oil in your oversized baking dish or large roasting pan and tilt it around until the oil has completely covered the bottom of the dish. Try to use a pan or dish that is deep. If you can’t, a baking sheet (with raised sides) will work, but please note that the lower the sides of your dish are, the more liquid will evaporate.
6) Place your chicken pieces skin side down in your baking dish, leaving room between them. Do not crowd the chicken, or your skin will not get crispy. Place your lemon slices around the chicken on the outside edge of the dish, and tuck your cloves of garlic and shallots around, between, and slightly under your chicken pieces.
7) Season your chicken liberally with herbes de Provence.
8) Gently pour the vermouth along the edge of the dish, so as to not rinse the herbs off the top of your chicken. You want to put enough vermouth in that you have about a half-inch to an inch of vermouth.
9) Bake for 1 hour total, basting every 15 minutes, and flipping the chicken pieces at the 30 minute mark. When you flip the chicken, you’ll want to add more herbes de Provence to the top of the chicken.

Squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over your chicken pieces and serve the chicken over a bed of polenta with chunks of baguette to sop up the sauce with.

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Crêpes Galore!

I have made so many crêpes this past week that I’m honestly surprised I’m not sick of them yet! Since getting my handy-dandy crêpe skillet at Aldi, I’ve made cheese and fruit crêpes four different ways – with strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries – I’ve made nutella and fruit crêpes with both bananas and strawberries, and I’ve made chicken florentine crêpes. I have fallen in love with crêpes.

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I found an easy, fool-hardy recipe for crêpes that is so insane in its simplicity that I wonder why it took me so long to attempt them. To be honest, I was a little intimidated by crêpes because I always thought they were some crazy-hard food to master making, but the opposite is true. While you can mess it up, if you know how to cook at all, you should be able to do a fairly decent job on your first try. Really! If you’ve been scared of crêpes, don’t be.

So, this recipe is made in your blender and you’ll need a good few hours to let it rest, but that’s it. I like to mix my crêpe batter up before bed and then leave it in the fridge until morning.

Ingredients:
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup water
6 Tbsp melted butter
2 cups flour
Room temperature butter to coat skillet

Directions:
Place all ingredients in your blender and pulse, scraping the sides of your blender pitcher as necessary to remove residual flour. Let rest at least 4 hours or overnight, the longer the better.

When you’re ready to make your crêpes, heat a good unscratched non-stick skillet or crêpe skillet over medium-high heat and brush with a little butter using a silicone spatula. Pick your skillet up and tilt it. Pour your batter into the middle of the skillet slowly, tilting it around until a light layer has coated the entire bottom surface.

When the sides of your crepe start pulling away from the edge of the skillet and the top surface of the crêpe has turned from glossy to matte, it’s time to flip it. Work your silicone spatula under your crêpe gently until you have it half-way under the crêpe. Flip. Let the crêpe cook on this side for only 10-15 seconds and then slide it off onto a plate.

Repeat until you’ve used all your crêpe batter. This should make around 10 crêpes. If you have a non-stick skillet, you shouldn’t need anymore butter, but if you are using a stainless steel skillet, you’ll want to add a little more butter between crêpes.

Fill your crêpes with whatever filling you’d like and enjoy!

If you have leftover crêpes, you can slip parchment paper between them and then place them in a gallon freezer bag and freeze or refrigerate them. To reheat, simply pop them in the microwave for a few seconds. For a refrigerated crêpe, I only needed 15 seconds in my 900 watt microwave to get it steamy-hot again.

High Speed Pursuits and Showers

Yesterday, I had to make a run to our local post office to pick up a couple of packages they had attempted to deliver while I was gone over the holidays. Our post office isn’t very far away. I’d guess maybe a mile or just slightly over that. Anyway, I live on a street with two schools on it, and our apartment complex is basically sandwiched between them. I was pulling out of the driveway, and I stopped at the street to check for traffic before pulling out when a silver Honda CR-V flew past me followed by at least six police cruisers – lights, sirens, the whole nine yards. At first it didn’t dawn on me that a police chase was happening right in front of me, because my very first thought was, “Wow! Those cops must have an urgent call to be flying down THIS street that fast!” which was followed not even a second later by, “Oh holy shit! They’re chasing that guy!” I checked again to make sure no one was coming and made my right turn into the street, going the same direction the maniac and police cruisers had gone, and when I got to the stop light at the corner, I noticed the idiot in the CR-V had plowed down all of the signs and shrubbery in front of the school there. They were all laying out in the street. Three more police cruisers quickly flew past me while I was waiting at the light, driving balls the walls down the street in front of me. At that point, I decided it may be a good idea to turn off my radio and crack my windows so I can listen for them in case that imbecile decides to come back in my direction.

Luckily for me, that was the last I saw of them, but after I stopped at the post office I had to run to the bank, which is a few miles away in a different city. As I was driving down the main road to get there, I started seeing small chunks of tires and car body, a headlight, and other debris strewn across the lanes I was in. Needless to say, this shook me up quite a bit, because I usually observe this sort of Southern California insanity from the comfort and safety of my own living room, rather than physically in person. Had I been even thirty seconds faster in leaving my apartment complex, this jackass could very well have hit me on the street while I was driving. I definitely consider myself quite lucky.

One of the packages I got at the post office was the Christmas present my husband’s aunt sent us. I love this! It’s the coolest idea ever, because we will use it the entire year, and she knew it. I was so excited when I opened the envelope and saw it, because I love looking at scenery photos.
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How awesome is that?! We have a Swiss calendar, in French and German, to use this year. What’s really cool about it is that I had told myself yesterday morning, before heading out to run these errands, that I should really stop at the store and buy a new 2016 calendar. Now, I don’t need to.

El Niño has finally arrived here in Southern California, and I’m so stinkin’ excited about the rain, you have no idea! I planned this week’s meals around the weather, and today it finally decided to rain on us, so I’ll be making split pea and ham soup in my Crock Pot. I’ve mostly held off on my soups and chili this year, because I didn’t want us to get tired of them before the rain came. Now, it’s here, and I’m taking full advantage of it!

Sunshine, Breezes and DMCA

The weather has been gorgeous this past week here! I’ve had our windows wide open and the air conditioner off. It’s been so nice! The nights have been cool, bordering on chilly, and the days have been just barely warm! I’m loving this weather! But, it’s supposed to start warming up again here today. They said we have a heat wave coming and by Sunday we should break 100° again. YUCK! I’m not looking forward to that! I love having my windows open and just enjoying the breeze and cool, comfortable temperatures.

My son goes back to school again in two weeks. I took him shoe shopping yesterday and then surprised him with lunch at Chipotle. We don’t eat out that often, and when we do, it’s usually a case of grab-it-and-bring-it-home rather than just sitting down and enjoying it. I like Chipotle because, besides the fact that their food tastes amazing, I don’t really have to worry about what’s in it. I mean, don’t get me wrong! I have my junk food moments, but I try to make sure we eat healthy and don’t consume a lot of super-awful foods. That’s probably why I cringe so hard when my kiddo asks for a Chicken McNuggets kid’s meal, because I know how god-awful the ingredients in that is! But, you’re only a kid once, and what would a childhood be without the occasional McNugget dipped in Ranch?!

I’m guessing that I’ll probably be able to get back to posting more regularly once my spawn hits the books again! It’s so hard to keep him busy while at the same time sitting down for a little quiet time to gather my thoughts and pound out a blog post. He keeps me on my toes, and more times than not I am left wondering where the hell he finds all that energy for his little body! I have also come to cherish my alone-ness when he’s in school and the husband is at work. It wasn’t always this way, because back when the recession first hit, my husband lost his job and didn’t have one for a few years. With myself at school full-time and him at home taking care of our child, pretty much the only alone time I had was on my drives to and from campus. So, being alone at home was pretty much foreign to me, and wasn’t necessarily an idea I relished. But, I’ve come to love it and appreciate the solitude.

We’ve been video-chatting with my husband’s aunt in Switzerland on an every-other-weekend basis lately. It’s kind of cool to watch my husband slowly become reacquainted with his lost mother tongue. He’s spoken English for so long now that he finds it very difficult to communicate in French. I do have to say, though, that as the time goes on during the conversations, you can notice a difference in how easy it is for him to respond and speak. He usually starts out the conversations very jerky and having to grasp for words, but toward the end he’s speaking more fluently. I, on the other hand, have such a limited vocabulary in that language that I’m still pretty much stuck asking him to translate what I want said.

I recorded a video on my iPhone on the drive home from taking my husband to work of me trying to get my son to sing along and dance along to the music playing on my iPod. My child was being somewhat comical and refusing to play along, but overall I thought it was a pretty amusing clip, so I uploaded it to YouTube as a private video to share with my husband’s aunt, since she doesn’t know myself or our child very well, and doesn’t have Facebook. It was a “home video” of us enjoying a drive while listening/singing along/dancing along to music. I had sent her a link to it after uploading it yesterday, and kind of left it at that. This morning, I got up and checked to see if she’d seen it, and she replied that she was unable to view the video. As it turns out, the video got flagged for DMCA violations and restricted on YouTube. I was pissed. It’s a freakin’ home movie and falls squarely under Fair Use doctrine. But, whatever. I can’t get it to work on YouTube now, and it’s pretty much spoiled the novelty of a cutesy little car video, so I removed it. The whole point in uploading it was to share it with only her anyway, and since that cannot be achieved, I just said FUCK IT! I yanked it down off YouTube. There’s no point in leaving it there if the one person who was supposed to be allowed to see it can’t. But, I’m still pretty upset about that. I learned way back in one of the first political science courses I took in college that the laws of this country are always written to protect and benefit corporations and never private citizens. Kudos! They’ve struck again!

So, fuck Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment. You guys can go die in a bag of herpes infested rat dicks!

Saturdays are for Relaxation…

It’s too bad I never got that memo! I’ve been doing stuff since I woke up at 7 this morning. It’s probably because I conked out early last night, thanks to a little helping hand from my husband, and two friends known as Diclofenac and Flexeril. I was a hot mess yesterday. I think the entire week of doing all sorts of stuff for hubby’s birthday caught up with me finally, and yesterday was the day of reckoning.

Anyway, this morning I woke up ready to tackle everything, which made my husband grumpy, since I dragged him out of the sheets at 7:30 to help me with it. I did try to pacify him with a nice mocha latte though, and I think that helped make him a little more cheerful! He grumbled quite a bit about how early it was and now that we’re done running around town, he’s snuck off to the bedroom for a nap.

I was perusing his aunt’s blog for recipes again the other day, and found a link to one for Pork Fricassée, so I have that marinating right now in my refrigerator. I’m hoping his aunt pops into Google chat sometime in the next 48 hours, because she made it with polenta, according to her blog, and I have no clue how to properly make polenta the way she shows it. It looks like a bed of mashed potatoes with the Pork Fricassée on top, but all the recipes I find for this polenta I have are telling me to slice it and fry it, and I’m getting rather confused. I think that she may have access to dry polenta in a box, and all I can find is polenta in a tube!

Father’s Day is tomorrow. I’m planning to make something I haven’t made in a while. Growing up, my mom had this quick and super-easy way she’d make chicken that we always loved, but for some reason I rarely make it, even though I’m crazy about it. You just take one or two bottles of cheap Italian dressing (depending on how much chicken you’re making,) squeeze the oil out of them, and then marinate some chicken pieces in that for at least 30 minutes. When you’re ready to cook it, you bake them in a 350° oven. I like to lay them out in the pan or baking dish and pour the Italian dressing over them, and then sprinkle the chicken pieces with garlic powder before baking. We always serve this with baked potatoes, and when the chicken is done cooking, we take the marinade/dressing that baked with it, and thicken it with a little cornstarch and use it as a gravy. It’s delicious! I’m crazy about it! I’ll remember to post a picture tomorrow with it, so you get an idea how fantastic it looks! My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

So Much to do, so Little Time!

Tomorrow is my husband’s birthday. I had to remind him this morning! He said, “Is it Friday yet? I wish it was Friday, already!” I told him that it can’t be Friday yet, and he looked so puzzled and asked me why. I just gave him the biggest WTF look and said, “Because your birthday is tomorrow, Thursday, and you can’t just skip your birthday!”

A couple of weeks ago, I convinced him to get back in touch with his aunt. She has a blog about crafting and cooking/baking, so I’ve been digging through it for recipes he’s told me his grandma used to make. I found the recipe for the Hazelnut Cake he is always raving about, so I’m making that for his birthday (if you follow that link and don’t speak French, you’ll need to plug it into Google Translate.) I’m making the puff pastry crust right now, and when I’m done, I’ll get started on the filling.

His aunt also sent him a birthday card, so I put it in front of his keyboard on his desk for him to find when he gets home. Normally, I just open all the mail in our house, but this is a special birthday card, so I’ll let him open it. Besides, it’s not like I don’t know what’s in it! I’m sure he’ll be excited to get it. I would be.

I also wanted to make the caramels he’s told me so much about, but considering how much time it will take to stir while cooking, I just don’t think I’ll have the time today. I’m trying to multitask, doing dishes, laundry, and making this cake, so I can’t fit time in to make the caramels, too.

On another note, I’ve asked my amazing friend Jay from TeapotsandTesseracts to write a guest post on my blog this next week. I’m looking forward to this, because he’s an amazing writer and conveys thoughts and emotions in a unique and brilliant way. I know you guys will find his post very enlightening. His blog is new, but I’ve known him for a while, and I think having him guest post here is a great way to discuss the topic we’ve decided on and to bring him a little more exposure. Feel free to drop by his blog and show him some love, if you have the chance.

WTF Friday – 1/16/2015

This week’s WTF moments are inspired by and because of recent current events. I’ve curated a few things I found more than slightly ironic, and I’d love to share them with all of you. So, let’s get started, shall we?


1) Le Petit Journal vs. Fox News

This past week, the French version of our John Stewart took Fox News to task over their lies about “no-go zones” inside Paris. He had contacted the American faux news channel regarding this dubious information, and they had the audacity to tell him he didn’t know what the fuck he was talking about. Yea, Americans told a Frenchman he didn’t have a clue about his own country! What. the. fuuuuuuuck?! Needless to say, I laughed my ass off at this. I found it extremely hilarious!


2) Why is it a big deal when people come out as homosexual?

I commend these young men. They were very brave to post this video, as it was very personal and looked extremely difficult. With that being said, I’d just like to know why we as a culture can’t get to a point where kids no longer feel they will be abandoned if they let people know they aren’t straight. I know this is a rhetorical question, but why do kids have such a fear they will be abandoned by their parents when they tell them about this part of them? I don’t understand why we are so anti-homosexuals as a nation, that kids are abandoned, abused, and mistreated because they don’t fit the heterosexual mold we think they should squeeze themselves into. To each their own, right?


3) White guy shoots black police chief three times and doesn’t get arrested.

Have you seen this gem from Oklahoma?! I just have no words to describe how flabbergasted I am regarding this.

 

 

 

WTF Friday – 10/24/14

By popular demand, here is my first iteration of a new regular feature called WTF Friday.

Last night, we (my husband and I) were helping our son with his homework. We got to the math page, and it had a symbol like this: FunnyMathSymbol

It said to find this and then find the sum (now I drew this symbol from memory, so it may not be exactly correct.) I looked at it and said, “What the fuck is this shit?!” After looking over his math paper, and finding nothing that explained the symbol, and after asking my child what it meant and not getting anything beyond, “I don’t know…” I wrote a little note to the teacher.

“Dear Teacher:
If you want us to be able to help our child with his math homework, could you please AT LEAST explain what these ridiculous symbols mean? They aren’t even a part of College Algebra! Thanks!”

Later on, my husband was helping our child with some other math problems, and he was trying to remember something he calls la preuve par neuf, or proof by nines. I’ve never heard of this, but apparently, it’s a handy-dandy little way his dad taught him to come to an answer for certain multiplication problems. He showed me this video:

That’s my first WHAT THE FUUUUUUUUUCK?! I should also note, here, that I suck at math.

Anyway, I started looking it up, and the closest thing I could find is this video from Khan Academy:

I’m still scratching my head…

The other what the fuck I had was that while my husband was watching that first video, he made the remark, “That guy’s from Paris.” Huh? So I asked him how he knows. He said his voice sounds funny, and apparently, to the Swiss, Parisians have funny-sounding voices. It’s not so much an accent. The only Francophones with notable accents are Québécois French, according to my husband. Also, it should be noted that no European Francophone likes the Canadian French!

So, I posted on my Facebook, asking all of his Swiss friends if they could help explain it, because it seems to be something that is taught in Europe. I’ve never heard of it, and I never learned it here in the States. They were just as clueless as I am!

What?!


Last night, after the kiddo had gone to bed, I was piddling around on Facebook, and a notification popped up that someone had applied to the “closed” Facebook group I’m an admin of. I clicked over to check them out, because we vet everyone who enters to keep the trolls and spammers at bay, and the woman’s name was, I kid you not, Jane Dough!

AHAHAHAH! That’s a funny one there, but we don’t knead you! WTF?! Not only that, but she was dressed very oddly in her profile photo, almost like it was staged and satirical. I couldn’t help but make the o.O eyes at my screen when I saw it.


Have you seen this story? A woman got stabbed to death at a swap meet here in Southern California over a parking spot. A parking spot?! Seriously? First off, I wouldn’t ever get out of my vehicle for anyone, I don’t care who they think they are, and secondly, a parking spot is such a stupid thing to get killed or kill someone over! WTF?

However, that does bring up a hilarious video I saw a couple of weeks ago. This lady in China knows how to do it right!

 

Learning French as an American Isn’t Easy!

I shall begin by stating that the French ‘R’ is the most daunting letter one will ever learn to pronounce in any language. I’ve watched countless videos on YouTube regarding this, and let me say that, by far, Alexa’s video (below) has been the most helpful. 

I’m a fortunate chick! My husband is a native Francophone. This can be a double-edged sword at times. The other day, I’d worked so hard on the phrase, “Comment était le travail aujourd’hui?” (“How was work today?”) When I picked him up from work that afternoon, I spit it out the best I could muster, and instead of replying with something like, “Bien, merci!” my dear sweet perfectionist husband corrected my pronunciation of “travail”. I wanted to burst into tears! Generally, though, I have quite the advantage over most people learning a second language. I don’t need to attend any sort of class (thank you, YouTube!) because I have my own personal teacher and coach.

My goal is to eventually be able to converse in French fluently. I have always wanted to speak French, and being married to someone with French as their native language makes it even more tantalizing. Also, being able to converse with the few friends I have who speak French only is another dream. I’d like to one day be able to sit down and type out messages to them without having to consult Google Translate. I’d also like to understand what they’re saying to me without having to run it through that page first.

My current go-to resource for properly learning French is a YouTube channel called “Imagier”. The creator of this channel is a man named Vincent, and he also has a website, imager.net . This has been invaluable to me.