Posts filed under ‘cooking’

for Jenn

about a month ago, my friend jenn and i were overloading a shopping cart at costco, and i threw in a 3-pack of whole chickens.  she thought the whole chicken thing sounded too complicated, so i educated her and then mentally berated myself for being a know-it-all.  the self-berating stopped the instant she threw cartons of pre-made chicken broth into the shopping cart, and i resolved at that moment to document the process of making a chicken & stock for her.   i may not be a know-it-all, but i DO like to help!   ps: the camera on my iPod touch is definitely not high-quality, but i didn’t want my lovely DSLR anywhere near my chicken fingers!


scrunch up a length of aluminium foil, and coil it inside the bottom of your crockpot.


lay out some paper towel to rest the bird on after you’ve given him a little rinse.


untuck his legs, and fill the cavity with a peeled and quartered onion.  i think this is where some people would do stuffing, but i prefer to just add a bit of flavour with onion and work on the side dishes later.  don’t throw out your onion peels!!


my chicken has friends.  this time i sprayed the chicken to give the spice something to stick to, and to make the crust a little crispy.  totally not required though.  the magic is in the montreal chicken spice.  completely coat the bird.


plunk the chicken down on top of your foil coil, and you could stop there!  i didn’t though, i added some potatoes to roast along with it for my half-irish husband.  here’s the bird and potatoes after sitting in the crockpot for most of the day:

6.  side dish:

make it a super-easy compete meal by adding some berries and a bag of salad (and any dressing works, but mango-chipotle or creamy poppyseed are fantastic!)

7.  EAT:

now you’d think this was the end.  but it’s SOOOO not!  one bird equals many more meals than this one!  here’s where you go once the plates are emptied and the bellies have been given satisfied pats.  we have this leftover after 2 adults and two kids have eaten their fill:


1. remember your onion peels that i told you to save earlier?  please tell me that you did, because you need them now!

add these
to this:

(note: the inside of your crockpot won’t look pretty after it’s cooked a chicken, but nothing about stock is pretty, so get over it!)

and add the limp celery from the bottom of your veggie drawer (but cut off the muddy bottom!):

and finally, add the ugliest ingredient of all:

the bones and every undesirable piece of the chicken.

cover it with water, turn that crock back on and let it sit for a while.  how long?  i dunno… 2 hours on high should be good.  i’ve been known to start it late and let it sit on low overnight.  when it’s done, grab a large stock pot and a mesh sieve.

pour the entire contents of the crockpot into this setup:

then take a ladle and use the scoop to press the juices out of that sieve.

here’s what you end up with in the stock pot:

if you have room in your fridge, you can go ahead and just throw the pot into it overnight and make chicken noodle soup for lunch tomorrow. (tip: if you let the stock cool in the fridge then you can scrape off the coagulated layer of fat that would otherwise be mixed in with your broth).

next day, use the little bits of chicken that you had leftover + the stock + carrots, celery, onions & egg noodles to make this:

easily enough soup for 6 people to eat their fill, and we STILL had chicken left over!

the leftover chicken breast that didn’t make it into the soup got turned into two of these (but it could have been three if i hadn’t ravenously attacked the container of chicken while making derek’s lunch).  it’s also worth noting that the lettuce on that sandwich is leftover salad from the bag i mentioned earlier:

annnnnnnnnd now, we’re at the end.  finally.  one bird gave us all of that food with the added benefit that there was no monosodiumconglujimacation or sodiumliciousoxide in the ingredients.  plus it was about 600 times tastier than KFC or soup made with a carton of broth.  honestly, it took more effort to sort the photos and type all of this out than it did to make any of the food!

looking forward to your undying gratitude for this one, jenn!

January 19, 2012 at 21:01 2 comments

kettle corn!

am i the only person in oshawa who fell in love with the kettle corn at super saturday in september?

i actually thought that i hated kettle corn since previous samples had been from a microwave or kernels  (which is usually great, but not their kettle corn!).   but when i saw the pavilion at the fun fair last month i couldn’t resist the smell and decided it deserved another chance.

for the last few weeks i’ve actually done more research on kettle corn than anything else in my life.  i don’t even think that’s hyperbole, school projects included.

i’ve experimented and watched videos intended for kettle corn entrepreneurs, i’ve even interrogated a local popcorn store owner (who made great kettle corn, by the way).

i’ve made batches and batches of popcorn (so thankful for costco stocking orville’s kernels!) and i’m confident that i’ve finally nailed the recipe.

actually, it’s just as much technique as recipe so be prepared to burn a couple of batches.  don’t be discouraged though, once you get this you’ll have it for life!

1/3 cup kernels (spring for quality, they really make a difference!)
3Tbsp corn oil
3Tbsp cane sugar

**don’t start any of this until you have the ingredients measured out and ready, along with some oven mitts and a long-handled wooden spoon.**
1) oil in a heavy-bottomed stock pot over med-high heat.
2) drop 3 or 4 kernels into the oil and wait for the bubbles to form around them.  when the bubbles get feisty throw in the rest of the popcorn and stir with a LONG-HANDLED spoon until the oil gets feisty again.
3) poor in the  cane sugar and stir while using the lid of the pot as a shield (both to keep heat in the pot and protect your face from exploding kernels and hot oil!  trust me, experience talking!).
4) once a couple of kernels pop, get that spoon out of there and clamp the lid on.  put on your oven mitts and start shaking the pot back & forth to stop the sugar and kernels from burning.
5) pay attention to the popping, and when it starts to slow down then remove the pot from the heat and get stirring.  sprinkle on some salt and stir some more– IT’S DONE!!!

if your sugar has gone all dark and stinky, you left it in too long.  if you have a lot of kernels left over, you’ll know you need to leave it on longer the next time.  the next time will likely be as soon as the first batch is done; just call it practicing.  once you have a couple of batches under your belt you’ll be a pro!

October 30, 2011 at 15:28 Leave a comment

easier #2

thing #2 of this series is a website:

you’ve probably been there.  anytime you google a recipe, this is one of the first sites to pop up.   it’s the biggest cookbook ever written, and if you invest in the pro membership, you get to record any changes that you’ve made to the recipe, right in your recipe box.  way tidier than scratching pen in the margins of a traditional cookbook.  my sisters and i actually split the cost of the membership, so we have a group login and it works out really well.

one of the tricks for success with allrecipes, is using the sort tool to find the best rated recipes.  if you have the time and don’t feel like taking risks with the meal, take some time to read the reviews.  the most-helpful comments are right at the top of the list. also, don’t forget to save the recipe to your recipe box!  it’s so frustrating to have an amazing meal and then be unable to find the recipe again.

another great feature of allrecipes, is the option to search for a recipe by ingredients.  click on the “ingredients” link at the top of the page, and you’ll be given an opportunity to input the stuff you have on hand, and leave out stuff that you just can’t stomach (beans!).

there are a few things that i make and they’re sort of  “joan trademarks” but really, i got the recipes from  here they are!

February 28, 2011 at 17:27 1 comment

one week down

one week of  a new routine and schedule and finding our groove, and only 35 left to go!
i know that i’m way overdue for a bunch of summer posts, but seriously i don’t even know why i have a computer some days because i don’t even get time to turn it on.  i even contemplated the cessation of this site because i don’t have time to invest in it, but writing is therapy to me and i’m my own boss so it’s not like i’ll fire myself if i’m a month between posts, right?  right.

ahem… so i was talking about how crazy life is while we’re trying to find the rhythm of our new places here in time and space.

elliot and anne started school last week, just like the rest of north america.  we started on monday and put in a solid 5-day week.  i’m totally loving the sonlight curriculum, and can’t believe i went two years without it.  shameless plug.

the kids being studious

i had planned to take first day of school pictures of the kids (especially since it was anne’s first day of JK) but blah blah blah, i got busy.  head’s up– i’m going to say that a million times more.  I’M BUSY!   i’m juggling two grades now plus elliot’s in grade one, and that’s WAY more involved than SK was.  i’m not used to this before AND after lunch business, but i see ways of being more efficient with my time once i’m used to what we have to fit into a day.

we’ve had some struggles with discipline, and i said without hyperbole last week that i was ready to throw myself out the window of a tall building.  i take comfort in knowing that every homeschooling newbie like me goes through this and that one day i’ll be the confident experienced mother with perfect doctor children that homeschoolers everywhere look up to.  they’ll whisper my name to one another with awe and wonder and sigh wistfully while saying “i just don’t know how she did it all…”  don’t correct me, it’s the daydream that got me through getting elliot to write a paragraph.

throughout the equally amazing and stressful week i refused to answer the phone, check my email, do laundry or be distracted at all when it was school time.   i used lunch breaks to prep supper and after school i did all the other stuff that the house need me to do, returned phone calls, and even found a few moments to check email.  i totally couldn’t have gotten through the first week of school if derek hadn’t been off of work and so willing and available to help.   i have a good man :)

so by the time friday was here we were all pretty sick of doing stuff.  i mean since the beginning of may we’ve been doing pretty much whatever we want whenever we want and doing it in our pyjamas.  it’s been fantastic and also so hard to come out of.

i hadn’t looked forward to a weekend so badly since i was a student.   friday night i seized the opportunity and prepped 7 bags of chicken pot pie filling to freeze  for future last-minute meals, and an extra lump of pizza dough.  i know, wild friday night, right?    derek and i also made a pizza and ate it while we finished off season 3 of lost, and then he let me sleep for all of saturday morning.    saturday afternoon the kids were so happy to just play in their bedrooms and the playroom, so i pulled out my sewing machine and made throw pillows for my couch.  we ended up spontaneously going to the driving range with hannah & co.  and then picking up fries that night, so i got the perfect day:  tons of sleep, doing whatever i want, a dose of spontaneity and family time, and absolutely no meals cooked by me.  wahoo!

that picture of my pillows makes me laugh because i remember showing the fabric to one of my sisters at the cottage and they were like “oh…. um…. for hallowe’en?”  hahaha… people do that?! decorate their couches for hallowe’en?  sheesh…. it took me a month to finally find time to sew those babies up they’re here long-term.  i love orange!

so anyway… that’s been basically it.  the crazy week where i had to pour all of me into the kids and the routine, and then me letting loose on the weekend.    my creative elliot caught one glimpse of the orange birds and then begged me to help him make a stuffed bird for his stuffed animal collection, so sunday after church we worked together and pulled these out of a hat before i packed up the sewing stuff and cleaned the house in preparation for another week like the last, although hopefully this week i’ll have just one more foot closer to that groove that i keep talking about finding.

September 12, 2010 at 21:58 1 comment