Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Tastes like....chicken

Some days, especially when the weather is fine, I have a hard time calling it quits working in the yard while I still have the energy and the will to put together a great meal for dinner. Today, I'd not only determined I wanted to honor that fine old tradition of a main meal for lunch on Sunday, but I also had a little help "deciding" to stop weeding, moving rocks, and futzing around in the garden beds out back.

The appearance of this fine specimen, under the last rock I moved, was all I needed to determine it was "time" to leave nature well enough alone and head indoors to see what I could cook up for lunch today.

[Disclaimer: OK - nothing really to give you scale in this photo. This snake, which is most likely a non-poisonous Texas Rough Earth Snake, was less than a foot long at best. The appearance of snakes of any size, generally prompts me to decide to move indoors. Especially when I find one so accidentally and at such close proximity to any of my own body parts.]

Left overs, re-runs, whatever you call it when you have food left, enough to offer as either a meal, or a reasonable meal component, doing something inventive with what you have rather than simply re-heating and re-serving can be a challenge.

Now there are some things - pizza comes to mind - that do very well with a simple heat up in the oven. Pizza, if anything, is more delicious the second time around, just as it is.

But today I had the vegetables left over from that (too) Lemon(y) Roasted Chicken dish, and since I'd re-used the cooked chicken thighs in gumbo and on a pizza successfully already, I was interested in seeing if I could reincarnate the remaining red onion, skin-on red potatoes, mushrooms and pancetta in some way that would serve as a reasonable side dish with today's lunch.

I decided to reheat, drain that doggone lemony pan juice away, and (cue Devo here) whip the remainder in my food processor with some half and half and butter added. Whipped Mixed Vegetables would be a close descriptor, minus the pancetta.

Due to the potato skins, mushrooms and pancetta this dish came out with a pinkish semi-poi look to it. Not unappetizing exactly, but enough so you'd probably ask "what's in this?" before you shoved a fork full in your mouth. Unless you trusted the cook totally. And in my house? My tastes are eclectic and different enough from everybody else's that folks might taste, sure, but they will certainly ASK first.

So I decided to run the whipped vegetables up under the broiler with a topping of parmesan and Triscuit crumbs. This gave it at a nice golden brown topping, and put some texture back in since I'd pretty much pulverized it.See for yourself.

The happy ending to my story for today was our Sunday Luncheon of a grilled chicken breast, organic green beans sauteed in olive oil with garlic and brown mustard, and that Poi Pretender Vegetable Do-Over.

Everything was delicious, and now I've got the satisfaction of having used the rest of the Lemon Etc all up in ways that did not further offend my favorite co-diner, along with having the large meal of the day behind us.

Sure, sure, I know that no matter how fabulous a lunch we had, my husband and I will both require another meal in 5 or so hours. And yes, I will probably cook something for that meal. But. I won't feel obligated to put together a hot anything, and if I am either exhausted from yard work (or from thinking really HARD about why I am not out doing yard work) I will give myself permission to throw together something light and easy with no personal recrimination attached.

Worship, yard work, a lovely shared meal with my husband. What a great way to start a new week. I hope you are having a similarly good start to yours, but if not? Call a "do-over" and let Monday be your official beginning. The one sure thing you can count on in cooking is that no matter how good - or awful - a meal may be, there is always going to be a "next time".

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