Chicken and Noodles FAST! or I Finally Got my Snow Day

How quickly can you say Chicken and Noodles?
A not-so-freaky Spring storm hit St. Paul Wednesday, snarling traffic and causing 250 accidents in the metro area.  Which makes me wonder why we all think we  MUST get to work no matter the weather.  Even when the chances of our becoming harmed in the process rise dramatically.   I wonder how much difference it made once folks braved the weather, the roads, and the other drivers.  Especially as the other drivers included guys like one whose semi jack-knived on the interstate and stopped traffic for a good long while in the ice and snow.   At the end of the day, a friend stopped by to drop off a bedside table, mirror and lamp.  Luckily I had shoveled (and shoveled.)  She said it took her and hour and a half to get to work and then none of her appointments showed anyway.
Male downy woodpecker eats fast.  The female eats here, too.  Not at the same time.
When we weren’t “protected” by steel, glass and plastic (fueled by flammable liquids), did we decide we simply had to venture out in the elements when God had definitely decreed a day indoors by the fire making a pot of soup and reading?  Did our great-grandparents decide to walk to town in the midst of blizzards?  (“I’m sure I can get there; I need to mail that letter today so it gets there by next month.”)
Birds were smart.  They went from the tree to the feeder and back.  Period.
I can’t see it.  Life’s just too precious and yet I’d be called a wimp if I called in snow.  I watched Dave call a cab, drag his suitcase through the mire and head off to the airport.  My darling got on a plane in that mess, albeit hours later.  I guess he enjoyed the time in the Minneapolis airport; at least it’s the nicest (in my opinion) one in the country.   The dogs and I stayed snug.
Temp furniture bought for a song.  Ours will arrive in two months after the snow melts.  Argh.
 The south side of my house faces a fairly busy street (the price of being close to shops and restaurants), so I was able to watch the slip and slide show all day long.  These people couldn’t see and they were driving.  It got no better as time wore on.  No plow came and the realization that the plow was waiting for the snow to stop (he knew more than I did as I shoved a couple of times) let me know I was staying home.  Good thing, too, because when the plow did arrive, it laid in a pile of icebergs several feet high at the bottom of my driveway.  Someone then parked in front of it, thinking there was a space on the street.  You know how parking in the snow is.  I could walk out if I felt like it, which I didn’t, but my car was going nowhere.  Lenten study at church would have to wait ’til next week.
To shorten the story, it took  more than 24 hours and a young man with two shovels and an ice pick an hour and a half of work (after I shoveled three hours/can you say sore?) to free up access to the street.  Lesson learned:  don’t park your car in your drive or garage before a snow storm.  You won’t be able to GET OUT afterward. 
Luckily, I had something hot to keep me company.  I had to cook it, though.
Cook’s Note:  This is not a long afternoon’s chicken noodle soup; it cooks in about 30 minutes.  Still, it’s lovely, warming and you didn’t have to spend the afternoon in from the snow to get it done.
Easy and Fast Chicken and Noodles serves 2-3; easily doubles
1T each olive oil and butter
3 pieces of chicken (1 breast, 1 leg and 1 thigh)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 stalks celery,  chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
2 large carrots, peeled and cut up
1/3 c fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp each thyme and rosemary (you could sub sage or poultry seasoning)
3 cups chicken stock or water
6 oz frozen egg noodles
1/2 c frozen peas 
  1. In a 3-4 qt heavy saucepan or small stockpot, heat oil and butter over medium-high heat and add chicken that you’ve salted and peppered well.  Add vegetables, herbs, and spices.  Let brown well 5-7 minutes; turn, stir, and let brown another 5 minutes.
  2. Add stock.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, over low heat about 30 minutes.
  3. Meantime, follow package directions and cook 6 oz frozen egg noodles in a separate pot for 20 minutes, adding frozen peas last 3 minutes.
  4. Strain noodles and peas; add to chicken mixture.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Serve hot.  For a more chicken and dumplings feel, add 1/2 cup milk to the pot when you add the noodles and peas. 

I’m reading…  Books on Minnesota (duh), The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus’s Final Days in Jerusalem by Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan, Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion by Sara Miles, Goat Song: A Seasonal Life, A Short History of Herding, and the Art of Making Cheese by Brad Kessler.  I just bought Home Cheese Making: Recipes for 75 Delicious Cheeses by Rikki Carroll and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon but I haven’t started them.  I’ve promised my Colorado Springs book club I’d read THE CURIOUS INCIDENT…by next Wed.   Time to get going.  By the way, Sara Miles book is life-changing and GOAT SONG is one of the most lovingly-written books of the decade.  Where did he learn to write like that?

On Minnesota Public Radio this morning:  We would need $21 million to feed the hungry in Minnesota; that would be for 8 billion meals. 

Sing a new song,

You Know You Love Chicken Basil, but Tell Me Why?

You know how you have an addiction to certain Thai restaurants?  (If  you know why, let me know.)  Now I like almost all things Thai foodie, except I can’t handle the tres, tres spicy dishes. “I like them; they don’t like me.” My father-in-law, Gene, says that, and he is so right.  Ever since I came back from summer study at University of St. Thomas,  I’ve been just dying to get into cooking Thai.  For two summers, we lived above a Thai restaurant and I think it began to get into my pores.

I’ve dibbled and I’ve dabbled and I’m now at the point where I’m making it up as I go along.   Perhaps it’s because I eat at Bhan Thai sometimes once a week…usually to get in an all-veggie meal that’s not a salad.   Each dish provokes, “What’s in this?

Here’s my Thai basil with regular basil.  Planted in a pot under a shade tree.  It’ll burn up in the Colorado sun otherwise.

Finally, though, I kept looking at my Thai basil out by the whiskey barrel under the tree….and I knew its days were numbered.  Not that fall is ever REALLY coming (and winter, true winter,  only makes it a couple of times a year in the Springs, despite what others think), but we do get freezes.  And herbs that haven’t been cosseted and lovingly brought in to my dining room south window bite the dust.  Or whatever herbs do.  (Sometimes they resurrect in the spring.)  All told, it was time to get my Chicken Basil on.

So google that and put it in your pan.  There’s a million Chicken Basils.  But most of them are almost all chicken.  I sooo wanted a big bunch of veg in this one.  And the one Thai cookbook I wanted to buy is out of print.  Figure it out yourself, I said.  You’re a cook; you’ve got the stuff.  And here’s what I got.  Do use fresh herbs; if you can’t do all three, don’t make it without at least the basil.  I think that if you have the minty Thai basil, you could consider skipping the other two herbs, but I like it with all three.

And, like everyone else, I’ll tell you to drink a little riesling with this.  I do so like the Oregon ones… Chehalem in particular.  They do a fairly dry one that’s just does my taster good.

Alyce’s Chicken Veg Basil  serves 4

Set the table, pour the water or wine, etc.  Then start to cook.  


First make enough rice for four people:  Bring 2 cups of salted and peppered water and a cup of rice to boil.  Lower heat to simmer, cover, and cook until done.  (About 20 minutes at sea level… a few minutes more at altitude.)  Add 1/4 c chopped cilantro and toss with a fork.  Replace lid to keep warm (up to half an hour) until the chicken and vegetables are done.  (I like medium-grain, cheap rice for this.  It should be sticky.)

Ingredients for stir fry:

2 boneless chicken breasts cut into 1″x1″ pieces
2T fish sauce
1 1/2 T soy sauce
1T water
1 1/2 t sugar*

2 T cooking oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, ditto
1 small zucchini, sliced thinly
1 small yellow squash, sliced thinly
1/2 red sweet pepper, sliced thinly
1/2 yellow sweet pepper, sliced thinly

1 tomato, fresh, cut into quarters and squeezed to get juice and seeds out.  Next, cut into medium dice.
1 jalapeno, minus seeds and membrances, finely minced (for mild, use 1/2 the jalapeno; add more for hot)**
1 c fresh basil or Thai basil left whole, divided
1/4 c cilantro, chopped roughly
1/4 c fresh mint, chopped roughly
Freshly ground black pepper

Have all this stuff ready to go.


1.  In a medium bowl stir together cut-up chicken and the next four ingredients, fish sauce-sugar.  Let sit while you
2.  In a wok or large deep skillet, heat oil over medium high heat and cook sliced onions for about two minutes.  Add sliced garlic, squashes, sweet peppers, tomato and jalapeno.  Let cook another two minutes, stirring often.


3. Using a slotted spoon, remove chicken from sauce and add to the pan of vegetables. Add half of the basil, the cilantro and the mint. Season well with black pepper. Cook about 3 minutes until chicken is no longer pink.  Pour sauce into wok/pan and cook another 30 seconds or so, stirring all the while.  Spoon in to serving bowl and top with remaining whole basil leaves. Serve with the hot rice.
*sauce recipe from FOOD AND WINE
**Whole jalapeno, seeded and membranes removed, minced finely for hot.  (Hotter?  Pass crushed red pepper at the table.  You could also use Thai bird chiles, but jalapenos are more accessible here.)

Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the ‘Hood
Still feeling like summer around here….Decks got painted over the last two weeks.

This is what we call “The Doggie Door.”  Still in the 60’s.  Changing tomorrow.

Hasn’t frozen yet.

Are you gonna eat that?

This week, I’m testing pizza and have already made some.  I teach the Italian section of “Cooking with Music” this Saturday and I WILL be up-to-date on my crust by then!  Blog coming, I’ll hope.

This is the first try at a 15″x13″ margherita.  It had its ups and downs  Cool thing about it is it’s baked in a half-sheet pan like anyone has.  You could do it tomorrow!

Fitness update:  Gabby and I hiked the local hills instead of me going to the gym.  Spiritual practice of “putting one foot in front of the other,” as Barbara Brown Taylor says.  Dave and I worked out together on Saturday morning…before going out to breakfast.  Gee.

Here’s The Church at Woodmoor, where I’ve been worshiping and directing the choir lately.  It’s a bit hard to photograph, but you get the idea.  Lots of wood; interesting light.  Loving singers and congregation.    They’ve been very welcoming and I’ll miss them when I’m gone.   I’m in the process of new job applications now.   Today, I had to write my philosophy of music in worship.  Good experience. Not as simple as it sounds.  We’ll see.  Living “Sing a New Song,”  Alyce.

Help, It’s September or Make These Two Great Grilled Chicken Salads

Greek Grilled Chicken Salad.  Sweet, indeed, with a little Beaujolais.  Ok, Ok, get Greek wine if you must.

I hate hot weather.  I can’t say it any other way.  I’m  a 56 year-old post-menopausal woman who starts dreading summer and reading the morning temperatures in March every year.   By April, I’m beginning to tear up.  Soon,  the air conditioning is on as low and for as long as I can afford the bill.  I don’t care if I have to put on covers at night.  This is my life, for goodness’ sake.  And I cannot bake in the summer.  My oven stays off for three months (except for Dave’s birthday, when I get up at 5 to bake a NY cheesecake.)  Who made summer? I AM A BAKER.

On the other hand.  I adore summer fruit, salads, grilling, putting up jam (with the AC on ohdarklowly), eating outdoors (which we do every night unless it’s storming).  I lovingly plant, fertilize, water, water, water, water (for 90 days unless it snows first) my tomatoes.  I stand outside and curse the squirrels who chew the ripe ones before I can run out and rescue them. (the tomatoes, not the squirrels)  My herb garden is touched daily, and I now have one permanent bedded garden as well as my portable winter herb garden that makes its way to the front porch to blossom and grow in the sun all summer.  When I travel, the potted herbs are all moved to where the sprinkler system can water them.  Baseball?  Hot dogs?  These are my things, too.   (Actually they’re Daves, but, hey, I’m a CUBS fan.)   Making ice cream?  Of course.  Porch wine with the neighbors.  Natch.  (Strawberry margaritas tomorrow night in honor of the waning light..)  The hot tub on cool summer nights overlooking the city?

Of course, I’m blessed.  But, by God, I can’t stand the heat and that’s why I should and do get out of the kitchen.  I’m a slave to chopping vegetables, spinning up vinaigrette, finding new summer dry roses or whites, and asking Dave what he wants to grill.  Eating after 7pm OUTSIDE in the breeze.  To that end, I sometimes am not as creative as I long to be in summer.  So I decided to fix that.  Witness these two scrumpt salads.  Hard?  No?  Truly original?  As far as I know, they are.  But, in food, as in life, nothing is original under the sun.

My goal was simple:  Make a few 2DIE4 salads using grilled, boneless chicken breasts and not too many other ingredients to create meals that could be put together during the week after making a big batch of the breasts over the weekend.  Did they fill the bill?  You decide.  I’m making them and eating them forever.  Hey, you can also just pull meat from rotisserie chicken from the store.  Or make whole breasts with skin in the oven.  (Brush with olive oil and thoroughly dust with salt and pepper.  Bake at 350 F for 45 min.)

Here  are a couple out of the ones I tried:  Greek Grilled Chicken Salad and Chicken Guac Salad

Greek Grilled Chicken  after waiting for its closeup…topped with fresh basil from my garden.

Chicken Guac Salad with a Big Squeeze of Fresh Lime…  Kinda like a margarita to eat.

The recipes:

Greek Grilled Chicken Salad

4 servings

  • 1 English cucumber, chopped into 1/2″ chunks
  • 1/2 large green sweet pepper, same drill
  • 2 large tomatoes, ditto
  • 6-8 oz bulk feta cheese, drained well, cut into 1/2″ chunks
  • 2 grilled or rotisserie chicken breasts, cut into 1/2″ chunks
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup red onion, sliced as thinly as you can slice it
  • 1 cup shredded lettuce or greens
  • 2 tablespoons chiffonade basil (fresh basil very thinly sliced or julienne)
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, optional (or to taste)
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • Dressing (In a jar, shake well 3tablespoons olive oil with 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar and a pinch each of salt and pepper)

Mix cucumber through lettuce in your big bowl, but be kind and just barely toss it together. You don’t want things to mush up. Top with dried oregano, and a dusting of kosher salt and maybe 1/2 t freshly ground pepper. Add the crushed red pepper if desired. Toss gently. Squeeze fresh lemon over all and toss again.  Drizzle dressing over all and toss a bit more. Garnish with fresh basil. (Note: be careful with all salt additions to this salad; the feta and the olives are already salty.)

If you like a composed Greek Chicken Salad instead of a tossed one, here’s what that might look like.  I also added avocado. So perhaps it’s now a Greek-California Chicken Salad?

Food-Salad-Greek Chicken '17

Chicken Guac Salad  3-4 servings

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped roughly, divided
1/2 cup fresh green pepper, chopped in 1/3-1/2″ pieces
1/4 cup red sweet pepper, chopped in 1/3-1/2 ” pieces
1-2 teaspoon(s) jalapeno, very finely minced (to taste)
1/4 cup red onion, minced
1 cup tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 ripe avocados, roughly chopped
1 cup cooked rice
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 Lime, cut in half,  and the other half cut in half again
2 chicken breasts, grilled and chopped (or use rotisserie chicken breasts)
2 cups baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese

Mix cilantro through tomatoes, reserving 2 tablespoons cilantro.  Mix that reserved 2 tablespoonscilantro into the cooked rice and add to the salad.  Season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning.  Squeeze half of the lime over the salad.  Add chopped chicken breasts and spinach and stir gently.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Serve mounded, with a piece of lime on each plate to use at table.

{printable recipe}   –prints both salad recipes

Two-Dog (and cat) Kitchen and Around the Hood and Life

Emily–at home to rest! between semesters.

                            Gabby:  Are you gonna eat that?

                               Skippy grows up a little.

Mom snaps a quick pic while we go to Briarhurst Manor for a Murder Mystery Dinner….

Getting closer…

Blog to come:  Minute Marinara.  Looks good, huh?


In Memoriam… My friend Max…

Ribs or Turkey Thighs—Happy Birthday, Dave and Jean!

Summer ‘cueing is one of Dave’s favorite things, I’d guess.  Perhaps it’s one of mine, too.  I  escape some of the main dish cooking (I don’t know from grill-), though I have to come with menus.  I’m sure some husbands will come up with words like,

“I would really like ________________for dinner,”

but not my husband.  He exercises his right to choose in restaurants and not even always there.  Often, I’ll be torn between one entree and another.  To make sure I get to taste both, he’ll order one of them and let me order the other.  I know.  He’s quite a guy.

He can be sure of getting all the beer, though, because I don’t drink beer.  It never fails, however, that if there’s a new beer (stout is his favorite, but ales are up there), he’ll want me to taste it.  A Bud tastes like a Taddy Porter to me, so it’s just wasted.  To be nice, I keep taking a sip, and often say, “Not bad!”  But you probably won’t see me order beer any time soon.  Though I often look at the new 55 calorie can and think, “Why can’t I like that?”
In the last couple of weeks, Dave has grilled ribs (for hours and hours and hours) and turkey thighs (for hours and hours and hours) and I don’t know which I liked better. 
I’d like to get him to write this, but he’s a little busy most days.
Making sure I have my dinner.
Or my breakfast.
I like  pancakes cooked outside.
So, in honor of the Fourth of July and Dave’s birthday ( which is the Third) and my sister Jean’s birthday (the first), I give you Dave’s latest ribs or turkey thighs and, because this is, after all, my blog, my French-Vegetable potato salad.  It goes wonderfully with either and is all you need.  That and a nice jammy (ok,ok) California zin.  Maybe some homemade ice cream.

                                                                Eat this, not that.

Dave and His Ribs and Thighs  serves 6-8  or 4 really hungry folks

2 racks of pork spareribs and  4 turkey thighs
Rub is Memphis Shake from Food Network Kitchens GET GRILLING–we doubled it
  1/2 paprika
   6 T brown sugar
   4 T dried oregano
   4T granulated garlic
   2T ancho (we used chipotle) chili powder
   4t kosher salt
   2t celery salt

Leave rib racks whole and rub all ribs and turkey thighs well with rub.  Refrigerate 2 hours.

Light grill and heat to medium-low (about 250 F).  Lay out ribs , evenly spaced, and cover.  Cook for about  1.5 hours hours, turning occasionally. Meantime, make sauce  and French potato salad (below).  Add  thighs to grill and continue grillin for another 1.5 hours or so until thighs register 170 F on instant-read themometer.  Apply sauce over ribs and thighs with a brush the last 10-15 minutes of cooking.

Sauce:  (GET GRILLING, PAGE 218)
  makes 2 quarts
4 T canola oil
12 cloves garlic, smashed
4T tomato paste
2T chili powder
2 T paprika (we used smoked)
2t crushed red pepper
1/2 t allspice -ground
Double pinch ground cloves
4 c ketchup
4 c water
1 c cider vinegar
1/2 c molasses
1/2 c brown sugar
2T kosher salt
2T soy sauce
2T worcestershire
1T plus 1t dried mustard (like Coleman’s
2t freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves

Heat oil in a large saucepan.Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, chili powder, paprika, red pepper, allspice, cloves and cook for 3 min until paste is dark and thick.  Add the ketchup, water, vinegar, molasses, brown sugar, soy, Worcestershire, mustard, black pepper, and bay leaf.  Adjust heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the flavors come together, about 30 min.  Remove and discard bay leaves before using.

French Potato and Vegetable Salad with Mustard-Tarragon Dressing

1/2# (24 oz or 9-10 medium) red potatoes–cut larger ones into halves or fourths

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, sprig of tarragon (to flavor water)

1/2# fresh asparagus, chopped

1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-1″ pieces (could use yellow squash)

1/2 ea medium sweet yellow and red peppers (any color combination fine)

1 c broccoli florets, cut into 1/2″-1″ pieces

1/2 small red onion, chopped finely (4-5 tablespoons)

5 spring onions (white and green fine) sliced thinly

Dressing (see below–make while potatoes cook)

In a 4 or 6 qt small stockpot, place potatoes and just cover with water. Add a pinch each of salt and pepper and a sprig of tarragon (or 1/2 t dried). Bring to a boil, lower heat a bit to keep from boiling over, and cook for about 12-15 minutes, until almost, but not quite, tender. (Make dressing. and set aside.) Add asparagus, zucchini and broccoli for the last few minutes. When potatoes are done, pour all into a colander in the sink and immediately pour back into pot. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and pour 1/2-3/4 of the dressing over the hot vegetables. Add the chopped fresh sweet peppers, reserving 2T for garnish. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings. Sprinkle with chopped spring onions and garnish with the reserved chopped yellow and orange peppers and a sprig of tarragon. Serve warm, at room temp, or cold.

Mustard-Tarragon Dressing

1 clove of garlic, crushed and minced or grated

1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard

3T white wine vinegar (I like Chardonnay, but any will do.)

9T extra-virgin olive oil (the best you have for this salad)

1/2 t kosher salt and 1/4 t fresh ground pepper

2 drops hot sauce, such as Tabasco

1T chopped fresh tarragon (plus 2 extra sprigs, one for potato water and one for garnish) or 1 t dried

In a large bowl, whisk together the garlic, mustard and vinegar. Slowly add olive oil, whisking with all the time or after every addition. Season with salt, pepper, hot sauce and tarragon. Whisk until well-emulsified. Store in a covered jar so you can shake the dressing right before each use.

      Sisters–Helen/left and Jean/right   Happy Birthday, Jean!

Two-Dog Kitchen and the ‘Hood


Start of the herb garden
Porch Tarragon–Will bring it in for fall
Wine group last week
Cherries almost ready!

Friday Night Chinese in One More Snowstorm

Green Onion Pancakes .. or you could call them Spring Onion Pancakes.

Last summer, before I went away to school for two months, I picked up a little book called QUICK & EASY CHINESE by Nancie McDermott; photography by Maren Caruso (San Francisco:  Chronicle Books, 182p., 2008, $19.95).  I had every good intention of using the summer, where I’m cooking away from my own kitchen (and need easy recipes),  to drum up some great Asian dishes.  I thought I’d increase my Asian cooking skills, which are nil, and also make great use of the St. Paul, Minnesota Farmer’s Market.  A little extra in the way of vegetables wouldn’t hurt us.

Well, the book came along for the ride, packed with my music books and one Ina Garten cookbook.  What I didn’t know was that the courses I had chosen would take over my whole life and I would be lucky to eat at all. Ha.  Of course, Dave and Emily pitched in when they saw me working night and day, but we didn’t get to the Chinese. More’s the pity.  Back home came the book in August.  Boohoo.  Dave loves Asian food and I am so stuck in French and Italian (or other Mediterranean) meals.

Occasionally, I’d grab the book off the shelf and start to whip something up only to find I had no Black Bean Sauce or fresh ginger.  You must make a commitment to Asian food in your pantry as well as in your cookware.  Though, truthfully, the cookware can be fudged. Ginger can’t.  A few months went by before recipes began to be chosen, the appropriate condiments purchased and  stored, and we finally began to cook from the sweet little book.  I should say that I shopped and Dave cooked.  He is, after all, great at chopping and using a wok.  Among many other things.

Meantime, this week we have taken a few days off for “spring” break.  Even went out to The Summit at the Broadmoor (another blog–how wonderful).  Snow just kept arriving every other day or so, despite plans for a trip to Denver, to the movies, etc.  So, we just stayed home and warm…cozy up on the mesa.  What a spring.  Obviously time to try another great Chinese meal.  All the time in the world as the snow flew and the wind and the dogs howled.

So here is the menu (this is the second or third one he’s tried) and then some pics from Dave’s  Friday night foray into QUICK AND EASY CHINESE… I’ll put in one recipe at the end, with appropriate credit to Nancie McDermott.  Thanks a lot….  Check out her book.

  I love Chinese in the snow.

Egg Flower Soup, page 38
Green Onion Pancakes, p 39-40
Broccoli with Ginger and Garlic, p 127
Almond Chicken, p 49 (Cook’s note:  We added a bunch more vegetables here because we had them.)

wine:  dry riesling (German)
dessert:  none

                                                                      (Two-Dog Ktichen Above!)

Green Onion Pancakes (Taiwan street-food flatbreads)

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c water
About 1 T vegetable oil, plus 3T for frying
1T salt
1/2 c thinly sliced green onion

*Med bowl:  combine flour and water. stir well to mix and turn into soft dough.
*Lightly flour work area and your hands, and then scrape the dough onto the floured work surface.  *Knead the dough for 5 minutes, turning and pressing to form it into a soft, smooth dough.  Cover the dough with the bowl and let rest 5 min.
*Divide the dough into 3 portions, cutting it apart with a butter knife or pastry scraper.  Leaving the other two portions covered while you work, place one portion on the floured work surface, and roll it out into a big, round pancake, 6-8 inches in diameter.
*Use about 1t of the oil to lightly and evely coat the surface of the pancake.  Sprinkle it with 1t of the salt, and then scatter about 1/3 of the green onion over the pancake.
*Starting with the far edge and pulling it toward you, carefully roll up the pancake into a plump log.  *The soft dough will need a little coaxing, and it won’t be perfectly even, but that is just fine.
*Shape the log into a fat spiral, turning the righ end toward you to make the center and curving the remaining log around it.  Tuck the loose end under and gently but firmly press to flatten it into a big, thick cake.  Using your rolling pin, roll it gently into a 7-in pancake.  The green onion will tear the dough and poke out here and there, but that’s not a problem.
*To cook, heat a heavy, medium skillet over medium-high heat until hot.  Add about 2 t of the oil and turn to coat the bottom of the pan evenly.  When a pinch of the dough and a bit of green onion sizzle at once, place the pancake in the hot pan and cook until handsomely browned and fairly evenly cooked on one side, 2-3 minutes.
*Turn and cook the other side for about 1 min., until it is nicely browned and the bread is cooked through.  Use the remaining dough to roll out, season, shape, and cook two more pancakes.  Use additional oil as needed.  Cut into quarters, and serve hot or warm. (QUICK AND EASY CHINESE, by Nancie McDermott.)

Cook’s note:  This is a bit salty in a good way…If you are watching your sodium intake, you should cut the salt accordingly.  Dave cooked these 1/3-1/2″ thick and they were done and chewy like fat flatbread.  If you’d like a tender, more quickly cooked pancake, roll them out thinner and cook quickly.  I thought they might have been good with a soy-ginger sauce for dipping…a la Asian dumplings.  These are a little time-consuming, but not much.  Might be fun to take somewhere as an appetizer…They are fine at room temp and could be transported all-ready-to-go cut in a cloth-lined basket.

Also, some people call green onions “scallions,” and some call them “spring onions.” 

Sing a new song; eat green onion pancakes,
In Memoriam—

Lois June Valentine
                 June 28, 1917-March 20, 2010

Ever ready for a new adventure, she’s now on the ultimate trip.

It Might as Well be Spring, Spring, Spring…

                              “A little madness in the spring is wholesome even for the king.”   -Emily Dickinson

It hit 50 F this week.  Maybe more.
If you breathed really deeply, love was in the air.

When a girl’s thoughts turn toward…

You guessed it:  asparagus.

Of course, it’s Fed Ex asparagus. (Ask me if I care.  I want asparagus and I want it NOW.  And, it’s never market-ready in Colorado Springs.  Like many other things, we’re kinda the import city of America food-wise.  Even the Native Americans never tried to live here and grow anything.  How smart were they?)

Living in Europe, I yearned and burned for green asparagus.  Germans, when I lived in Germany, cultivated only white asparagus, grown under mounds of dirt to prevent it from greening.  Green asparagus was for animals and it grew wild in Russia, where no one ever thought to bother it.  No, we ate spargel in Germany and, I guess we were glad to get it.  But, hey.  It was fat spargel.  And I never got used to its pale hue.  Looked a bit sick to me.  Give me the skinny green stuff any day.

We’ve had asparagus nearly all winter, but the other day it simply looked like spring asparagus to me.  I had to have some; I had to have a couple of bunches.  It was like a windfall of riches.  When I got home, I sat around dreaming about what I could do with it.  For, oh, about five minutes.  I had to get dinner done and get to book club that night.  (BLUE DIARY by Alice Hoffman–a good read that was oh-so-sad.)

I could have sauteed some onions, added the asparagus and some chicken broth and simmered the pot until the vegetables were tender.  A whirrrrrrrrr in the blender and  I’d throw it in bowls topped with sprigs of dill and a baby spoon of sour cream. We’d have “cream” soup.

I could have grilled it.  (This is my fave.)  Salt, pepper, olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon juice.  Thassall.  Phew–right down it goes.

I could have steamed it in the microwave for TWO minutes and we could have eaten the spears with our fingers after dipping it into a mustard vinaigrette.

Somehow my head kept bowing in the direction of where the little book on risotto used to be (I had given it away.)  A little pesto (I had basil), a little onion, a handful of cheese and there was dinner.  Who could ask for anything more?   Here’s how I did it…

Asparagus Risotto made for Spring Love

1# asparagus, cleaned and cut into 1″ pieces
1T unsalted butter
1T olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped finely                                                                   
1 c arborio rice
Kosher salt; fresh ground pepper
1/4 t crushed red pepper
1/4 c white wine (use more chicken stock if you don’t care for wine)
4 c unsalted chicken stock, heated and kept warm in another pot on the stove

1 c fresh basil leaves
3T walnuts, plus a couple of extra whole ones for garnish
2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/3 c extra virgin olive oil                                                                    
1/2 c freshly-grated parmesan cheese
1/2 c   ”           ”      manchego (your choice–I had manchego)

In a heavy 4qt saucepan, saute the onion for five minutes over medium heat.  Add rice and cook another 5 minutes or so until it just begins to turn a tish golden here and there.  Careful it doesn’t burn.   Season rice and onions with salt and both peppers. 

Raise heat to medium-high and pour in 1 c chicken stock.  Stirring often, cook until stock is absorbed…   You must stir very well, particularly if you don’t have a really heavy pan.  It will stick and burn easily.  Pete and repeat using almost all of the stock.    (While the risotto is cooking, make the pesto.)  When you have only about 1 c stock left in the other pan, add the asparagus pieces and, for the last couple of broth additions, add only 1/3-1/2 cups broth.  Taste now to see how close to done the rice is.  You want it with a little bite, but the risotto should be juicy when you serve it.  Nothing mushy, please.

When the last bit of broth is absorbed, turn off the heat, stir in all but 2T of the pesto, and let the risotto sit uncovered for 3-4 minutes.  It will finish cooking now.  Eat hot, garnishing with a little pesto and a walnut half.

PESTO:  Combine basil, nuts, and garlic in the food process or with mortar and pestle.  Slowly add olive oil until you have a smooth paste.   Stir in cheeses.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Option:  A real meat eater might add 2 strips/pieces of bacon or pancetta, chopped and cooked up with the onion.

Below–  Next night:  leftover risotto with some grilled chicken on a bed of spinach topped with mushrooms, red peppers and garlic cooked in a bit of cream and chicken broth.

Tell me what makes it spring for you?

Sing a new song; make a new risotto,
Alyce           oh, and ….of course,


Make Your Own Chicken Noodle Soup or Stop and Watch the Robins in the Snow

                                                 “Only the pure of heart can make good soup.”  –Beethoven

Sometimes you’re home sick.  It’s been snowing and gray for three days.  Three days.
You have to make your own soup. (boo hoo)
You try to work. (Surely you can read or write.)
You can’t.  Your nose keeps running and your head feels like about a hundred people are living in there.

You make tea.  You read.  Take some Tylenol.  Try to forget about the book review you’re supposed to be writing.   Take a nap.  You suck on a zinc lozenge.


You look out the window because you can.  There’s a flock, yessir, I said a FLOCK OF ROBINS cavorting in the tree in your front yard.  Sometimes they just sit all puffed up trying to keep warm. Other times, they’re flying, swooping and gliding and then dive-bombing one another.  They seem to be in love with the air currents and the blowing snow.  Are they nuts?  Are these robins, harbingers of spring?  All of them?

Just goes to show you what you’ll see if you have to sit still a while.

Still, you feel awful and go search out a frozen chicken.  You can make your own chicken soup, by golly.
And you do.  Here’s how:

Make Your Own Chicken Noodle Soup
     serves 6-8

8 quarts water
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons black pepper corns                                                               
1 small whole chicken (or pieces if that’s what you have)
2 onions cut in half, peels on
4 stalks celery, whole
4 whole cloves of garlic, papers off, but whole
4 large carrots, whole and unpeeled                                                           a chicken in every pot is good
2 large parsnips, whole and unpeeled
2 medium turnips, whole and unpeeled
4-5 sprigs fresh dill (or 1t dry)
1 bunch (1 1/2 c?) Italian parsley, whole
2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary (or 2t dry)

1 onion, minced
4 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced or grated                                                              draining the chicken and veg
2 cups Kluski’s egg noodles

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
4-6 drops Tabasco, or to taste

Place all of the ingredients in the first section into a 12 qt stock pot and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and cook until chicken is falling off bone.  1 hour or so if the chicken is fresh.  2-21/2 if chicken is frozen.
Put a large colander on top of another big stock pot and pour soup through, catching chicken, vegetables and herbs.  Remove vegetables and herbs to a food processor, disgarding peppercorns,  and pulse until you have a fine babyfood texture; you might need to add a ladle or two of broth so that it processes easily.  Put the babyfood back in the stockpot. Bone and shred chicken and add it to the pot as well. 

Bring soup to a boil over medium-high heat.  Add the vegetables from the second section, chopped onions, carrots, garlic and celery.  Lower heat a little and let soup cook until vegetables are about half-way softened.   If soup seems too thick, add some water or canned broth.  Bring soup back to a boil and add noodles.  Cook until noodles are al dente.  Season with salt, pepper and tabasco, as needed.  Serve as hot as you can eat it.

Cook’s note:  About the vegetables.  I used what I had in the house.  You could skip the parsnips and turnips and only use carrots, celery, etc.  I also threw in a leftover bunch of green onions because they were going to go bad.  Use your imagination, but skip things like broccoli and cauliflower for making the first part (the broth)  of the soup.  If you have them and want to use them, add them near the end.

There are many ways to make chicken soup; this is just one of the easier ways.

{printable recipe}

making the “baby food”

                                (above: shredding the chicken by hand, not by cutting)                  (above:  all back in the pot again)

Chef’s Snack (had to try it)
Sing a new song; heal your own self.  See something new………look out the window today,
And news from the Two-dog Kitchen, just in case you’re missing Gab and Tucker:

Shrove Tuesday Jambalaya or No Pancakes, Please

In my world, and for some of you, this is the day when traditionally we clean out the beautiful, fattening rich things like butter and dairy.  Adding flour (and whatever else), we come up with stacks of pancakes and, oh, ok, bacon or sausage…Drooling maple syrup (only the real kind) and maybe a few bananas or even leftover frozen and grated cranberries with toasted pecans and a tish orange peel, my personal favorite.  My own church has a pancake supper tonight at 6 with lots of bacon and lots of fun.  Check out First Congregational Church, nw corner of St. Vrain and Tejon in Colorado Springs.   ( pancake photo:; jambalaya photo: Alyce Morgan)

Christians are getting ready to begin Lent…and, it’s not a time to sit around and think about how bad we are. That’s old school.  Now, it’s an opportunity to review who we are and why….how we stand right now…and even to think about wiping our own personal slate clean so that we can be drawn new. To maybe see a few goals for our spiritual existence or personal life.  It’s a fine time to commit to prayer, to renewed study and to see what comes of it.  We are assured that, as we model ourselves on our Lord and savior, we too can begin again, live again, fall into depths doubting and shouting… and rise once more. Ever hopeful, ever-changing.  40 days of saying to oneself sometime during each day’s prayer-life, “I want to change this one thing; I’m commited to it.”  In other words, Lent is a positive, proactive experience.  Make me new.  Help me take the time to think about what I am, who I am and what I would like to change, who I would like to be…  There’s no crying in Lent (or baseball.)

But, instead of the ubiquitous pancakes, why not whip up a Mardi Gras special before Lent starts tomorrow?  Even if you don’t know Lent from “Rent,” it’s a great time for this dish.  With a little New Orleans background of my own, I was born with what they call the trinity (onions, green peppers and celery) in my mouth.  I’m talking Jambalaya, an easy one. The orignial recipe here is from honored Cajun food writer Maude Ancelet, but comes to us through Andrew Scrivani’s sweet blog  Mark Bittman (NYT) mentioned it a little over a week ago and I’ve made and tweaked it, clarifying a few things and changing it up a teense.

In the food world, my recipe will be called “a riff on it.” I will also say I’m in the process of tweaking it even more. I’d like to try it as an oven dish because to find a dutch oven or covered skillet large enough for all of these ingredients (and for them not to be stacked 6 inches high in the pan) is difficult.  I covered my 14″ frittata pan with an assortment of cookie sheet, foil, etc. to getter done.  A bit cumbersome.  Never-the-less.  You may have different pans!  Your dutch oven may be larger or, in any case, you can brown the chicken in batches if you need to. Just make it; it’s delish.  Phew.  Great for … Shrove Tuesday.  Here’s my version:                                                                      (Oh, and it’s time to rent “Chocolat.”)

serves 4-6 easily

1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
1# sweet Italian sausage, cut into 2″ pieces
2T olive oil
2 large onions, chopped coarsely
2 stalks celery, ditto
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 t dry oregano
1 bay leaf
5 cups water
1 # rice
1/2 t kosher salt-or to taste
1/4 t fresh ground black pepper-or to taste
1/4 t crushed red pepper, optional
1/4 c each sliced green onions (use tops) and chopped parsley*

In dutch oven, or large skillet (will need a lid), brown chicken and sausage in oil over medium heat, turning to cook evenly on all sides.  Remove meats to paper-towel lined platter when nicely browned, but not done.  Add the onions, pepper, celery, garlic, oregano and bay leaf to pan.  Saute well for 10 minutes or so until softened.  Add water, rice, salt  and pepper.  Return the meats to the pot  Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat.  Simmer until rice is tender and all liquid is absorbed.  Keep covered and let steep a little while, serving “piping hot.”  In a small bowl, mix the green onions and parsley and let folks help themselves to these for a garnish.
*option:  top with some shrimp grilled with a little bit of Old Bay seasoning

WINE:  California zinfandel.  You also might like a  Beaujolais, often known as a “fun” wine.
DESSERTSomething “sinful” like a hot fudge sundae or 2 pieces of apple pie and ice cream.

Happy Mardi Gras, Happy Shrove Tuesday…..
May your Lent be all you need it to be…………..

Sing a new song (definitely for the next 40 days),


Chicken Little-Roasted Orange Chicken and Butternut Squash

It’s January and maybe you can’t tie your shoes like you did on November 1.

It’s January and maybe you still have cookies in the garage.

It’s January and maybe there are three left-over bottles of Champagne in the frig.

It’s January and you are still grabbing Tums. (But, oh, you had fun!)

Should you starve? Naw. However, naptime is over.

You should start the year off with a really great roasted chicken and vegetables. This is a meal that you could make on Saturday or Sunday when you have a little time at home. You’d then have chicken for sandwiches or tacos or whatever. Why buy lunchmeat? Roast a nice piece of meat and have something lovely to eat for a few days. You could even make soup out of the leftovers. Back to the chicken. Throw it all in one pan except for the asparagus, which you grill lightly after the chicken’s roasted. Here’s how:

Serves 4

1 3-5# whole chicken, cleaned and patted dry (cook the innards for the dog or yourself)
3T olive oil, divided (you don’t need salad-quality extra-virgin for this)
1-2 t kosher salt
1-2t freshly-ground pepper
1 orange, cut into fourths
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled, left whole
1 butternut or acorn squash 1-2#, washed and left unpeeled, cut into about 2×4″ pieces

Preheat oven to 350 F (375 at altitudes above 4,000 feet).*

Use 1/2 t salt and 1/4 t pepper to season the inside of the chicken. Place cut oranges and whole garlic cloves in chicken cavity. Tie legs (the chicken’s, not yours) together with kitchen string and place chicken in roasting pan if you have one. If not, fit a rack into a heavy casserole.

Brush olive oil over outside of chicken and season with salt and pepper. Place cut-up squash around chicken and drizzle with rest of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Roast chicken until instant-read thermometer inserted between thigh and breast reads 170F. (You may occasionally baste if you want.) If you have no thermometer (get one pronto, though), roast until the leg moves easily when you grab and jiggle it gently. This took about 2 hours at 6500 feet; I had a chicken that was on the small side.
Remove from oven, cover with foil and let sit for juices to come up while you grill the asparagus.
If you wish to make a sauce, remove chicken and veg to a carving board and place roaster over burners on stove top. Remove all but 1T fat, leaving browned bits behind. Heat roaster over medium flame and add 1 T butter and 1 c white wine. Bring to a boil and lower heat to a simmer for 3-4 minutes. Add salt/pepper/garlic/sage (up to you-definitely salt and pepper) and taste. Adjust seasonings. Pour into a serving dish and serve at table with the chicken and veg.

*(You can choose to cook the chicken at 400F; I like it cooked a little slower so that the squash as plenty of time to sweeten and grow quite tender.)

1# fresh asparagus, cleaned and trimmed
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Brush a grill pan with olive oil and heat to medium-high. Place into the pan the patted-dry asparagus in a single layer and season lightly with salt and pepper. Grill two minutes. Turn and grill for another two minutes. Remove to serving dish and serve.

Wine: California Chardonnay or French Sauvignon Blanc
The chicken will soon be gone and, yes, you could be little. Well, littlER.
Happy January. The snow is about to hit our house on the mesa once more. The temperature is dropping 30 degrees overnight. Brrr. Stay warm. Tell me what you’re cooking?
Sing a new song; I hope you got something great to listen to for a gift,
Our little blog will participate in THE GREAT AMERICAN BAKE SALE this spring, sponsored by Share our Strength, an organization devoted to ending childhood hunger in our country… More later here, but if you’d like information now, go to the site and see what Americans are doing to alleviate the hunger of millions. Why not sponsor a bake sale in your community? All proceeds go to end childhood hunger. Sign ups start in March for 2010 bake sales. You can also sign up to receive email updates on all of the programs and to volunteer in your community. Information is available on what local restaurants and organizations are already involved.
There is strength in numbers……over 17 million children are being served by the food stamp program…. We can change it!