Making Chicken Stock & The Karmic Slingshot

 A lot of people don't make their own chicken stock; it can be hard, and to be sure, it's time consuming. I am not like most home chefs, though, and I do like to make my own chicken stock whenever I can. Once you get the hang of it, it can actually be easy, and it makes me feel a sense of pride to say I made my own.
I even freeze it for later use, which really comes in handy!

As I was thawing my stock this week, I was also taking stock of a few things. I kept it pretty "mum" but I was in interviews with a local news station for an awesome position, co-hosting a new show. On Tuesday, I had the interview and screen test. (I had already passed the phone round of things.) I had an amazing outfit, a healthy dose of self confidence, and I really knocked 'em dead.

I was told that they would have me back for another on-site screen test and I was so excited. I was thinking of all the ways in which my life would change and how wonderful it would be to have job security. And then it happened. My past came up to bite me on the ass so violently I still can hardly believe it.

The Vice President (not of the country, just the TV network) called to tell me that I was "un-hirable" due to content on YouTube. The content was a spoof on a political candidate that was.... unsavory, racy, and VERY controversial.The details are really unimportant because the bottom line was, it lost me the job. I apologized profusely for offending him so deeply, and said that I would take it down. Alas, I was foiled.

There were a thousand things that I had taken stock of before this interview: my outfit, amount of sleep, my make up and accessories, my talking points which I had highlighted AND underlined. I had taken special care to put my portfolio together and bring in all my clips. I had thought of it all except for this one issue.... it hadn't even crossed my mind.

In hindsight, I feel so ridiculous that I didn't catch this sooner. I never anticipated that this would prevent me from gaining employment. I believed that I could just take it down at their request and that would be that. THAT was shortsighted, I suppose.

As I thought about it more and more, it dawned on me that I had been a player in my own version of a karmic slingshot. I had made this movie, spoofing a politician's past that was hindering her from moving forward in life as a serious politician. In doing so, I thus [unknowingly] created my own situation in which I was preventing myself from moving to the next level. The irony is rich.

Now, taking stock, I am so grateful to have been able to gain the experience of being in a real, live TV station and having an audition at all. I am sorry I slipped on this detail, though. Luckily, I have a job that I love in writing and working with Beach Paper and special sections of the Cape Gazette. And I know that there are always new opportunities around the bend. It's just a sucky way to learn this lesson of YouTubing and political opinions and possible missed opportunities.

Lucky also, that when I am done taking stock, there is always making stock. I always have cooking, and I always have a great husband to eat my meals with and one who will always be my biggest fan. Sure, I may not be on daytime television, but there is definitely a show going on 24/7 in my household!!! And what do you know? The next day I got an email and found out that I just got the position as a guest columnist on Dear Wendy, one of my FAVORITE websites!
Stock is basically carrots, bay leaf, onion, celery, a
chicken frame, some spices, and water. 
Boil them in a  pot for several hours, skimming off the fat  
Pour it through a strainer to get out big pieces and veggies
and then use! Freeze some for later, too! 

Trussing + Julia Child's Chicken

Last week I awoke and decided I was going to make Julia Child's roast chicken. This was a special day for several reasons. First, it was Julia's roast chicken. Allow me to take a moment to elaborate on Julia Child; a woman who inspired a writer who greatly inspired me which, in turn, introduced me to Julia Child who now inspires me.

In Julie & Julia, the story of two Julie's plays out, the one of a writer, Julie Powell who uses cooking and writing to redesign her life by writing a blog about cooking her way through Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". Her story parallels that of Julia Child's life, which is taken from the book "My Life in France." The story is so touching in so many ways that I would look like a huge dork to talk about it in detail.

The point is, I have long admired Julia Child's pioneering attitude when it comes to food, and life, and she was revolutionary in her skill and knowledge. I have had a copy of her cookbook, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," and I have read nearly every recipe in the book sans some desserts...but until this day when I decided to truss and roast HER chicken, I had never cooked one of HER recipes. It's true.

Sure, I had referenced them many a time to see how she did things, but I had never tried to tackle the recipe in whole. Now was the time. And there I was, in my local grocery store, looking for twine and a big mattress needle (which is called for in the recipe). The trussing needle turned out to be a "poultry lacer" and after using it to truss the damn chicken, I'm gonna say I wish I had a mattress needle.

Let me just say that I thought that trussing would be simple... I think my false confidence came from the fact that quartering a chicken had gone so easily, but they are not the same thing AT ALL. That sucker was slippery, and I had trouble getting the "poultry lacer" to cooperate with me. If I had a bigger needle, I am sure this would have gone faster... but nonetheless, I did it. And I was pretty proud of myself. Check it out:

My supplies 


Basically, trussing is a system of tying the legs and wings to themselves and tucking everything in neatly so that it cooks wonderfully, is easy to manage, and presents on a plate with tantalizing beauty. Moving on from the trussing stage, I had a lot of basting ahead of me. I followed the recipe, buttering the bird and salting it, and then setting it in a pan into the oven. 

The reason this recipe gets intense is because you are addressing your roast every 8-10 minutes and re-basting it, or even turning it from side to side to make sure all sides are getting proper attention. I did my duty diligently, setting my timer, and then furiously basting and basting again! Because of the constant attention to basting, I had prepared my side dishes to be fairly easy. 

I did two individual au gratin potatoes, of my own recipe, which I prepared ahead of time and simply popped them into the oven when I started the chicken. When I thought that they were done, I pulled them out, and then at the end (in the last 10 minutes) I added cheese and bread crumbs and put them back in. I also steamed up some kale (which took about 10 minutes) while the chicken was resting. 

But after all that attention to detail and baste after baste, I was wondering how it would ultimately turn out. So I turned to the ultimate judge of my culinary skills: my husband. He carved into the chicken, and it was positively moist! It  was amazing... so juicy and lovely and yummy. It was everything that Julia Child said it would be. We gobbled down our dinners so fast I could barely move afterward! Total dinner heaven! The trussing, the basting, and the time it took to complete the recipe? Beyond worth it! 

Julia's chicken is amazingly juicy and yummy! 

I made individual casseroles of au gratin potatoes

Steamed kale is a great leafy green and side dish! 

Turkey Meat Sauce & Pasta Recipe

I love to make my own sauces, and I hear a lot of my friends say that they find it hard to create sauces that have good flavor. Do not fret! This recipe is sure to impress the meat and sauce lover in you, and should be easy enough for just about any cook to accomplish! And with the colder weather coming on, you may find this the perfect meal!

Serves Two (but can easily be doubled!)

You will need:

1/2 pound ground turkey
6 mushrooms, sliced
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 handful fresh basil
2 cups strained tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 pound dry pasta (I like fun shapes, but you can use nearly any kind you like!)
salt & pepper, to taste
parmesan cheese (optional)


In a heavy pan (I like cast iron skillets, but you know, whatever) heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic and the turkey.  Brown your ground turkey, gently breaking up the pieces as they cook. When the turkey is browned, add the mushrooms and cook about 4-5 minutes.

Add the wine and mix through, allowing the wine to cook and bubble a few minutes to reduce.

Meanwhile, start a pot of water to boil for the pasta. Salt the water, if desired.

Add your strained tomatoes, sugar, basil, and salt and pepper (to taste) to the turkey/wine mixture and mix. Allow to cook and bubble and taste. Add additional salt and pepper, if needed.

Boil your pasta for the time specified on the package. Strain the pasta.

You can either toss the pasta directly in the cooking pan containing the sauce, or you can serve the sauce on top of the pasta.

Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and enjoy!


BIW Versus Pornography

Every now and again I come across stories of a “pornographic” nature. By this, I mean that it’s a story talking about pornography and your relationship... should you or shouldn’t you be okay with your partner (usually a guy) looking at pornography either in video, magazine, or internet form.

As a married woman, whenever I see these stories, I have to sigh and ask myself, “just what are these people so uptight about??”

I just don’t understand, nor do I care to understand, why people are so uppity about other naked people having sex. If you aren’t fascinated by it, you might not be human. There are a million and one “levels” of porn, as I see it. There’s the sensual couple kind of porn, there’s the “I’m being only slightly naughty” porn, the girl on girl in a sexy way porn, the fetish porn, the questionable porn, and everything in between (and beyond).

My first experience with pornography started with Cinemax... which most adults over the age 25 know as “Skin-e-max.” I was 13 and I loved watching it and touching myself. Hey, women masturbate too. The second was in a teacher’s home (which we were supposed to be “sitting”) when instead we looked through everything until we found what can only be classified as the most gloriously sinful fetish magazines--Nugget. I was impressionable, and it left a distinct impression, as would anyone who had viewed this magazine!

Porn, for all intents and purposes, is just not that bad. Sure, some people think it’s morally “wrong” or whatever, but that is only because they have too much religion and not enough fun to realize how utterly insignificant such beliefs really are in the modern world (yes, I know, but I still said it.)

The truth is that pornography is a healthy extension of sexuality.

Some people argue that monogamy is impossible; I don’t find this to be true. What I do think is that sexual desire is perfectly human. We are, after all, animals, and animals have the desire to sample all types of goods. (Sidebar: I know this to be true because I have seen my dogs hump in any number of combinations). Humans are also capable of great reasoning, we are capable of reasoning ourselves into relationships, crazy as it may be at times.

I am very grateful for my husband. I think he is a fantastic human being, and I am so honored that he chose to be with me. I also know that he feels the same way about me, and as long as we decide to be this way, we can continue to love one another for all time. So do I feel threatened when he wants to see two perfect strangers have sex on video??? Not in the slightest.

I know that my husband loves me, and I feel secure in my sexuality. I also feel obligated to admit that I am liberated, modern woman and as such I don’t feel bad admitting that I like watching strangers have sex on video too. Variety is the spice of life, after all. Oddly enough, I can also tell the difference between reality and pornography. So just because my husband or I decided to watch pornography doesn’t mean we have to go out and take lovers or anything.

I think that the insecurity people have with pornography really stems from insecurity with ourselves. Sexuality is a thing to be celebrated and embraced, not hidden and/or shamed. Where shame exists there will always exist oppression... whether that oppression comes from within or without depends.

So is pornography a deal breaker in relationships???

Only if you find yourself uncomfortable with the realities of sexuality. At least that is how I see it!

Key Lime Pie + Springform Pans

Yesterday, I made a key lime pie--something I had been meaning to do for about 7 months now. A while back, I took a cooking class at Off The Hook in Bethany Beach, and the key lime pie was part of the demonstration. In the demonstration, though, chef Hagen used a spring form pan. I only recently purchased springform pans, (about two months ago) and have been using them like crazy.

So finally, yesterday was the day when I would make my move into the world of key lime pie. If you have been to Off The Hook, you know how positively heavenly theirs is, and so, this would be the only way to make one. I made a few changes (reduced the amount of butter in the crust and omitted the sugar, which incidentally, was a mistake, but made little difference.)

In making my key lime pie, I found myself (once again) struggling with the springform pan. I admit, I am not well-versed in baking, and in fact, this is why I am dabbling more into desserts. I want to be a better home chef--more well rounded. And dessert is eye catching, isn't it?

In my first adventure with a springform pans, I made a raspberry ricotta cheesecake, and that was when I first learned that springform pans do not hold liquid very well. This lesson was reiterated once again when I began work on my cookbook of the month for October, and made a tiramisu. Apparently, over soaking the lady fingers would lead to drainage, causing the liquid to come out of the springform pan.

So why in the world should I not have another lesson in springform pans while making key lime pie? Haha. This time, I just could not settle on the size of the pan. Bigger one or smaller one? I kept going back and fourth and then, at last, when I had the crust made, I put it in the larger one, and then lost my nerve and moved it to the smaller one. Sheesh.

And let me say this: it may seem easy to press a graham cracker crust into a pan, but I swear, it was harder than I anticipated. I finally got the hang of it, and the crust came out pretty evenly, and I was happy with it. But let's just say that in the game of the springform pan, the pans are schooling me each time I reach for them. The score so far: Springform pans 3, Bossy Italian Wife 0. But I'm getting the hang of them.

So, I won't keep you waiting any longer. Here is my recipe for key lime pie. It is a modification of the recipe from Off The Hook in Bethany Beach, but this one is slightly different.

You will need: 

A 9" springform pan
4 1/2 (or one package) ground graham crackers
2 sticks of butter, melted

2 cups of key lime juice (no, I did not squeeze my own. I bought it at the store, and one bottle IS 2 cups!)
8 egg yolks
3 1/2 14-oz. cans sweet, condensed milk


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees

For the crust:

Using a food processor (to save yourself both time and headache) grind up your graham crackers to a nice, even texture. You should have about 4 1/2 cups or so.

Melt the butter in the microwave, or over the stove (if you are against microwaves or something.)

Combine the melted butter and graham crackers, stirring to combine. Place the mixture in your springform pan, and using your hands, shape it into a crust. You want to press it up the sides and all across the bottom. Take your time with this step because, as I found, it can be a slower process than you think!

For the filling:

Combine the egg yolks, condensed milk, and key lime juice. Use a bowl one size bigger than you think you should because it will be easier to whisk this way. Use a big ol' whisk to mix it up until it's perfectly combined.

Pour the filling into the pie shell.

Bake in the oven (350 degrees) for about 45 minutes.
It's not going to rise or anything because it's supposed to come out more like a custard. When the 45 minutes is over, set it out to cool for about an hour, then transfer it to the fridge to finish cooling for about 2 hours.

When you remove the outside of the springform pan, you will have a dessert that not only tastes amazing, but looks impressive too. If desired, you can garnish it with whipped cream. 

What's Cooking?

I have been cooking up a storm lately because it's coming on fall... something about fall energizes me! I love spending time in the kitchen, and generally, when I am feeling amped up, I'm gonna cook it up!

Here are two dishes I recently made, Steamed Dumplings and Shepard's Pie!

Filling for dumplings:
Ground turkey, garlic, carrot, onion, and fish sauce 

ready to steam! 

Finished dumplings!
Serve with a side of soy sauce 

Sliced potatoes for the Shepard's Pie! 

My husband got me these restaurant quality ramekins for
making individual casserole-style dinners & sides! 

Finished Shepard's Pie was really yummy! 

BIW Versus The Baby in the Bar

The other night, my husband and I were out for a meal and some happy hour at one of our favorite places. We had just downed our first drinks at the bar and were preparing to enjoy our first appetizer when another couple entered the bar. It would be important for me to note that at this point in the evening, the bar had recently emptied except for us, and I was kind of pleasantly surprised by this “in between time”. There were lots and lots of places to sit is my meaning.

That is precisely why I was surprised when the couple who entered the bar with their infant chose to sit directly next to us! I gave them a smile, but really, I would have preferred that they sit further down the bar. I mean, why in the world did they need to nuzzle up to us?! Still, me being me, of course, I didn’t say anything.

I felt guilty, even as I was feeling these other feelings because, let’s face it, children are discriminated against in precisely this way, thus alienating these types of parents. Perhaps I needed to lighten up: these people just wanted to get a drink after all, right?

Fucking wrong. They were a little dense in my opinion, which I think is why they had their baby in the bar in the first place. The woman, god love her, seemed like she had neither been out of the house nor been able to consume a drink in what must have been a life time. She downed a couple of drinks in record time, and before anyone knew it, she had taken her exceptionally quiet baby out of the carrier, and was putting it’s diapered ass on the bar... gross.

Why is it that I had such an aversion? No, I am not a crazy baby-hater... and I know that society allows us to be simultaneously pro and anti child in this way, and perhaps I was only taking advantage of it, but what can I say? It’s easy for me to sit back and say that “if I were a parent, I wouldn’t” [fill in the blank] but really, I can’t say this with any certain amount of truth.

So why the be so bothered by the baby in the bar? Because I was out for some adult time. I was out to enjoy a date with my husband. And I guess I am puzzled as to why any normal child isn’t allowed in the bar, but the baby is. Hmph. Going to dinner with children is one thing, especially when you are expecting it, but being bombarded in an otherwise empty bar by a heavily drinking couple with baby in tow? INAPPROPRIATE.

Even worse? Watching these parents drinking, getting rowdy, talking on the phone, and generally making fools of themselves with a baby tagalong. I fully understand that parents are people too, and sometimes they need to let loose... but when they need to let loose, they need to get a babysitter because bringing your baby to a bar in that fashion is completely tasteless.

Cookbook of the Month: September

Since last time I did a seasonal cookbook, I wanted to get into something a little more... worldly. That’s why I chose In The World Kitchen from California Culinary Academy with wine notes from Gina Gallo. I wanted to tackle some recipes I had never made before, and so this cookbook really fit the bill.

Here are my highlights from the cookbook:

Surround your cake with water 
Finished cheesecake
I began working backwards, from the dessert section, with a Raspberry Ricotta Cheesecake. I was pleasantly surprised by this recipe because it was easier than I thought it would be. Also, I learned the truth about citrus zests in desserts: they are like a secret weapon. Citrus zests are to dessert what garlic is to savory foods.

I also learned a thing or two about spring form pans, which I was using for the first time: they don’t hold water. Laughable, I know...perhaps I should have known. But if you want to surround your delicious ricotta cheesecake with water as you are cooking, you must choose a pan other than a spring form pan.

This dessert came out lovely, and impressed my guests. I served it as the punctuation to a great Italian meal of homemade raviolis with a creamy mushroom Alfredo sauce, and it was perfect because it was light and fresh, but sweet.

The best way to mix meatloaf
is with your hands
Two loaves before baking
Meatloaf is a classic American comfort food, and one that I have made many times. The recipe for meatloaf from this cookbook, though, had a litany of ingredients. The recipe looked intimidating because of the long list of ingredients, but really it wasn’t. This was a super moist meatloaf (even with my omission of the bacon on top).

Finished & ready to serve! 
When I started the recipe and realized that it was going to yield two loaves, I was like, wait a second that is way too much for three people! But it wasn’t way too much.... it was actually just enough for three people with leftover for sandwiches! The meatloaf was soft and flavorful, and really surprising in a nice way... but a word to the wise: this recipe is FULL of fat!

Slice them uniformly
'Fried green tomatoes' is one of my favorite movies... but I had never tried fried green tomatoes before,, so when I saw this recipe, I just had to try it. It just so happened to work out that some of my tomatoes had to be picked while still green (because of the hurricane) and didn’t seem to want to ripen. I was amazed at the ease of the recipe, and the taste of the tomatoes? Awesome!

I was also really proud that they came out looking like the picture in the cookbook!!!

After all the culinary steps I was taking with my cookbook, I was ready to take on the big cheese: Coq au Vin (pronounced "co-co van"). It's a classic french dish, and one that I had neither made nor tasted in my life. The recipe was intricate, and included "recipes within recipes"...for instance, I had to quarter my whole chicken, and then make my own chicken stock for this recipe.

This was also my first time in lighting my food on fire; you add brandy to the recipe and then light it with a match, nearly burning down the house. It was really awesome, but could have easily turned dangerous, so you must proceed with caution.

The recipe was delicious, but I have to criticize this recipe for a few inaccuracies. First of all, I reduced the amount of bacon because it was just too much... the same was true for the chicken stock... in fact there was just too much gravy, overall, and I ended up freezing two pints of Coq au Vin gravy. And I have to warn you, the gravy isn't the most appealing color, either.... It was sort of gray due to the wine and stock mixing, but it tasted wonderful and guests didn't seem to notice the off-putting color.

I served the dish with mashed potatoes, salad, and homemade rosemary bread, and it was great. But if you make this specific recipe, you want to have a little more kitchen experience than your average bear....

All in all, I was impressed with this cookbook. I liked the recipes and most of them were easy to use. However, some of the measurements were a little off, and for that reason, I am giving it 3 1/2 out of 5 stars. I recommend the book to a seasoned home cook who may have a little more knowledge of a cookbook being off in the measurement department.

Make Your Own : Tortilla Chips

Is it just me or are tortilla chips freaking expensive? Paying nearly $4 for a bag of chips sometimes annoys me... and to be honest, I buy a ton of food, so sometimes I would rather spend the $4 on something else. At times, the something else is a necessity and other times it's a treat... depends on the week. 

But there are other times when I find myself out of tortilla chips, but I have salsa left. It was on such a day when my husband asked me if we had any tortilla chips, which we did not. So I said, "you know what? I picked up some corn tortillas on sale the other day," (They were an astounding 99 cents!) "I could make them for you!" 

Making your own tortilla chips can be really affordable, especially in you stock up on corn tortillas when they are on sale. Here's a simple recipe for making your own tortilla chips, either in a pinch or as a practice!! 

You will need: 

a heavy pan, filled with 1 inch of vegetable oil 
corn tortillas (the number is entirely up to you) sliced into triangular pieces
a bamboo scoop (this makes it sooo much easier) 

 Heat your oil over medium high heat, giving it several minutes to reach the proper temperature. Keep in mind that you may want to adjust the heat as you begin/end your first batch of chips...either up or down.

Add the tortilla slices, one at time, until you have filled your pan. 

There is no need to turn the chips, and they should cook through nicely. You will know when they are done because they will turn a nice golden brown. Scoop them out as they are done, and allow them to drain on paper towels. 

Store either in a plastic tupperware or in a plastic ziplock bag. 

See how easy that was?! And don't you feel proud?! I know I always feel accomplished after I make something myself that I could have bought that the store :) 

BIW Versus The Female Orgasm

I read last week that if a man gives a woman an orgasm that she is more likely to fall in love with him. And the first thought that ran through my head was: "Ain’t that about a bitch..."  This could explain a lot of things, though. Like, for instance, why women run around like fools over men who treat them badly or are just plain weird or wrong for them: it’s all about getting off!

I am just as guilty as anyone to have said [when my girlfriends date questionable guys] , “well he must be giving her great cock or she wouldn’t waste a second on him!”  But then again, I have seen women and men get married that I still don’t understand. But could it be? Is it really the sex? Or, rather, not just the sex, but the incredible orgasms that keep women coming back for more?

I mean, it makes a great joke (and it makes for great puns as a writer)  but seriously?! Is it just what happens between the sheets that turns women into blathering relationship idiots?

I want to take a minute to point out something that irritates me when it comes to the female orgasm: it is so much easier for a man to have  an orgasm than it is for a woman--as a general rule. This is not a secret. Even those women who are blessed with the ability to have easy orgasms (holla!) don’t come by them quite as easily as men. This disparity in sexual pleasure, in my opinion, is somewhat cultural... I mean the female orgasm hasn’t always been the topic of discussion, I’ll at least put it that way.

Men used to not care. It was considered dirty and/or controversial for a woman to want to embrace her sexuality let alone to act on sexual urges. Thank goodness times have changed. I love to have orgasms and I'm glad that there is no one telling me I'm a pervert for it; still, the argument that I would fall in love with someone based on them seems too... I don’t know.... primal or something.

But then I got to thinking about this, and my thoughts began to wander to some strange places. And then there it was: the thought of just how much I love myself. And to tell you the truth, I give myself some great orgasms. My philosophy on my sexual pleasure is and has always been as follows.  I’m a woman, if I don’t know how to do it, how in the hell am I supposed to teach anyone else to do it properly? Sex is sex, after all, not magic.

The first time I slept with my husband, I am sure I had an orgasm... and so, I tried to think on it...was I instantly in love? Hmmm. Hard to say, but I think I am leaning toward yes. And you know what else? They were and are great orgasms... like, even better than the ones I can give myself. I don’t know if one has anything to do with other--what, the love and the orgasms and all--but I do know this:

I fucking love orgasms. There is no drug more powerful and nothing more wonderful. People have moved mountains for this shit, you know what I mean?

So what came first, the chicken or the egg? The love or the orgasm? I guess I don’t much care, as long as I have both. The truth is, the minute you fall out of love the orgasms stop, anyway. And while I know that there are a gamut of men and women out there having orgasms with one another and professing not to be in love, I know that they are loving those orgasms.

As for being a woman and therefore being more susceptible to love when we find a man who really pushes the naughty button, well, it could be true. Thankfully, I didn't end up with a jerk who really gets me off, I ended up with someone I truly love who is now my lifelong partner. As for those who aren't so lucky? Well ladies, there is only one solution: find a new dick to stick it to ya. And in the meantime? Find a good sex toy.

Quartering A Whole Chicken

I have been steadily cooking from my new "cookbook of the month" for the month of September, and in the process I am learning quite a bit. A recipe from the cookbook, though, called for a whole chicken, quartered into 8 pieces; it also called for a chicken stock, which I knew I would need the chicken frame and bones for.

So a whole chicken it was, and I would have to quarter it. I approached this venture rather nonchalantly as I purchased my chicken, and prepared to undertake the task. I had seen the movie, Julie & Julia (where Julie Powell has to bone a duck!), I had read Cleaving by Julie Powell (where she becomes a butcher)--so if Julie Powell could do it, well so could I!

The morning of the scheduled quartering, I awoke a little nervous because I knew this was a make or break day; could I have the chutspa I wanted to have and do it, or would I fail miserably? After all, many of us home cooks who aspire to cooking greatness have roasted a chicken and then carved it and used it's parts for various dishes... but how many of us buy our meat and actually cut it raw? Certainly, it is the cheaper and, if you ask me, more useful way, but modern convenience hinders even the best aspirations.

Nonetheless, there I was: me and chicken. Chicken and me. I had sharpened my knife, and I was ready to make the first cut. I had consulted both the The Joy of Cooking, and American Harvest (both which have nice illustrations, pictures, and instructions,) and they were laying in wait to be consulted between cuts. My husband, dutiful and amused, was standing poised with the camera.

And as I held out the first leg quarter to be cut and began my slicing, I knew my face said it all: I was actually doing it, and rather well for a first time, if you ask me!

It seemed a challenge in my own mind, but in practice, it was rather intuitive. And I think it came out great. One thing you want to make sure of is that you have a nice sharp knife--not a big knife, just a sharp one--and one that is easily maneuverable.

Doing this only once, I can proudly tell you I will certainly do it again, in fact, many times over. I am kicking around the notion of canning my own stock, too, so that I can butcher the chicken into the proper cuts, freeze them individually for later use, and then make a stock of the bones and then have that on hand as well.  Here are the pictures, which pretty much say it all as far as the process goes.

It is now my opinion that anyone, given the confidence in the kitchen to just get in there and try it, could easily quarter their own chicken!

Removing the leg & thigh in tandem
And from the other side...
(you can also cut the thigh from the leg, but I left them intact) 

If I look surprised it's because it worked! WOW! 

Getting the wing off was simple! 

Slicing the breast off (after removing the skin)
It is not necessary to remove the skin, but I had
other plans for it! 
The breast. Most people are familiar with
their chicken looking this way! 

The finished product! I was quite proud of myself!!! It looked almost identical to the pieces in the cookbook, minus the little pieces I straggled off... well, I couldn't let them go to waste, could I?? 

Make Your Own : Egg Rolls

I love Chinese food, and in particular, egg rolls! I have been making my own egg rolls for a a couple of years, and though it might seem intimidating, it's really not. Here is a simple break down that will have you making your own egg rolls in no time!

Makes about 15 egg rolls

You will need: 

1 package of egg roll wraps (these you can generally find where the soy products are located)
1/2 pound of ground pork
1/2 head of small cabbage, shredded ( I like to do this in the food processor because it saves time)
2 carrots, peeled and shredded
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Fish sauce (you can find this in the foreign foods sections of most grocery stores)
1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
Small bowl of water
Regular frying pan
Cast Iron or heavy pan filled with 1 inch of vegetable oil

For the egg roll filling: Heat a pan over medium high heat and add olive oily, garlic, and ground pork. Cook the pork until browned. Add the cabbage and carrot and cook for about 2 minutes. Add fish sauce, soy sauce, and salt and pepper to taste and cook for 1 minute more. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

While the filling is cooling, begin to heat your oil. Frying with vegetable oil takes a little getting used to... and sometimes you will have to adjust the heat slightly after the first batch. I feel that it's better to have the oil just under heated than over heating and burning your batch. I recommend medium high heat and leaving at least 10 minuted for the oil to heat properly.

Once the filling has cooled enough, you can begin preparing your egg rolls. Some people get hung up on the rolling of them, so I have pictures to help ya along. (forgive the blurry picture, I am still learning a little.)

Place two tablespoons of filling in the wrap
Then, wet your finger and outline the wrap with a bit of water
(this helps it stick together) 

Fold the first end up over the filling 

Tuck your sides in 

Then roll it up, sealing the final end with a little extra water

Place your egg rolls in the hot oil, turning to brown on all sides

Let them cool and drain on a paper towel, and serve warm
with spicy mustard and duck sauce!!!