Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Month: September 2012 (page 1 of 4)

Victorious celebrations (and a recipe)

I lead a pretty simple life. Kids, cooking dinner, a bit of work, trying to establish a basic social circle. So small things tend to excite me. I take great pride in what many might dismiss as a typical day. Indulge me. 

*not my chicken. But mine looked just as good. Thanks, stock.xchng!
I ordered a few chickens from a person at the farmers market. Fortunately they called me when the birds were ready for drop off because I forgot to get any information from the person to whom I handed over $20 and my email address. So I added one to the fridge to thaw while the rest made friends with the side of beef we’d just picked up on Tuesday. Freezer buddies, I call them. 
I made my most delicious roasted chicken recipe (below) that tastes just like a rotisserie bird from Meijer. Not that I – or you – have ever bought one as the dinner hour grows near. I popped it in the oven Sunday morning and it was ready after church at the same time as the fried potatoes. 
As I do with all roasted chickens, I picked off the remaining meat (I know, the least favorite part of mine as well, but it needs done) and then filled the pot up with water and bones to make me a fresh broth. You can’t beat this broth – so rich and golden. The seasonings from the roasting stick around. I suckered two batches of broth out of that bird. 
The leftover chicken meat only filed a small bowl, so we used it for fillings in chicken quesadillas on corn tortillas. A big hit, with both the hubby and the kids. Meal victory #2 for the day. 
But since the bird was gone and we rely heavily on leftovers as a source of lunches, I had to get creative. I like to simmer a pot of soup on Sundays – it’s a nice, simple lunch that can last all week if played correctly. But since I had no meat – but a lot of broth – I needed to think creatively. Then I noticed the leftover fried potatoes from lunch. A few quick searches and I created my own version of baked fried potato soup. 
Now, I love a good creamy soup. My mom’s recipe for broccoli cheddar uses half and half for the whole thing. But we’re trying to limit the dairy intake around here. I decided to roll the dice. I started with a roux of butter and (a small amount of) flour and cooked it golden. Then I added a touch of half & half (that I didn’t use to make pumpkin spice creamer) and then a good amount of coconut milk. After that thickened, I added 4 cups of my fresh made broth. Looking back, I could’ve added water as well, it became a mighty rich soup. 
I diced up the carrots and celery that remained leftover from our buffalo chicken dip lunch on Saturday (FB confirmed that it’s an actual meal on gamedays) and chopped up some cauliflower that I hadn’t decided how to use. After it boiled for a few minutes – while I constantly stirred – I let it simmer for a bit on the stove. I added the bacon leftover from breakfast and just a handful of cheese. 
Today, as of 12:02pm, the soup bowl sits empty. H Boy finished off a second bowl, as did I. JJ would have if he’d packed more than one – it’s the first time I’ve gotten a “good lunch” text this school year. 
Now, while I love a good kitchen victory, can I tell you why I am most excited about such culinary adventures? Because I used up a variety of items in my fridge. I’ve become more and more aware of just how much food gets wasted in my home (and in society) and have decided that I cannot get more food until we eat what we have. This has been a spectacular exercise in creative cooking. If I’m missing an ingredient, I simply have to figure out how to substitute. Also, when I have a few lingering items – like the cauli and broccoli, I challenge myself to find a new way to use them. The broc is going in our creamy chicken lasagna tonight. 
Feeding my family makes me proud, especially when they eat it up so well. But being resourceful gives me a heightened sense of enjoyment. Thanks to a new awareness of what is already in the fridge, my grocery bill was $87 today. And we have more than enough food for the next week. 
And now, as I promised, the Roasted Chicken recipe. I didn’t make it up. It probably came from Allrecipes. 
  • Thaw a whole chicken and wash it. Make sure, if it came with the gibbets, you remove that package before cooking. Pat the bird dry. 
Mix in a small bowl:
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Chop an onion into 1/4s and insert into the cavity of the bird. Rub the spice mixture all over (top and bottom). Place breast-side down in a dutch oven (if you mess that up, no worries. I’ve baked more than one bird on her back). Bake at 250 for 5 hours uncovered. Remove and let rest a few minutes before slicing and serving. 
Leftover meat goes great in quesadillas, chicken caesar (or other variety) wraps or even chicken salad. And don’t forget to broth that bird! Just fill with water, bring to a boil, then simmer all afternoon. It’ll stay fresh in your fridge for about a week. Read the ingredients on any box of Swanson’s and you’ll decide the effort of filling the pot is totally worth it. 
Visit me elsewhere:

Creative genius

Last night at dinner we experienced another milestone marker with H boy. Like every good restaurant, Smoky Bones provides kids with menus and crayons so to pacify them for a whole 8.2 seconds. As soon as we doled out the goods, H & M got to work decorating the placemats. For Miss M, that means massive large scribbles. As I looked at H Boy’s, I noticed he’d colored in one of the shapes. In alternating blue and yellow stripes. 

Thanks to a lack of visually creative mother, my kids have been afforded a large number of crayons and blank paper, but very little actual direction when it comes to the fine arts. (*We also have glue and scissors. And pipe cleaners. Which I have no idea what to do with, but I thought Pinterest would tell me to buy them). For my only crowd pleaser, I traced my hand. Fanfare, I tell you. We’ve traced hands for nearly a year. 
So when H Boy randomly broke out coloring inside the lines with a striping scheme of rhythmic nature, I asked JJ, “where did he learn that?” Our only guess is our fancy-dancy preschool, with a focus on nature and arts. It clearly wasn’t us. 
Not my child. Or picture. Thanks, Stock Xchange! 
The irony of it all lies in the fact that I’ve been enamored with pro-creativity reading (currently: The Element); I took the “color outside the lines” pill and swallowed it whole. But when H Boy showed capacity for actually coloring in the lines, I did an inner dance of joy. No longer did he seek just to make a swirl of color, happy just to watch the as the wax found its way to the paper in the same way his hand moved. 
I stand behind my inspirations to foster my children’s creativity by exploring interests and giving freedom. But as H Boy colored inside the lines, I learned that he needs more than freedom. He needs tools. My art teacher friends might say that I need to be exposing him to things like line and texture and color (in a simplistic form. Come on, he’s only 3) as a way of teaching him how to begin a composition. Tossing him a bunch of supplies and saying “have at it!” will likely yield the mess we all think it will. (Note: it does.) 
I’m learning from the professionals. A good teacher follows the lead of a student’s interests while helping to prop up his arm while they get a good grip. Learning isn’t completely hands-off; creativity isn’t the result of happenstance, but continued exposure to looking at the world from different angles
A good teacher isn’t afraid of a little mess en route to a discovery. But she also doesn’t hesitate to share some “best practices”such as, this is how we keep from dripping paint across your picture. Things don’t need to be right or wrong for them to be good. 
The evening provided me a teaching moment. Structure and instruction can lead to creativity. While there’s no need to introduce him to “that’s wrong” or “not like that” (the world will do that soon enough, yes?), we can offer “you could try” and “watch me for an idea.” Creativity needs more than just opportunity. It needs inspiration. 
Visit me elsewhere:

Do you hear us?

One of my favorite things about being the youngest in a group is hearing about “kids these days.” I tend to enjoy a good social science experiment so I don’t write it off to crotchety old women, but rather compare their observations to my experience. 
A recent complaint centered around foul language and its frequent use in society. The women in my group felt most sensitive about the use of the Lord’s name and the frequency in which they heard it used as an expression of frustration or even disbelief. I have to agree that our casual approach in our culture has crept into language. Just last night KLM told me an outrageous story about a man wearing a shirt (in public, with his 8-year-old son in tow) that dropped the F*bomb in an ignorant fashion.
So I ponder: why the increased use? How do many  younger generations become insensitive to words that used to make others blush? My hypothesis centers around the large amount of noise in our society, which leads to individuals simply not being heard.
As the mother of 2 kids who have impaired hearing, I know the frustration that comes from being ignored, intentional and otherwise (they are toddlers, so selective hearing is also the cause). More than once I’ve stomped my feet when my words fly past them unnoticed. My family resource people tell me that often background noise causes part of this; we need to make sure the TV is off and limit other sources of interference. This works fine at home, but we don’t always have control of those variables in the real world.
I wonder if individuals who use offensive words are verbally stomping their feet, kicking and screaming. Foul language meets a need: to add emphasis. People are trying to show that they mean it. When someone says “Jesus, that was fun!” what they mean is “We had a really, really good time.” Their feelings lack language to express the depth. And because they feel something strongly, they want it heard. “We had a nice time” gets glossed over in our culture because we rarely stop to really explore what another person thinks or feels. We care too little if someone had a good time. But they feel it and they want to share about it and a popular tool is to use words that aren’t fair representations of their emotions, but it’s familiar and easily available.
I don’t think it’s fair to ask others not to use language that others finds offensive without putting in the hard work of hearing what they have to say. Perhaps flagrant words appear frequently because they become habit; but perhaps they became habit because the person was habitually ignored.
Like most societal trends, instead of pointing out the ways in which someone lives opposite our standards and sticking a label of blame upon them, we could benefit – dare I suggest even rectify? – by asking what put them in that position in the first place. Yes, perhaps it’s a choice or preference. Or it could be their reaction to something much deeper, much more systemic. Perhaps the energy we put forth in judgment could be better used toward understanding. 

Visit me elsewhere:
Older posts

© 2017 Michele Minehart

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑