Dad-inspired budget 2-meal chicken

My dad used to be a competitive swimmer and marathon participant. He’s also the biggest penny-pincher I know. In his younger days, he was broke and really active, so he had to make his dollar stretch further and also provide enough sustenance to compete in competitive sports. Early on, I remember him describing to me how he used to buy a whole chicken and use it for several meals throughout the week. He didn’t so much as give me this recipe, but he passed on his philosophy of food and frugality through many years of excellent meals and boring lectures about fiscal responsibility. Like dads do.

dadrun

I did not inherit my dad’s athleticism

Here’s how to get several meals out of a single batch of cheap ingredients.

You will need:

One whole chicken, giblets & neck included (preferably)

Butter

Citrus—whatever you have lying around. Oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes. All good.

Sage

The holy trinity: salt, pepper, and garlic powder

Corn starch (or flour, if you don’t have starch)

 

Then you will need:

Celery

Carrots

Parsley

Potato

Garlic

Bayleaf

White onion

Egg noodles

Chicken bouillon cubes

Whatever delicious crap you have lying around

 

Process:

Preheat oven to 350

Clean the chicken and remove the neck and giblets. Set those aside for now.

Cut and juice your citrus. Squeeze the juices into a bowl and cut the rinds into quarters—not too small though–just small enough to stuff the cavity.

Stuff the citrus rinds into the cavity of the chicken and add salt, pepper, sage, garlic powder, and a little melted butter to the citrus juice in the bowl.

I like to stuff the bird with whole garlic cloves too sometimes. These can be eaten with the meal.

Make 2 or 3 cuts in the chicken skin and separate the skin from the meat with your fingers. It’s quite satisfying. Place 2-4 pads of butter at various points under the skin so it sits between skin and flesh. Rub salt, pepper, sage, and garlic to season over the whole bird.

Brush the whole outside of the bird with the juices and other contents of the citrus bowl.

Cook the chicken, uncovered, for about an hour. Every 10-20 minutes, baste/brush the chicken all over with the citrus/butter/spices mixture. Readers of these recipes know I never time myself or measure accurately. I don’t know. Go by your instinct.

 

Meanwhile…

Get a shallow amount of water boiling on the stove and add the neck and giblets. Add spices, a chicken bouillon cube, and let simmer, stirring and letting the water reduce, but not enough to boil out.

When the fat and juices start to come out, remove the bits(or crush for chunky gravy) and turn off the heat. Whisk in corn starch a little at a time until the gravy is thickened and flavored to your liking. Throw in some BBQ sauce! Red wine! Vinegar! Butter! Do what feels good! But go easy because it’s a strong flavor to begin with.

Set the gravy aside.

 

Back to the chicken…

Increase the oven heat to 375 and cook a little more. The chicken is ready to come out when you can cut into the thigh and there’s just the faintest hint of pink. The heat will still cook it when you take it out, so sometimes I undercook just enough for it to finish up out of the oven.

NOTE: By basting it all this time with butter and citrus, you are achieving a very crispy and juicy skin. The citrus inside and pads of butter under the skin ensure the bird will be extra moist. It’s done when the skin is dark and crispy, but not burnt, and the meat is juicy and white. This will all be visible.

When the chicken is finished, remove the rinds from the cavity (saving the garlic for the meal) and cut the meat off the chicken.

Once you have all the meat off, set enough aside for chicken soup tomorrow. Save all the bones and the carcass of the chicken by wrapping it up and storing in the fridge. We’ll come back to that.

Serve the chicken with your choice of side dish and the gravy you made earlier. The chicken should be juicy and the skin should be crispy.

Pat yourself on the back!

 

The next day…

Fill your biggest pot with water, maybe 2/3rds of the way. Maybe a little bit more. Get out your chicken carcass and all the bones and toss them all in the pot. Boil the shit out of it.

Once you’ve boiled the shit out of it, pieces of chicken will start to come off and stay in the broth. Remove the carcass and make sure you got all the edible pieces off. Toss those in the soup.

Sometimes I leave a drumstick bone in the soup for a fun little game I call Who Gets Boned? The prize is a bone in your soup! My partner rolls his eyes a lot.

Chop up carrots, celery, onion, parsley, potato (small cubes, but sometimes I actually skip the potato), garlic, bayleaf, and sage. Throw all that shit in there and drop in more bouillon cubes, salt, and pepper, and other spices if you’re feeling frisky. I almost never chop up my garlic. My mom used to make this soup when we were kids, leaving big pieces of unchopped garlic, which I ate with gusto.

By now your soup should be kinda huge, which is what you want. Add chicken from last night and enough egg noodles to satisfy your proportion preferences. I like lots of noodles, but they will also soak up the broth overnight when you store the soup.

Cook it all! Season and add other ingredients to your liking. Green onions are good, tomatoes can work, rice, broccoli, and corn can be good. Whatever you have lying around is fair game because this is a fail-proof recipe.

Serve with crusty bread topped with butter and blue cheese. That’s my preference, at least.

 

More notes…

So you should have a ton of soup from this one batch. When I lived alone, I would make these two meals and have food for the whole week–at least two meals a day. Like I said, the noodles soak up some of the broth overnight, so I would add a little water each time I reheated. Egg noodles don’t get soggy like other noodles, which is an added bonus when eating for the whole week.

(Bonus meal! Sometimes I take out a cup of the chicken broth before adding anything else and use this to mix with miso, fish sauce, and sesame oil for a flavorful ramen base. That gets whisked together in a low heat cast iron with some corn starch to thicken. Makes a great paste to add to ramen broth. I usually poach an egg in that one. Although I actually prefer ramen as a spin off to my shortrib recipe.

The philosophy behind this recipe should be applied to anything with a bone-in component: Where there’s a marrow, there’s a meal. Homemade stock can make or break a recipe. Veggies too! Save your carrot heels and broccoli stalks, onion helmets and tomato stems and apply the same principle–which is boil a lot and add spices to draw out the flavor.

Oh yeah, this should go without saying, but this is an excellent holiday meal if you use a turkey. Everything in the recipe is the same, although cook times will vary. I’ve cooked many Christmas meals with this recipe.

We’ll get to shortribs next, but the basic rule there is to add a little vinegar to the water, which will help soften the marrow and draw it out a little easier. Vinegar or some red wine you have lying around. Same difference.

 

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Things are Happening!

rifmtns-tetouan

Tetouan (from an internet search) below the Rif Mountains

On November 9th, I was officially accepted into the Green Olive Arts residency program in Tetouan, Morocco, for a one month residency where I will focus exclusively on writing short fiction. For all my readers and friends, here are some of the developments that led to this wonderful opportunity and what it means for myself and my supportive community:

I was having a difficult time deciding whether or not to attend a graduate program in the coming year–as they are expensive, unless fully funded–and very competitive. An MFA in creative writing also does not guarantee anything, except usually regret at having spent so much time paying for something that many writers have taught themselves. My other option was to continue on the track that I began last year, which is working a paying job enough to grow my writing career and filling up the rest of my time with everything and anything related to writing and supporting a writing community. Many of you know I volunteer as the senior prose editor at Kanas City Voices and on the board of their parent non-profit publisher, Whispering Prairie Press, both of which have extended my understanding of the mechanisms behind non-profits as well as the unending creativity of the larger community. This year marked a turning point for me when I published the article, The Empress’s New Clothes in July. The wide and surprising circulation of this piece gained the attention of individuals and organizations I would not have previously become connected with. When I was approached by the editor of The Pitch to write art criticism for the weekly paper, I thought, “this is among the top five things I never expected to come out of this”. You can now find my published reviews here.

There are many ways to become a writer and give yourself time to pursue a self-directed education, many of which are hidden unless you look deep enough inside your own goals and dreams and commit to the oft difficult task of constant writing. I’ve decided to postpone any MFA applications for now and let my new opportunities in Kansas City lead me places I could not arrive at simply by holding a new degree. That said, I have taken my education into my own hands, writing and reading and practicing everyday until my lifestyle is inseparable from my goals. One way to continue to do this with uninterrupted time is to attend a residency. I applied to five residency programs this year and Green Olive Arts was the one that came through. Gaining admittance to this residency is a huge step for my career as a writer, as I have never been allowed a complete month away from daily responsibilities to focus exclusively on my work. With the support of grant organizations, friends, family, writers, readers, and believers, I’m hoping to raise the money I need to pay my travel expenses from May 8th-June 5th while I attend Green Olive Arts in Tetouan, Morocco.

I am not attending this residency as a tourist. Global conversations require a new approach–one that is not dictated by the outrageous political figures or religious fanatics. While these men are fighting to be heard louder than their opponents, Muslim women are being overlooked entirely. This conversation effects their lives, but they are not permitted to have a voice in the male-dominated debate.

Morocco has been a famous haven for expatriate writers–all men, who have enjoyed a certain amount of male privilege in the US and abroad. As a woman traveling alone, I will see a side of Morocco that has not been romanticized or glossed over.

During the month in Morocco, I will write and refine my growing collection of short stories, which will act as a kind of self-directed thesis, in lieu of grad school.

Here is a break down of my budget for the one month time period:

Lodging: $800 ($200/week)

Studio Fees: $960 ($240/week)

Traveling expenses: $900 round trip plane ticket (or cheapest possible)

World Nomad Insurance: $125

Food: $300 ($10/day)

Home expenses–I will be holding my apartment, paying student loans and bills, health insurance, etc: $800 (not my monthly budget, this is just for bills)

TOTAL:___$3885___

This total represents the minimum funds I must raise to have a productive and successful residency, covering my basic needs and peace of mind.

TOTAL GOAL:___$4,000___

This amount factors in Murphy’s Law, allowing flexible room for any unexpected expense that may occur during my time in Morocco. I have lots of traveling experience and I know that no matter how well you plan and how fixed your agenda, something is always thrown into the mix. Maybe I get stung by a jellyfish, maybe I lose my shoes, maybe I take the wrong train, maybe I make the wrong currency exchange. Who knows? It happens.

Since my paid work is directly connected to being present in Kansas City, I will have no flowing income during my time in Morocco. I average about $1,200/month in income (which is a pretty substantial pay cut for a girl in student loan debt). Even if I saved the $200 a month I use as flexibility money just for the residency, I would still come up short. I have not created a campaign yet to help relieve some of the pressure of these expenses, because with the right amount of grant money, the amount I would need to crowd fund would drop. If and when I decide to make funding public, I will let you know right away.

Writing is my life. It’s all I do. It’s all I want to do. It’s the only thing I don’t mind doing for complete days at a time with no payment. My future and my joy is directly connected to the task of writing and satisfaction of a story completed and shared with the world’s readers. This exciting opportunity for me to focus inward and practice my voice, my nuances and empathy, is one of a kind. Thank you to everyone who has supported and believed in me for this long, and thank you to those I have never met but somehow turn up at my website and read my fiction. Thank you for everything.

Here is some work I am proud of. Your support during this time is greatly appreciated, and not all support is financial! Read and enjoy, talk about and respond, and never discount the importance of creative exchange through fiction.

Whales

(Whales at See Spot Run, Whales at Axolotl, Whales at Pear Drop)

The Artist

Brother and Spider

The Frayed Edge

Rosy

Time Machine

The Tongue

What Holds Us Together

The Story There

And a brand new story, before any hard edits: Survivors

Some Webs

Picture 4 Raab_Material1 Corinth1

Although I’m focusing most of my creative energy into writing, I still feel like I should retain a bit of my sculptor roots. I have three pieces in public places that you can visit and look at and criticize. Go to the Johnson County Central Library and see the big spider web in their gallery, and then hop on over to Corinth Library and check out my window webs. The third piece is going up at Mid America Arts Alliance in November and will be ready to view on First Friday and beyond as a part of KC Connect.

Maybe I harbor a little guilt for going to an expensive art college and not doing much visual art today, but what those 4 years really taught me was this: Immerse yourself into something if you love it. I love sculpture, but through my tandem practice of sculpture and writing, I discovered I had more to say with words. These may be my last installations while I work on my writing, so go see them!