Hope you have a fantastic day with family & friends ……
[photo credit: photo by adza//styling: courtney lake]
Did I ever tell you about that one time in college that I forgot to dethaw the turkey for Thanksgiving? Well I didn’t forget per say but I didn’t take into account that it would take more than 6 hours to dethaw an 18 pound bird. Needless to say, we had a hearty meal of sides and hot dogs that year.
Whether it because of poor planning (me), a need to serve a small number of guests or you simply don’t like turkey (I know a few peeps like that), then may I suggest an alternative…. roast chicken. That Sunday dinner standard has the potential to really shine at your Thanksgiving table. Think about it — it’s flavors can be dialed up or down depending on your guests tastes. It pairs beautifully with all the traditional Thanksgiving sides. And it is WAY less work than a turkey. Added bonus that you aren’t stuck trying to figure out how to fit a turkey carcass into your fridge at the end of dinner.
This recipe is super simple but results in some of the best roast chicken I have EVER had. So may I introduce to you to the ……
Best Roast Chicken ……
…that you will ever have on Thanksgiving!
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Check inside the chicken and remove giblets and neck. Thoroughly rinse the chicken inside and out. Check the body for any leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the rosemary lemon, garlic and onion. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken.
Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken from oven and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes.
- I like to use a cookie sheet with a baking rack to roast my chicken. Using a roasting pan I find that the skin doesn’t get as crisp. With this method, the chicken roasts on all sides and doesn’t steam.
- Feel free to mix it up with your spices. Sprinkle smoked paprika over the onions to give the chicken a wonderful smokey flavor. Or substitute an orange in lieu of the lemon. The options are endless!
[photo credit: photo by adza//recipe & food styling: courtney lake]
There are three things I can’t stand: racism, homophobia and canned cranberry sauce. Something about the fact that it takes the shape of the can weirds me out. Bleh! As a kid, I would pile my plate full with everything else at Thanksgiving in the hopes of avoiding the dreaded sauce, yet my Grandma always found a way to wedge a quivering sliver of it on my plate. I would build a green bean moat around it and go about my way enjoying the rest of my meal knowing that it would be meeting a quick deal under my napkin and eventually the trash can.
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I was introduced to the whole concept of fresh cranberry sauce. It totally blew my mind – BOOM! Tangy, sweet and fresh tasting this quick cranberry sauce is the perfect palette awakener during a meal that can be bogged down in heavy foods. Even better is that after the meal it done, try the sauce on a turkey sandwich in lieu of sandwich spread. Totally delish and since it’s made from fresh fruit, I like to think it counteracts the two slices of pie I will most likely have on Thanksgiving……
Wash and pick over cranberries. In a saucepan bring to a boil water and sugar, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add cranberries, return to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer for 10 minutes or until cranberries burst.
Stir in orange zest and remove from heat. Cool completely at room temperature and refrigerate.*
* Don’t worry if the sauce looks runny. It will thicken as it cools.
For more quick and easy dishes, check out my Recipe section…..
[photo credit: photo by adza//recipe & food styling: courtney lake]
We are going to take a bit of a break from Motivational Mondays as we enter the holiday season. I figured why serve you up some inspirational sayings about the holidays and keeping calm when I can show you how to do it!
I stress out about many things; work, relationships, global warming, will Olivia on Scandal ever find true love….you know, those important things in life. However, one thing I don’t stress out about is holiday meals. Maybe it’s because I spent years planning corporate events or my brief stint in culinary school but I created some “rules” to insure I don’t end up in some corner clutching a turkey crying. I mentioned last week that I was lucky enough to share those rules with the ladies at Joyus.com in a video segment on how to host the perfect party.
One of the questions during the show was about how to handle ensuring that food comes out at the same time and is still warm. Unless you have a commercial size kitchen, it can be difficult to time it perfectly to ensure that all your food comes out precisely 5 minutes before dinner begins. I recommend you invest in a good quality chaffing dish and think about what items can be served at room temperature. I love making side dishes that can be served hot or at “cold” for a meal.
I recently perfected my recipe for green beans with mushrooms and roasted red peppers and couldn’t be happier with it. Fancy enough to serve during the holidays yet super quick to put together. However, the best part is that it tastes even better at room temperature or out of a fridge for a late night ‘nosh fest……
Blanche green beans in salted boiling water for approximately 4 minutes. Drain green beans and place in sauté pan on moderate heat. Add oil and butter to the pan. Add garlic and sauté for 4-5 minutes. Add mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Saute mushrooms 3 to 5 minutes and add green beans back to the pan.
Add sherry and simmer for 2 minutes. Transfer green beans to serving bowl and add roasted red pepper slices. Lightly toss and finish with salt and pepper.
*Feel free to substitute home-made roasted red peppers but be sure to add 1 additional tablespoon of olive oil.
[photo credit: photo by adza //recipe & styling: courtney lake]
Gym shoes for many years were utilitarian. White leather or canvas attached to a rubber sole. Nothing that exciting but they got the job done. Then came Nike and with Air Jordans. Gym shoes would never be the same. Actually gym shoes would quickly move to center court and become the de facto status symbol for many a young man. Somehow, Nike and figured out the formula for making the ordinary quite extraordinary.
I think Blanco is the Nike of sink design. Family-owned since 1925, Blanco’s humble beginnings included making copper galvanized parts for cookers and hot water bottles Fast forward 88 years and they have produced more than 40 million sinks and have come to be recognized as a world leader in quality and innovation.
Long gone are the times when a sink was merely used for function….
That was the sound of a “design slam dunk” by Blanco!
[photo credit: blanco usa]
disclaimer: blanco was a sponsor of blogtour london 2013 but all thoughts and opinions are mine.
Can you believe that this time next week that it will be Thanksgiving?!? Kinda crazy right? Well don’t stress out because I teamed up with two different partners to show you how to avoid the Thanksgiving “craziness” ……..
The online retailer Joyus.com invited me onto their web talk show to discuss my short cuts and tips on throwing a stress-free holiday party and creating beautiful holiday tablescapes. In the segment I show three different table settings that can take you from Thanksgiving all the way through New Years without breaking the bank or you in a cold sweat! It’s all about creating a fun and easy approach to decorating.
For my monthly column at SheKnows.com, I am talking about how to set up a Thanksgiving Buffet. Whether you are opting for a more relaxed holiday this season or a simply don’t have the room in your abode, I show how you can create a beautiful buffet that will wow your guests and leave you with time to still enjoy the meal!
And next week for all you procrastinators still in need of a menu, I break down my picks for simple, quick and yummy Thanksgiving dishes! So relax I got you covered this holiday season! Now I just have to follow my own advice and get started! Sometimes the “teacher” is the worst pupil. Now if you will excuse me, I need to start planning own menu…..
[photo credit: joyus.com//photo by adza]
This month I did a story for California Home + Design’s blog about animals as creative muses in artwork and profiled three great artists …..
As with most writing assignments, you stumble upon more amazing information than you can fit into a piece. However, I was smitten by sculptor Crystal Morey’s hauntingly beautiful work and reached out to her to see if she would be interested in being profiled on the blog. Fortunately Crystal said yes and we began a hot and heavy email exchange — actually to be honest, it was pretty one-sided in that I couldn’t stop complimenting her pieces. What struck me as most interesting is that her work reminded me of the Native American concept of spirit animals – the notion that within us all we have an animal counterpart. For me, it was as if Crystal made the novel “Where The Wild Things Are” come to life and depict that unseen connection between man, beast and nature…..
Looking at your work, your sculptures reference animal motifs juxtaposed with humans. What is it about the connection between humans and animals that interests you?
I am interested in human and animal wellbeing, and how both species’ fates are woven together and will have a similar outcome. When making pieces I think about how we are all dependant on each other for the health and balance of our ecosystems and habitats. The relationship between humans, animals and the earth is very delicate and I want to raise awareness of this fragile connection with my work.
Your Totem series is beautiful. Can you explain the concepts behind these pieces?
I had been working on a series of human figures interacting with endangered and extinct animals that are/were affected by hunting and habitat loss. As I worked through that body of work, I realized I really wanted to join the human and animal components. I felt this created more of an interrelated unit that presents the information while also creating an imaginative narrative. I started to look at animal totems, indigenous masks, and Egyptian iconography. I took ideas I found in images and stories and reworked them, thinking about modern environmental issues, like animals with stressed ecosystems due to human impact.
Your childhood in the Sierra Nevada foothills seems to have deeply influenced your work. Has your time in more urban areas, like your current home in Oakland affected your work?
I felt very close to the natural world growing up in a rural landscape. I remember being a small child, sitting on the back porch and looking out over an expansive array of pine, manzanita, and oak trees. The forest filled my entire world, extending down into a river valley, up the other side, and into the distant mountain ranges. I remember hearing about places where all of the trees had been cut down and I couldn’t even imagine how that could be possible. The world feels a lot smaller to me now, I live in Oakland and my connection to nature is more complex then it used to be. Living in an urban landscape I am very aware of how humans can control and contain the landscape. Living in both rural and urban areas has made me aware of this tension and it has become a great influence on my work in the studio.
I hope that as a viewer looks at my work they think about human, animal, and environmental relationships and the friction created between entities that are both contained and wild.
What would you say is the common thread that links all your works together?
I am continually interested in how we as humans think about and relate to natural environments and other living creatures. These themes occur in my work in many ways and in many configurations. I always try to show grace and beauty in ideas that may be dark or difficult to think about.
There is an idea among many cultures that humans have “spirit animals” which represent an aspect of ourselves. What would you think your spirit animal would be and why?
That is a great question and one that is very hard to answer! I am interested in all kinds of animals (gazelles, deer, rhinos, giraffes, markhor, blackbuck, hawks, pigeons, buffalos and owls being at the top of the list). But if I had to pick one, it would probably be a black bear, who hibernates in the ground or holes in trees, forages for nuts and berries, and eats insects, fish and small animals. I have an affinity for bears because in many ways, they seem so human-like, while also being instinctual and dangerous. While bears are strong and fierce they are also one the first species to be affected by environmental change since they are near the top of the food chain. I think they are fascinating creatures and an interesting indicator of the health and balance of our ecosystem.
Seriously – isn’t Crystal’s work amazing? I can’t wait to introduce her pieces to a few clients to get their reactions!