Kitchen Disasters: An Introduction and Slow Roasted Chicken

Hello, my fellow cooking enthusiasts! or the not so enthusiastic who are currently trapped at home attempting to feed your ravenous families.

I know it’s now practically summer but I’ve fallen back on a lot of roasting to keep the bottomless pit that is my husband, Rob, from wasting away.

Seriously, sometimes I hate this man, he’s losing weight in quarantine!! we haven’t had an exercise more vigorous than a walk around our neighborhood in SIX WEEKS!
Anyway, keeping my darling husband from wasting way to a scarecrow of a man is my new goal in life. to that end. Roasts! they’re easy and simple and the veggies you need keep for ages in the fridge or pantry.

Now I am not a big believer in meat thermometers or pulling meat as soon as it’s 165 degrees or whatever nonsense people are always on about for “moist poultry”. I don’t bother with brines or any other fancy marinades or bastes unless it’s a high holiday.
I don’t bother with meat that isn’t fall off the bone tender and melt in the mouth. For me, that means low and slow. It’s nearly impossible to mess up.

So this month’s Kitchen Disaster

1

Herb Butter Slow Roasted Chicken with Root Veggies

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken (can also be done with bone-in chicken thighs, I don’t recommend preparing breasts this way, you need dark meat with a bit of fat, if you use thighs reduce time to 2-3 hours)

Root Veggies of your choice enough to fill the bottom of your favorite casserole dish I have been using sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, onions, garlic, and celeriac, really anything will do, just make sure you have plenty of alliums. onions if you like lovely caramelized onions, garlic if roasted garlic is more your thing. both if you wanna go absolutely feral.

1/4 cup melted butter or olive oil if you’re feeling health-conscious
chopped/dried herbs of your choice – I have a big herb garden, I’ve done this with rosemary, cilantro, dill, oregano, sage, and those lovely dried poultry seasoning mixes. all good.

1-2 tbsp salt (I use kosher you can use whatever you have it’s really hard to oversalt a whole roast chicken)

1-3 tsp black pepper (or whatever pepper you like, I’ve done this with paprika and once, on accident cayenne… that was a fun time- if you do elect to go spicy with this might I recommend adding a splash of vinegar and a tablespoon of honey? it really brings out the spice)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 250 F. Move oven rack to the middle

Peel/chop/prep your root veggies and onions and garlic, spread across the bottom of your oven-safe casserole dish. toss with a bit of butter/oil/spices you planned to put on the bird. remember to save your peels and veggie scraps. remember at the end of this dinner you’re going to have a lot of roasted chicken bones that will make a delicious stock, you can add all the veggie scraps to it. I freeze all my veggie scraps till I’m in a stock making mood.
if you have a roasting rack that fits on the top of your pan now is the time for it! I have a weird little chicken wire contraption that came with my Wok, it means the bottom of my bird gets crispy too if you don’t have this that’ s fine set the bird straight on the root veggies, its all gonna work out fine

Now pull out your hopefully thawed chicken. Do not be like me, the Kitchen Disaster, and believe the internet when it tells you, a whole frozen chicken takes 24 hours to thaw. put that baby in the fridge 2-3 days in advance! Otherwise, you will be like me and have to spend 3 hours moving your bird through various changes of cold water in your sink praying you’ll have dinner tonight. well… hopefully, dear reader you’re more on top of your life.

Take your whole chicken to the sink. Rinse it under cold running water, set aside any giblets or neck bones for your stock making adventure later (next month I’ll explain how I make stock)

Pat dry with paper towels, or don’t if paper towels are a rare commodity in your area, it really doesn’t matter it just helps the oil stick to the bird a bit better. now sprinkle your bird generously inside and outside with salt, pepper, and herbs, throw a few chunks of garlic or onion or herbs inside for good measure.

Stick your seasoned bird BREAST SIDE DOWN on your rack or on top of your root vegetables. cover the entire pan with tin foil and put it into your oven for 4-5 hours.

YUP. 4-5 hours. low and slow.

When you have around 25-30 minute left remove the foil and flip your bird over, so it is breast side up. baste with drippings from the bottom of the pan if you like. set your oven to braise and crisp up your skin watching carefully so it doesn’t burn, but frankly crispy burnt chicken skin is amazing.

Pull it out of the oven and let it rest 10 minutes before serving.

If you like gravy while you let the chicken rest pull out your lovely oven roasted veggies to another plate, and pour/scrape the drippings and caramelized onions and garlic into a small pan on the stove, rinse the baking pan with 1/4 cup or so hot water to deglaze it a bit, add that to the pan on the stove, put the pan on medium heat in a cup mix 2-3 tbsps of flour/cornstarch with cold water, pour carefully into your pan while mixing, try not to let the lumps get in but don’t worry about it too much. if it’s too lumpy remember an immersion blender covers all sins of gravy making. Simmer your gravy for at least 3 minutes to cook any e coli out of your flour.

Dinner is served! carve into that delectable slow-roasted chicken and enjoy your oven-roasted veggies all smothered in gravy.

Kitchen Disaster End Notes:
The worst kitchen disaster I ran into with this particular recipe was the time I blanked on how long it takes to thaw a whole chicken in the fridge. I had this meal planned for Sunday night, I put the chicken from the freezer to the fridge on FRIDAY. Sunday morning I poked my chicken only to discover it was still rock hard. no worries. I whipped up some quick spaghetti for Saturday night and shifted Chicken roast to Monday night. Monday morning, chicken check. Still, rock hard, somehow?? not sure fairies weren’t involved at this point. Made mac and cheese with hotdogs to tide us over until Tuesday night. Tuesday morning chicken check, MY CHICKEN WAS STILL COVERED IN FROST. So in a blind rage, I spent 3 hours thawing it in my sink covered in successive changes of cold water.

So friends, don’t be me. 1) make sure you give your chicken plenty of time to thaw. and 2) make sure you don’t have a cold spot in your fridge where things can freeze. Because it was either that or I have an ice demon living in the bottom drawer of my fridge.

Check back next month for my post on stock making to really make your quarantine meals stretch, and because homemade soup stock is really really good.

Note: If you enjoyed this recipe, check out my patreon, where you can get access to exclusive content like this: https://www.patreon.com/bubasbooks

Also if you’re interested in a receiving a Patreon exclusive short story and my monthly newsletter please sign up for Buba’s Books Mailing list

Buba’s Books: Writing Update – Gator 911 check-in at (almost) 50k

Hi All!

It’s been a busy month for me tackling both Camp Nanowrimo and DVpit!

I figured not falling off the wagon on that was a touch more vital than blog updates, but still, I missed yelling about my writing updates! Now that I’m within spitting distance of my stretch writing goal for April.  (47K!!! which I hope to knock out my last 3k tonight and tomorrow.) I feel like I can get back to my regular blogging schedule.

So, let me start by saying this has been my first attempt at writing a 1st draft that has been really intensely outlined. I spent the month of March creating character lists, character arcs, and then finally a chapter outline/roadmap to write from. It has really made writing on low inspiration days so much easier.

HOWEVER, now that I am writing the back 3rd of the novel I realize I’ve left all but the faintest suggestion of the road behind. I think overall this will be a good thing for the novel, as I wrote the characters more and really fleshed out their relationships with each other I realized some of the interpersonal conflicts I’d put in the outline just didn’t make sense anymore. I think as soon as I hit my 50k I’m going to take a pause to re-align the tail end of my outline with where we are now before I really dive into writing the climax in May.

A short excerpt the current opening lines of Gator 911 sure to be polished about a million times but it’s a good start:

The buzz of her phone was easy to ignore, the high pitched pings of the texts coming in likewise. She threw the phone in the general direction of the window and heard a thunk rather than the desired crash. Half a bottle of tequila had vanished and so she was too far gone to help anyone. The burn of alcohol as it slid down was as comforting as the scream of the cicadas that seemed to waver through the humid air outside.  As much a firm reminder of where and when she was, as the lack of Afghanistan’s haunting Adhan, the call to prayer, and air so dry even her frizzy hair had behaved itself.

She was back home in good ol’ Salt’s Bayou, Texas and she was safe. She hated it.

7988b00236c795898b91843d7fc614a7

Goals for this week:

Write the final 3k words I’ve been procrastinating.

Write a scene with Morgan, Grace’s ex-fiance Betrayer and Destroyer of Worlds, even if it doesn’t go in the draft and is going to get cut, because I desperately need to understand who this guy is beyond how angry Grace is about his existence.

In other news, given recent pay cuts and general job market uncertainty, I’m activating the Patreon account I’ve been sitting on for a few years. I suspect I’m about to have a lot more free time on my hands! So if you’d like to get sneak peeks of my attempting not to go mad as a forced stay at home wife and writer, or would like to support my continuing to write, do check it out!

https://www.patreon.com/bubasbooks

Buba’s Books: Writing Update NEW WIP!! Gator 911

Hi all, if you also follow me on twitter you know I’m super jazzed up about having started a new WIP!

I finally wrapped my edits on And They Called Her Stormbringer and sent out my first big batch of query’s second week of March. I debated about doing another editing pass on Draft 2 of One Half A Dead Witch but I gotta be honest I am burnt out on editing. The thought of having to hack 10-15k out of that MS just about killed me.

So instead!!

I started formally plotting out a book idea I’ve had simmering on the back burner for a few years, tentatively titled Gator 911. (Thank you  @IndieHorrorWri1 for the suggestion, it was so much snappier than what I was going to go with!)

Gator 911 is a contemporary medical drama set in a rural hospital in East Texas that follows a doctor and nurse that are sisters struggling to keep their family and their hospital from collapsing.

Key players include:

Dr. Grace Salinas (39), ER Physician, newly un-engaged and returned or exiled, depending on your perspective, to her hometown of Salt’s Bayou as of 6 months ago.

Aricela Salinas (34), ER nurse and serial monogamist back in a rocky relationship with her on again off again boyfriend, a local cop, who’s been holding the family together in her sister’s absence.

Also, Salt’s Bayou local town legend and source of many mishaps, Big Salty (50+?), a very large, blind in one eye, gator that people claim is really a 20 ft long saltwater crocodile.crocodile-1404500

I started actually writing early this week and am about 5k in and I gotta say after nearly a year in revisions on various WIPs I am euphoric to be writing new material for a brand new story. I am so excited to watch this world flesh out beneath my fingertips.

Big Goals for this weekend are as follows:

Get at least to 15k.

Develop the character of Grace’s Ex- Fiance (NAME?? JOB?? Any distinguishing characteristics other than Betrayer and destroyer of worlds)

Stay tuned for updates!

 

 

Buba’s Book Reviews: Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile

Title: Queen Sugar

Author: Natalie Baszile

Genre: Mystery, Contemporary literature, Domestic Fiction

Publisher: Penguin Books

Publication date: 11/05/19

Nominations: NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work – Debut Author

Rating: 8/10

818JqRLG18L

Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile is a riveting family drama that follows Charley Bordelon, a widowed black single mother from California moving with her daughter, Micah, to her father’s hometown in the rural south after discovering that he has sold all his California properties to purchase a struggling 800 acre sugar cane farm in Louisiana. The land held in trust precludes her selling or the proceeds will go to charity. On this premise that exposes the complicated, loving, yet controlling relationship between Charley and her father we along with Charley and Micah are sucked into the realities of rural Louisiana, the intricacies and back breaking labor of running a successful cane farm, Charley’s colorful family, the tense realities of an industry dominated by white men who are the sons of the sons of plantation owners.

This book didn’t shy away from digging into the social realities and struggles of the rural south and I trusted Baszile’s handling of these difficult subjects implicitly from the beginning and she never let me down.  I was particularly impressed with her handling of Charley’s romantic relationship with Remy, a white sugar cane farmer, Baszile did not shy away from all of the biases and cultural assumptions and even casual racism that have to be tackled in an interracial relationship and I appreciated that she didn’t sugarcoat the situation.

In parallel to Charley’s story is that of her half-brother Ralph Angel, also widowed and raising his son Blue, except due to dropping out of college and stealing tuition money to fuel his drug habit he was cut out of the will by their father. While Charley’s story is one of successfully adapting to every challenge that life throws at her, with pluck, creativity, a lot of damned stubborn, and never being afraid to reach out to family and friends for support, Ralph Angel’s is a lament of a man who has been so traumatized that he is, at his core, too fragile to face what his life has become and what he might need to do to turn it around. His story is not a triumph, it is the bitter counter note needed to balance the tale, to remind us that even in a feel good save the farm story, nothing is that simple, and there is always grief, and we live with the consequences of our actions and those of the people around us. Ralph Angel is a reminder of how the deck is stacked, that Charley’s triumphs are as much luck as anything, and that it can all be lost just as quickly.

I listened to this as an audio book and have to say the narrator did a beautiful job, her voice really helped drag me into the narrative.

Buba’s Book Reviews: A Memoir Of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

Title: Hunger, A Memoir Of (My) Body 

Author: Roxane Gay

Genre: Memoir

Publisher: Harper Collins

Publication date: June 2017

Rating: 9/10

Content Warning: Sexual Assault, Self-Harm, Eating Disorder, Trauma, PTSD

9780062362599

This memoir sat with me, it stayed on my mind and kept me thinking about how I interact with the world and with my body. This is a memoir about trauma. In the early chapters Gay claims this is not a story of triumph over her body. And it is true. This is no weight loss success story, but it is none the less a story of triumph. And that triumph is no less for being a hard won triumph over the damaging and toxic stories that society tells us so often we begin to tell it to ourselves.

While my struggles are not PTSD and weight, the candidness with which Gay discussed her trauma, a rape at the age of 12, and how she was dependent on the comfort of food, the secretiveness she imposed on herself for 20 years, the determination to make herself impervious to harm by making herself large was breathtaking. The way she describes and forgives herself for her self-destructive coping mechanisms is something I think every woman needs to hear. The way she discussed her weight, her family, and her love life a complicated and congealed tangle all tied together by her ravenous hunger, for food, to be loved, to be accepted, to be seen, and how that hunger is inextricably tied to her body spoke to me. At times it brought me to tears.

This is a memoir that not only asks you to look more closely at those around you who struggle with weight when society would have you look past or through them, it asks you to forgive yourself for your own self-destructive tendencies and asks you to be more gentle in your own healing.

I cannot thank the author enough for sharing this story with the world. If you like audiobooks this one is author-read and truly moving.

Buba’s Book Reviews: The Hob’s Bargain by Patricia Briggs

Title: The Hob’s Bargain

Author: Patricia Briggs

Genre: Fantasy Fiction

Publisher: Ace Books

Publication date: 2001

Rating: 6/10

8836441

Patricia Briggs is one of my favorite contemporary fantasy authors, so I thought I would dig into some of her early work. This standalone traditional fantasy was a really great read that brought a lot of great things into a genre that can get really tied up in its own tropes.

The Hobb’s Bargain is a twist on beauty and the beast, where beauty is a happily married 30 year-old with the second sight named Aren. She loses her family and her husband to raiders and then the village is plunged into peril when the blood magic that held the magic of the land is released and the very earth shifts. Aren’s occasional visions become true power. Another consequence is that wildlings, creatures of magic, are returning to the world. The combined threats of the raiders and the wildlings place the village in great peril and so she goes to the Hob and offers to make a bargain with him for his protection of the village.

I loved every single concept in this book.

I loved that it had a 30-year-old woman as the heroine discovering her powers and saving the day, I want more stories with women in their 30s. I loved that she was involved with and invested in her community. I loved that there was no weird much ado about sacrificing a virgin to the demons/dragon/Faries. I loved that she made the decision to make the bargain with the Hob.

I loved that there was disability representation in Kith, who was awesome and deserves everything. I loved that Aren and Kith had an honest to goodness friendship between a man and a woman and did not fall in love.

I loved that the traditional beauty and the beast twist did not have the traditional Stockholm Syndrome.

I loved that they made a deal with a magical creature and then were like wait, you have got to hold up your end for a year before we pay the price.

I loved that this was a book about courtship.

And I loved the Hob, he was fantastic, and a true “beast” as in this is no spoiled princeling turned monster, this is a wildling, it thinks like a wildling and it stays a wildling, and I loved his mischievous bent and his ability to love the heroine exactly as she was.

I loved the world and its fascinating details and myriad wildlings coming alive.

Yet somehow with all these lovely pieces together I was never in love with the story. I never disliked it. I made it all the way through quickly and easily, but I was never quite swept away by the story. I cannot quite answer why. I loved all the pieces separately, and having dissected the experience for a week I cannot pick out any one thing that I disliked. Except perhaps the assumed voice the narrator used for the MC Aren. I cannot suss out if my lack of enthusiasm for this book is due only to my mild irritation with the tone of the narrator or the story itself. If I ever have the chance to pick this up at my library I may give it another read and see if without the audio the book can successfully suck me in. If you love beauty and the beast re-tellings this book is certainly worth the read.

 

Buba’s Book Reviews:  On Swift Horses by Shannon Pufahl

Title: On Swift Horses

Author: Shannon Pufahl

Genre: Fiction/Historical Fiction/LGBT lit

Publisher: Riverhead

Publication date: 11/05/19

Rating: 7/10

9780525538110

On Swift Horses is a haunting and beautiful historical fiction set in the late 1950s. It follows the story of Muriel, a newly married waitress from Kansas who with her new husband, Lee, has set out to San Diego to make a new life. Intertwined with it and in parallel to it, is the story of Julius, Lee’s brother, a drifter, gambler, petty thief, and a gay man. Although she doesn’t originally know what it is about Julius that draws her in, Muriel recognizes the otherness of him that is growing slowly within herself and is fascinated.

The story is a coming into self-possession for Muriel, as she uses the gossip of her jockey patrons at her work to bet on racehorses eventually winning enough for build a home in California and start a future together with Lee, at least until she discovers that perhaps perfect domesticity is not at all what she wants.  Muriel is a woman who lost her mother young and cut adrift, follows the script that was left for her. She finds a serious young man back from the war and sets about building a world of obligations to tie herself down and build walls so that her life will make sense again. It doesn’t begin to become about joy until she discovers that the otherness she admires in Julius is in her too.

Meanwhile, Julius is a man only at home on the edges. The war and the difficulties he faced in the navy due to his closeted lifestyle have made him cynical and unwilling to settle. He spends much of the book fruitlessly chasing after his gay lover in a search that is both haunting and endlessly hopeful.

The book is a beautiful read, lyrical and evocative even as it takes the post-war idealism and scratches away the gilt, looking straight into the eyes of atomic tests, the rapidly chilling cold war, gay men struggling to not be constantly at the fringes, and women striving to be seen.

I admit that I spent much of the book in pleasant confusion, drifting along on the lyricism and sweet melancholy. I also despite my best efforts began to dislike Julius, I kept wanting him to take charge of his life, instead of repeating the same mistakes, but that didn’t happen, and honestly, I don’t think it should have, that’s not what his story was about. On the other hand, I was deeply engrossed in and enchanted with Muriel’s journey of self-discovery, her bald fearlessness, and her determination.

If you like historical fiction from this era I cannot recommend it enough, it’s really a peek behind the curtain of all the huge momentous happenings of the era into the smaller happenings of little lives that are just as momentous. I’ll also say I went into the book knowing I’d rather burn money than gamble with it, so while the window into the world of gambling and betting was fascinating it really only cemented my desire to never ever gamble.