Tag Archives: Family

Crunch Time

Her sister’s sons–adorable little boys–are picky eaters, so it was big excitement for sis to include some paprika in the cracker-crumb breading for the chicken nuggets she made them last night.

“Crackers?” I said.  “She wants the boys to eat homemade nuggets, they should be covered in crushed pretzels.”

“You’ve done this?” she asked.

“No, but it would work.” I was just trying to think of a crunchy snack the boys would like–and that she would actually serve them.  Cool Ranch Doritos-covered chicken, probably not so much.

We started thinking about some terrific beer-battered fish we’d made one night in early Spring, and that we could do something very similar with the chicken I was defrosting.

Two chicken breasts, deboned, yielded six good-sized chicken strips, with the bones added to a bag in the freezer; that stock will become, when the bag is full, stock.

The strips got a quick dredge in flour seasoned with salt, pepper, and lots of sweet Hungarian paprika, a dunk in batter made with a Rolling Rock I keep on hand for such purposes, a roll in multigrain cracker crumbs, and three minutes a side in half an inch of 350ºF canola oil.  The cooked ones kept warm on a draining rig in the oven until all were finished, and were served with CSA-fresh corn and sliced tomatoes. The crust was crisp, the chicken perfectly moist. I envied the little boys their broccoli, but she tells me they probably didn’t eat that.

After dinner, I dashed to the basement and returned with a cardboard paint bucket to store the leftovers. They’re not a bit oily, but the porous container will keep the crust from getting mushy.

When we try Cool Ranch Doritos-covered chicken, it’ll probably have to be baked rather than fried, but I suspect we won’t need a bucket to store leftovers.

The bucket says "wet," but the chicken is not.

The bucket says “wet,” but the chicken is not.

Very French, or Nearly So

There was no dinner at the country house last night; we’d gone over the river and through the woods to have lunch with her beloved Nana, and to deliver furniture to a refinishing shop. We stopped for gas on the way home at a dairy store where she worked during college breaks. Dinner, such as it was, was a double-scoop cone for each of us. 

Brunch today, however, was another matter. Open-faced tomato and mozzarella sandwiches on really good bread, sliced hard-cooked eggs over lettuce with a mustard vinaigrette, and an apple-cider donut, sliced and grilled. She had a wide-brimmed mug of sweet, light tea; I had coffee. I discovered that a beach umbrella fit perfectly into the table on the deck and provided just enough shade.  It might not seemed authentic to a Parisian, but brunch on this late August Saturday felt very much like I remember simple meals at homes in the south of France on a trip long ago.

She broke off a big piece of romaine, wrapped half a of a mustardy hard-boiled egg in it, and mmmmmmdd contentedly after taking a bite. “When you serve meals like this, I don’t want them to end,” she said. “I can’t decide what I want the last bite to be.”

That’s compliment enough for any cook.

Some days you grab a bagel on the way out the door. When there's time for a proper breakfast, you take it.

Some days you barely grab a bagel on the way out the door. When there’s time for a proper breakfast, you take it.