Roast Chicken and Potatoes for a Sunday

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“As we have a right to believe eternity will be one uninterrupted Easter Sunday, so every Sunday throughout the year helps the Christian people to prepare for that great Sunday to come. It is a day of expectation, a weekly reminder that here is only the beginning of true happiness.”
-Maria Von Trapp

These days have been so hot. So very hot. We’re deep into a southeast Texas summer and I’ve reached the point–the unbearably sweat-soaked point–where I begin to make numerous proclamations about wanting to flee to some cool, blue mountains and never come back.

I dread getting out of the apartment to run to the grocery store because getting into the car is a foretaste of hell and the drive is just short enough for the air conditioning not to work itself up to anything resembling relief.

But last weekend, inspired by the desire to savor slower Sundays, I got the idea in my head that we needed a roast chicken. Roast chicken is something my stara mama made on Sundays. (Though she actually did live amidst cool, blue mountains and sourced her chickens locally from her chicken pen.) So, since it is my one true hope to become like her, out into the thick hot breath of summer I went to get my chicken.

I prepped it before 5pm Mass and then popped it in the oven after we came home. Even though it was 9 by the time we actually got around to eating (n.b. get thee out of bed on time to make morning Mass) and the apartment was feeling rather swampy from cranking up the oven for over an hour, the meal was glorious. There are few things more delicious than luxuriously crispy chicken skin and potatoes swimming in the drippings. Simple, juicy, homespun perfection and indeed only the beginning of true happiness.

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Recipe for Roast Chicken (adapted from both Thomas Keller and Ina Garten)

One 3-5lb whole chicken
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
Fresh thyme
4-5 peeled cloves of garlic
Softened unsalted butter
5-6 halved medium yellow potatoes

Preheat oven to 450F. Rinse the chicken, remove and throw out giblets, and trim excess fat. Pat the chicken down inside and out with a paper towel. (Removing excess moisture results in a crispier chicken).

Salt and pepper the inside and out liberally. Brush a pat of butter on the inside and then stuff it with the cloves of garlic and thyme. Slightly brush the outside of the chicken with butter. (Thomas Keller famously does not butter his chicken at all because of the moisture, but I like the taste.)

Tuck the wings behind the chicken and tie the legs together (or if you’re like me and don’t keep kitchen string handy, watch this).

Place your chicken in a buttered baking dish and surround with the potatoes. (A roasting pan is ideal, but anything will do in a pinch–see tart dish in picture above). Onions, carrots, parsnips are all ideal and can be added too and sweet potatoes can be substituted easily if you’re making this in the fall.

Brush your potatoes with butter and give them a few shakes of salt and pepper. Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours depending on the size of your chicken.

P.S. reserve those chicken bones for broth! And don’t let that chicken juice go to waste! Mix it butter and you’ll have chicken stock compound butter to amp up your dishes all week long.

White Wine Bechamel Sauce
This is a really lovely sauce for both the chicken and potatoes.

2tbs flour
2tbs butter
1 cup warm milk
1/4 cup white wine

Heat milk in microwave for 30 seconds or over stovetop until warm to touch. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour and continue to stir until the mixture becomes lightly golden. Add milk and whisk until smooth. Once the mixture is boiling, add white wine and stir until smooth. Season with pepper. (I thought the chicken was salty enough to skip salt in the sauce.)

Green Salad with Homemade Dressing

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
juice of one small lemon
1tbs honey
2 tsp dijon
s&p
Butter, red leaf, or romaine lettuce

Whisk ingredients together. Adjust to taste (Psst…I never actually measure these things out–just adjust from start to finish). Toss in a large bowl with rinsed lettuce leaves. Less is more when it comes to dressing so you may end up with more dressing than necessary. Tossing well and making sure all the leaves are lightly coated is what you want.

Roast Chicken and Potatoes for a Sunday

Weekly Edit: 7.22

weekly edit july twenty-second

Linking up and shaking things up a bit. No yums this week. Not because there weren’t any because there definitely were, but because I was encouraged to actually write recipes out and post them. So next week you’ll get an earful as I praise the merits of juicy roasted birds and sundry.

Gifts from the Internet

Also, no theme with the links this week or maybe we could call it wild card.

1. Erin had two posts this week that I hit the bookmark button on. I’m always looking to be challenged in becoming more environmentally conscious and she always delivers the most well thought out ways to do so. Her post on water reminded me of all the ways I waste it.

2. Then she posted on how to make maraschino cherries. We spend far too much on the store-bought luxardo kind for Friday night cocktails, so its is on my to-do list before our current jar runs out.

3. Joy always has the best Sunday links. (I can’t get this one on motherhood, marriage, and writing out of my head from a few weeks ago.) But last week’s round up of links caught my attention mainly from the gorgeous paper flowers she made. A friend of mine gifted us fresh flowers as part of a whole host of housewarming things and they really beautified our mantle piece. I don’t think I can justify fresh flowers every week, so seeing stunning paper ones is giving me lots of ideas.

4. Speaking of parenthood, marriage, and creative ambitions, Christy guest posted over on Carrots for Michaelmas on how marriage fuels the creative life. And I think her examples are good and true and beautiful. It makes perfect theological sense that Christian marriage, in particular, as its supposed to imitate the richly creative love of the Trinity should encourage a collaborative creative life between spouses. But the examples provided in the post center on marriages in which only one of the spouses is the creative and the other is a source of practical support and inspiration. What if both a husband and a wife have their own serious creative ambitions? When a housekeeper or a nanny isn’t an option and financial freedom isn’t within reach, the practical burdens must be shouldered and I think dividing them up equally is easier said than done. Creatives are frequently attracted to one another which is a good thing but I think when each has their own projects and goals, the relationship can easily become mired in selfishness and resentment. Thoughts? I want to hear them.

Et cetera

5. Today is my dad’s birthday. He instilled in me a love for reading, hiking, traveling, and black forest cherry cake. I frequently had dad and daughter dates for my birthday. They were always cultural: the symphony, the museum of fine arts, and that one time we almost made it to the ballet but got rained out by a hurricane…Now we do the same but with some pint-sized friends tagging along.

6. I keep saying I’m going to delete our Netflix account but then I keep hitting play on reruns of Parks and Rec…However, I started this film while I was nursing the babe a few days ago and then I couldn’t turn it off. It’s beautiful and I highly recommend it and I’m ugly-crying just watching the trailer again.

7. Last week, I voiced my fretful concerns over baby led weaning. So I talked to my mom about it and she gave me some helpful advice because that’s what mom’s are for. Now, we’re doing what I’m calling “minimal effort spoon feeding”. I basically make one very easy soft food per day and feed it to him all day. So far we’ve done yogurt and mashed avocado whipped together with a fork, sweet potato zapped in the microwave, and banana mashed up with a little bit of water. It’s just as messy since I only slightly spoon feed him and otherwise let him lick the spoon/bathe his face with food at his leisure. Most importantly, I’m not filled with anxiety over it.

It’s the feast of St. Mary Magdalene which is new and quite exciting!

Weekly Edit: 7.22

Weekly Edit: 7.16.2016

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Showing up late to the link-up party this weekend.

Gifts from the Internet

All about womanhood, bodies, and feminism this week.

1. I discovered this post somewhere between getting a spark of an idea for this one and actually publishing it, but I identified so, so much with it. (Katherine’s blog is the shizz in general and should be on all of our to read lists.)

2. This is just basic decency.

“Providing menstrual hygiene products privately, immediately and for free is also about sending a body-positive message by not perpetuating shame and humiliation, and acknowledging that women’s bodies, even those of women serving time in prison, deserve some dignity during their periods.”

3. Josh Radnor aka Ted Mosby from How I Met Your Mother gave a deeply thoughtful and intelligent interview with Fight the New Drug about the devastating effects of pornography. It’s worth a read.

“Porn peddles selfishness, domination, and oppression – all terrible qualities to bring to a relationship. It strips women of personality, agency, and dimensionality reducing them to objects who exist simply for men’s sexual pleasure. And can be discarded when they’re through – after all, there are always more women a click away.”

Yums!

4. We’ve been trying to be better about eating less meat. We’ve gotten especially bad about eating meat on Fridays and, yes, I know you can substitute a different penance in place of going meatless but who are we kidding? That never happens. But even outside of religious reasons, eating red meat is apparently going to kill us, the environment, and our grocery bill too. The only problem is that my husband and I both really like meat. Fish is alright but we’re meat people. Toxic red meat people to be exact. These are some things I’ve been whipping up in an effort to be ever so slightly more vegetarian and still excited about dinnertime. And if we’re not, I guess that’s okay too #offeritup

Chickpea-zucchini fritters. These were quite good served in warm pita pockets with tons of fresh vegetables, feta cheese, and tzatziki sauce.

Spiced black bean and beet burgers. I loosely used this recipe and topped them with avocado, bbq sauce, quick-pickled red onions (red onion+red wine vinegar+the fridge for 10min), and wait for it…bacon. Cheater cheater pumpkin eater. I took it one step further when I warmed up a patty the next day for lunch and cooked it in bacon grease…whoops. We ate the burgers with store bought sweet potato fries.

Salmon marinated in leftover tzatziki sauce. I served it with oven roasted corn on the cob bathed in chimichurri, and a warm quinoa clear the fridge salad (cherry tomatoes, the last of a cucumber, 1/4 of an avocado, 1/3 of a red onion, feta cheese, lemon juice, balsamic, olive oil, s&p).

5. And for a very meaty dish this week, I made skirt steak marinated in oyster sauce (no soy sauce on hand), dark brown sugar, and sesame seed oil. Served with leftover angel hair and stir fried peppers and broccolini. It was quick to make and absolutely delish.

Et cetera

6. Still talking food–does anybody else do baby led weaning? I have a slightly love mostly hate relationship with it. Probably because I haven’t seen any of the benefits. Only the gagging which I know is normal but geeeez it makes me so nervous. And the mess. Blw people like to tout the whole “spoon feeding babies mush is a modern invention” thing a lot. But somehow I don’t think people throughout history were letting good food go to waste all over their kitchen floor. Case in point. I’m thinking spoon fed porridge might have been a thing. But I’m not a historian. Anyway, I’d love to hear anybody else’s experience with baby led weaning or different methods of introducing solids besides purchasing jars of baby food.

7. Last night, I got together with some college friends and by 11 and after having a glass and a half of rose, I couldn’t tell if I was tipsy or just exhausted. But it was fun to relive the days when my only obligations were studying and orchestrating fake engagements.

Happy Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Listening to this beautiful hymn today.

Weekly Edit: 7.16.2016

Hopes for Liturgical Living: Ordinary Time

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This is my seasonal brain dump about how I ideally want to live out the liturgical seasons fully acknowledging that I probably won’t measure up to my hopes and dreams any time soon.

I’ve been hounded lately by this horribly nagging feeling that there’s so little time and so much to do. Blogging and other writing projects and trying to get my small business plans rolling and custom art commissions and reading and language learning. Oh aaaand praying and mothering and housekeeping and exercising. I’m scared silly that I might never actually do anything which would honestly would be fine if I was an all-attentive mother instead of a half-attentive mother trying to do all the things. (Of course I never get up before the baby on any morning of the week so is it really metaphysical confines that are tripping  me up or just my own lack of fortitude?)

However, in my anxiety over the shortness of time and the bigness and multitude of things to do and my personal penchant for laziness, Ordinary Time is a gift. It’s an opportunity to learn how to use time wisely and structure it well and order it towards sanctity. It’s a time to establish patterns of prayer and work and leisure that might be built on during other seasons of the liturgical year.

Food

The great majority of Ordinary Time falls during Summer and Fall making it the ideal time to learn to eat seasonally and to actively reflect on where food comes from by planting herbs or full fledged urban homesteading or shopping at the local farmer’s market or participating in a local food co-op. (We’re planning on doing this one.)

During Ordinary Time I also want to perfect some good, simple staple dishes to be able to fall back on. I never knew my mother’s mother to make anything new or adventurous, but her daily bone broth soup and all the other traditional Slovak things she made were always so wonderfully satisfying and comforting. So by good, simple staples, I mean Slovak dishes obviously.

And I want to use this time as an opportunity to streamline and simplify the grocery shopping and meal making process. Right now I’ve gotten pretty good about meal prepping during my son’s second nap of the day so that dinner doesn’t take a thousand years to make, but I go to the grocery store about three times a week because of poor planning. So I want to meal plan better for breakfast and lunch as well as dinner. I want to make batch lunches for the week on Saturdays–things like grain salads and granola power bites. And possibly use a couple days during this time to make freezer meals for crazier days instead of resorting to eating out. This would be particularly helpful during Ordinary Time in January so that during Lent we really stick to meals at home.

In general, during Ordinary Time, I want to focus on establishing good eating habits for the whole year. Less meat. Less sweets. More vegetables. Less snacking. When I studied abroad in France, I loved the repetitious rhythm of meals (even if the meal itself sometimes made me nervous–stingray, liver, blood sausage anyone…??) Every lunch was hearty. Every dinner was a simple vegetable potage (often with leftovers blended in), followed by a cheese course, a fruit course, a piece of chocolate (for bonne morale!) and a hot cup of herbal tea. I particularly liked that other desserts were left for special occasions like having guests over. Since my husband can’t get home for lunch, we’re stuck to the American way of quick lunches and more filling dinners but I still like the dependable repetition of wine, cheese, fruit, chocolate, and tea.

Wearing

I’m a big fan of the idea of capsule wardrobes or even a daily uniform. Clothes matter. Ethically, emotionally, socially. I’ve seen the uniform idea popularized for the the professional world, but I think it can translate to stay-at-home-mom life too. I fall into the rut of wearing my pjs all day too often, but I think, if I could, like a nun donning her daily habit, hop into a simple, comfortable, well-and-ethically-made outfit day after day, my mood would immediately be boosted.

I really like Kendra’s idea of a school uniform even if you’re homeschooling. Less laundry. Less time spent looking for lost articles of clothing. Although this is more my flavor of kids’ uniforms.

Work/Leisure

It’s no secret that I love the concept of the domestic monastery. I think the idea of trying to emulate a well-run happy and harmonious religious community in the home is a noble one. And I think the pursuit of creating a domestic monastery and the pursuit of liturgical living in the home are inextricably linked. So as far as work, leisure, and Ordinary Time go, I adopt the Benedictine motto of ora et labora: attempting to strike a balance between work and prayer. Activity and rest. Labor and leisure.

I want to be able to keep house well. To give my attention to creative/professional interests. To find ways to help supplement our income. To aim for excellence in all things. But I also want to strike the right balance between all those things among themselves and also with more contemplative activities such as praying, reading, nursing the baby, memorizing poetry etc.

Right now my life feels pretty fractured. I scroll on social media or attempt to blog as I nurse the baby. I start one chore and leave off half way through to tackle something else. I’m working on about ten creative/professional projects at once but don’t feel like I’m making any concrete progress towards any real goal of mine. I feel like I’m hustling (hate that word) all the time but not moving in any direction. Or I’m overwhelmed and vegging on the couch in a guilt-ridden netflix stupor. So I want to step back and learn to make a prayer out of my work. To do such things as making the dishes into a holy, meditative act by praying a rosary at the same time. To memorize poetry as I nurse the baby. To stop and think about whether I really want to commit my time to a project before saying yes so that I don’t feel as though changing diapers or nursing the baby are getting in the way of other work. To give myself permission to rest during naptime every now and then (and not feel guilty about it!) instead trying to fit a million things into the space of an hour.

Furthermore, I want to actually keep holy the sabbath. Yes, we always do Mass but I want to set the whole day aside for rest as it was intended. To work and labor and prepare on Saturdays so that we might enjoy slow Sunday traditions as a family.

Prayer

I hit on this a bit in that last section but some more specific ideas:

Aside from simply trying to integrate prayer and work where I can, I’ve outlined my ideal prayer schedule here. That’s still my goal however faily I am at getting there.

Even when I don’t get a rosary in, I love the tradition of saying the Angelus at noon. Melissa Musick has a good post on the simple power of this beautiful prayer. Plus Jennifer recommended Magnificat’s Angelus app and I’ve been using and loving it. I have an immense love for church bells. It was one of my favorite parts of going to a Catholic college and I wished we lived in the neighborhood of our parish because they have some excellent ones. So this app with it’s bell tolling reminder to get on my knees and recollect the Incarnation does my soul wonders.

Lastly, and perhaps this should have gone in the aforementioned section, I want to actively try to incorporate the works of mercy in my daily doings. Especially during this year of mercy. Growing up, my siblings and I were involved in the Legion of Mary which has as its mission evangelizing primarily through the works of mercy. As much as I would groan and moan about getting out of bed to go to church at 10am(!!) on a Saturday morning, it was a blessing. We’d pray and read at the meetings and be assigned specific works like doing chores without being asked (which was a serious challenge to virtue for a fourth grader). And frequently we’d do things like go visit elderly people in nursing homes. I could use a little more of the legion spirit in my life now. I am absolutely guilty of looking down at my phone when I’m stopped at a light and there’s a homeless person asking for anything. It’s inexcusable. I like this list on different ways to incorporate the work of mercy.

Jennifer has a wonderful post on ways to make the most of Ordinary Time and I probably should have just sent you there in the first place.

If you missed them here are my Lent and Easter Hopes for Liturgical Living.

Happy Friday and Feast of St. Bonaventure! Here is some recommended reading in his honor.

Hopes for Liturgical Living: Ordinary Time

Wednesday’s Words

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Last week was staycation thus the blogging silence, but it was a heavy-hearted one with all the turmoil in our country. I found this to be a good reminder that even when you’re at a loss for words and just hold your baby and quietly pray for peace, it’s okay to delight in the slobbery kisses he plants all over your face.

Painting: Vase of Roses, Henri Fantin Latour, 1872

Wednesday’s Words

Weekly Edit: 7.1.16

Weekly Edit July First

It’s Friday! So that means linkup time!

Gifts from the Internet

How on earth do make sure your kids keep the Faith? It’s something I think frequently think about even though I know there’s no sure answer. People ultimately make their own choices after all. However, these two posts lend some wise advice and I love them both so much I want to do what my mother (whose birthday is today!) does with pieces off the internet she finds and loves and print them out and stick them on the fridge.

1. Composing a family rule of life

2. Live Your Lent (Or Whatever Liturgical Season is at Hand)

Yums!

3. After resisting unpacking all of our kitchen things and a full week of dinners of the takeout or wine and cheese variety, I’ve finally gotten back into the swing of cooking and went all out for the inaugural homecooked meal at chez ramos. We did a mashup of brunch and afternoon tea. My sisters and I introduced my eight-year-old nephew to the concept of afternoon tea last summer and now he thinks having tea means not only the beverage but all sorts of necessary treats on the side. He had been asking to have tea for a while so we obliged and perpetuated his grandiose ideas by serving chocolate black tea, lavender tisane, petit fours, cake balls, matcha green tea pancakes, homemade whipped cream, more of this fruit salad (which I’m thinking of making again for a get together tonight–it’s that good and simple), scrambled eggs, sausage, oreos (for him), and elderflower champagne cocktails (for us).

4. You know I’m all about using up leftovers in the most creative and delicious way possible. I ended up making enough tea for a small party of twenty (there were five of us), so I combined the teas, refrigerated the mixture, and served it the next day for Sunday brunch with milk over ice. Chocolate-lavender black tea latte ftw.

5. I saw this recipe for skillet faro and brussels sprouts and was sold since I had brussels sprouts on hand. I didn’t really make it according to the recipe but it turned out phenomenal nonetheless. I used bulgur wheat instead of faro and added prosciutto. Even with panfried chicken thighs, it really was on the table in less than forty-five minutes so I think it’s going to be something I return to again and again.

6. We’re living on the top floor of our apartment building and it’s the middle of the summer in Texas so it gets really hot really fast when we’re cooking. But we had an itch for hamburgers so my husband grilled some up on our panini press grill out on the patio. He had the grill propped up on a low shelf and was sitting cross legged in front of it grilling. It was very zen. Very hilarious. Very delicious.

Et cetera

7. I’ve been making more things for people. The ultimate goal is to start a small business of my own original work. Stay tuned for that (hopefully not indefinitely…I’ve been talking about it for ohhhh two years now). Presently, I’m just taking on custom illustration/handlettering commissions.

Recent jobs: a logo for this group of Houston foodies. And a blog header for my friend, Lauren’s, new blog! A snippet from her first post to whet your appetite:

“the stories of these small humans with whom we coexist, and our collective familial journeys to eternity — those matter.  And all the little details that make up those journeys are something to celebrate.  The path we walk together as the “body of Christ” a la 1 Corinthians is for real, and I believe there is power in solidarity along the way.  Ours may not be the stories that historians record or news anchors broadcast, but they are not insignificant when we live them with gusto.  That barely perceptible, daily-grind quest for holiness?  It can shake up the universe in ways we can only imagine.”

Yes and yes and yes. I’m so excited she’s finally blogging.

……………

It’s the Feast of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ today so we’re going to try to get a some first Friday devotions worked in today amidst preparing for a weekend of game nights and brunches and barbecues.

Weekly Edit: 7.1.16