Welcome back! Or rather, I feel I should be welcomed back as I’ve been a bit, er, silent lately. I just haven’t been feeling it. But what better solution for a case of writer’s block mixed with a healthy dose of ennui* than a challenge? And not just a challenge, but a cooking challenge!
I’m beginning with a chicken (smallest I could find as it’s only for me) and my challenge is to create five meals (minimum, we’ll see what ensues) from that and what is in the pantry.
A note about my pantry: it’s kind of bare these days—I have the basics (rice, potatoes, onions, broth, plenty of popcorn) but nothing bought especially for this project apart from the chicken. I also have lettuce, which will invariably play into the project at some point, and a bit of mozzarella, but those are the only perishables. (Whoops! Forgot I bought a few tomatoes the other day. So add that to the total.)
The inspiration behind this challenge is dual: first, as I’m moving in a month, it seems a good idea to stop buying groceries, as much as possible, and start using up what I’ve got; and second, although I roast a chicken at least once a month, and usually get a few meals out of it, I never feel I’m using the meat as creatively, and stretching it as far, as is possible. So I’m hoping this will help.
Day 1 of the Chicken Challenge
Today I roasted the chicken (using this, my go-to, method) and as soon as I got it in the oven…
I chopped some vegetables (potatoes, an onion, a few carrots), tossed them with a bit of oil and some spices and popped them in the oven along with the chicken. I let both cook at 400 degrees—an hour and a quarter for the chicken, about an hour for the veggies.
And voila! Meal 1 of my challenge is done!
And here’s what’s left for tomorrow:
As soon as the chicken was cool, I removed the rest of the meat from the carcass, shredded it, and froze about half.
*I’ve loved the word ennui since I sounded it out while reading Little Women, ever so many moons ago:
“Mother, did you go away and let everything be, just to see how we’d get on?” cried Meg, who had had suspicions all day.
“Yes, I wanted you to see how the comfort of all depends on each doing her share faithfully. While Hannah and I did your work, you got on pretty well, though I don’t think you were very happy or amiable. So I thought, as a little lesson, I would show you what happens when everyone thinks only of herself. Don’t you feel that it is pleasanter to help one another, to have daily duties which make leisure sweet when it comes, and to bear and forbear, that home may be comfortable and lovely to us all?”
“We do, Mother, we do!” cried the girls.
“Then let me advise you to take up your little burdens again, for though they seem heavy sometimes, they are good for us, and lighten as we learn to carry them. Work is wholesome, and there is plenty for everyone. It keeps us from ennui and mischief, is good for health and spirits, and gives us a sense of power and independence better than money or fashion.”
“We’ll work like bees, and love it too, see if we don’t,” said Jo.