Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My Love Affair with Basil

I (heart) Basil. If my desk belonged to a local school district I'd likely be carving out a profession of my love for future generations to see. But like any love affair, basil and I face our rocky points too. Like the fact that my beloved Wegmans often only sells basil plants and not their single-use packets of fresh basil. Now, I've tried this route of raising a basil plant. You sister has an amazing green thumb and true to little sister form I've tried to copy her. But alas, every basil plant (and most other plants, really) I've ever, ever had...I've killed.

Why can't I keep my basil alive?? I water it. Nibble on it's frawns. Whisper it sweet nothings. But still it shrivels up, turns black and is gone for good. It's not like my lone hearty "house plant" (as the official tag says) that comes back after each attempt to tie cement blocks to its roots and toss it in the Buffalo River.

So tonight I'm perusing my Produce section in search of ingredients for a pasta salad, including my beloved basil. Every time I go on this same hunt, I head to the same shelf, look at the same area and feel the same dissapointment. But tonight! Tonight, basil has transformed into the most beautiful form a busy girl could ever ask for:

A tube of basil! For $5.00 I can save my basil and eat it too! Now the price is certainly not cheap and I kept wandering back to the produce department to reshelve it. But considering the amount of basil that gets dumped in the trash, $5.00 seems pretty well worth it. The flavor is tremendous and a perfect substitute. I even convinced a sweet elderly gentleman in line with me to ditch his basil plant (he too lives alone and shares the same love affair with basil).

Anywho, stay tuned for that super-duper pasta recipie. Big sister may even recognize my copy-cat tactics again!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day Dinner

This has got to be the easiest yet most incredible chicken dinner ever. Great for entertaining, or for learning how to time your dishes. Simply rinse chicken, DRY DRY DRY (inside & out). Coat the cavity of the chicken with a salt & pepper mix, add a small amount of any fresh herb you have on hand (thyme, bay leaves, sage), truss the chicken and then coat the outside with the same S&P mixture. Pop in a 450 degree oven for 60 minutes, and voila!

My Favorite Simple Roast Chicken - courtesy of Epicurious Don't be intimidated by the length of the recipie; it goes into detail about trussing a chicken (a vital lesson!). Do, however, be excited at the prospect of a great and inexpensive main course. With a small roaster ranging in price from $4 - $6, all you're "splurging" on is a fresh herb.

The chicken is very moist and it has beautiful flavor. We so often use chicken as a go-to protein that we strive to create new flavors. In this instance, you have the opportunity to enjoy the actual chicken flavor (there is such a thing) and not be overwhelmed with marinades, bastings or other secondary flavors. Trust me, I understand that after 8 nights of chicken you want to taste something else but then I challange you to try a new protein. But I digress...

Photos Below:
Chicken, right out of the oven! It's heavy with salt and pepper. I didn't have any thyme or other substitutes on hand tonight. Amazing none-the-less. Between the best boy and I we ate a good amount, but a small roaster like this still allows for great leftovers (chicken salad?).

Red and white fingerlings from my crop share through Promised Land CSA in Corfu, NY. Very good!