smothered chicken… and I mean *really* smothered chicken, but not with gravy because I’m on a fancy diet

This is one of my all-time favorite recipes. Ever.

“Smothered in what?” I hear someone from the peanut gallery holler and I understand completely – it *does* sound rather violent. Let me explain; traditionally and in its simplest form, Smothered Chicken is chicken that has been simmered in and then served under or ‘smothered’ in a seasoned gravy. And when I say ‘smothered’ I mean, of course,  ‘comforted to death’. Isn’t that nicer? Let’s call my recipe “Comforted Chicken”.

I am a girl who loves her gravy and given free reign and unstoppable arteries I would consume it on everything from oatmeal to ice cream (eew). But, happily, I am reigned in by my vow of health and well-being and so am constantly on the look-out for delectable dishes that won’t comfort me to death. This is one of them. It’s my loose adaptation of Smothered Chicken; chicken simmered in a silky, tangy, lemony-oniony Sauce. It is easy, satisfying and tasty. And when I say ‘tasty’ I mean, of course, ‘lip-smacking, plate-licking, go-back-for-thirds GOOD”.

I like to serve this dish with a side of wilted spinach and maybe a whole-grain pilaf. YUM. I’ve got myself all worked up for it… good thing I’ve got some chicken in the fridge because I think I need some comforting…


Comforted Chicken

6 chicken thighs or an equal amount of breast meat

4 onions

2 cloves garlic

1 lemon

1 cup chicken stock

2-3 Tablespoons butter, olive oil, coconut oil or other cooking fat

salt and pepper to taste

We’ve discussed the slicing of onions in previous columns and decided that ‘thinly’ is one of the most vague cooking instructions available. All the same, I am going to ask you to do it. Slice your onions thinly. Use your own good sense and just get them into slices. We can do this. Tears will ensue, but it’ll be worth it in the end. Once the onions are dealt with, slice up your garlic and then put a large skillet on medium heat. Once the skillet has heated up, add your fat and the onions. Let them brown up a little, stirring frequently to avoid any burning. Throw the garlic in with its cousin and then lower the heat. You want the onions and garlic to simmer *without burning* until they are all very limp, very translucent and almost saucy on their own – just this side of caramelized. This will probably take about 5-6 minutes.

The chicken has been patiently waiting for its turn in the pan and now is the time. Squiggie the onions around so that you can fit the chicken pieces, skin down, in the skillet. Let the skin brown against the bottom of the pan before flipping them over and adding the chicken stock. Let it simmer for 10 minutes or so. Boneless pieces cook faster than bone-in so be aware of that if you’ve substituted. If you want to speed the process up, you can cover the skillet with a pot lid.

Now it’s time for the lemon. You thought I had forgotten, didn’t you? Lay the slices around in the skillet and then let the whole thing simmer for another 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom. If it seems that the liquid is getting too low, you can always add a little more broth – but not too much! The goal is to have the sauce work itself out as the chicken is cooking. You may need to lower the heat and just be a little more patient.

When the chicken has cooked thoroughly (use a thermometer to check – I always have to) you are ready to serve your masterpiece. It’s going to smell like heaven… oh boy! The onions will have melted away into savory goodness that will blend with the lemon and make a sauce that you will lick off your plate. It makes even I, the Gravy Queen, say, “Gravy? Who needs gravy when you have a sauce like THIS?”  Enjoy…


Maple Pear Chicken Salad

I need someone to name these recipes for me because I stink at it…

I made this up for the Man today, and it was hit so I thought I would share it with y’all.

Maple Pear Chicken Salad

1 8oz boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into three or four pieces

1/2 sweet red pepper, chopped

1 tsp minced garlic

1 bartlett pear, peeled, cored and sliced thinly

3 Tbsp pure maple syrup

1-3 tsp butter or olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

lettuce for the bed

This is a terribly quick and simple meal to make up since I fixed it while getting my bread ready to rise for the day, doing dishes and had entered the final countdown before Alex had to get ready for work.

In a frying pan, over medium heat, I put the sliced pear, maple syrup, butter, garlic and half of the red pepper. Once those things had started to simmer together, I added the chicken pieces and covered the whole bit, then let it cook ten minutes or so while I chopped the lettuce and set the table.

Since stove settings very, make sure the chicken has cooked all the way through. If it starts to get a little dry, add a few tablespoons of water or broth, but if it’s covered, it should stay moist enough.

I put some chicken and a helping of the hot ‘sauce’ on the lettuce that I tossed with the rest of the pepper, it wilted it a little and – viola! Lunch was served…

Sweet, salty, mapley, garlicky – absolutely packed with flavor, we have a winner.


I know this meal isn’t in the Great Chicken Challenge- but it certainly could be. It fits all the criteria – easy, cheap, tasty and happily healthy.

Served 2 people; 20 minutes to make

Per serving:

280 calories (under 300 – yay!)

cost roughly $2.25 cents

This would be delicious with spinach instead of romaine or iceberg lettuce, or adorned with some chopped walnuts… be creative – it’s your meal, Enjoy!

coconut chicken curry

You thought I forgot, didn’t you?

You thought I had forgotten about the Great Chicken Challenge.


True, our sultry, poultry friend had to sit in the freezer for a week or so while I recovered, but I thawed out the two thighs and drumsticks a couple of days ago and made a curry.


True, I used four pieces of meat, but it fed both of us for two meals – it worked.


I cooked one entire sliced onion and a clove of diced garlic in a bit of coconut oil in my big cast iron skillet until they were just about caramelized.


I added some curry powder and ginger (a good teaspoon of the ginger and half again as much of the curry powder) and let it all simmer and turn gold.


I removed the onions and seared the chicken pieces in the hot oil for a couple of minutes on all sides so that they had a little crust on them.


I poured in half a can of Thai Kitchen, lower fat coconut milk and added one potato that I had washed and cut into little pieces *plus* the onions that had been waiting on the sidelines.

I covered the whole lot, reduced the heat to low and let it cook for a good 45 minutes.

Oh. My. Word.


We ate it with brown rice. It was such a deep, creamy tasting dish – it came out very well. I love the coconut milk!

Cost Per Serving – $2.00, roughly. The coconut products are a little pricey, but so worth it.

SO what is that so far?

One chicken: 2 People: 4 different meals: 14-16 very generous servings of food

I’m impressed… We’ve done a salad, a soup, a ‘straight chicken meal’, and a curry. I’ve still got the giblets and the entire back to use – things are going to get creative! Plus, we still want to do the ‘chicken deconstruction tutorial video’ – doesn’t that sound peachy?!

Stay Tuned folks-


it came out of nowhere

I Love Leftovers. For this home chef, ‘Leftovers’ is code for, ‘Easy-Meal’ and that’s a good thing. I usually plan for leftovers when I can; cooking an extra chicken breast and stashing it away, boiling too much rice and storing the extra, or sauteing two onions when I only need one then saving the rest.  In this day and age, time seems to be as expensive a commodity as fuel and food and it makes sense to cook two meals at once, saving time, energy and thought.

But, even with all this careful meal planning, every so often I face an interesting situation. It usually goes like this; there are two more days until it’s time to go shopping and we’re running low on ‘regular food’. The main meals I planned have been cooked and eaten, the leftovers conveniently consumed, and I am left with a smattering of completely unrelated ingredients. A couple of eggs, a quart of chicken broth from Monday’s stewed chicken, half a cup of lemon juice, a serving or so of cold white rice from Tuesday’s stir-fry and some garlic.

For all my love of easy-peasy menu making and ‘second meal’ strategizing, I do love the once-in-a-while meal challenge. I need a meal to come out of nowhere – something recycled, repurposed, reconstructed, rethought. Something that is going to spring from the cupboards and fridge and appear in delicious completion on the dinner table – and, oh yes, I need a meal in less than 30 minutes, if you please. If there were such things as Good Kitchen Fairies, this would be the time to summon one, but as I am yet Kitchen Fairy-less, I must think of something all on my own.

Last night was such a night in our angled apartment. I needed a meal, a good, recycled sort of meal that was going to take the culinary cacophony in my fridge and turn it into a poem of  a meal – and fast. How do eggs, lemon, chicken broth and cold (slightly old) white rice sound?

How about Avgolemono? It’s alright if you can’t say it – I barely can, but thankfully for us we don’t need to pronounce it to be able to enjoy it. This is a traditional Greek soup that just happened to call for several of my misfit ingredients. Here’s how you make it:


4-8 cups of chicken stock

1 cup cooked white rice (you can also use small pasta if that’s one of your random ingredients)

3 eggs

4 tablespoons of lemon juice

1 garlic clove, grated or minced

salt and freshly ground black pepper

In Greek, the name of this soup means “egg” and “lemon”. Ah ha.

 The first order of business is to put the stock into a pot and get it boiling. Once it boils, add the grated garlic and let it simmer for a minute. Now, add the rice. While the rice is being warmed by the broth, beat the eggs until they are frothy. Add the lemon juice and stir well. Now, this is the tricky part – tricky, I say, because if you dump the cold egg into boiling broth you will end up with a Greek-styled egg drop soup. This is Not what we Want. You are going to gently, kindly introduce the hot broth to the egg mix. Take a spoon and add a few spoonfuls of broth to the egg, stirring well. When that’s mixed in, add a couple more spoonfuls of broth. This warms the egg mix up slowly so that you can bring the two together without tragedy. It’s important that the broth isn’t boiling, so you might want to lower the heat to make sure it stays just ‘really really hot’.

When you have mixed enough broth into the eggs to make the egg mix relatively warm, stir it into the broth. Don’t let it boil again, or the egg will curdle. Take it off the heat, stir in salt and pepper and serve.

You’ve done it. You’ve made a meal come out of nowhere. Impressive, isn’t it?

a little bit of idealistic pep talking concerning the chicken *thing*

Because really, doesn’t it seem extreme to be counting everything so minutely? Pieces of lettuce, noodles, rice, chicken wings…. counting, counting, counting.

Oh – the frustration! Why count? Why?

WHY? Because it does count. I’m not just a freak about chicken. Really.

We are home chefs – aren’t we? Whether male or female, cooking for a dozen kids or one new husband, we care about what we cook – don’t we? And there’s good reason for caring, we’re fueling life itself. Are we going to put crappy, nasty, cheap fuel into those we care for and feed? Say it with me, No.

And we’re not just counting calories or pennies, we’re counting nutrition and time and effort – we are counting life, every meal we make and eat represents a part of our one, wild and free life. I want these chicken meals to be worth something for my family, even though we are small and new and still figuring out who likes butter and who likes olive oil. I want to be thrifty, and cunning, matching my kitchen wit against the debit card and clock and ceaseless tide of Bad Food, as much as I can, with the best results I can afford.

Because it means something to me. That’s why. I don’t want to take food for granted, ever, but always be a wise steward of the things I have the privilege to count.

Chicken Challenge Meal #3 – The General

Ok, ok, ok.

So far, we’ve had two chicken meals from one chicken breast and I decided to splurge tonight and use the *entire* other breast for a special meal for my dear one – General Tso’s Chicken. I started by cutting the breast up into small chunks and  dredged it in egg and then flour seasoned with garlic, onion, pepper and ginger.

Here’s my favorite way to bread something – you dredge it first with flour and then you let it sit and dry for a bit before dredging it *again*.


It makes a delightfully thick ‘crust’ on that which is being dredged.

This time, however, after the lovely chicken chunks had time to air, I dipped them back in the egg and then – wait for it – seasoned Panko crumbs.

I know not what Panko is, how to properly pronounce it or whether it’s “Panko Crumbs” or just plain “Panko” – but I have fallen deeply in love with its effect on my breaded foods. Deeply, I say. What a culinary revelation.

I love culinary revelations.

When the nuggets (because ‘nugget’ sounds much more inviting than ‘chunk’) were all double coated, they looked as though they had been visited by hoar frost…

Either hoar frost, or the Shredded Wheat Fairy…

The nuggets were set on a tray, covered with plastic wrap and sent to wait in the frigid-air for a while.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch, I started a big pot of brown rice (because we’re being thrifty here, cooking enough rice for two meals at one time – clever, clever!) and took out a bag of green beans I had frozen a couple of weeks ago. They weren’t ready to be cooked quite yet, but I prepped them with about 1/8 cup of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon minced garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger.

When the rice was about 15 minutes from being done, I got out my Big Cast Iron Skillet, and I heated up some frying oil. I LOVE frying things. LOVE, I say. I don’t know about you – and I would certainly love to hear from you – but I reuse my frying oil and mix *clean* left-over oils in with it. Does that sound gross? I have a little bit of vegetable shortening in my jar, some coconut oil and some hard chicken fat I scraped from the top of a stock a made. It works rather well, I think, and stores in the fridge very comfortably until I need it. The strained blend of oils doesn’t smoke or go bad and again, it’s thrifty. Do you realize how expensive fat is? It’s one of the more expensive things to purchase.

Anywho- after all that rant, I think the oil has been heated quite enough, thank you.

The nuggets (now dry from their stay in the fridge) were rescued from the cold and lovingly fried in the hot oil until well-browned and crisp – yum! As I was frying them, I turned on the green beans so that they could cook up and I experienced of those rare, incredibly satisfying moments when I knew everything would be done together and on time.

Oh. My. Word.

It’s gorgeous. I could eat it all over again.


*if I do say so myself*

Lightly touched with “General Tso Sauce” – they were delicious. I will never use anything other than that Panko stuff for the rest of my life – it’s so crunchy!!

This meal more than filled two very hungry people for less than $1.50 each (including the green beans and rice…) and the chicken itself weighed in at about 300 calories a serving. This calculation didn’t include the fat needed for frying. I’m not sure how to count that, really… I decided not to care in favor of frying them into small bites of happiness…

they say it funny out here; Chicken Meal #2

They do.

They say it like this, “Chowdah.”  It makes me giggle.

I say it like this, “CHOWDER.” My face gets very grave and serious when I say it – like a command.

It leaves one wondering, is chowder a serious thing, or something that should make you giggle?


As we all know, I moved to the Wild, Wild East over three years ago from my relatively tame corner of the world just on the edge of the Midwest. Aside from the obvious language barriers that had to be overcome, it has been one, long, very interesting adventure which has ended in a happily ever after, after all.

The fact is, ladies and gents, I ended up married to one of these wild Yanks who, when in the least bit provoked or absent-minded, drops his r’s and says things like, “My, you’re a wicked-good kissah!”


The second meal prepared from our lone bird was a mix of east and midwest, wild and tame, unique and classic – “Sweet Potato and Corn Chicken Chowder”

Say it five times fast, I dare ya.

Sweet Potato and Corn Chicken Chowder

Serves 8

Calories per serving: 150

Price Per Serving: astonishingly cheap (sorry, still no receipts.)

Preparation Time: about 45 minutes. I got distracted doing something else so it took me a little longer…


4 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into small chunks

1 medium onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil

2 large or 3 small sweet potatoes, chunked

1 quart of chicken stock

1 Tbsp chicken boullion plus 1 quart of water

(I had to use the boullion and water because I didn’t have enough stock. If YOU have enough stock, please use that, or if you don’t have stock, use 2 Tbsp boullion and 2 quarts of water. Make sense?)

3-4 fresh ears of corn

Alright. Here’s what’s to be done.

You’re gonna need a big pot – a four-quarter or bigger if you can manage. Pour the olive oil in the bottom of the pot, (which, I should mention, has been moved to a burner and is heating up) and then add the onions and garlic. Once they’ve had some time in the heat, add the chicken – stirring frequently. Frying the chicken first in the same pot, in my humble opinion, adds a little depth to the finished soup. *That’s why you do it like that* Once the chicken is nigh unto done, add the broth (or whatever combination of broth and boullion and water you have decided upon) and potatoes and bring it ALL to a boil.

I love how quickly sweet potatoes cook – have I ever said that? They soften up so nicely, they’re just a joy to be around in the kitchen. Once the sweet potatoes have become fork-tender (after about 15-20 minutes of boiling) you are going to proceed with what I perceive to be the Midwestern portion of today’s meal – the corn. Being from corn country, I know a thing or two about the veggie (at least, I put on airs as though I do…). I feel as though the fact that I have picked corn for farmer’s market at 3  A.M. gives me some sort of authority to be picky and odd about corn while at the same time enjoying a good ear much more than any person should. We picked our corn at 4:30 P.M from a large bin sitting just inside the door at Price Chopper – the corn snob in me promptly fell over and died. Ah well.

At any rate, whether near or far, Eastern or Western, you should really try to make this chowder with fresh corn – as fresh as you can manage. I shaved the kernels from our ears just before we were ready to eat and dumped them in, letting the soup boil for just a mere five minutes more before taking it off the heat and serving it up.

The result? Sweet, soft potatoes mingling in a salty, fragrant broth with crisp sweet corn and plump chunks of chicken.

I don’t care *how* you say it – that there’s good food!

Chicken Challenge Meal #1 – it begins with Caesar

First – we deconstruct the chicken.

I learned to do this while working on the farm of a sweet family in Ohio, the father showed me how to ‘cut up’ a chicken very tidily in just a few minutes.


Viola. The chicken in pieces – ten to be exact, in less than five minutes. It’s really not that hard but it’s one of those things most home chefs feel intimidated by. *Someday I want to do a short video of how to do this and post it. What thinkest thou? I wish I could get Mr. Schlatter to do a guest post/video….*

Two breasts, two drumsticks, two thighs, two wings, a back and a breast bone, and guts. Our plump frigid-aire guest is now ready to be Utilized. For this meal, I used half of one of the breasts, about four ounces worth, skinned and boned.

Meal: Chicken Caesar Salad

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

Calories per serving: 270 (figured out using a very reliable calorie-counting app)

Price Per Serving: Well, here’s the deal. I can’t find the shopping receipt which means, for this meal, I am estimating for everything but the chicken. I know, right? Lame. The chicken, per serving, was about 10 cents. Yup. Ten cents. The rest of the ingredients – all things I have purchased enough to have a good idea of what they cost, even if I don’t have the receipt – interestingly and roughly estimated, come to less than a dollar a serving. Wow.

Let’s do the restaurant comparison, can we? Just for fun? A popular restaurant offers this meal in its lunch menu for $10.50 with a calorie count of 610. Uh huh. Kinda gives me the same feeling I get when I bring my recycling to the center on Tuesdays…

Unfortunately, I was in a bit of a hurry, so pictures are lacking until the final product –  but I’m trying – there is a picture, and it does have chicken in it! The breast was sliced thinly and then sauteed in a splash of olive oil. I used an herby-lemon-like seasoning that was hidden in the back corner of my spice cupboard to adorn the chicken slices with flavor. While those were sizzling away in their frying pan, I chopped one head of washed romaine lettuce, a half cup of sweet red pepper, a grasp of black olives (about four large olives) and three artichoke hearts.

These got tossed together in a large bowl with four tablespoons of Newman’s Own Caesar Dressing, one tablespoon of parmesan cheese and some fresh ground black pepper. Just about the time all of these things were mixed up, the chicken was done and ready to be taken off the heat. I placed the slices on a plate to cool while I sliced four thins of baguette and placed them in the same frying pan the chicken was in. These cooked on each side about two minutes, or until crispy and brown (not burnt, Andi, not burnt) and I felt incredibly clever about reusing the heat, oil and flavor of the chicken to make the croutons… they were going to be croutons at that point, but ended up being little crispy toasts – just because I was tired. Alex and I went on an 8 mile bike ride up hills and down vales, in snow flurries. Yup. Springtime in Vermont. It took all my energy for crouton making. This simply seemed much easier at the time.

The last step was to mix in the now not-so-hot chicken and decorate with the almost croutons….



Chicken Dinner Number One was a success. We ate all of it.


the great chicken challenge

“…. a challenge for only the brave at heart…”


Yes, that means you.

Hello, random reader. My arm is almost completely better (thanks to the life-saving efforts of my ever-lovely physical therapist, Darcy) which is good for me – bad for the blog. It means I am back to working part time (a mixed blessing, I suppose) and actually doing things like gardening, serious bike riding, knitting, tying my shoes, and other things that were virtually impossible three months ago.  This, reader, is why I haven’t been doing the writing thing so much lately.

I, once more, have a life which involves both arms.

Can I get an Amen?

This week at our angled apartment, we are embarking on a challenge having to do with the plump chicken now sitting in the frigid-aire.

How many meals can I get from one chicken?

You are about to witness something worthy of its own reality T.V. show.

2 people, 4 appetites (all this bike-riding and shoe tying has increased my desire to eat, and happily, my ability to!) 1 chicken. How many meals?

We start today; Friday, the 27th day of April, with a 5.8 pound bird that cost $1.59 per pound for a total of $9.22. Here are some of the questions I am challenging myself to answer:

1) How many meals can be prepared from this chicken, remembering that we both have hearty appetites. It was Alex’s request that I be *reasonable* (I am always reasonable…) and not do something like use the chicken skin to flavor a rice dish. Doesn’t count. We need meat, people. We need to feel Satisfied in the end – like we’ve had chicken!! The challenge ends when the chicken does…

2) How much money per meal, person and serving? This may be a little tricky, but I am going to try to figure it out the best I can and report back with my findings. What do you think? Should I go pound for pound? How picky should I be with counting the cost of ingredients?

3) Also, I would love to do a comparison using common restaurant prices. Exactly how cheap can we get while still ending up with a good, hearty, delicious meal? Hmmmmm??? How does *my* chicken alfredo match up with Olive Garden’s? I know every one says it’s cheaper to cook at home, but exactly *how much* cheaper?

4) Will we ever be able to eat chicken again after having it so often in a short period of time? This, I believe, will be answered by the variety of meals we have. I want to do very different tasting dishes each time so we don’t grow tired because, really, when you’ve grown tired of food, well – what remedy can be offered? I’m thinking chicken chili, grilled chicken, chicken nuggets, chicken curry, chicken soup of some sort, chicken pot pie – – we’ll see. It’s all about being creative.

5) Can I remember to take pictures of each meal? Probably not, but my intentions are noble as I begin with saying – “YES!! THERE WILL BE PICTURES.”


SO. There you go. The Great Chicken Challenge.

Are you with me?

Humbly submitted by – me.

company for dinner

“Company for dinner? What flavor? Will they go well with a white sauce?”

I hope he goes well with a white sauce, because that’s what we are having when Max comes this Thursday for dinner. fettucine Alfredo with chicken, broccoli and crusty bread purchased from the local grocery store bakery. It will be served with a leafy mixed greens salad and homemade lemon-aide.

Max is one of Alex’s high-school pals and the second of his ‘single’ friends to come for dinner. He’s an ice climber and a lacrosse coach. Oh my. Will he like pasta? Does he like broccoli -or will we have another Orange Pepper Incident on our hands? **The first fellow we had over, a hilarious and lanky 21-year-old who went through the police academy with Alex, was horrified at the lovely orange pepper slices I used to garnish the salad and very dramatically picked them all out. He soon forgave me, however, and after he got used to the idea that Alex was now permanently attached to this pepper-obsessed female, he seemed to even think that the whole marriage thing wasn’t a half-bad idea after all. By the end of the evening we were trying to set him up with available young women…. to be continued.**

Max will be the first person to eat at our place since we’ve acquired serving dishes and utensils- I am very excited to test them out on him.

Company Coming Chicken and Broccoli  Alfredo Sauce

2 chicken breasts, skinned, boned and cubed

1 medium-sized crown of broccoli cut into bite-sized florets

2 cups whole milk (I supposed you should use 1 cup of cream,

but I never have any, so I use creamy milk and cook it for a while so that it gets thick….)

1/2 cup white wine

salt and pepper

1 clove garlic, sliced

2 Tbsp flour (I used this to help thicken the sauce, if you’re using cream you won’t need it.)

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

olive oil for frying

I must say right now that I have utterly and unabashedly stolen the *method* of making this from that creative culinary genius, Sheri (of Sheri’s Diner fame…). She so effortlessly mixes up these incredibly gorgeous dishes while she visits with me, and I am studying her every move, memorizing the methods because once you have the method- you can mix and match your own flavors and come up with something entirely different. True? True. That, and I am fascinated by the idea of cooking with wine. The first time I tried it, I somehow curdled the milk and made a horrible mess. Horrible Mess.

Olive oil- in a big frying pan. Here I will repeat the saying that my mama (the first and foremost culinary expert in my life) taught me, “Hot pan, cool oil- Food Won’t Stick.” Get your pan hot, then add your oil. It works, believe me. Add the sliced garlic and let it swim around and scent the oil. It should brown, then be scooped out so that it doesn’t burn while you cook the chicken. Don’t worry, it isn’t being just used and then discarded, it can be added again later- I’ll tell you when it’s safe….

Now the chicken can go in. I like my cubes to be bite-sized; of all things, I deplore large chunks of *things*, I have a compulsion to have everything in small enough pieces to be eaten nicely. Nicely. I know, weird- we’ll move on. At this point I season the chicken with my salt and lots of pepper (Alex loves pepper, and I am learning to love it too. I find I can admire the spice much more when it is freshly ground, it’s completely different from the dry ashes contained in most table-top shakers) and stir it so that it cooks evenly. When it is just about done, add the broccoli florets.

Now, a word about broccoli- who can *not* like a food that comes in ‘florets’? Honestly, a floret of broccoli, when it has been tastefully cooked is just about the best vegetable there is. I like broccoli cooked just until it ‘wakes up’. You will know exactly what I mean if you watch closely the next time you cook some. It goes into the pot looking dark green and almost waxy, then after a couple of minutes of being steamed or sautéed, suddenly the color comes alive and intensifies, electrifies, the broccoli is still crisp and the flavor is very -real. I feel bad for people who have only ever had broccoli that has died in the pan as avocado green mush, then buried in a Velveeta cheese-food grave. I used to like my broccoli cooked like this, with cheese. Oh my. Thank God I wasn’t given up on. Anyway. The broccoli goes into the pot with the chicken to be briefly sautéed, until it’s woken up. Then, brighten it with the wine (very much like you would splash your face with cold water upon waking) and add the garlic back in if you’ve saved it (remember, I asked you to earlier?). This is going to be a fragrant and enticing moment, enjoy it. I was absolutely hypnotized.

This is going to cook for just a minute or two. At this point, I add the cheese and then the flour and stir them in well. Next comes the milk/cream. All of this is allowed to simmer while the finishing touches are being made to the meal. I wouldn’t let it cook for too long lest you destroy the broccoli….

Please, I beg you, if you forget the bread or serve it with frozen butter, undercook the noodles, cut the chicken into big, inedible hunks or even burn the garlic- just Don’t Destroy The Broccoli. Please.

Thank you. We all will thank you….