This weekend was a nice relaxing few days. Of course too short, but that’s how it goes with weekends, I suppose. With the weather being the deep freeze that is late January, it was the perfect opportunity to hibernate for a few days, indulge in hearty comfort food and watch some football. The football didn’t turn out too great (we were rooting for the Bears and the Jets, sigh), but I think the hibernating and eating portions of the weekend more than made up for it.
I have found a few interesting recipes in the January/February issue of Everyday Food and this slow cooker spicy buffalo pulled chicken sounded perfect for a football day. The site doesn’t have the recipe listed yet, but there are some great instructions and photos for this dish here. The ingredients are simple, and mixing both chicken breast and thighs helps to keep the texture and flavor of the meat just right. The seasoning and sauce were what you’d expect for a pulled bbq sandwich, although for picky eaters, you may want to puree the onion, pepper, tomato and seasonings before adding to the meat. I made this recipe mostly how it was printed, but added extra hot sauce, used diced tomatoes instead of crushed and added a little extra chicken breast that I had already poached from making stock. Toward the end of the cooking time, I took the lid off of the crock pot and let some of the liquid evaporate, to thicken up the sauce. This made quite a bit, even considering the extra chicken I tossed in, so have been able to plan on some leftovers.
It doesn’t seem right to have a spicy barbecue sandwich without some cool, creamy cole slaw. I mixed a quick batch together and my new Kitchen Aid slicer/shredder attachment made quick work of all the chopping. (Thanks to my mom for this great gift!)
The barbecue and slaw were great, but what really pushed this over the edge was the bread. Oh, the bread. I don’t generally buy sandwich rolls and figured, how hard can it be, really? I know you may think it’s crazy, but it was completely stress-free and completely worth the minimal amount of effort.
King Arthur Flour has an easy-to-follow recipe here. I imagine you could take this basic recipe and do any number of yummy things with it. This makes a really wonderfully textured, yet tender roll with just the right amount of crusty goodness. I happened to have sesame seeds to add on top, and I think it definitely took it up a notch, but if you don’t have them, it will still be good. I promise.
For a great tip on how to shape these beauties, check out the knot method on Pinch My Salt. It worked perfectly for me, although I think these rolls would be just as tasty without any manipulation.
I know a lot of people are intimidated by bread, especially when it doesn’t involve a bread machine, clever tricks or fancy equipment. I’ve said it before and I will say it again — making your own yeast bread is really quite straightforward. But let’s just keep that between us so my family will continue to think I am some kind of magician.
When I was probably in about 5th or 6th grade my 4-H club — the Penn Loyal Pals — put on a bake sale. I think it was on a Saturday morning late in the summer, meaning no one was really around. Especially because we held it on the corner in front of the post office in our little town of only a few hundred people. Probably not the smartest marketing plan and I think the only money we really made came from the parents dropping off and picking up their kids. I don’t really remember what I made for the bake sale — probably apple cinnamon muffins, because that is what I was trying to perfect for my Foods entry for the fair that year. I don’t remember how I placed on that — probably not very high. The muffins were tasty, but I think they probably had too many “holes” in them. And judges at the fair don’t really appreciate holes in the middle of their muffins and quick breads. I find that in real life, no one really cares about that kind of thing as long as other people are doing the baking. Plus chocolate chips don’t hurt.
(First I should say that while I’m trying hard to resurrect this blog, I’m also trying to resurrect another blog for work, where you can find all sorts of interesting observations, stories and trends. So don’t miss it.)
On Sunday we drove out to the Blue Ridge mountains to visit our favorite orchard and pick some peaches. We’d been to pick apples in the fall a few times, but have wanted to try catching the peach season in the summer, so I was glad that we were able to take a Sunday afternoon and accomplish this. We took some food for a picnic lunch, which we then ended up eating in the car once we got there, due to several pop up thunderstorms in the area. By the time we had parked and ate our lunch, the rain had passed and we were able to get out in the orchard and go to work on the trees. I’m not sure what’s so fun about getting out and picking your own fruit, but it really is a lot of fun. Probably too much, as we ended up with about sixteen pounds of peaches after it was said and done. Yes, sixteen. For two people. Still, it was worth the price if not for the peaches themselves, for the activity itself. It was way cheaper than an amusement park. And plus — peaches!
Of course then after hauling them home, we had to figure out what to *do* with all of these peaches. Besides just eating them out of hand or, you know, taking pictures of them. Because there’s really only so many peaches you can realistically eat in a day. So we ended up making a huge peach cobbler, peach jam, peach toaster strudel (part of my evil genius showing here), some were sliced up to freeze and save for later… and I have a few left that I need to either bake into something, eat or … alas… throw out, as they’re going to be over-ripe very soon.
Even though for a few days it felt like I was being overtaken by peaches, I’m not sure there’s really a better summer fruit or a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon outdoors, picking perfect peaches, surrounded by the awesome Blue Ridge mountains.