Friday, September 21, 2012

Emerging from hibernation

Some creatures, generally those of a lower order, hibernate during the cold winter months.  But there is one particular variety of creature, one bearing the image of God, who exhibits an opposite pattern.  She is known to be absent from the kitchen during the hot summer months, even eschewing non-heat inducing kitchen activities such as making her own iced tea.  But we can observe the creature, Antinomia Crustulum, emerge as days grow cooler, nights crisper, and leaves begin to turn color and fall from the trees.

Such was the case today when the kitchen resounded with crashing pots and spurting water, knives chopping and spoons stirring.  The Antinomian Cook wishes she could provide you with recipes, but then she wouldn't be so antinomian, would she?  Nevertheless, she offers here a rough guide as to the day's kitchen activities and their results:

First up was the favorite fall stand by, Mexican Chicken Stew. This is a simple slow-cooker dish.  Take 3 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast and 2-large cans of crushed tomatoes and place them in the cooker. Turn on high to get the chicken cooking.  Add 2 chopped onions, 3-4 cloves of garlic, some salt, crushed oregano and the number of hot peppers equal to your courage.  I prefer the dried red pods, but sliced jalapenos and habaneros work just as well.  Cook for 3-4 hours, until both the chicken and onions are thoroughly done and tender.  Take the breasts pieces out, shred them and return them to the pot. This stew keeps for a few days and freezes well.  You may also add zucchini if you prefer more vegetables.

Next, it happens to be squash-is-on-sale week. Today, I bought three butternut squashes, roasted them in the oven and they are now cooling.  I will scoop them out and puree them, then freeze them in portions.  Tonight, with some of the squash, I will put together a quick soup seasoned with a delightfully complex spice mix from Williams-Sonoma:

Butternut squash can be pureed and easily made into soup using broth, milk or cream to get the desired consistency.  One of my favorite ways to change it up is to season the soup with nutmeg and add chopped apple and walnuts.  Mushrooms, chickpeas and bacon can all add a bit of protein while flat-leaf parsley or watercress and a splash of green.

There is also sauteed sweet peppers and onions with thyme on the menu.

'Tis the nesting season!

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