Whole chickens are inexpensive. I buy them when they are on sale for about $4 for a 3-5 pound chicken. Cooking chicken with the bone and skin will be tender and have the most flavor. The best part, cooking a whole chicken is simple, and they can look quite elegant when you serve them. I have written previously about preparing chicken “rotisserie” style on the grill in my Beer Butt Chicken post. But, the evening I wrote this, I was dodging thunderstorms so I decided to just roast the chicken in the oven.
This post isn’t so much about the flavors because you can use whatever sounds good. I’m doing my go-to favorite: Lemon Garlic Rosemary Roast Chicken. I am rubbing the chicken beneath and on top of the skin with a compound butter made by mixing softened butter with minced fresh garlic and chopped fresh rosemary. I squeezed the juice of a lemon over the chicken and stuffed the cavity with the lemon and sprigs of fresh rosemary. This post is more about the technique. Once you know how to roast a chicken, you can get creative. Some other ideas include lemon or orange, thyme, Cajun spices, paprika, and …
Okay, to roast a chicken you need to have some kind of a roasting pan. The higher the sides, the less splatter and the more brown the sides of the chicken will get. Many roasting pans come with a rack to elevate the meat, another reason you want the sides to be a bit higher. If you don’t have a rack, you can form one out of aluminum foil. I use a silicone roasting rack that can be used in any pan. By elevating the meat, it browns more evenly and doesn’t sit in the grease or juices that come off of the meat. A lid isn’t necessary. If the top of the roast is browning too quickly, lay a piece of foil over it. Foil can be your friend when roasting. I also line the roasting pan with it to make clean up easier.
It is good to have a meat thermometer so that you will know when the meat has reached the desired internal temperature. For chicken, 155-160 degrees. Remember that the meat will continue to cook in the ten minutes after you remove it from the oven and allow the juices to redistribute. A 3-5 pound chicken that is fully defrosted will take about 80-90 minutes at 425 degrees.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare the chicken by making sure the giblets are removed from the cavity, dry the skin so you can season it, and secure the wings and legs. You can tie them in technique called trussing by tucking the wings behind the back and securing with twine over the legs, around the back, and then down around the feet. Or, you can simply cut little pockets to tuck the wings in to and tie the feet together. If you do not have twine, you can use dental floss. Just don’t use mint flavored unless it compliments the seasonings you are using, haha!
Now, here is a part of the process that can be a bit controversial. Breast up or breast down?? I say breast up for the first 20-30 minutes to crisp the skin and seal in the juices. Then, flip the chicken over for the remaining cooking time to keep the breast meat tender as the juices flow downward. Pour a half cup or so of liquid in the bottom of the pan. Water, juice, wine or a combination will work. Add more if needed as the liquid evaporates. The juices from the meat will mix with the liquid and can be used to baste the chicken periodically.
That’s it! Other than the initial flipping of the bird, and the periodic basting and watching for over-browning of the skin, the chicken becomes a beautiful, juicy, flavorful meal practically on its own. If you want to get really fancy, toss some cut up vegetables such a carrots, onions, and potatoes in the bottom of the pan for the last 30-40 minutes of the cooking and you have a pretty side dish. Simple.
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Farmers Markets are becoming a venue for more than just produce. According to a USDA survey in 2011, the number of Farmers Markets in the U.S. has grown from 4,685 to 8,268. Home based vendors of many different products have a place to share their talents and passions, and benefit from the foot traffic at the market. The same USDA survey showed that one in three of the people surveyed visit a Farmers Market at least once a week.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are beautiful, delicious, and healthy. In this part of north east Indiana, unless they have a greenhouse or are growing indoors using growing lights or the newly popular, hydroponics, most gardeners aren’t able to plant many things until after the magical date of Mother’s Day weekend. As with other parts of the country, Mother Nature has been having a bit of a tantrum, so let’s hope warm weather is coming soon! After planting, it then takes awhile, 45-75 days for tomatoes depending upon the type and whether they were starter plants or seeds, as an example, for produce to grow and ripen. That means it may be late June before the abundant harvests begin happening. But, don’t stay away from the market until then! There are many things available earlier such as fresh herbs, peas, green onions, and garlic. Then, of course, there are baked goods such as breads, cookies and muffins, and craft or homemade items such as soaps, seasoning blends, magnets, and potholders.
Many entrepreneurs start as home based vendors, so by shopping at the Farmers Market, you are supporting the growth of local small businesses. You are getting an item that was made, by hand, with much time and care, using quality supplies and ingredients because the final product is a reflection of the passion in the person making it. In my town, the Farmers Market is held in historic downtown, on the courthouse square. After visiting the market, you can wander into other shops and restaurants, and explore the great things available. Another of my favorite markets is in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Also close to the artsy downtown area, the vendors at that market have tasty and unique products.
Here are a few tips for shopping at the Farmers Market:
- Shop early in the morning for a good selection, but later in the day for the best deals. Remember that vendors may leave if they sell out or if traffic is slow.
- Some vendors are able to accept credit or debit cards now which is helpful to you especially for higher priced items, but smaller gardening operations prefer cash with small bills (it’s hard to have change when everyone brings a $20 from the ATM).
- Bring your own bags for easier shopping and to be more environmentally friendly. It’s also costly for vendors to provide bags if the market doesn’t allow re-using grocery bags.
- Remember, there is more than produce available!
- Farmers Markets are a great place for trying new things like that funky looking eggplant, fresh herbs or a zucchini blossom.
- You are a primary marketing tool for vendors! Word of mouth recommendations or your posts on social media help them to grow their customer base, so please SHARE!!
If you are interested in more information or becoming a market vendor, here are some resources:
In Auburn or the DeKalb County, Indiana area, visit the Downtown Auburn Business Association (DABA) website at http://www.daba4auburn.org/Farmers-Market.html
In Fort Wayne, Indiana or the surrounding area, visit the Fort Wayne Farmers Market website at http://www.ftwaynesfarmersmarket.com/
In other areas of the country, visit the USDA’s Farmers Market Directory at https://www.ams.usda.gov/local-food-directories/farmersmarkets
Source: USDA Outdoor Farmers Market Dot Survey, 2011
I love food! There I said it. I probably love food more than many other things in my life. And, it’s not just about eating it. In fact, I’m often happier cooking for others than for myself.
I love how foods look. I use words like colorful and striking when I describe food. Fruits and vegetables are beautiful to look at, and fresh farm eggs and seafood can be gorgeous too. Then there are my very favorite, herbs and spices. In plant form, herbs are as amazing as flowers to me. When they are dried into spice, they are transformed to vibrant colors and interesting textures.
I love how foods smell. I can determine what is cooking and even, sometimes, the individual ingredients in a dish with my sense of smell. Like many people, the scents of different foods bring particular memories to my mind. One of my favorite smell memories is coming home when my mother was fixing dinner on taco night. Every time I brown ground beef and add taco seasoning, the memory comes rushing into my head and I smile. I prefer food scents for my candles, air fresheners and even my body lotion. Lemon and vanilla are currently my top picks.
I love how foods feel. They can be soft, hard, squishy, grainy, dry, wet, cold, and a million other textures. Maybe not a million, but lots and lots. If a dish can be mixed by hand, I am on it! When I wander through the Farmer’s Market or the produce section of the grocery store, I touch everything.
I love the sound of foods cooking. Bacon sizzling. Grease popping when batter covered vegetables are dropped into it. Bubbling boiling water. Meat searing as it touches a hot grill.
Lastly, I do really love how food tastes. I love spicy foods, sweet foods, sour foods, and savory foods. I take time to savor each bite. There are very few foods that I have tried that I don’t like. Sure, there are some things that aren’t my first choice of foods to eat like lima beans, fishy tasting fish, and celery. There are also some foods I prefer mixed into dishes, like peas and tomatoes, it’s a texture thing. I am lucky to have had the opportunity to travel the United States, even overseas and sample different cuisine. When growing up, my father was in the Air Force and my parents had friends from many different ethnic backgrounds so I was exposed to foods from all around the world. There are many, many things I haven’t tried, yet, but when given the chance, I will try anything at least once. In the case of caviar, once was all I needed and all I will ever need. Remind me not to become rich and famous because I refuse to eat caviar on a regular basis. But, other than those I have mentioned, I am struggling to think of other foods that I truly dislike.
I have shared in other posts that cooking is therapy to me, and it really is. If I have had a rough day, an evening in the kitchen can make everything better. When the everyday busyness of life is overwhelming, I can’t wait for the opportunity to be with my family for whatever holiday is next and cook, cook, cook. I love spending hours researching, writing recipes, grinding and blending seasoning blends. I love food so much that I started writing about it a few years ago, and my interest in herbs and spices evolved into a business. I wish I could inspire everyone to cook more and to use more herbs and spices in cooking. I am truly passionate about food and cooking.
So many people are striving to be healthier, me included. I think that cooking at home is one of the first important steps to living a healthier lifestyle. Not all of the recipes I write would be considered healthy, but they are home cooked which is always better than fast food. And I believe the premise of everything in moderation when it comes to food. By changing an ingredient or two, or baking something instead of frying it, a recipe can be made healthier. Herbs and spices can make such a difference in cooking. By just changing the seasoning and adding different vegetables, a chicken breast can easily be transformed into a Greek, Indian or Mexican dish.
My current love affair with food includes eating a lot more beautiful fruits and vegetables, fewer heavy carbs and added sugars (which is a challenge for this bread and candy loving gal!), having healthy lean proteins and plenty of water. Regardless of how food and I are interacting, one thing is for sure, it will always be one of my first loves and longest lasting relationship!!
At the beginning of the year, I had a technical glitch and lost my entire website/blog. After recovering from the devastation, I spent some time learning a lot more about URL’s, webpages and hosts. All of my subscriptions were brought up-to-date (actually, just to be safe, I paid a couple years in advance!). It was possible for me to pay a large sum of money to have my site restored from a backup, but I also learned that there are sites on the Internet that back up websites, and you can access the information from their archives for free. I used Wayback Machine. There is a catch to the free way though…
I have been going through the tedious process of rebuilding through a lot of cutting and pasting, relocating and re-inserting photos, editing missing links, and formatting printable recipes. I still have most of 2014 to recreate. Because of this, and a little injury that led to back surgery a few months ago, I haven’t added any new recipe posts. These days, I refer to myself as more of a frustrated food writer than a food blogger. I was reminded recently though that all of this behind the scenes stuff will lead to my blog coming back even better than before. Thanks to Taste as You Go for the reminder and the inspiration to keep moving forward!!
In the meantime, if you are a new visitor to the site, please peruse the archives for some great recipes and informative posts about using herbs and spices to enhance your cooking. If you are a return visitor, thank you for hanging in there! I promise there will be new content soon! I do make regular posts that include recipes on my Facebook page so please “Like” the page to keep connected. The Changing Seasonings online Market is also available if you are interested in purchasing fresh-ground seasoning blends.
I’m still cooking and have many draft posts just waiting to be published. I can’t wait to share them with YOU!! 🙂
With the holidays approaching, I have been thinking a lot about traditions, and about how the social expectations we are raised with shape us. For instance, I know how to set a table appropriately. This is a skill I am proud to possess. My grandmother was responsible for ensuring that I knew that the fork goes on the left, typically on top of the napkin, and the the knife faces toward the plate. She was also responsible for my need to use at least two forks during a meal, frustrating as it may be for the person responsible for doing the dishes at our house. Of course, these rules of etiquette were perpetuated by my mother who had also learned from her mother and grandmother. Though at our own home, in the early 70’s things became a bit more casual day to day, but if needed, my mom could take it up a notch for entertaining. I have made it my mission, often to the dismay of the children in my life, to be sure that they can set a table, and they know which fork to use. If I had a dollar for every time I have hollered from the kitchen, “fork on the left!” I’d be a wealthy woman. Regardless of whether Thanksgiving dinner is served buffet style in a garage on paper plates or seated in a dining room with fine china, they will be comfortable. And, hopefully, they aren’t going to think “dinner out” means that fast food joint with the golden arches hovering over forever.
I always loved eating at my grandmother’s. She wasn’t so much eccentric as she was classy. She had beautiful dishes and glassware, and enough silverware to set a table for 30 people, easily. And, she had neat pieces like a little crock teapot and mugs we always used for hot cocoa, a creamer shaped like a cow, and colorful egg cups for soft boiled eggs. The best part was the cloth napkins. Not that there weren’t paper napkins around, but for dinner, they were cloth…see, classy.
It wasn’t just the value of a perfect place setting that was passed on to me. My love for nifty kitchen tools came from my grandmother and mother too! Now, here is where I become a bit fuzzy in my memories. I can’t tell you if it was my grandmother or my father who developed my love of poached eggs. However, I can tell you that it was my dad who taught me to poach an egg in a pot of water (the “real” way), but my grandmother who had the nifty egg poaching pan. The pan ensured perfectly poached eggs every time. I have that pan, and I have yet to find anything to replace it. It is old in pan years, probably at least 35, and has a ring around it that shows where the water line is. It’s not fancy, it has no teflon coating or glass lid, but it makes perfect eggs. I can simmer water in a big pot just right with a little vinegar and roll the egg with the spoon as it poaches, but I don’t have to.
The other gadget from my grandmother’s kitchen that I posses, a potato masher. No electric mixer used here, and definitely NO boxed potatoes. Seriously, if you do nothing else different after ready this post, please, for the love of food, never make mashed potatoes from flakes ever again. You can set the table any way you want and use the salad fork to eat your entree, but take the extra few minutes to peel and mash your own potatoes. You will be a much happier person because of it. Okay, rant over…back to the gadgets. The final gadget that was passed on to me is a cheese grater set. Nothing fancy, but they are still super sharp (trust me and the missing chunks of my knuckles). The irony in my kitchen gadget journey through the years that has led to me needing more storage space, is that those items I inherited from my grandmother are considered antiquated now. They have been replaced with electric versions twice over, but they are still my favorites.
So, as you are enjoying time with family over the holidays, take a few moments to think about the things that have been passed down to you. Whether it be a tradition, a value, or a really cool gadget, those are the things that make you, you. What will you be passing on to your family??
October was National Cookbook Month! This was very exciting (at least to a cookbook junkie like myself!)!! There are several ways I chose to celebrate this momentous occasion…
Early in the month, I presented my young niece and my new granddaughter with their very first cookbooks. Princess cookbooks, of course! I’m still a little unsettled by the implied main ingredient of the 7 Dwarf Stew, but overall the dishes sounded fun and tasty. Cooking with my great grandmother, grandmother, aunts, sister and mother is probably my very favorite childhood memory. It spawned a passion that has continued into my adulthood and I have made every effort to pass on to my own children, and now my grandchild (which is odd for me to type…I am still getting used to the title though I am certain I will master it eventually. I had amazing role models!). I learned how to read recipes, adapt them, substitute ingredients, and fix mistakes. I learned that a palmful is about a tablespoon and a good pour is about a 1/4 C. I learned that it’s not a good idea to lift the mixer out of the bowl while it’s turned on. The remnants of many dishes graced the underneath of cabinets and the kitchen ceilings for awhile so this lesson took a bit longer to learn apparently. Most importantly, I learned that a good cook tastes as they cook and that eating raw cookie dough probably isn’t going to kill me but it can contribute to quite the belly ache! All of these great life lessons will be passed on for generations to come!
During the month, I also downloaded several new e-cookbooks to my tablet: Salads to Go, Yummy Cast Iron Cookbook and The Grilled Cheese Recipe Showdown. And, I cleaned and organized my cookbook collection. Yes, collection. I collect cookbooks like many women collect shoes. I love them, especially if they include beautiful photos of the dishes. I have hundreds of cookbooks, and I use them. Do I follow the recipes step by step? Rarely. They are more of an inspiration. They are riddled with post-its and have scribbles in the margins adapting recipes and making notes. Even I sometimes have trouble deciding what to fix for dinner, so I head to the cookbooks and flip through until I find something that looks good and I have the primary ingredients for because I can always adapt the recipe, of course. So, I bet you are wondering which book is my favorite!?! The Encyclopedia of Vegetarian Cooking. No, I am not a vegetarian. This particular book is a true encyclopedia of every vegetable in the world. It describes how to store them, clean them and cook them. And, in this cookbook is the very best hollandaise sauce recipe ever. It ruined me for ever eating hollandaise at a restaurant, and is so good that I will lick the inside of the blender to get every last drop. Sometimes, I try to think of a dish I can prepare that includes hollandaise just because I am craving the sauce!
Of all of the cookbooks I have, about 20 are my children’s. And, yes, they use them too! My son, who is now 11, will say, “hey mom, let’s fix something new!” and he will search through to find something he wants to try. Believe me, this is a much better option than when he was younger and wanted to develop his own recipes. He would mix together the strangest of concoctions and I would have to sample them. Putting some of his “special” dishes in my mouth was truly a sign of a mother’s love for her child. I’m happy to announce that none of his recipes actually killed me, though there were several that I disposed of discreetly. I was recently reminded of his style of cooking when one of the teachers at the child care center I direct had the preschool age children write their own recipes for their favorite foods. I am certain that no one wants to try any of these dishes!
Tonight, my son surprised me by fixing dinner himself with me helping as his sous chef. I had very limited duties. His meal of hot dogs with macaroni and cheese and peas doesn’t seem very impressive until you hear that the macaroni and cheese was made from scratch. It was very good (a little stringy, but tasty!). Next cooking lesson for him: béchamel sauce.
These days we have amazing technology at our fingertips! We can Google recipes on our phones, find the instructions for absolutely anything on Pinterest, and can have hundreds of cookbooks downloaded that fit in the space a single e-reader occupies. But, it’s not about the recipes. It’s about cooking and the connections it makes. And truly, nothing will ever replace the feeling of an actual cookbook in my hands with the cover sticky from food spilling, the pages wrinkled and creased from use and the spine having to be taped from being opened and closed over and over again.
Happy New Year! I’m Still Here!!
I hope that 2014 is off to a great start for you! I know it is for me. I’m still here! Still cooking and now, I’m grinding and mixing my own line of Changing Seasonings spices and spice blends. I apologize for the lack of posts over the past few months. I am eager to get writing again and sharing amazing recipes with you very soon. I have been busy getting a logo designed by a local artist, learning how to do website design, developing spice blend recipes and getting some product out in time for the holiday shopping season. It has been an absolute whirlwind, and I hope that you have hung in here with me.
So, since I am still learning WordPress and have much design work still to do, I am excited to say that there is now a link available to my online shop. If you look up at the top right side of the page, across from the Changing Seasonings page title, you will see the link to the Changing Seasonings Market page. From that page, you can click and will be redirected to the shop.
You can also follow Changing Seasonings on Facebook, where I often make quick, short recipe posts. There are also links to other food related pages and articles. www.facebook.com/changingseasonings
Watch for upcoming posts including: Caribbean Jerk Chicken Breasts, Savory French Toast, Cauliflower Potato Pancakes, Versatile Tomato Basil Sauce, Potato Soup and many more tasty dishes!
Now you are humming that song while you read this, or are so young that you are having to Google it!! I am so incredibly behind on my planting this year! I typically get my flowers and garden planted just after Mother’s Day. In the part of the universe I live in, that is when we can be fairly confident that it won’t frost or even snow anymore. But, here I am nearly a month late…the herbs that I had moved indoors for the winter were looking distressed and begging for fresh air and sunshine. So, I set out to the local greenhouses in search of a few more herbs and some vegetable plants, along with some hanging baskets to adorn my very un-springlike looking porch. What I find is very disheartening (as you can see from the photos!). Slim pickings and some real question about whether what’s left is even salvageable.
However, I am determined. The one positive is that the plants are cheap. The owner at one local greenhouse said he’d actually just give me the herbs I wanted, but his wife would kill him. I walked away with four slightly wilted but fairly large herb starts for a single dollar bill and a smile. Feeling confident that I have just enough of a green thumb to rescue these poor plants, I gathered my tools and got my container garden planted.
Container Garden Tips
Here’s a few tips for container gardens that should have you harvesting fresh herbs and veggies all summer:
- Use good dirt. Now, that doesn’t mean that you have to invest big dollars in the highest quality bag of soil you can find. In fact, I use the dirt left from the years before with a little extra added when needed. It does mean though that the soil should be free from weeds, sticks and whatever those maple tree seed pod whirly-gig things are actually called. I am also sure to clean out any bunches of dead roots that are left from the prior years plants.
- Feed the plants. I get an inexpensive slow release plant food and weed killer that you just sprinkle in the dirt. I dampen the soil and then use a hand shovel to mix in the food. I have also heard that a little bit a coffee grounds and crushed egg shells can give the soil the nutrients it needs.
- Don’t crowd the containers. You want to leave room for the roots to spread and the plant to grow, and you don’t want the plants competing for food, water and sun.
- Speaking of sun, be sure to note how much your plants can handle. Most herbs need or can handle partial to full sunlight. The pepper plants and tomato plants I get are also good with quite a bit of sun. My container garden is on the south side of my house and not shaded.
- The biggest key to growing a great container garden is watering. Be sure that you have a drainage system so the roots don’t rot. Holes in the container along with rocks under the soil work well. Most herbs need to be in damp soil at all times. Depending upon the weather, I typically water once to twice a day. I am certain to water early in the morning and in the evening to avoid the direct heat and sun of the day.
- Protect from bugs. There are a wide variety of six legged creatures that like to inhabit my garden and munch on my plants, so I get an organic spray that I put on once a week that keeps the bugs off but is safe for plants that will be consumed.
Drying Fresh Herbs:
Freezing Fresh Herbs:
I just want to say a ginormous Thank You! to everyone who takes the time to peruse my blog. Whether you land here on accident or by choice, I hope you find something of interest and are inspired to try something new by adding herbs and spices to your cooking.
I am excited that I have reached over 2,500 page views from people in 13+ countries. I am grateful for Facebook, Pinterest, Blog Spot and other search engines for getting my posts out to so many people. And, I am thankful to everyone who “pins” my recipes or shares them with others. Changing Seasonings was recently accepted to a food blog registry, Foodblogs.com, so welcome to any new readers! I have tried to make reading the posts as easy as possible for everyone by including the translator and food term dictionary widgets.
Don’t miss a single post by signing up to receive the next posts via your email or add Changing Seasonings as a favorite on Blog Spot or Foodblogs.com!
Lastly, please comment, comment, comment!! I want to know what works, what doesn’t, what ideas my recipes inspire for you, what questions you have. There is a comment space at the bottom of each blog, and I have the settings so that you don’t have to be a registered Google or Blog Spot follower to comment…anyone can make comments!
|Grown-up Mac N Cheese…Mmmm!|
I have bunches of recipes ready to write about. I just have to make the time to get them posted. Coming soon are my quick and simple marinara sauce, a tasty grown-up version of mac n cheese, a savory oatmeal, and mashed potato and cauliflower potato cakes. I’ve made myself hungry typing this…
Thanks again! I’m looking forward to reading your comments!!
It’s always been the general rule of thumb, at least with my family here in the mid-west, that nothing gets put in the ground until after Mother’s Day. Still some cool nights, but beautiful warm days and no worry about frosts. I would love to have a huge yard with space for an amazing garden. However, my house, a lovely old home that has been in my family since the early 1900’s, has the tiniest yard. Great if you don’t like to mow, but not so wonderful for gardening. So, I make do with a container garden. I have a tomato plant, some jalapeños and my herb garden, of course. The invention of the hanging garden bags has provided the option of a few more plants as well.
This weekend was an amazing weather weekend, perfect for yard work and planting! I went to a local market and greenhouse on Saturday to purchase hanging baskets, flowers to plant and the herb and vegetable starts. I have tried a couple of times to start my herbs from seed, but I wasn’t very successful. So, what herbs do I plant??
I plant all my favorites, especially those that I need for salsa and other summer grilling recipes. My herb garden this year includes: Rosemary, Cilantro, Chives, Mint, Thyme, Tarragon, Sage, Parsley and Basil. Given plenty of sun, moist soil and pruned occasionally (which is easy since I will cook with the fresh herbs on nearly a daily basis), the plants will provide herbs all summer. If you have a place inside your home that is conducive to good growing, you can move the herbs indoors when the weather gets cold. Herbs can also be frozen to be used in cooking whenever the recipe calls for fresh herbs.
I recently made quick and easy chicken and steak fajitas using the Cilantro I had leftover from making salsa, and didn’t get that posted (yet) but watch for more recipes using fresh herbs to come! Because of their wonderful fragrances, herbs can be used for other purposes too. A new favorite room freshener of mine combines a lemon cut in half, a few sprigs of fresh Rosemary and a couple tablespoons of vanilla. Place in a small saucepan half filled with water. Put on the stove and simmer to fill your home with a fresh scent. I actually put a small bowl in one of our vehicles overnight to help remove “wet dog” smell…it worked great!