Sunday, July 29, 2007

Welcome back to me!

Sorry to just abandon you out there. I have been out of town at a leadership conference held by my district. It was a great three days of focusing on our mission, networking with colleagues, and getting energized for the joys and challenges of the coming school year. We stayed at the beautiful Westward Look Resort in Tucson, Arizona. On our first night there (wish I'd taken the camera) we walked one of the nature trails where we encountered lots of local flora and fauna--including a big, gold and black tarantula who had been sunning himself on the rocks lining the path. Gorgeous. We also enjoyed a stroll through Chef Jamie's garden, and the air everywhere was redolent with herbs that were planted throughout the resort. It wasn't unusual to see one of the chefs out gathering sage for their herbal iced tea, or choosing tender buds of other herbs for various dishes. The hummingbird garden is not to be missed, as it is a prime opportunity to see the tiny dervishes everywhere--even stopping for a cool bath in the fountains.

Our meetings were held at the Omni Tucson National Resort just a few miles away. Sadly, the Omni is currently under construction for renovation, which is why we did not stay there this year. It promises, however, to be even better by the time they're finished.

Both venues served us lots of great food. By the time we had our final lunch, I could barely eat anything else. Usually, when I'm away, I miss my own cooking--but not this time!

I did cook before I left, but there just wasn't time to post. There are a couple of recipes I want to share, though. The first is Sticky Chicken, which I originally got off the CLBB and have made repeatedly since then. The beautiful thing about this is that a whole chicken is rubbed with savory spices, then tossed in the crockpot in the morning. By evening, there is a beautifully roasted, golden bird that falls off the bone...just ready to eat. This recipe can also be made in the oven, but that isn't nearly as convenient. In either case, periodically basting the bird with the cooking juices creates the "sticky" skin that is reminiscent of rotisserie chickens. Unfortunately, I have no pictures to show you. For some reason, they came out blurry.

Although not exciting, I can show you a picture of the Barefoot Contessa's Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes. These were excellent served alongside the chicken with some steamed broccoli to round out the meal. I used a ricer to mash the potatoes and it worked just fine, so don't worry if you don't have a food mill. These had a delicious, slighty tangy flavor. Certainly, they're a great choice for the timeis you want mashed potatoes, but perhaps won't be serving a gravy.

I'm not completely sure just yet what this week will bring in the cooking realm. I just haven't pulled it together enough to make a comprehensive shopping list and a real meal plan--that's never good! I'm just going to grill some burgers this afternoon and serve them on the leftover Moomie's Buns that are stashed in the freezer, and I think I'll roast some potato wedges to go with them. I have chicken thawing now to go into a sweet and tangy (supposedly) marinade for tomorrow night's dinner, and I'm also tossing around the possibility of another kebab dinner that has a surprising, new to me ingredient threaded onto the skewers with the meat and vegetables. That's assuming, of course, that I don't invoke the 12-hour rule! Check back in to see what happens.

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