I've been lost in a whirlwind of creative production for the last several weeks. The bug started with my vanilla making and continued with finally unpacking and organizing my gemstones and jewelry making supplies. Except for the amethyst necklace I made for a sister's birthday this past May, I haven't made jewelry in more than a year. November, however, has seen me focused on designing and crafting new jewelry pieces for the annual craft fair at work. This year it coincides with our company library's annual book sale so we should have good foot traffic.
Like most creative people, I go through cycles of high productivity to the point of obsession inevitably followed by burnout and a need to either retreat into myself or pick a different mode of self expression in order to recharge. 2013 has been a balancing act of choices and I choose to focus on settling into my new life, adjusting to living with others again, some experimenting with video and selective cooking and writing here as time, energy and finances have allowed.
But now the countdown has begun. I have two weeks left to make new pieces, tag them and pack them for a short 3 hour event at work on December 6th. I admit, I'm loving this deadline looming over me because it has forced me to focus and given me the opportunity to get lost in a hobby that allows me to drift and mediate while creating something beautiful, tangible and finished at the end of each crafting session. Plus, I get to Netflix binge.
Seriously. I've caught up on The Killing, watched all of PBS' Prime Suspect and caught the awesome first season of BBC's Ripper Street starring the sexy voiced Matthew Macfadyen not to mention several documentaries that I've been meaning to watch.
This flurry of jewelry making has kept me out of the kitchen and off of the computer. But I'm OK with that … for now. Balancing my creative endeavors has never been easy for me as I've always had to take into account the need to keep my energy up for my day job which in turn allows me to pay bills and feed my artistic outlets.
Some day, perhaps I'll even be able to earn enough from just my arts and crafts and not worry about a regular 9 to 5. The dream of most artists, I think.
Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic
I first made this dish back in January of 2012 for my sister and brother-in-law. I was in Arizona for just over a week to help my sister while she was recovering from surgery. I read and experimented with several recipes before settling on this variation that was inspired by Ina Garten's version.
1 (3 ½ -pound) whole chicken, cut into eighths (or 8 pre-cut pieces of chicken, bone-in, skin on)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
40 cloves of garlic, peeled (save yourself time: bags of peeled garlic are vailable in most produce aisles usually displayed near bagged veggies and salads)
1 ½ cups white wine (I use Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc)
3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves (pull stem between nails of thumb and index finger to remove leaves)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons heavy cream (don't have heavy cream? Add one teaspoon melted butter to 2 tablespoons of whole or 2% milk and mix well.)
Use paper towels to pat dry the chicken then season generously with salt and pepper on both sides.
Melt the butter with the oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chicken skin side down in batches careful not to crowd the pan. Brown the chicken for about 5 minutes. Carefully flip chicken over (don't use a fork, you don't want to pierce the chicken) and cook for another five minutes. Remove the browned chicken to another pot or bowl with a tight fitting lid and proceed with the next batch, repeating the steps until all chicken is browned.
Once all chicken is cooked and removed from the cooking pot, add all of the garlic to the pot lowering the heat, sauteing for 5 to 10 minutes until the garlic is golden. Stir the garlic often as it will burn easily if not attended to properly.
Add the wine, turn up the heat and bring to a boil while using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to scrape up any brown bits stuck to the pan (these brown bits add a rich flavor!). Return the chicken to the pot with the juices that have collected in the bottom of the reserve pot. Distribute the thyme leaves evenly over the chicken. Cover and simmer over the lowest heat for 20 minutes.
While chicken is simmering, wash and dry the reserve pot. After the 20 minutes of simmering is up, remove all the white meat from the sauce pan and place in the reserve pot. Cover tightly. Continue cooking the dark meat for an additional 10 minutes. When dark meat is done, remove it to the reserve pot as well.
Whisk together ½ cup of the sauce with the flour in a small bowl until all lumps are gone. Then whisk it back into the sauce in the pot to thicken the sauce. Raise heat and add the brown sugar and cream, whisking until combined well. Taste the sauce and adjust salt and pepper, to taste. Pour sauce over the chicken in the reserve pot.
Serving suggestions: Serve with Roasted Thyme Potatoes and a side of steamed green veggies. Spread the garlic onto warmed slices of crusty bread. Pairs well with Pinot Grigio.
Until next time, my friends …