Friday, October 30, 2009

The way to a man's heart: a crockpot, some foil and a few baked goods

Through the years, I have cooked some good chickens.  I have never cooked a good gravy….  and now I know why. 
Up until a few weeks ago I always cooked in nonstick pans…. Cleanup was a breeze! However, when a recipe would instruct me to ‘deglaze the pan and scrape brown bits from the bottom” I just threw the wine into the pot and let it do its thing.  Well, armed with some new cookware, I actually achieved these brown bits, did my scraping, and had a beautiful sauce with the rich flavor  of a mom-gravy.  It was a proud moment.
As the chicken and my pride and joy gravy simmered away in the crockpot, I prepped the remainder of the meal by throwing some sweet potato wedges in foil and baking up a few dozen cookies.

Our first guest arrived with Sweet Red.  No, that was not his date, but a bottle of wine.  Though the name put my nose in the air, brave drinkers took glass after glass and compared it to a light port.  In a show down between Sweet Red and Sterling Pinot Noir the Sweet Red was the clear winner among my football watching foodies. Without an appetizer on the menu, the boys hit the buffet early and I headed upstairs as not to infringe on the evening of male bonding.

About two hours later my Y chromosome-d guests offered a slew of compliments as they toted home ziplock bags of cookies and promised to return soon.  It seems Monday night offers a great evening for casual entertaining.  Not only does it break up the monotony of a new week, but people are not yet weekend starved and therefore make it home at a decent hour.  Though I didn’t partake in much of the socializing that evening, I had to call the night a success if only because one guest brought me flowers, and everyone liked the food.  Flowers and flattery…. I’m a sixteen year old at heart.

Cooking notes:

The chicken recipe proved to be a bit more labor intensive than what I expected from a crock pot recipe (throw things into a pot and put it on low.)  My lack of knife skills were the culprit when cutting the chicken into 8 pieces. Though the woman on made it look easy, I had more than a little trouble removing the back bone, and separating the thigh and leg pieces. Labor aside, I absolutely recommend this dish for casual entertaining or a family dinner.  The meat literally falls off of the bone and the fresh tarragon lends an unexpected flavor. … I would just ask the butcher to cut up the chicken for me.

Cookies seemed a meek dessert as compared to key lime pie or Mexican brownies, however there was something comforting about ending the meal with some homemade cookies and milk.  The next time you have friends over for a casual evening, I highly recommend it.  
The Party in Numbers:
Parties Completed: 8
Weeks Before Deadline: 44

Justified Purchases: none!  (I even recycled Friday night’s flowers)

Bottles of Wine consumed: 2ish

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