Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day Humor

In keeping with Mother’s Day yesterday, my two youngest sons were around for dinner.  And a nice dinner it was.  But with dinner came an unexpected surprise. 

Surviving sons, L-R and youngest to oldest: Sam, Patrick, Seth
There’s a span of 17 years between my youngest and oldest sons.  The two younger sons are closer together than the middle and older.  The middle child, Patrick, is only six years older than his younger brother, Sam—older enough to have persuaded Sam to do things he shouldn’t have and also older enough to have persuaded his mother that he had nothing to do with it. 

This evening over dinner, I heard about yet another incident involving the creek that runs behind the house.  The story goes that when the water in the creek was high and swift, the boys would ride the rapid toward the concrete culvert, which passed under the roads (and all the way to the American River a few miles away) until they thought they might get sucked in.  And when that was not enough, Patrick would dare Sam to jump the span from one slippery side to the other in return for five dollars.  That would, of course, be five dollars he never actually received—as big brothers are wont not to pay up.

I fail to comprehend how these boys survived to become the kind, gentle, funny, bright men they are today.  Miraculously, they were not impaled on rusty bicycle spokes poking out of the mud or drowned after being sucked under and into the culvert only to be spewed out at the river and never seen again.  They didn’t break their ankles while making the leap from bank to slippery bank.  They didn’t develop any dreaded disease from ingesting malevolent bacteria found in the water.  They were never treated for lockjaw from having been scratched by a rusty discarded supermarket cart. 

And best of all, they didn’t lose their sense of humor over the retelling of these hair-raising tales within earshot of their mother.  They experience a perverse pleasure in watching me gape slack-jawed in horror at their descriptions, racking my brain in search of clues I must have missed.  Alas, there were none.  In fact, even if I had sensed something amiss, Patrick was so skillful at covering his tracks that I never would have given it a second thought—the evidence notwithstanding.

Such is the life of tolerant mothers with adult children who possess an infinite capacity for memories.  Fortunately for them, this mother is both loving and, at least in part, responsible for that sense of humor they haven’t lost.      

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Grapefruit Chicken

Velouté of potiron (pumpkin) with foie gras garnish.*

Just yesterday I posted a new picture of my cheese soufflé — probably the last one of the season.  Since the days are getting much warmer, I don’t use the oven as much.  I often, however, feed what seem like hoards--friendly hoards, I'm glad to say.  And since we’re not red meat eaters, I make a lot of chicken, turkey and fish using a dizzying array of recipes—most involving wine, freshly-ground black pepper and olive oil (sometimes butter).  I found this particular recipe some time ago and copied it into my leather-bound recipe journal.  I’d like to give credit to the person who published it, but I haven’t a clue where it came from.  I freely admit that I didn’t invent it.I can't imagine what took me so long to try it.  It’s hands down the best chicken breast recipe I’ve made in a long time.  And it’s easy, of course.  What chicken breast recipe isn’t, frankly? 

Here are the ingredients and the recipe for two (a quantity I rarely use.  I double only some of the ingredients for additional people--not quite double the butter, for example.):

2 chicken breasts
2 T olive oil
¼ c. dry vermouth (or white wine)
Fresh ground pepper (of course)
1 pink grapefruit—rind cut off and sections removed
Fresh parsley, chopped
2 T butter
One small onion, sliced thinly
One garlic clove, scored

In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil.  Brown the chicken breasts on both sides.  Add onions and garlic and cook until soft and browned.  Add vermouth and pepper.  Turn heat to low and cover the pan.  Cook until chicken is cooked through—about 20 minutes.  Remove chicken to serving dish.  Reduce liquid by about half.  Set aside four slices of grapefruit.  Add butter, remaining grapefruit sections and juice to the pan.  Cook for five to 10 minutes on medium-low heat.  Plate or serve chicken with juice and two grapefruit sections atop each chicken breast.  Sprinkle with ground pepper and chopped parsley. 

I cooked this in an enameled cast iron pot on medium-low heat (I love that pot!) and served it with risotto and salad.  Son Patrick, his girlfriend and my husband raved.  And both Patrick and his girlfriend asked for the recipe.  That’s high praise.  

*Since I couldn't find a photo of a grapefruit in my folder and don't have one to photograph, I've added one of the Christmas dinner courses from Frejus, France.