8 Things We Need to Spring Clean

by Anne Maxfield on March 13, 2017

Accidental Locavore Spring Clean DaffodillsIt occurs to the Accidental Locavore that there are several trends, food and otherwise, we need to spring clean out of our lives—you’ve got a week.

They are not bringing joy.

  1. Red Wine Hot Chocolate: with or without marshmallows. No matter whether you made the marshmallows or got them out of a bag, it’s still a dumb idea. Start working on the next dumb idea.
  2. Oh, wait, it’s here: Red Wine Coffee. Obviously not a good vintage, and you couldn’t get Trader Joe’s to buy it or you wouldn’t be trying to dump it in coffee. Need I say more?Accidental Locavore Hygge Rif Spring Clean
  3. Hygge: There’s a reason we don’t live in Scandinavia, it’s cold and dark (and did I mention it’s dark?). Hygge, IMHO was created as an excuse to hide under a blanket (as if it wasn’t dark enough) and drink…coffee. Pronounced hue-guh or hoo-gah, if you really care (or need to be that trendy).
  4. Time spent on Facebook. Let’s face it, it’s depressing. And do we really need to sign another online petition for something we’re outraged about? Let’s put our money and power together and get it together for 2018, without getting lost in the daily mishegas.
  5. Kale: One of the big reasons I didn’t join PFP’s winter CSA was that the marketing material trumpeted “17 different kinds of kale”! Just kill me now…Cookbooks to spring clean
  6. Cookbooks: Honestly now, how many cookbooks do you have that you’ve never used one recipe from? And, when you’re looking for a new recipe for short ribs, you might look through one or two favorites, but really, you just look it up on the Internet. Maybe we should take a trick from closet organizers and turn them all backwards on the shelves (and/or floor) and the ones that we use, turn back around. At the end of the year (see, I’m giving the ones you only pull out on the holidays a chance), donate the rest.
  7. The depths of the refrigerator: Food waste is a huge issue, and the fridge is one of the biggest culprits. Let’s think of some creative uses for things like half empty bottles of BBQ sauce (at least combine them—who is going to know, especially if you put it all in the popular bottle). Or make it a point to try to use something once a week. The reward? Plenty of room to store and admire all the great produce that’s coming!
  8. Spring clean ___________. What would you add to the list?

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Crunchy Caramel Granola

by Anne Maxfield on March 9, 2017

Accidental Locavore Caramel GranolaOne of the Accidental Locavore’s big issues with granola is that it’s very hard to find any without nuts.

I started making my own because it’s easy and you control exactly what goes into it.

Everything you like – nothing you don’t.

This has some riffs from the original recipe, and they’re both good, depending on your mood. You may have to do some online shopping and find space in your fridge for your purchases, but it will be worth it.

Makes about 3 cups:

Crunchy Caramel Granola

  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup corn flakes
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut, or coconut chips
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons Cara-Sel caramel sauce
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted European-style butter
  • Dried fruit, such as apricots, raisins, cranberries, cherries and additional coconut

Preheat the oven to 300°.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, coconut, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and pine nuts.

In a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, melt the butter with the caramel and maple syrup. Pour the mixture over the oat mix and toss well to combine.

Spread evenly on the baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 30 minutes. Stir every 10 minutes to keep it browning evenly.

Remove from the oven and let cool. Add your choice of dried fruit, chopped, and coconut to taste and mix well.

Store in an airtight canister or a Ziploc bag. Serve straight-up or over your favorite yogurt and enjoy!

 

Accidental Locavore Cara-Sel Caramel for GranolaMy verdict:  This new version with the caramel sauce is really good! If you remember Cracker Jack, it’s like a breakfast version of that!

I’ve been adding a cup of corn flakes since I saw it in someone else’s granola recipe. It adds a different sort of crunch. If you don’t want the corn flakes, just use 3 cups of oats instead.

My choice of maple syrup for this (and everything with maple syrup) is Crown Maple’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup. It’s dark and flavorful with a nice smoky hint from the bourbon barrels.

Interestingly, the quality of the butter really makes a difference! It went from being really good to great when I switched to Plugra butter.

What do you like in your granola?

 

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FOOJ: or Fear of Opening Jars

by Anne Maxfield on March 6, 2017

Accidental Locavore JarsDo you suffer from FOOJ?

It’s fear of opening jars.

Why would anyone be afraid to open a jar?

It’s not fear of actually opening the jar, it’s what you do with it after it’s open.

“Refrigerate after opening”.

That’s where the fear comes in.

For every open jar will need to find a home in that black hole that is my refrigerator.

The Accidental Locavore was just given this great selection of condiments and sauces from Delicious & Sons to taste and write about.

They all look great and I can’t wait to try them!

But…

If I open them just to taste them, all the jars have to be refrigerated.

So, I’m trying to work them into some meal planning where I can open a jar, taste it and use it.

That way, you’ll have an excuse (i.e. a recipe) to buy some for yourself and I’ll have no jars to park in the refrigerator.

Sounds like a plan.

Accidental Locavore Cara-Sel JarsThe same day, I also met Kristin, who runs Cara-Sel where she makes small-batch caramel sauce and she gave me a jar to try.

Also, refrigerate after opening.

However, (and don’t be jealous Delicious & Sons—I’m getting to you!) I was about to make a batch of granola, and I was feeling adventurous.

What if I swapped out some of the Cara-Sel for say, maple syrup?

Would I blow a batch of granola or come up with something really good?

Well, you’ll just have to wait until Thursday to find out.

Let me just say, that it was totally worth risking FOOJ.

The caramel sauce is delicious.

And obviously would be terrific on ice cream if it wasn’t 12° the morning I tried it (and there was no ice cream in the freezer).

The brownies that Kristin made with a caramel swirl were incredible and made it hard—impossible really to stick to my self-imposed sugar abstention.

So, I guess I’m back to smoking on the weekends

Check out Thursday’s blog and I’ll give you the recipe and comments on the revised granola recipe.

If you’ve never made granola yourself, you should try it. Super easy.

If you suffer from FOOJ, let me know how you overcame it!

And, no, the top photo is not from my kitchen.

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Chicken Thighs With the Crispiest Skin Ever!

by Anne Maxfield on March 2, 2017

I know that saying this recipe gives you the crispiest chicken skin ever is going to be controversial.

Wait until you try it!

The Accidental Locavore cooked this recipe for Golden Chicken Thighs with Charred-Lemon Salsa Verde from Food and Wine last week for dinner. Feeds 6-8.

You need a little time for it to marinate, so plan ahead.

Chicken Thighs With the Crispiest Skin Ever!

Chicken:

  • 12 chicken thighs (bone-in, skin-on)
  • 24 sage leaves
  • 16 garlic cloves—6 cut into 4 slices each, the rest gently smashed and peeled
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 slices
  • Strips of zest from 2 lemons
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped oregano
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • 12 fresh bay leaves (optional) 

Salsa Verde: 

  • 1 lemon, cut into 1/2-inch slices and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped oregano
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 anchovy fillet
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped drained capers
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Run your fingers under the skin of each chicken thigh to create a pocket. Stuff each pocket with 2 sage leaves, 2 slices of garlic and 1 slice of butter. Transfer the stuffed thighs to a large bowl.

In a small bowl, stir the lemon zest strips with the smashed garlic, olive oil, chopped herbs and crushed red pepper. Pour the mixture over the thighs and gently toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 450°. On a small baking sheet or oven proof dish, toss the lemon slices with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Spread the lemon slices in an even layer and bake for 16 to 18 minutes, until charred on the bottom. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool for 5 minutes. Chop the slices into 1/4“ pieces and set aside.

Leave the oven on.

In a mortar, or mini-chopper, mash the oregano and mint with the chopped garlic, anchovy, capers and 1 teaspoon of salt until a smooth paste forms. Slowly drizzle in the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil. Stir in the chopped lemon a little at a time, to taste.

Heat a large ovenproof skillet, big enough to put the chicken in a single layer (or do it in batches) over medium heat. Season the thighs evenly with salt; remove the lemon zest and smashed garlic from the marinade and set aside. Arrange the chicken thighs skin-side down in the skillet. Cover it with another large pan or pot weighted down with a few heavy cans. Cook over moderate heat until the skin is golden brown and crisp, about 15 minutes.

Remove the weight and turn the chicken. Scatter the chicken with the reserved lemon zest, garlic and the bay leaves, if using. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through. Discard the bay leaves. Transfer the chicken to a platter, serve with the salsa verde and enjoy!

 

My verdict: As I said in the intro, we were shocked by how crispy the chicken skin was! I’m definitely going to try this the next time I make a roast chicken.

I used half the chicken (6 thighs), half the sage, garlic, butter and lemon zest but made the whole recipe for the marinade and salsa. Rosemary would work well under the chicken skin too.

I left out the parsley and the bay leaves and don’t think either of them was missed (not sure what would happen with dried bay leaves).  I also left out the thyme because I forgot to buy it – that would have been a nice addition. And I zested the lemon on my microplane rather than zesting it into strips.

In three months, all of these herbs will be growing in my garden, so this will definitely get made again (maybe on the grill).

Because the chicken was so good on its own, the salsa verde was a nice but unnecessary addition and might actually be better on some lamb or fish. I’d slice the lemons thinner next time and if I was doing it on the grill would definitely grill them.

 

 

 

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