Accidental Chicken Madeira

I am really scatterbrained sometimes. I wanted to make something new with pasta and chicken, when I realized I had never tried to make chicken Marsala. I scrounged up a recipe, made my grocery list and went to the store, only to return with Madeira wine instead of the requisite Marsala. Of course, I didn’t discover that until I was about to pour it into my cup measure. I’m used to major miscalculations threatening my cooking, so I forged bravely ahead, altering the recipe with wild abandon. It turned out pretty great!

**Note: You can (probably) sub Marsala wine for the Madeira. But I wouldn’t know.**

1/4 c flour
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 T olive oil
1 lb mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3/4 c Madeira wine
3/4 c chicken broth
1/4 c heavy cream (optional)

**Note: If you want more sauce, just increase the liquids – but keep them at 1:1.**

Combine first four ingredients in a medium Ziploc bag. Put chicken in bag, seal and shake well until coated. Remove chicken from bag, shaking off extra flour.

Heat oil to medium high in a large, deep skillet. Add chicken to skillet, turning frequently, and do not reduce heat. When chicken is very lightly browned on all sides – about 3-4 minutes – add mushrooms and garlic to skillet. Keep the heat up and stir the mixture until the mushrooms have just started to brown (another 2-3 minutes), then add the wine and chicken broth.

Stirring occasionally, bring the liquid to a rapid boil. Keep on a high boil for a good 5-8 minutes. This allows the alcohol to cook off, so that the sauce doesn’t taste boozy. The sauce should thicken slightly from the dredging on the chicken, but you can add a slurry if you want it thicker. Cover the skillet with a vented lid, turn heat to medium low and allow to cook for another 5-10 minutes. If you’re using cream, add it right after taking the sauce off the heat and stir it in throughly. Serve over pasta.

I’ve got some gall…

…but it’s really the stones in my gallbladder that have been making themselves known lately. I’d love to post my ultrasound pictures from the examination today (starting with an episode last night, an overnight stay in the hospital down the street from us, and heckuva lot of waiting around there between bloodwork and EKG and ultrasound results), but the hospital is still processing my paperwork (I can go pick up my discharge papers in about an hour).

So that’s what’s been keeping me up at night a few times per year for the last few years! It’s nice to know what was causing that; I just wish the timing for surgery options could be better, given work stress and upcoming travel.

So, my fellow consumers of the German state-sponsored health-care program, my questions to you are:

– Have you undergone any surgical procedures here in Germany? Got horror stories? Success stories? Artifacts*?
– What about copays — especially for those of you on a state-run plan like mine?
– How did your overal surgery experience compare with a similar one in other countries?

The mixed blessing here of course is that it’s not a surgery that has to happen this week, but if I am going to do this laparoscopically (if that’s even an option), I’ve got to shake a leg before we head off to Mexico and the U.S. at the end of the next month. If not, and this turns into a standard “open” Cholecystectomy, then I’ve got to hold out until the end of December at least, because I just can’t do a 6-8 week recovery period before then.

resistance is futile

I’ve caved in to social pressures and have started reading Harry Potter und der Stein der Weisen. The “social pressures” mostly consisted of Sarah getting irritated with my questions about plot points in the movies over the years.

Tammy has graciously lent us the first two books in German. Sarah started the first one back on our cruise and quickly picked up speed. I’m tearing through Stein der Weisen. It helps that she’s looked up all the words I don’t know (which are surprisingly few, I’m happy to report). If I didn’t have to go to work tomorrow, I’d probably finish the book.

*hack* *cough* *hock* *clang*

Oh man, I think my cold just took a turn for the worse — and just when I was starting to feel better, too!

I guess I’d rather be doing crunches…

…but all this coughing, and especially the doubling up while doing it laying down, must surely be strengthening my abs.

This is a naked mole rat.  I like to think I have better personal grooming habits, though I admire his boldness in wardrobe.I’ve been sick since Monday. Today was the first day since Tuesday that I’ve felt well enough to spend time not at work OUTSIDE the bed. What? Let’s try that again. I’ve been so sick that since Tuesday, if I wasn’t at work, you’d find me in bed (often working from there). There’s been too much potentially important stuff going on at work, what with the buy-out and re-org and such, that I have tried not to miss anything at all. But three weeks ago my boss, the Great Communicator of the department I work in, has already left the company, leaving me feeling a lot like this paragraph’s mascot. If he had pain sensations in his skin, I mean. OK, I just really wanted to use a naked mole rat in a post. Chalk it up to the chemical imbalance.

Any-hack-hack-hack-hock-ptoo, I seem to be feeling a little bit better every day since about Thursday, after getting a daily dose of ACC® akut Hustenlöser 600*. You can see how it works to clear the tangled web of my bronchial pathways if you click this link.

But why is this happening now? One reason might be because it’s freakin’ cold out there lately. Today’s high, even with full sunlight, is 41° F and tomorrow’s is 39° F. Yikes! The brand of apple juice we buy contains acerola concentrate in it as well, so I’ve been drinking liters of that stuff, heated up in a giant cappucino mug with a couple cinnamon sticks in it. I hope this is over with quickly.

Applesauce Cake

I have a copy of the Fannie Farmer cookbook, which I loathe. I’ve never found anything worth making in it, until now. I was craving a cake and I wanted this dumb book to pay for itself, so I resolved to try something out of the cakes section. That’s where the real magic has been hiding all along! This would go beautifully with a burnt sugar or cream cheese frosting.

276 g (2 c) flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
113 g (1/4 lb) butter, softened
315 g (1 1/2 c) sugar
300 g (1 c) applesauce
2 eggs
1/2 c raisins
1/2 c chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F. Sift together first 6 ingredients in a large bowl and set aside. Cream butter, adding sugar gradually until well mixed. Add applesauce and blend. Mix in eggs, one at a time until well blended. Add dry ingredients gradually, until just mixed, then gently stir in raisins and nuts. Pour batter into greased and floured 9×13 or two 8-in. rounds. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Verkaufsoffener Sonntag

This has been an aethetically pleasing day in most ways.

* I got some really good work done.
* Sarah cooked like a fiend (and I helped a lot, but she was definitely running the kitchen):
– Burritos
– refried beans
– home-made salsa
– applesauce cake
* The weather was that perfect balance between hooded-sweatshirt and tee-shirt weather.
* Other than late Friday night*, it’s been nice and quite around here.

One bummer: the downtown area was just *crawling* with Regensburgers (and visitors to the city) out for a stroll on this, one of the few Sundays per year on which some stores were open for business.

I snapped these pictures:

dig the hat will they come rescue us? inside Diba casting a shadow... bong

and finally my own glorious mango salad

OK, I admit it, it wasn’t as earth-shattering as the two times I’ve had this dish at Christina’s. I’m sure part of that is that I had to substitute almonds for peanuts (whoops). And we’re not mango experts by any means, so there might have been some more whoops happening there, too.

But it was still awesome. We started off gathering the ingredients (this was just a half-batch based on Christina’s original recipe). the castThe three chilis provided plenty of heat. Our mortar’s quite a bit smaller than Christina’s but it worked for our half-batch. I think I’d either have to prepare two half-batches or get a bigger mortar to make a full-size batch. Garlic, Chilis, Mortar the finished productionI am itching to share this recipe with other appreciators of the hot-sweet-sour-garlic flavor nexus — perhaps in December in a more mango-friendly environment, where we can also rock out with our bad Guacamole-making selves (thanks for the recipe, Mom and Rick).

Butter Beans in Tomato-Dill Sauce

When we were on the cruise, one of our big excursions in Greece included lunch at a hotel with a big spread of traditional Greek dishes. One thing I went nuts over was this bean dish. I poked around fo recipes until I found one that looked similar.

1 lb dried giant butter beans
2 T olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finey chopped
26 oz tomato puree (I just used regular canned tomato sauce)
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 T sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 1/4 c fresh dill, chopped

Pick over and rinse the beans well. Soak them in at least 6 cups of water and some salt (I used 2 tsp) overnight. After soaking, rinse the beans well and put them back in the pot with more water and salt (again, 2 tsp). Bring beans to a boil and simmer for 2 hours on low heat, stirring occasionally and adding more water if necessary.

When the beans have about 30 minutes left, start on the sauce. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the chopped garlic and, stirring frequently to keep from burning, cook for a few minutes (until softened and a little transparent). Add the tomato sauce, lemon juice, sugar, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Simmer sauce for 15 minutes. Add dill, stir well and simmer 5 minutes more.

Drain beans well and put them back into the pot in which you cooked them. Pour sauce into beans and stir well, then pour mixture into a deep casserole dish. Bake at 375°F (190°C) for one hour, uncovered.
recipe_title: Butter Beans in Tomato-Dill Sauce
recipe_descr: When we were on the cruise, one of our big excursions in Greece included lunch at a hotel with a big spread of traditional Greek dishes. One thing I went nuts over was this bean dish. I poked around fo recipes until I found one that looked similar.

the new glasses

As promised in a previous post, here are the new glasses!

Do you think they make me look grumpy?

Do you think they make me look haughty?

Do you think think they make me look freaky?

Do you think they make me look like I’m having a pleasant dream?

Oh, and check out this rockin’ mullet in an advertisement for window installers or something!