Daily Archives: April 4, 2012

It’s official.

My plants have lost their minds.

In this part of the world, azaleas are supposed to bloom in the middle of May. (And a street lined with big azalea bushes covered with flowers in fluourescent shades of pink is a sight you don’t want to miss!)

Today is April 4, and my azalea buds have started to open. (Actually, they started opening on Sunday, but I figured posting this on April Fools’ Day would confuse people.)

And then there are irises. They should bloom after the azaleas, around the end of May.

They shouldn’t develop flower buds like this for weeks and weeks yet.

Why yes, it has been a mild winter around here.


186 cookbooks – really, I didn’t intend to do this!

But here I am, reviewing another of my trusty Bay Books cookbooks again, right after posting a review of The Complete Stir-Fry. This time, it’s The Complete Chicken. (Not that complete, technically. There are a few chicken liver dishes, but I don’t think there are any recipes for those unpleasant chewy internal odds and ends like gizzards. I told you these are good cookbooks.)

Now, yesterday’s “chicken with asparagus” post is really about a meal we had last week – I just didn’t get around to writing it up until yesterday. And later yesterday, I had to decide what we were going to have for dinner. I had two fixed points to work from – some thawed boneless chicken breast in the fridge, and an itch for cranberry pecan orange muffins. So however I cooked the chicken, it would have to taste good with the muffins.

That eliminated old standbys like chicken parmigiana or all the various kinds of chicken mole or African peanut chicken (aka groundnut chicken, from some sources; whatever you call it, it’s good, fast, easy…a classic). Well, this is why I have a collection of cookbooks – to figure out what to do when I’m out of ideas.

And plain broiled chicken breast is so drab. Maybe a marinade? Aha! The Complete Chicken had several interesting ideas on that subject, but I only had the ingredients for one of them – honey/soy/five-spice. It took maybe five minutes to mix up the marinade, five seconds to put the chicken in it, and then there was nothing more to do (well, I turned the chicken over once) until shortly before dinner. Fifteen minutes in the oven with the muffins, and done.

And boy, was it good. Sweet/salty/anisey/peppery…mmmmm.

Bay Books, I don’t know who comes up with your recipes, but you should give them a raise. The Complete Chicken has recipes for whole chickens and chicken breasts and chicken legs and chicken wings and ground chicken and precooked chicken to make roasts and pies and curries and stir-fries and sandwiches and casseroles and soups….if you can do it to a chicken, you’ll probably find a good recipe for it in this book.