Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Where Have I Gone?

Nowhere. I'm still here, and I still cook. Lately, however, I've been too exhausted to actually photograph what I've cooked.

Let me 'splain.

For reasons that I can no longer recall (probably because of the aforementioned exhaustion), I decided it would be a good idea--no, a great idea--to run a half marathon. Of course! Because since high school, the only running I've done has been out of patience, out of time, out of money, and out of energy. And of course picking up one foot and then the other didn't play much of a role in any of that. So why on earth would I not run a half marathon? I can see no way in which this carefully constructed plan could possibly fail.

I picked the Seattle half marathon, which is held the Sunday after Thanksgiving each year. The choice was based more on convenience than on any characteristic of the race, or out of consideration for how spectacular the weather will be (because if there is anything the weather in Seattle will be on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, it is not spectacular). I started training. By about last Sunday (six weeks out from the race), I realized I was hopelessly undertrained. I had only been training for five weeks prior to that. So I reconsidered. I had seen an ad in a running magazine for a half marathon at Walt Disney World in the spring, A quick internet search revealed the Disney Princess Half Marathon on March 7th.

I posted a Facebook status asking if anyone wanted to do it with me. One friend, a dedicated half marathoner, said she would. And so, dear reader, I am comitted to training between now and March 7th for a half marathon. This means I get up at 4:30 a.m. many mornings (I sleep in until 5 on the weekends) and run on a treadmill in my basement. As a result, I am exhausted. I manage to get through work and evenings with my kids, but I spiral down quickly from the time I turn out their lights. I am a lot of fun to be around.

As a second circumstance in all of this--and another major contributor to my lack of posts--is that I am doing more of my own recipe development. I still read all the wonderful food magazines I get, but I'm spending a lot of time using those as inspiration, rather than as instructions. It takes a lot longer, I'm discovering, to perfect something you dreamed up, instead of making something from a recipe that someone else has spent hours conceiving and perfecting. And it goes without saying (although here I am saying it anyway) that it takes even longer still when you have a full time job in an industry unrelated to food, four kids, a husband, and a house (no dog--come on, I'm not crazy, you know). I have a couple of things in the works, but to tide you over until then, here's the Chicken Pot Pie I made for dinner last night (and was too dead tired to photograph). Because I make this for my kids an average of twice a month, I've got the recipe down.

Chicken Pot Pie
makes enough for two adults and four hyper-picky kids with leftovers for the adults' lunches. It would probably serve 4-6 normal people, depending on how ravenous they were.

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream, ½ and ½, or milk
About 1 c frozen peas (no need to thaw)
About 1 c frozen pearl onions (no need to thaw)
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into ¼” dice
Salt and pepper

Poach chicken breasts until cooked through and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, shred meat and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350. In a large saucepan melt butter over medium heat, and add flour. Whisk over medium heat, about three minutes. Add chicken broth and whisk until slightly thickened. Add cream (heavy cream tastes best, of course, but if you can’t bear the thought of the fat, use half and half or milk; it will still be good, just not as rich). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add shredded chicken and vegetables. Continue cooking until thickened, about 10 minutes (the ice on the frozen vegetables will thin the sauce down, but it doesn’t take long to thicken back up). Taste and correct seasoning. Pour chicken mixture into a 2 quart casserole coated with cooking spray. Top with biscuits. Bake about 15 minutes, or until biscuits are golden.


2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold butter, cut in small pieces
1 cup buttermilk

In a food processor, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Pulse two or three times to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal (maybe 12 or 14 times). With the motor running, pour the buttermilk into the feed tube slowly, watching the consistency of the dough. Once it pulls together, stop pouring and turn off the machine. Check dough by giving it a pinch—if it sticks together, it has enough liquid in it. Odds are you will not need all of the buttermilk.

Turn dough out on a floured surface and pat out to about ¾” thick. Using a biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out as many biscuits as you can. (I have used cat shaped cutters, hearts, stars and plain circles—be warned, the more complex the shape, the less likely it is to “work” as a biscuit. Kids think the shapes are cute, though.) You’ll probably have about 16 biscuits. Place these on top of the pot pie filling and bake as directed above.

Quantity Note: you can make more of this casserole, and cook it in a 9”x13” pan. To do so, you’ll need an extra tablespoon each of butter and flour, an extra cup of broth, and about an additional half cup of cream or milk. You’ll also want to up your vegetables and poach another chicken breast. I don’t make it in that big a pan because my kids eat like anorexic sparrows doing a Ghandi imitation, and I used to wind up with three tons of leftovers. While I like this chicken pot pie, I prefer not to eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a whole week. I'm just fickle that way.


Ivy said...

A half marathon? You must be nuts! I was "running" all through the spring and summer, but now it's cold and rainy, and we need that extra layer of fat to survive! We need chicken pot pie, not exercise. Thanks for the recipe and, all kidding aside, good for you. Those of us who have given up on our fitness plans just feel guilty. And hungry.

TD said...

I AM nuts! There's no other explanation. However, I have a treadmill, so I can run even when it's dumping rain and horribly cold. And I'll keep making chicken pot pie! :)