Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Chicken, Coleslaw, and a Clean Refrigerator!

We got back home yesterday after a long weekend at the motorcycle races at Laguna Seca in Monterey. Let me tell you, track food is not like home cooking. We are volunteers and the lunches are prepared for a couple of hundred workers, so it is usually barbecued chicken and pulled pork or ribs, some kind of steamed vegetables and various salads. The potato and macaroni salads are pre-made, and I can hardly bring myself to eat any of it. There was a pretty good fruit salad with mango and strawberries mixed in that I did eat a lot of. We are usually on our own for dinner, so sometimes we get reheated the lunch food. We got breakfast burritos in the morning from a vendor, and occasionally we buy vendor food for dinner. Someone brought over some orange chicken and rice, and while it looked kind of appealing, the chicken was dry and crunchy. It probably had been prepared in the morning and was warming in a steam pan all day long. One night one of the guys made barbecued tri-tip and pork carnitas with a homemade tomatillo salsa, so that was a nice treat. On Sunday night, Lee took me to Monterey for dinner at our favorite place on Alvarado Street, Rosine's. They have great fresh salads that taste like they just came in from the fields, huge hot turkey or roast beef or Rueben sandwiches and really good Italian dishes.

I tried to use up most of what was in the frig last week and even took a "vacation break" from our weekly SLO Veg delivery, but there were still things in the frig this week. Hmmmm, I needed to investigate. I ended up pulling everything out, washing all the bins and wiping down the inside of the refrigerator and washing my rubber mats that I line my vegetable bins with. In the process I found a few science projects in full bloom, if you know what I mean. How long had that blueberry jam been in the back of the frig for, anyways? I got it at the Avila Valley Barn farm stand back in ... January? I didn't even keep the jar on that one. Out went some avocado dressing that I had forgotten about, along with some super-duper hot salsa someone had given Lee months ago. I know, bad huh? At least I know the vegetables are fresh...well, sort of. Which week did we get that fennel, anyways? and the cabbage, and the beets?

After checking everything for mildew, I determined the beets were fine, and so was the cabbage and fennel. I just had to peel off the outer leaves..more stuff for the compost pile. I decided to make that roasted beet salad that I love so much, so I washed them and trimmed the ends and popped them into the oven in a foil packet on a baking sheet to roast while I continued cleaning out the frig. I ended up taking everything out, shelf by shelf, and washing all the shelves and bins in hot, soapy water. It was kind of nice to not have a completely full refrigerator for a change, so I didn't have so much to pull out. I also had four ears of corn, so I started thinking of my dinner menu and decided corn on the cob and coleslaw would make nice accompaniments for fried chicken. I knew I had some chicken in the freezer, so I pulled out a package of legs and thighs that I had frozen a couple of weeks ago in meal-sized packages.

Once I had the entire refrigerator cleaned out and reorganized, I turned to my chicken and coleslaw. First I took the beets I had been roasting out of the oven and let them cool off in the foil packet. I would put them into the frig to chill before peeling and then finish that salad a little later. I had been defrosting the chicken in the microwave, so it was ready for rinsing and frying. I rinsed it in cold water, patted it dry, and then rolled it in a pie plate with some flour and cornmeal seasoned with all-purpose seasoning (salt, pepper, sugar, turmeric, paprika, garlic and onion powder, cornstarch) that I have on hand.
I heated up some coconut oil and olive oil and proceeded to brown the chicken on all sides. Then I moved the pieces to that same baking sheet that I had used to roast my beets on and put the chicken into the oven to finish baking for about 30 minutes longer.

I have decided I like a vinegar and oil dressing on my coleslaw these days, rather than a mayonnaise-type dressing that I had grown up on. I sliced up the some green and red cabbage along with half a red onion and the fennel bulb. I had to peel off the outer layers of fennel, but there was plenty left to give my coleslaw a nice tang. I rinsed it all in my salad spinner and spun it dry. Then I mixed up a dressing of olive oil, rice wine vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. I tasted it and decided to add a little more sugar and some of the "Everyday" seasoning blend we get at Trader Joe's. It has sea salt, mustard seeds, black peppercorns, coriander seeds, paprika, onion, garlic and chili flakes and comes in a grinder. Lee really likes a few grinds on top of his green salads that he packs every day for work. I am packing my food up for lunch at work tonight, and the guys can reheat the chicken tonight when they dish up their dinner plates. I am going to have to buy some salad at the grocery store today to get us through this week, because my SLO Veg box won't be here for a couple of days. Sigh. We sure miss our fresh vegies.

I still have another small head of purple cabbage left. I think I have some brats in the freezer too...another dinner this week: Beer brats and sauteed cabbage!



1 head green cabbage
1 head purple cabbage
1/2 red onion
1/2 fennel bulb

1/2 C olive or avocado oil
1/4 rice wine vinegar
salt and pepper, a few shakes
1 Tbs sugar
3-4 grinds of TJ's Everyday seasoning

Shred the cabbage, onion and fennel and mix together in a large bowl. Blend the dressing ingredients in a small jar and pour onto the vegetables. Stir until all the cabbage is coated, then put into the frig to marinate for at least an hour before serving.

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