Maybe it’s that we’re finally getting into a rhythm two months into the school year. (Has it only been 2 months?) A “Limp-a-long Cassidy” kind of rhythm but a rhythm nonetheless. Maybe it’s that the days are shorter. The kids are in bed earlier. The house is quieter. The rainy season has begun. I don’t know. But on the sporadic occasion that the afternoon sun bursts through our windows and lays down a warm path of light across our floor, I look for him.
A month into our marriage, we were still in the stage where we were more than happy to appease each other’s little obsessions. Such as me pretending to be a runner and him pretending to love furry little animals. So, somehow knowing that this stage wouldn’t last forever, I dragged my new beau across town and pulled down off the curtains a little bundle of fur which we would bring home and have with us for the next 18 years. (As for the running, I dropped it shortly after and that was that.) Wanting to encourage any possible bonding between man and beast, I encouraged my sweetie to name our bundle of joy. He pronounced him, “Bruce.” And Bruce, it was. Others came after him. Another cat. An 80-pound dog. But at the 18-year mark, Bruce was the only one still around.
He had this way of silently being everywhere. As if he could materialize out of thin air. One would sit down and out of nowhere he was curled up on your lap or trying his darndest to curl up on your chest and snuggle his head in the crook of your neck which could sometimes be a little awkward for guests. You wouldn’t see him for hours and then, “boom” there he was waiting to curl up under the covers for a good night’s sleep. Or eerily you would notice that one minute no one’s there and the next minute there he was sitting ramrod tall right next to your keyboard as you typed away. Every now and then, stepping on the keyboard just to make sure you noticed him. And the lawn….oh, the lawn. It had never looked better since he moonlighted as a mole catcher. And catch moles he did. Always leaving his handiwork for us to admire on the front porch.
I tend to put out of my mind the fact that he could actually “fling poo.” That he found it necessary to cough up a hairball, “Puss N’ Boots” style wherever we might least suspect it but were sure to step in it. That he was known to howl like a coyote, over and over, for hours, especially middle of the night hours, when he didn’t get his way. (Although, that howl saved his life when, in his old age, he lost his way home.) That he would run from one end of the house to the other like a cat gone mad during a full moon. And that he had a peculiar tick of sucking his paw that could be thought of as tender and sweet or as just plain weird depending on one’s mood.
A couple of nights ago, as I prepared our family dinner of herbed chicken simmered in wine and served along roasted potatoes, I looked for him. I expected him to be silently standing nearby, regally sniffing the air around him like some upper crust feline and secretly hoping that one little morsel of that chicken might fall to the floor. And it’s true, he may have silently left his spot by my side and gone directly to the front door where he purposely coughed up a hairball “just because” but that doesn’t matter. I miss that furry feline. His presence.
And don’t you think it’s true that whether it’s a person or a hairball coughing cat, when they are gone, we don’t think of the good or the bad but simply their presence? And I definitely miss the presence of that howling, paw sucking, poo flinging, furry feline.
Bruce went to the Happy Hunting Grounds in April where I’m sure he is happily keeping the lush grounds mole free. It’s strange though how I miss him most now. Now that the house is quieter.
A Quick Question for You Before the Recipe:
My kind and generous mother has been tirelessly preparing our Thanksgiving turkey, gravy and stuffing almost every year since, well, since I was born which is to say….a long, long time. Whether the crowd was 5 of us or 20 of us, she would selflessly prepare the dinner’s main attraction and for that, I and many others are so grateful. Well, now that she has two daughters of “a certain age” (little brother gets a free pass this year since he has a newborn on his hands), the time for the passing of the torch has come. And the torch has landed squarely in my lap. (Funny how the eldest child has to do everything!) (Ahh….just kiddin’ sister.) So, I have been researching turkey preparations and I’m intrigued by the brining method. What do you think? Do you brine? What do you like in your brine? Or is it a lot of extra mess? If you don’t brine, do you have a special rub you like? If you don’t mind sharing your thoughts with me, I would be grateful. Trying to follow in the footsteps of my grandmother and mother….well, let’s just say…”Pressure’s on!”
Oregano Chicken Simmered in White Wine
Inspired by Lemon and Rosemary Chicken, Saveur
Now, that the holidays are looking us square in the face, I’m assuming most of us have thought of the main meal….the Grandaddy meal….but what about the other nights? Are your guests only there for the Thanksgiving extravaganza or will they need to be fed other evenings as well? Well, this is a dish I love to serve to guests. (Although, be forewarned, if you drink the wine that you’ll be cooking with while cooking, it can lead to lots of animated chatting and loud laughing which will ensure that the dinner won’t actually hit the table until 8pm or later.) This isn’t a dish you prepare in advance or leave in a crock pot all day, but it is one that has only a few ingredients, minimal prep and sits in the oven for 45 minutes while you
drink wine and chat clean up the kitchen and prepare the side dishes. I use a variety of chicken pieces…always with the bone-in and skin-on. This makes for a much moister meat and it’s easier on the pocket-book. You can always take off the skin once it’s done cooking if you’d prefer not to eat it. If you don’t have fresh oregano handy, you could always use rosemary or thyme. And as a testimonial to this dish, the last time I made it my 5-year old said to me, “Mawm, you prob’ly won’t be too surprised when I say this to you, but that dinner was so delicious.”
|Oregano Chicken – A Simple Dish with a Regal Air||
- A medley of skin-on, bone-in chicken pieces about 3½ to 4 pounds
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ¾ cup flour
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup dry white wine (I usually use a Pinot Gris.)
- 4 -6 sprigs of fresh oregano leaves (stems removed and discarded)
- 3 bay leaves
- juice of ½ lemon
- 1½ cups water
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
- Generously sprinkle your chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Put your flour on a plate and dredge your chicken pieces through it, coating them evenly and shaking off the excess.
- Heat a heavy-bottomed pot, one that can move from stove to oven, on your stove over medium heat. Pour in your olive oil to heat. Add your chicken pieces, skin side down. Cook for 5 minutes, flip your pieces over and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Slowly and carefully pour in your white wine. Add in your lemon juice, oregano and bay leaves. Allow wine to reduce for about 2 minutes.
- Pour in 1½ cups of water, put the lid on your pot and put the whole concoction in the oven for about 45 minutes.
- If you are using breasts, check them at 35 minutes. They may be done since they cook more quickly than the dark meat pieces. If so, remove them, and continue cooking the remaining pieces.
- (At this point, I usually cut up some potatoes – fingerling, red potatoes, etc – toss them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and sometimes some rosemary, lay them on a roasting sheet, and put them in the oven along with the chicken when there is about 25-30 left of cooking time.)
- When the timer goes off, take the lid off your pot and allow the skin to crisp for another 5 minutes.
- Put your chicken on a platter. Remove and discard the bay leaves from the pot. Pop a ladle next to the pot and have people spoon this heavenly “au jus” over their chicken and potatoes.
- If you don’t want to monkey around with preparing the potatoes, you could also serve this with rice which would also soak up all of the delicious “au jus” beautifully. However you decide to go…enjoy!
All original text and photographs copyright: Carrie Minns 2009-2012