It’s been nearly three weeks since I last blogged. Hi!!
We made it through our cross-country drive, survived Vegas (which, though fun, felt like something that needed to be survived), and made it to California, where we are now (mostly) moved in to our new apartment.
I think there are things we do to make a place feel like home. Our first night here, at the point when I was close to collapse, I hung a shower liner, inflated our air mattress, put sheets on it, and took a shower.
One of the first things I unpacked was our coffee maker because after three weeks of going out for breakfast or running to Starbucks for coffee, the thing I wanted to do most was to shuffle into my kitchen and make coffee without having to put a bra on and leave the house.
And from there, it continues. You find a grocery store. You find what view out the window gives you the most joy. You make a meal in your own kitchen. You hang things on the wall. You set up your desk.
When I look out my windows, for the first time in my life, I see mountains and palm trees. It’s breezy here a lot of the time, and I can see the fronds at the top of the palm trees shaking in the wind, and the way it looks reminds me of a composer conducting music, violently, from his podium.
This area is known for its agriculture, particularly the strawberries. I feel like we can’t drive anywhere without passing strawberry field after strawberry field. (Which ROCKS for me – local, in-season strawberries, fresh-picked the day you buy them. Jam, anyone? Shortcake, anyone? STRAWBERRY LEMONADE, ANYONE?)
California is new and different and beautiful. But it’s not home yet. It is, but it isn’t. That takes time, and it takes work. But we help it along the best we can. How? By cooking.
We made our favorite, Moroccan Chicken, earlier this week. And currently, we have Cilantro-Lime Chicken cooking away in the crock pot.
We discovered one of our local farmers markets last week, where we cleaned up on a big load of produce for under $20. One of our purchases was two big bunches of cilantro, which we’ve used on the Moroccan Chicken, in guacamole, and now with the chicken.
Cilantro-Lime Chicken couldn’t be easier to cook, and it can be used for a variety of dishes. Tonight, we’ll shred some of the chicken and make chicken tacos. Tomorrow night, we’ll use some more (probably the rest) in chicken tortilla soup. We’ve used it on nachos, quesadillas, and even chicken salad.
The other great thing about this recipe is that it can be tweaked. Prefer Lemon-Rosemary? Sub in lemon for lime and rosemary for cilantro. I think you could use any herb and likely any citrus, though I’ve not tried them, so I can’t guarantee how they’d taste. But what I can say with certainty is that Cilantro-Lime Chicken is easy, tasty, juicy, and very multi-purpose.
It makes the apartment smell fantastic. Like food. Like home.
Wording adapted from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook (“Mexican-Style Lime and Cilantro Whole Chicken”)
Serves 4-6 people
One 3- to 4-pound broiler/fryer (whole chicken)
3/4 to 1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1 small or 1/2 large lime (if your limes are skimpy, go ahead and add more juice)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro sprigs
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1. Wash and dry the chicken thoroughly. Reserve giblets and neck for another use. Cut off any lumps of fat. Season the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper. Place in the cooker, breast side up. Squeeze the juice of the lime over the chicken and put the rind, cilantro sprigs, and garlic into the cavity. Cover and cook on LOW until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 180 degrees, about 6-7 hours (I’d check it at 5 hours).
2. Transfer chicken to a platter. Pour the liquid from the cooker into a separate container and refrigerate; then skim off the fat after it congeals. Or pour the cooking juices into a gravy separator and then into a container and refrigerate if not using. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and cut or shred the meat from the carcass. Refrigerate meat if not using immediately.