Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hello countertops!

Goodbye microwave...

In the interest of forcing myself to plan meals better and reduce the use of the nuke box, I have relegated it to the top pantry shelf in the garage.  Yes, it is still useable in case I need to defrost something, but I'd like to phase it out.  It mostly serves as a dumping ground for recipes, magazines and sundry anyway.  And the countertops are usually piled up to the cupboards anyway.  Hey, I'm really serious, this is a very Messy Kitchen most of the time.  I'm honest enough to admit that the kitchen reflects scenes like this...

Much more often than this...

So today, out went the microwave.  It used to take up the space where the utensil crock is sitting right now.  And I have limited counter space as it is.  I even managed to get up some really bad rust stains.  Didn't have a bleach pen so I had to use baking soda, lemon juice, a toothbrush and elbow grease.  Worked great though, not a trace of rust left and there were three large rings to the right of the outlet.  Bonus - no harsh chemicals.  Now if I can just find something to get the charcoal off the burners...  I hate to use something like oven cleaner.  The girls are super sensitive to chemicals.  They get hives if I don't pre-wash new clothes, if I use dryer sheets, most bubble baths, most shampoos and conditioners, the list goes on.  I actually have seen improvements by changing the way I wash dishes so that there are two rinse cycles to make sure there is no soap residue on the dishes.  Sometimes I wonder whether all the conveniences we have nowadays are half the problem.  More than sometimes.  So maybe the fact that I clean less than often is a good thing?  Less chemicals floating around...  Yeah, I guess that's just an excuse.  I do try though.  I love my new steam mop.  Don't have to worry about floor cleaner, just water.

I really must start planning ahead and writing up menus.  All of R's food allergy problems started manifesting after her sister was born and I stopped cooking from scratch as much.  Our processed food intake skyrocketed and that's when all the problems started.  So I want to get back to real food.  The more I read labels, (and I always have but the allergies crystallized it all for me), the more I get perturbed about all the unnecessary additives and crap in anything with more than five ingredients.  The only reason for all that crap is to preserve the food industry's bottom line.  Spoiled food doesn't sell, obviously.  Back when people bought everything locally from the market, you knew exactly where it came from, how it was produced and how old it was.  In today's urbanized society, mass quantities of food simply won't keep long enough to be distributed that way.  Enter chemical preservatives and stabilizers.  It's no wonder corn allergies are becoming more and more prevalent, there is corn in practically 95% of packaged foods out there - it's an overexposure thing.  Take a look sometime.  Corn syrup, corn starch, high fructose corn syrup, food starch, modified food starch, dextrose, maltodextrin, corn syrup solids and a myriad of other hidden sources of corn.  Now I love corn on the cob, but I don't need it anywhere else.  We haven't tried a food challenge involving unprocessed corn, wonder how that would go...  High fructose corn syrup results in an obvious reaction within 10-20 minutes.  Just like cane sugar my a$$.  (Exit soap box, yet again.)

Now I did find a tasty recipe for the ever present chicken option last night.  Caramelized onion and garlic chicken.  Yum.  I love carmelized onions.  And butter.  But I've already done that soapbox.  Enough blustering for today.

Next time I will probably brown them even more before baking.  Still excellent though, very moist and flavorful.  You can adjust the sugar to your taste, I don't prefer it too sweet.  The onions are sweet enough by themselves, especialy when caramelized.  You can vary the size of the onions depending on how much chicken you want.  The butter as well.  I used small onions to make three chicken breasts.

Caramelized Onion and Garlic Chicken

1 tablespoon garlic olive oil (or plain)
2-3 tbsp butter
2 large onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tbsp light brown muscovado sugar (or brown sugar)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
4 chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the onion, cook until soft.  Add garlic and cook, stirring until lightly browned.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in sugar and vinegar and cook for a few more minutes to thicken.  Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 400º F. Oil or spray a baking dish.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and spread onion mixture over the top of the chicken.  Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until done.  Cover loosely with foil if the onions are getting too dark towards the end of the cooking time.  Let rest for a few minutes before serving.

You know, I bet this would be fabulous with some crispy bacon bits on it too...  Hmmm...

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