“What good shall I do this day?” ~ Benjamin Franklin
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We’ve had a quiet couple of weeks. The days after the holidays are some of my favorite of the year. There's nowhere to be and not much to do. Everyone's easing back into the swing of things. I slowly think about re-entering everyday Internet life
Mostly, we’ve played games, worked on puzzles, gone to the movies, and taken lots of walks. Meals have been simple, lots of roasted veggies, brisket, and pot roasts. One dishwasher load per day. I've been going home for lunch to make creamy scrambled eggs over big handfuls of chopped greens sautéed in clarified butter with onions and garlic. Oh my.
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Yesterday, during the long hours of a day with wonderfully nothing to do, I Facetimed with my son and his family. Sam was in the middle of a finger painting session. Watching him focus was fun to see, and he's as talented an artist as his mom. He told me that he'd painted me to be a Jedi warrior princess.
That seems like a pretty great start for 2020
Normally, I'm not one for making resolutions, but this year, an exception might be in order.
As we talked, and Sam painted, I also noticed a new sign hanging on the wall near their front door. Of course, curiosity got the better of me. They tell me the quote is taken from Benjamin Franklin’s daily schedule. A tedious schedule, yes, but a schedule with purpose. One bookended with two simple questions:
“What good shall I do this day?” and “What good have I done today?”
After we hung up, I ordered one for our place as well. I can't wait to fill in the blanks
Happy New Year, friends
Today, a few fun things from around the web ..
A Message of Peace – On Christmas Eve, we sang Silent Night in one of the most beautiful churches I've ever been to. The flame lighting our candles came all the way from the Grotto of the Nativity in Bethlehem. The story of the global network of volunteers distributing the “Peace Light from Bethlehem” is pretty incredible.
Have you registered for Tara Brach's Radical Compassion Challenge?
Florence Fang and her Flinstone House made me smile
Grateful to have found this recipe for Socca. A simple, crispy chickpea pancake that's super easy, fast, and gluten-free. You can top it with anything, and the ingredients are pantry staples. I make it on lowkey weeknights, for quick lunches, and everything in between.
All of the creatures in the Deep Sea are breathtaking and amazing
(Golden Pass Train Route Video Credit – YouTube – Arvind Bhatt)
For Train Enthusiasts – If you stopped by our place, more than likely, we'd have a YouTube video playing on our TV. Lately, we've been hooked on those of cab view train rides through some of the most scenic places in the world. Some of our favorites we've found by searching Youtube for “train cab videos Switzerland.”
Looking for some fun new reads? Take the 2020 Good Reads Challenge
Related: Charity Nebbe's Talk of Iowa Book Club – An On-Air book club focusing on stories and authors from Iowa. Each month she'll be interviewing the authors, taking calls, and questions from social media. Such a cool idea
Willie Nelson's guitar – Willie Nelson’s been playing the same guitar, Trigger (a Martin N-20 classical) for 50 years(!)
In December, my daughter came down with the flu. Most recently? My husband. The soup recipe I've committed to memory.
When I had insomnia last weekend, this tv show was everything I could've possibly wanted at 2 a.m.
As my grandkids have gotten bigger, I've been passing along recipes for homemade versions of some of their go-to convenience foods. Don't get me wrong; there's no shame in convenience food for the kids – Sam loves Annie's Mac n’ Cheese and all things Dr. Praegers and they do fish sticks and avocado in tortillas for a scrappy fish taco, and everyone is happy.
But, chicken nuggets! Everyone loves them
A few things make this recipe extra special?
Brining is a great way to keep chicken moist as it cooks, and the pickle flavor is unexpectedly delicious.
The cornflake crumb coating that made the nuggets extra crispy and irresistible.
The only trick for mastering them? Make sure your oil is hot enough, and let it come back up to temperature between each batch. You'll get a perfectly golden crunch without any soggy spots.
Most of all, be patient. Expect to have funny shapes and dirty hands, and I think your little ones will like these. Don't forget the ketchup and ranch.
~ Adapted from Hardcore Carnivore: Cook Meat Like You Mean It by Jess Pryles via Food52
Pickle-Brined Chicken Nuggets
- 1/2 cup dill pickle juice
- 1½ tsp natural sugar (such as Sugar in the Raw or Turbinado, optional)
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- ¾ cup flour (the original called for all-purpose, I used oat flour)
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper (optional, depending on your tolerance for heat)
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 ½ cups Cornflake crumbs (there are lots of great organic, non-GMO choices out there)
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 cups coconut oil, for frying + more, if needed
- Combine the pickle juice and sugar in a bowl, stirring until the sugar has dissolved
- Trim the chicken breasts and place them, one at a time, in a gallon-sized zip-top bag. Seal the bag, pressing out as much air as you're able
- Using the flat side of a meat mallet or rolling pin, pound the chicken to an even thickness. Repeat with the remaining breast
- Cut the chicken into shapes, place in a bowl, and cover with the brine.
- Chill in the fridge for 2-4 hours before removing the pieces and roughly drying them with paper towels
- Prepare your ‘crumbing’ station with three bowls. In the first bowl, put the flour, cayenne pepper (if using), garlic powder, pepper, and salt.
- In the second, the whisked eggs
- In the third, the paprika and Cornflake crumbs
- In a deep-sided skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat until it reaches 365º F
- While the oil is heating up, take the chicken pieces, a few at a time, and roll them first in the flour mix, then in the egg wash, and finally in the crumb mix
- Place them on a large plate or baking tray, repeating until they've all been coated
- Add the nuggets to the oil in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry for about 4 minutes on each side, before removing and placing on paper towels
- If needed, add more oil, allowing it to come back up to temp before starting another batch
- Let the nuggets cool slightly before serving