The last few weeks have gone by in a blur of events: family business (Sad — a death and illness and accident to several family members; Happy — twin granddaughters visiting, my birthday and an anniversary, too). Now the last of Raymond Siu’s lilikoi cheesecake (for my birthday) is lurking in the fridge (I don’t want to give it up!).
So the other day, back when my house didn’t look like a day care center and my every action wasn’t keyed to whether the babies are up or down, my husband comes home from a Costco run and says to me, “I bought a chicken.”
I’m thinking raw chicken, because that’s the way my mind works. I think “ingredients” not “takeout” I’m thinking, he’s never done that before. I’m thinking, it’s 4 o’clock what am I supposed to do with a chicken? But I’m busy on deadline and I’ll deal with it after. A while later, I get up with visions of maybe shoyu chicken, canna-mushroom braised chicken, perhaps roast chicken (the rosemary on our porch is going off) and I see before me…a rotisserie chicken, golden-skinned and thoroughly cooked.
I still don’t know what I’m going to do and then, of course, I fall back on my usual. I call it “blond dinner”: rotisserie chicken, frozen corn braised in butter (unless I can get fresh) and steamed white rice. We love it. Makes you feel all warm and cozy.
Fast foward: Next night. Leftover chicken. Lots going on. I don’t feel like cooking. (Wanda doesn’t feel like cooking???? You know there’s lots going on if that’s the case). I’m scrounging around the kitchen. I could make a cream sauce and put the leftover chicken bits in it. Yawn. Too much work. Too much fat. A salad. Okay, that’ll work. I’ve got lettuce, tomatoes, some really great cukes from Ho Farms that husband picked up when he was out Kahuku way.
But I’m competitive. I don’t want to just make a plain chicken salad. I want something to make it go pop. My eyes fall on the heel end of a loaf of sourdough. Okay, this is what I love more than anything except holding the babies: taking some odd bit of food that would otherwise go to waste and making something out of it. I go to work. Slice bread, chop into perfect little squares. (I’m having fun now.) Line a baking pan with Release. Put a big old hunk of butter on it. Put it in the oven at 450 until it melts. Bring it out. Toss the perfect little squares in the butter with a good shaking of Kaiulani Spices Hawaiian Herb Garden seasoning. It’s my new favorite thing. You could use any spice mix: Herbes de Provence, Italian seasoning, a handful of fresh-minced herbs from your own garden. Pop ’em back in the oven until they’re quite crisp and golden.
Salad: base of lettuce, layer of chopped chicken, layer of tomatoes, cukes, whatever else I find in the crisper, generous scattering of fresh croutons.
Husband says (with no prompting from expectant me): “Hmmmm. The croutons really make it.”