I have decided that I did a poor job introducing myself in the beginning of my blog, save for my name and a few things that I love (food and science, mostly). So here are five fast-facts about me. Some are long, some are short, all were the first things that popped into my head.
1) I have recently un-vegetarian-ized myself after about a five year spell of no meat eating. Why did I join back into the meaty chorus? Food tastes better than supplements I was feeling the pressure to take, the organic option is just around the corner, and I felt like I was missing out on a big part of the culinary experience. I mean, I am 18 years old and can make moist muffins, flaky pastry, flavorful tofu, and roasted root veggies, but merely weeks ago did I figure out the secret to moist chicken and am still working on my ability to cook red meat to that juicy-tender hot spot. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do, so here we go.
2) As a continuation of the first point, through my vegetarian spell, I kept seafood in my diet. I mean, I live on the west coast. I simply cannot imagine passing up the local spot prawn festival, turning a blind eye to Fanny Bay smoked oysters, and pretending that cedar plank salmon with whisky maple sauce just doesn’t exist. I am very forlorn when Sebastien, who works on his dad’s commercial fishing vessel as a deckhand, leaves for those long stretches throughout the summer, but by keeping the boat in a steady supply of cookies (as in ten dozen batches at a time) I figure I can guarantee myself several long, languishing meals of endless prawns, crab, and sport fish. So delicious, and we can even call it healthy.
3) I work at an organic farm and garden five days a week, and basically explore various levels of dead rats on the other two. Why dead rats? I am super lucky and grateful (thanks Ellie!) to work in a super shiny and neat lab on the UVic campus. I volunteer there helping with things like decapitations, profusions (taking all the blood out then taking the brain), and brain slicing. This may sound gross to most, but I love this kind of stuff. Seeing what the different layers of the brain look like is so surreal, and being able to watch a heart beat in your hand, its makes you realize how completely incredible bodies are. You might be thinking, wait, don’t you have pet rats? This is true, and some people may find that a little creepy. But to be honest, it isn’t that freaky for me. I respect both my rats and the lab rats, and I understand that the lab rats were bred for a very important and specific purpose. It also helps that they look very different from each other; mine are a variety called “Cuddly Rat” whereas the lab rats are those standard and typical albino kinds. Either way, they are very smart and curious little animals that are great pets and also great to work with.
4) I recently had a heart surgery to correct an arrhythmia that I was born with. It probably the single strangest experience of my life that I was fully awake for. Isn’t that totally bizarre? It was really interesting being able to just watch the dynamic of an operating room though (for example: did you know they play music in there?) especially thinking that maybe I could be on the other side of this operation some day…
5) I love mustard so much. It is the ultimate condiment, adding its vinegar loveliness to all it touches. I currently have five varieties in my fridge, and am always hunting for more.
Well, for the last one, I guess I was thinking about yesterday’s dinner. It’s true that I’m a sucker for mustard, but what about honey mustard? Possibly the best thing ever. So here’s the recipe, along with some delicious chicken to dunk it in, and quinoa to compliment it, all placed on a nice bed of spinach fresh from the garden! This is really a recipe for Sebastien, as it combines two of his favorite flavors: herbes de provence (typical frenchie) and honey mustard. The trick to the delicious chicken is in the cooking; all the seasoning in the world won’t make up for a dry chicken breast. Quality chicken is also important- I get my free range hormone and antibiotic free chicken from Cowichan Bay Farms.
Herbes de Provence Chicken
The ultimate juicy chicken!
4 chicken breasts
½ c olive oil
Herbes de Provence seasoning mix (contains thyme, basil, oregano, rosemary, marjoram, savory and lavender)
Generous few pinches of salt
1-Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2-Trim and remove the skin of your chicken (this is a vaguely healthy dish, after all).
3-Use some of your olive oil to brush onto your chicken. Sprinkle your Herbes de Provence on a plate and add a pinch of salt. Rub the chicken breast into the herbes and salt so it is well (VERY well) coated.
4-Put a pan on medium high and cover the bottom with a half inch layer of oil. I know you are thinking “that is way too much oil, this dish is going to be greasy”. I promise though, your will take out the chicken and most of the oil will still be in the pan, having done its job of crusting the outside of the chicken very nicely and sealing all that juicy goodness in. So, when the oil is nice and hot put in the chicken, one piece at a time so you can pay attention to it well. Turn up the heat, and don’t let the chicken sit there very long. Shake the pan and flip when nicely browned and crisp. Repeat with the other pieces of chicken and line on a baking tray.
5-Place the chicken in the oven and set the time. I say, about 20 minutes. This is not a very easy thing to be specific with though; it really depends on the thickness of the chicken breasts. Mine were not too large, but there was one piece much thicker then the others. So, I started out by setting the time to 10 minutes, then gauging from there. To test, you can use a sharp knife to poke and peer into the thickest part, checking for doneness. They should be white all the way through with no pink left. Take them out as soon as you think they are done, so they aren’t overcooked, which is very easy to do. You won’t have to watch over them like a hawk, but keep it in your mind- it’s the perfect time to prepare the other parts of the meal, so you’ll be in the kitchen anyways.
This grain has been a big hit lately, and its easy to understand why. A complete protein with a nutty complex flavour, it is as delicious now as it was in South America 600 years ago.
1 ½ c water
½ tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp butter
1- Rinsing the quinoa is very important, otherwise you might get an unpleasant bitter taste from this grain. I don’t have a fine enough strainer to rinse the quinoa, so I used one of those Ziploc bags for veggies with the small holes in it. It works very well! Rinse it three times with this method.
2- Add the quinoa, water, pepper, and butter to a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes. Fluff with a fork when liquid is absorbed.
1 Tbsp yellow mustard
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp honey
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp (or more!) curry powder
1-Mix it all together in one bowl!