The Forest Paradise house we stayed in was tucked into the tall redwoods, had a cozy golden pine interior and tropical decor...which actually went well together. Every possible thing we could want was provided from a choice of kinds of bed pillows to dozens of movies on DVDs, a full kitchen, comfy furniture in three relaxation areas, lots of TVs and a wood stove, plus central heat so we didn't have to make a fire unless we wanted to. In better weather we would probably have spent a lot of time on the deck enjoying the redwood trees towering above us. As it was we enjoyed Food Network shows and watched Green Bay paste the Seahawks on Saturday. It's for rent if you ever get a hankering to do deluxe 'camping' just west of Occidental, CA. On Saturday during the day we drove over to Bodega Bay and watched the surfers and ran the dog on the beach a bit. It's a short drive (about 20 minutes) away from our rental. E-mail me for contact info. This is a photo I took when I first checked out this for renting when we decided to tent the house.
Dinner while out at Camp Meeker was at the Union Hotel in Occidental, a historic eatery going back to the late 1800's. We ate in the cozy pizza area, but had sophisticated, and non-pizza, dinners. Sweetie had delectable fried calamari (squid) and some sauteed mushrooms with herbs and I had a special of the day, chicken pot pie which had large tender chunks of chicken, lots of vegetables, a light, well seasoned cream sauce and a gorgeous cap of puff pastry, golden and flaky. We sat at a table with a red checked table cloth lit by a candle in a Chianti bottle, with liberal drips of wax down the side...like Lady and the Tramp..how romantic! Fortunately there wasn't a violinist or other music, just lots of families all around eating pizza and making family noises...nice. No photos because the camera was 'lost' in all of the moving of stuff. Sorry.
Our house has been tented, the little critter are apparently vanquished, and I've decided to re-organize my cupboards and pantry since they are almost empty.
Tonight I finally had some fun in the kitchen again. I made a variation of a recipe from the delightful Mediterranean Diet Cookbook by Nancy Harmon Jenkins.
It is a full flavored and easy chicken dish using one of winter's great ingredients, the orange. The recipe called for olives in addition to what is listed below, but I'm not a big olive fan. If you like olives, add 6 fat green Italian or Greek olives, pitted and coarsely chopped to the pepper mixture right before you put it into the casserole.
The amounts given are for what I cooked, which was mostly 1/2 the recipe except for the peppers (I didn't have 4) and the sauce. I'm glad I kept that to the full amount for the full recipe for the sauce because some cooked off and it is a delicious sauce.
This is the kind of dish that tastes good made a day or so in advance and reheated. I served it with brown rice and a combination of sugar snap and green beans steamed vegetables.
Pollo Al Chilindron ~ Spanish Chicken with Sweet Peppers
4 skinless chicken thighs
freshly ground pepper to taste
4 tablespoons olive oil or grapeseed oil
a red and a yellow sweet bell pepper (the recipe calls for twice this amount for 1/2)
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, sliced
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried, crumbled
1/2 cup amontillado sherry
1/2 cup water or chicken stock (I used water)
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice...only use fresh, not canned or frozen concentrate
(I also added 1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest)
Cut away any visible fat. You can also use boneless, or other chicken pieces...but chicken breast will likely be a bit dry. Sprinkle pieces liberally with pepper. In a large skillet over medium heat, fry the chicken pieces in 2 tablespoons of oil until they are golden brown on all sides, 5 - 7 minutes to a side.
Meanwhile slice the peppers lengthwise about 1/2 inch thick.
When the chicken is done, remove it from the skillet and set aside to drain. Discard the cooking fat and wipe out the pan. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan and gently saute' the onions and garlic over medium-low hear, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are very soft but not beginning to brown - about 10 - 15 minutes. Add the thyme and the pepper strips and continue cooking and stirring until the peppers are soft and limp, about 15 minutes. Mix in the olives at this point if using.
Put the chicken in an ovenproof casserole or dish. Pile the pepper and onion mixture over the chicken pieces to cover them thoroughly. Add the sherry, stock or water, orange juice and zest to the skillet, raise the heat to medium-high, and boil, scraping up any brown bits left in the bottom of the pan. Pour the liquid over the peppers.
Bake the chicken for about 30 minute (20 minutes for skinless, boneless breasts) or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and the sauce is sizzling. Makes 4 servings.