Sunday, May 31, 2015

Chicken and Zucchini in a Pan


I really like zucchini. I don't think I liked it all that much as a kid, but as an adult, it's awesome. For some reason, I was craving it lately, so when Greg and I were at Lucky's, I picked one up. (Incidentally, they were called "Italian squash" so Greg missed them when he looked. I have never heard zucchini referred to in this way, but it makes sense.) Being a little low on time, I did not do anything fancy with the zucchini. The whole dinner was really very simple and quick.

First, I poured some olive oil in my larger skillet. Over medium heat, I heated some fresh parsley with powdered onion and garlic salt. To this, I added chunks of raw chicken (chunks of meat cook so much faster than whole cuts). That's it! 

While it was cooking, I sliced the zucchini. Then, when the chicken was done, I put it into a bowl to make room for the zucchini in the pan. I drizzled more olive oil over the zucchini, then ground on some sea salt and black pepper. When it had cooked for a few minutes, I used a fork to flip the slices of zucchini over so both sides softened as they cooked, but not to the point of total mushiness. I like my zucchini like I like my pasta: al dente.

And that was dinner. Quick, super easy, and tasty. Hopefully next year I can grow my own zucchini in our future garden. I don't think the new neighbors will let us at their chickens, though.

For more involved zucchini recipes, click the zucchini tag below!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Ann Arbor's New Lucky's Market


Do you remember where the Kroger's was near the corner of S Industrial and Packard? I had no idea they'd left until a friend alerted me to Lucky's Market moving in. I worked in the grocery business for something like 8 years, and I don't recall ever hearing of them either, though it turns out they have stores in 11 states. (Lucky's was started in Boulder, CO in 2003.) Ann Arbor's was the first in Michigan. (Another will be opening in Traverse City, soon.)


Lucky's is a fun shopping experience that has become one of our favorites. On our first trip, Greg was overjoyed to find Zapp's Potato Chips, a product he missed from his college days in New Orleans. I was impressed with the large bins of bulk candy, though I refrained from indulging. I also like that in addition to labeling certain products as gluten-free as other stores do, Lucky's labels locally made products! From their website:
We seek the freshest local, organic, sustainable and traditionally crafted foods made with purpose and pride to sell in our stores. We also passionately support local farmers and organic foods with a garden to table belief that celebrates our neighbors in the community.
And there are plenty of local brands to choose from. I loved Ferndale-based Garden Fresh's garlic and chive hummus, especially wrapped in romaine lettuce leaves with a slice of turkey. I also love their tortilla chips and fresh salsa. This was the first I'd seen the garlic and chive hummus, and I haven't found it at other stores that carry the Garden Fresh brand, either. 


Another thing that impressed me about Lucky's is their bring-your-own-bag policy. Like many stores these days, if use your own bags, you can save a few dimes. Or you can accept tokens instead and place them into one of the donation slots on your way out. Donate your 10 cents reward and Lucky's will match that donation to the charity of your choice. There were 3 when we were there, and we put a token in each to be fair. I like it when a business - especially one not based in-town - makes the extra effort to not only make itself a part of its new community, but help that community. Girls on the Run is a wonderful program that I was glad to see receiving such support. 

Greg and I will definitely continue shopping at Lucky's. It's bigger than Aldi and Trader Joe's (and less crowded), but not as big - or as annoying to try to park at - as Whole Foods (nor as expensive). As the story says, it's just right. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Not Exactly Roasted Chicken with Chickpeas

So here is the recipe I was attempting to follow, Smoky Roasted Chicken Breasts with Tomatoes and Chickpeas from TasteFood.


I ran into a few problems with this one. Most notably, my pan was too small. And instead of being all juicy like you see in TasteFood's picture, my chickpeas hardened into a veritable chickpea brittle. Though delicious, not what I was going for. I don't think Greg was impressed with this dish, so I don't know if I will make again (though I'd like to try to figure out what went awry). 


The chickpea brittle, as I have decided to call it, was really quite tasty! I'd do that on purpose again, forget the chicken, if I could work it out. It made for a lovely snack. What happened was (I forgot to take pictures, so I can't show you) the chickpea and yogurt goo mixture became so dried out and thick that I could tear off pieces and munch on them like melon bread or something. The spice blend was tantalizing to the taste buds and the chickpeas were chewy in a fun and not at all disgusting kind of way. I really didn't need the chicken here, though that was to be the main attraction of the dish.

I'm not sure Greg is as into chickpeas as I am, so this idea of mine, chickpea brittle on purpose, may never actually come to fruition. Or I can wait until he is on a vacation without me and do whatever I want. If it happens, rest assured, I will record every detail here.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Slow Cooked Antelope Round Steak Tacos

Remember last week's Easy Antelope Chili? Well, this week's recipe comes directly from the website I mentioned last week, Nevada Foodies, and it is Slow Cooked Antelope, which Greg and I made into tacos. She is not kidding when she warns that round steak can be tough, so remember that if you decide to follow this recipe. Smaller sized pieces are the way to go here. Since the recipe is simple and linked above, I will talk about my impressions of the meat.

First off, wild game meat is always leaner than store-bought, farm-raised meat. I've never known a deer or antelope to be thick and juicy. I know a lot of people remedy this by cutting venison with beef when grinding it. But you can't do that with a steak. I am not much of a red meat eater, so the contrast was much more pronounced for me. Antelope does not taste like chicken. The taste, actually, is also quite distinct. 

Wild game in general has a very different taste from farm-raised. On a farm, the animal's diet is controlled and doesn't vary by much. This affects the taste of the meat, milk, cheese, and whatever other products are being created from this animal. (If you want to taste your leather jacket, that's up to you.) The activity level of the animal will also affect the meat. A cow chewing cud in a field is not moving around as much an antelope fleeing for its life from predators (hence leaner meat). 

I didn't notice much difference about the taste of the antelope in the chili (though I could tell it was leaner, which made me happy since I am used to turkey chili). The slow cooked meat was honestly a little hard for me to eat. (I let Greg take all the leftovers.) The only word I can think of to describe it is pungent. Adding sour cream seemed to mellow out the flavor some. (Actually, I think it was plain Greek yogurt, which is an excellent substitute for sour cream.) 

This didn't turn me off antelope, but it did make me look harder at how to prepare it. You know, should other loved ones suddenly find themselves with a plethora of frozen wild game in their freezer and in need of someone to pass it along to. (Michigan has plenty of deer, but we're thin in antelope.) 

I really like the idea of wild game. Hunting is nature's way of obtaining meat. Factory farms are really just evil torture factories that should be abolished. I am against hunting for sport because that is just a waste on every level. But I grew up in Michigan, and I have friends who rely on hunting and fishing to feed their families. Some also wild-harvest herbs, berries, and fruit from trees in public parks. (Beats stealing.)

Also, we have so many deer and we're continuously crowding them out of their natural habitats by building subdivisions willy-nilly. (I am also against subdivisions.) This forces deer into human populated areas, which makes them a threat to me by running into my car. Since humans have also pushed out most of the deer's other natural predators, that means we're now their best hope of thinning their numbers. Remember: overpopulation leads to higher competition for resources which leads to starvation. (This works for humans, too, by the way.) I don't plan on ever going hunting, but if a deer (or antelope) dies from a collision with my car, I do plan on making some calls and having that deer turned into dinner. 

Anyway. That was all the antelope. We also got venison, so look for that in the future. You can also check my wild game tag and find recipes for venison burgers and venison lasagna that I made a few years ago when a friend generously gifted me some ground venison.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Easy Antelope Chili (Yes, Antelope)


About a month or so ago, Greg's mom gave us a bunch of frozen wild game meat (antelope and venison). Where she got it from, we don't know, but it's ours now, and I like a culinary challenge! So I set out to learn how to cook it. There really isn't a lot out there on wild game, weirdly. Especially not antelope. Luckily, I did find Nevada Foodies. It's so well put together and the recipes are just fantastic. This recipe did not actually come from there, but it was really my launching point.

Greg and I didn't really follow any one recipe for this. I found this one at Cooks.com. We bought all of the ingredients from Meijer. When it came time to make it, though, Greg was home before me, so I decided to have him start it, but the link was on my computer. So I found another one on Food.com and texted him the link. What resulted was both delicious and a bit of a hodgepodge. Finding the tomato juice was a bit of a trial (the Belleville Meijer is a bit lacking on many fronts), so we ended up with far, far more than we needed. 

Anyway. Here is our own special Antelope Chili:

Ingredients
  • 1 to 2 lbs ground antelope (there was no actual measurement, just a package of ground meat)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes, not drained
  • Roughly 20 fluid ounces of tomato juice, more or less to your taste
  • 3 cans of dark red kidney beans
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • dashes of salt
  • dashes of Trader Joe's South African Smoke grinder
Instructions

  • In a large pot, cook the antelope, chopped onions, and minced garlic until the meat is browned. 
  • Add the can of diced tomatoes, tomato juice and spices. Stir and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about an hour. 
  • Add the 3 cans of beans and continue to simmer and stir until desired thickness is achieved. 
Obviously, you can substitute ground beef for antelope. Or ground venison. Maybe even ground elk (I have no experience with elk). I can't say how tempeh would work, but I imagine ground turkey would be ok. At any rate! There you have it. Our simple and quick chili.