Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A discussion about my Facebook News Feed, and a homage to home

For those of you who have been paying really close attention, you know that I grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  It's now deer hunting season there, and my Facebook news feed is strewn with pictures of dead deer in the back of pick up trucks.


I've never been a hunter.  Not something my family does.  I'm ok with that.  I don't like venison, and I don't like shooting deer, and I don't like sitting in cold huts in the trees for hours and hours. However, deer hunting is such a big deal to other people in that area that we got a week off of school for Thanksgiving. Not because we were super thankful, but because it was the heart of deer season... and if school was open no one would have shown up.

I'm not particularly interested in 3000 pictures of dead animals on my Facebook news feed.  But such is the burden of growing up where I did.  That and knowing every single word to every single deer hunting song, ever.

Yes, there are songs. We used to sing them on the school bus.

On top of that, the Green Bay Packers are currently undefeated, so everyone in the city is all ramped up (far more than usual) on Packer juice.  And, lucky me, this will be the first year that I'm going home for Thanksgiving since I've moved to California. I'm expecting to be overwhelmed.

Most of the non-people things I miss from back home are food related, and the fall season seems to really poke a stick into that missing place in my heart.  It gets chilly in California... but the distinct "Winter is Coming! Hide your Children!" snap to the air is missing.  As anyone who has ever yearned to curl up next to a fire wrapped in a blanket with the season's first hot chocolate knows, food and weather go hand in hand.

This chicken and rice recipe is definitely a throw back to something my mom used to do on the extra busy chilly nights with a can of condensed cream of mushroom soup.  I fancied it up a bit by making my own sauce and adding Greek yogurt.

These days, you can find wild rice pretty much everywhere, but you're not getting the best of the best unless it's from Minnesota. Sorry California Growers... but food has a soul, and it knows when it's away from home just as surely as we do.

Chicken with Mushroom Sauce and Wild Rice
3 Servings. Plus... extra rice for breakfast.

1 Cup wild rice
3 Cups water
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 cups sliced white button mushrooms
1/2 Onion
1 teaspoon thyme
pinch red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup Greek yogurt
Olive Oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Add the wild rice and water to a sauce pan.  Bring to a boil, then drop the heat to medium low.  Cover and cook for 50 minutes to an hour.

On medium high heat, preheat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a high-sided frying pan.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  When the pan is hot, add the chicken and sear on both sides.  When the chicken is seared on both sides, remove it and set aside.  Add the mushrooms, onion and garlic to the pan and cook until the mushrooms color, about 5 minutes.  Sprinkle the flour over the veggies in the pan and cook while stirring for a few minutes.  Add the chicken stock slowly, making sure to completely incorporate any flour that's hanging out in the pan.  Add the thyme and pepper flakes; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Turn the heat down to a slow simmer, and reintroduce the chicken to the pan.  Cover and cook for about 20 minutes.

When the chicken has finished cooking, remove it from the sauce and set aside.  Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the Greek yogurt.  Serve the chicken on top of the rice and cover with the sauce.

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