Monday, March 26, 2012

What Madness!

There's something about the back of this man's'll either know him right away or wonder why you're being subjected to staring at someone's hair.  I read a quote last week that said, "You're not even as good looking as the back of Don Draper's head".  Really...

Last night's premier of "Mad Men" on AMC had my hubby and me riveted. Don Draper's wife singing her "Zou Bisou Bisou" song much to Don's discomfort had me cringing.  Joanie's treatment of her mother also made me shrivel a bit.  All in all, I think we were simply happy the series had resumed after such a long break in between seasons.  

One thing this gal knows for sure - I could never eat as if we were back in the early sixties.  I have roast chicken and coconut cake overload.  

I won't be including actual recipes, as these are classic dishes.  I made variations of them, thankfully with more modern kitchen equipment than any of the Mad women possessed.  

Our Sunday night Mad Men classic supper consisted of the following:
- a Negroni aperitif with salted cashews
-  Roast chicken with lemon and herbs
- Garlic roast baby potatoes
- Roasted green beans-asparagus with almonds
- Dinner rolls
- and a coconut pound cake to round the artery-clogging, salt-laden goodness.  

When I hear the word Negroni, I think of post-war era men enjoying an Italian aperitif. William Holden was a fan, and if he were alive, I'd ask him WHY.  It was so-so.  Gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth.  The definition of aperitif is a drink that stimulates the appetite.  Ok.  So not neccesseary for this hungry girl!  

Speaking of hungry, there's nothing like the smell of a chicken roasting to get your taste buds jumping.  I bought a 3 lb. organic, never been frozen roaster.  Chopped fresh thyme and rosemary, salt and pepper, a a few spritzes of olive oil.  I crammed some lemon wedges and more herbs into the cavity and roasted that little chubster at 375 for about an hour and a half until it reached an internal temp of 180.  Nonstick foil lining the pan makes for a really, super easy clean up!

While the chicken was roasting, I prepped the potatoes.  I lined a 9-inch cake pan with foil, rinsed the potatoes, and chopped some garlic.  Toss the garlic and potatoes with olive oil, sage, salt, and pepper.  Cover with more foil (I used a lot of foil, but had little clean up) and roast for an hour with the chicken.  Perfect little baked potatoes!

While the food cooked, I dumped the Negroni and created a drink recipe that I wish there was a name for.  2 ounces of Tanqueray, juice of half a lime, and a splash of ginger ale.  Refreshing!  If anyone knows the name of this drink (I cannot be the only one to pair these), please let me know!

Numerous Sunday dinners at both of my grandmothers' homes had me setting the dining room table.  My mom and grandmas used tablecloths, which I refused to use because it needed more than ironing.  It needed to be burned, it's so demolished.  Oh well, placemats to the rescue! I even set the serving dishes near the head of the table. Being married for 19 years has taught me that men like all the food on the table, within easy reach for second servings.

Wow.  Having finished that, I realized there's no time to sit - the gravy must be made!  Phew.  A 60's housewife's work just keeps on going!

I used this gravy recipe from Bon Appetit.  It's perfect if you know you're not going to have much in the way of pan drippings for gravy.

(Notice who has the majority of the gel mat at her disposal)

Still no time to sit and enjoy the gin and ginger ale.  It's veggie time.

I roast these with a tad of olive oil for the last 20 minutes of cooking time.  In fact, I put them in 10 minutes before the chicken is done, then toss them once more.  While the chicken rests on the counter before slicing, I cook the asparagus (next to the potatoes) for 10 more minutes.  Done.

Now let's eat!

Dessert was a cake that thanks to my kitchen appliances, was a breeze.  I'm not sure how the 60's housewife would have made the frosting other than with powdered sugar and milk, but my microwave and part of a tub of Duncan Hines classic white frosting was my means of preparation.  Thank goodness for the microwave!

It was a day of shopping, baking, prepping, cooking, and cleaning.  I thought Sundays were supposed to be a day of rest?!  I'm not sure the word rest  was in the vocab of a 60's housewife.  I know it's not in the vocab of this housewife, not generally.  Nor should it be.  You don't earn the badge of domestic goddess by simply looking the part, oh no.  You've got to have the grungy rubber gloves to prove it!

When I make meals like this one for my grateful family, I can honestly say it took 4 very special women to get me there.  My mother, grandmothers, and mother in-law taught me, in their own ways, something special about dinners.  Here are a few of their wise tips...

- You have to plan, prep, and time your meal.  Know when to cook each item.
- Have a back-up plan in case that roast needs more time in the oven.
- Always set a nice table.
- Put the coffee on as you're about to sit down for dinner so it'll be ready when dinner is done.
- Clean up as you go.  No one wants a full belly and dishes to wash while everyone is still enjoying the meal.
- Enjoy the process!  There are only so many Sunday dinners in life!

Please give the traditional suppers a try if you haven't.  Don't let the work level keep you from trying.  It's well worth it!  Bring some tradition and solidarity back into this era.  Just don't include the Negroni ;)

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