What to Cook after Vacation

What to cook after vacation?

Don’t.

Just don’t.

You just got back from vacation and if it’s anything like over here, unpacked three bags worth of stuff. (Somehow a one- year-old single-handedly destroys the dream of not checking luggage. We travel with 10x more now that there’s a baby.) The last thing you want to worry about the night back from vacation, which is often also the night before going back to work, is standing in front of the stove. What are you, Betty Draper? No. Grab a beer an order a pizza, or Indian food, whatever. Relish the last moments of total freedom and just don’t bother.

I have a long-standing tradition of cleaning out our fridge completely before we leave for vacation. Bare bones. Total deep clean. I don’t do much grocery shopping before heading out of town so anything that’s in there is either a leftover, long forgotten, or never to be consumed. The day before we take off, I throw away most of it (usually old vegetables and jars of who-knows-what; so, please don’t get all up in arms about food waste). This results in coming home to a clean slate and very little pressure to cook immediately.

Then, once I’ve snapped out of “ugh back to reality” mode and checked days’ worth of unread work email, I can plug into cooking. Very recently, I’ve developed a system which is proving to be no fail. As always with my blog - limited effort, maximum result. So, the answer to what to cook after vacation? Roast a chicken. (Not immediately, do it on a Tuesday night. Trust me. It pays off for the rest of the week.)

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Here’s what you do. Pull a chicken out of the freezer to defrost the night you get home. Or, if you don’t have one, buy one. This is where you’re probably rolling your eyes at me because roasting a chicken sounds SO labor intensive. It doesn’t have to be! The below recipe isn’t totally mine, it started from the genius mind of Mark Bittman. However, I’ve adapted it a bit to satisfy my taste and to make it even easier. Make either one, I promise it’s not hard.

Seriously, the whole thing has like seven ingredients and one of them is a skillet.

Mark Bittman’s Version

Easiest Roast Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken, not too big.

  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

  • 1 head of garlic, cut into wedges

  • olive oil

  • salt

  • pepper

  1. Heat up the oven to 400°F.

  2. Meanwhile, take your whole bird, remove everything that might be inside, and pat down the entire thing with paper towel. Use half a roll if you need to but the dryer the crispier the skin.

  3. Place the bird in a cast iron skillet.

  4. Rub the chicken all over with olive oil.

  5. Sprinkle all over with salt and pepper. Seriously, don’t skimp on these.

  6. Cut a lemon into 4 wedges. Stuff them inside the bird.

  7. Cut a garlic into wedges. Stuff inside the bird. Don’t even bother peeling it.

  8. Roast for 30 min at 400°F then turn the over down to 350°F and roast until the chicken is golden brown, and an instant read thermometer reads 155 to 165 degrees. Or, if you’re me, just cut into the thing and see if the juices run clear. It’s probably fine.

  9. Remove and rest the bird for at least 15 min before serving.

  10. Carve and serve.

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Serve the chicken with mashed sweet potato, baked potato, sautéed green beans, or even just some sliced tomato and cucumber!

When you’re done eating and ready for clean up, make your partner do the dishes while you do this:

  • Take all the meat and put it aside in a Tupperware container for the rest of the week. Make chicken salad, put some in a sandwich for lunch, throw it in some pasta, or make Tomato Basil Chicken Paella. Easy meals for the rest of the week!

  • Take all the bones from the carcass, all the fat and olive oil at the bottom of the cast iron skillet, the lemon, the garlic, and put in the fridge - post about what to do with these soon!

That’s it! That is it.

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Grains of Salt

Snapshots of life, dispatches from motherhood.

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This was my last pre-Whole30 taco. An occasion that felt super important to mark because over the last 6 days I’ve consumed less tacos than in longer than I care to admit.

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Jack’s view of the apartment this past week. Post surgery, wearing a diaper because poor guy had his second bladder stone issue in less than a year. Oh and not even joking, Ian and I are the only two beings in our apartment right now not dealing with incontinence. For the first time in my life, one of the most exciting things about going into the office is taking a break from changing diapers.

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Finally went to Jack’s Wife Freda for a coffee with my sister. Our offices are in the same neighborhood so check-ins are easier to schedule. Also, it’s really damn nice to have a pause in the middle of the morning. You know, after the mad rush out the door with baby but before the first meeting.

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This onesie. Because it finally fits and good gracious did he ever.

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This unlikely pairing. Because a week later and they’re still standing strong. Cheapest flowers at the bodega, you win!

This Week in Sugar

Hello, welcome to the 14th month of Winter. March snow storms on the East Coast aren’t uncommon but every time they happen I feel that everyone is equally shocked and appalled. Like, hello! We’ve been encompassed in this grey, dull, sunless state for so long - March feels like it should be the beginning of a reprieve but it’s not. I don’t know why we don’t adjust our expectations but if we can’t do it for the federal government, the justice system, healthcare why would we be able to do it for the weather?

Because I’m a master of self inflicted difficulty I chose one of the most drab months of the year to do a Whole30. When I say “I chose” what I mean is I procrastinated all through January then all through February and now holy shit it’s March and I’m still not the healthy beacon of modern motherhood I aim to be! So now I’m on day 3 of a Whole30 and even though yesterday I proclaimed to my office mate that “I do not need sugar! I have zero cravings. Do I even like sugar?!” today I woke up hoping to fall face first into a jar of Nutella. Literally the entire world looks like the most appealing, gift wrapped, sexiest sugar cube to me. This is my, no joke right now, SEVENTH attempt at this diet so this time I will power through. What’s another twenty-seven days of this? I can do it. For your reading pleasure, here are all the things I wish I could be eating but will not be. Why? Because I am a strong powerful woman who does not need sugar to complete me and wants to reset her digestive tract because that’s a thing we want in our 30s.

  • almond croissant with super crispy, flaky edges and powdered sugar

  • an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream

  • banana pancakes soaked in maple syrup with whipped cream and a side of whipped cream

  • whipped cream - the real kind, homemade with full fat cream and loads of sugar

  • eggo waffle drowning in maple syrup

  • granola parfait with loads of honey

  • merengues, many merengues.

  • flourless chocolate cake

  • cheesecake - I don’t even really like cheesecake but whatever

  • Greek salad because apparently every dressing/sauce/thing you love and thought was “healthy” is also packed with sugar

Instead I’m ordering an almond milk latte and living out my personal nightmare of having to ask the barista if the almond milk has added sugar. Then I’m going to eat this seven minute egg because I’m that person now. If you spot me in Crocs next time you see me please stage an intervention.

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