Thyme and Rosemary from the backyard.


Bourbon Chicken – apparently “the best thing I ever made.”

Dinner at my house is usually of the boring variety.  My dinner staples are tuna noodle, turkey meatloaf, Johnny Marzetti, grill stuff, and lasagna. Tonight, I spiced it up.  My husband was finishing up the pergola (it looks sweet if I do say so myself) so I thought I would make him something decent.

I thought a picture of the pergola was much more attractive than a picture of chicken cooking. In general, I think all non-professional meat pictures are gross. (Just my opinion)

I went rogue on this recipe and mixed it up. The inspiration was from Rachael Ray’s Big Orange Cook.

3 tablespoons “EVOO” as RR says

1 red onion slap chopped

3 cloves garlic grated

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1.5 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons Worcestershire

2 tablespoons of hot sauce (or as badass as you would like it). I still have hot sauce from our honeymoon in Belize – it’s serious!

1/4 cup brown sugar

a firm handshake of lemon juice

3 cups of chicken stock (if you don’t have it – just use the equivalent in bouillon cubes)

1 tablespoon of cornstarch and a 1/3 coffee mug of H2O

1 pack of chicken breast (cubed up)

1/4 cup bourbon (glug glug glug)

Heat a tablespoon of the olive oil in a deep sauce pan and cook the onions and garlic until tender. Add salt and pepper (just the regular amount you add in about everything). Stir in tomato paste and paprika. Stir until combined and add Worcestershire, hot sauce, brown sugar, lemon juice, chicken stock. Bring to a low boil and simmer for about 5 minutes.

In a frying pan, cook the chicken in olive oil.  When it’s completely done, add the sauce on top of the chicken.  Turn off the heat. This is where things get crazy: Pour in the bourbon – don’t mix.  If your bourbon is crappy like mine, this trick wont work. (This is RR’s idea – not mine)  Use a long lighter or match and light the sauce (flame it).  While it’s on fire, return it to the heat and let the flame die away.  When it’s done burning, it’s time to eat.  As I previously mentioned, my bourbon is crappy and the alcohol content probably wasn’t high enough to flame.  If this is your case, or if you’re scared of burning off your eyebrows – just add the bourbon in, keep the heat on, and simply cook out the alcohol.  Just let it bubble for about 8ish minutes.

Whisk the cornstarch and the water together in the coffee mug (this is my mom’s cornstarch receptacle of choice). Pour it into the sauce/chicken and observe the magic thickening properties of cornstarch.

Serve over cornbread or red beans and rice. Blob some sour cream and cheese on top if you’re feeling extra zesty.

Chris threw his fist in the air and said “this was the best thing you ever made!” – Awesome.

Squirrels are jerks

Well…they are! I don’t care that they’re cute. The fact is, they break into your house and garage, dig up your garden, chew holes in things, and leave droppings just about everywhere. Don’t even get me started about the bird feeders!

The following story is 100% true and free from any exaggeration.

Last year I had a hanging  basket that was ruthlessly killed because a squirrel decided to dig a hole in the center and insert  a chunk of a french baguette.

This past Christmas, they chewed through 2 strings of brand new LED Christmas lights and defiantly spread the detached bulbs around the yard. They clearly care nothing about the environment or holiday joy.

To top it all off…they pooped on someone I love while they were innocently sitting on the deck drinking a beer. The victim shall remain nameless to protect him from squirrel retaliation. I could go on for days about the delinquent behavior of squirrels.

My mom's sunflower seedlings have to be protected with fencing

So – what do we do about these little jerks?

Mom has had run-ins already this year. This is her 3rd planting of sunflower seeds and has fenced in each little seedling to protect from their inevitable dig up and consumption. I spread blood meal around my garden boxes and on top of my containers every week. Don’t worry – blood meal is organic, but don’t think too hard about what it’s made of. This works pretty well, but it has to be applied again after a hard rain. After the spring we’ve had so far – you have to know that I’ve been through a ton of this stuff. Mom spread cayenne pepper around the parameter of her containers. Before you get too excited about this idea – it totally didn’t work. She ended up covering her pot with more fencing.

Cayenne pepper apparently only makes digging in the soft dirt more appealing. (mmm..spicy)

Just to ease your mind, the squirrels that took up residence in the attic (once) and in the garage (twice) were evicted humanly with a “one way door.” I don’t love squirrels but I like that they feed the neighborhood hawk. That’s right! I said it! I told you I would tell the truth.

The battle continues. Hide your kids. Hide your wife.

Strawberry Rhubarb Canned Pie Filling

True to my style – I excessively purchased 2 flats of strawberries from Rhodes Farm at the North Market Farmers Market this weekend. These berries were amazing and at the peak of ripeness (aka would turn moldy if I didn’t act quickly and either freeze, eat, or can them). The bad/good news: I had approximately 8 freezer bags of strawberries from last year after my misguided purchase of 4 flats in 2010!  I apparently never learn. I had to finish off those frozen berries before I could make room for the new ones.  I canned 20+ jars of jam yesterday to clear out the 2010 stash of frozen strawberries. Today I hit the pie filling to finish off 2010 and ring in the 2011 strawberry bonanza.

2010 and 2011 strawberries are getting along just fine

Here’s how it’s done:

I wish I could give you exact measurements, but alas – I cannot.  I’ll give you the gist.  This recipe doesn’t need to be an exact science.  If you have fresh berries – cool.  If you have frozen – sweet.  There’s no real way to lose. The Ball canning jar website is a good place to start in regards to learning about canning basics. My recipe will give you the guts of the jars.  Use the website to learn how to prepare and seal the jars.

Before you start.  Put on real shoes.  Canning takes a super long time and your feet need support.  I like to wear my running shoes. My aunt burnt her foot while canning barefoot before – not good. I wear a visor or a headband.  Steam will make your hair crazy and you’ll want to keep adjusting your ponytail.  Don’t do it! You’ll get strawberry goo in your hair.

It's sweaty work

You need:

  1. 2 massive (I mean MASSIVE) pots
  2. Pint or quart jars with rings and lids (just get a case of each – you’ll use them throughout the summer)
  3. Ladle
  4.  Canning funnel
  5. Crappy clothes (you will totally stain stuff)
  6. A million dish cloths
  7. Strawberries and rhubarb
  8. 1 lemon
  9. Cornstarch
  10. Sugar
  11. Long handled tongs
  12. Pot holders
  13. Can lifting tongs
  14. Canning rack (Ball sells a starter kit with everything you need)
  15. Plans to wash the kitchen floor
  16. Sense of humor

Start water in one of the massive pots and bring to a boil.  You’ll need this to process the cans to create a seal. This link will take you to the Ball website. Follow the directions and it’ll teach you how to use a water bath.

If using frozen berries – thaw and use the juice to build 9 cups of liquid.  If you don’t have enough juice – you can use water.  If you’re only working with fresh berries, you won’t have any juice.  You can use just water – maybe about 4 1/2 cups.

I used 1 quart of fresh berries and 5 freezer bags of frozen.  If using all fresh – I would go for about 7-8 quarts.  Just buy a flat from a farm.  It’ll be more expensive than the store, but it’s worth it to give the cash to the guy with dirt under his nails. I cut up 8 stalks of rhubarb.  I love rhubarb so it’s about a 1/3 of the mixture. Frozen berries condense down in the freezing process.  The fresh berries will cook down a bit. If you’re going to make a huge mess in your kitchen – you should go big in my opinion.

Pour the liquid/juice into a big (bigger than you would think) pot.  Add 1 cup of corn starch and 3ish cups of sugar.  I like my pies to be a little more tart.  You may want to add more sugar.  Stir non-stop on medium high heat until the liquid thickens.  Seriously, stir non-stop or the cornstarch will make slimy, white, chunks – gross! 

Add all the berries and the rhubarb to the thick liquid and bring it to a light boil. Squeeze in lemon juice. Ladle the hot mixture into the prepared jars. Be super super careful.  This is when the splashing of the boiling water and the dripping of the hot sugary lava like liquid starts to happen.

At this point – I wish I was savvy enough to put together a video montage that showed the actual canning process.  Boring.

Here’s the good stuff.  It made 6 quart jars and 2 pint jars. It also made a massive mess of my stove top. In the juice gathering process – I dumped about a cup down my leg. Burnt on sugary stuff makes for not fun cleanup.  Was it worth it? Yes.  Will I be happy to have this in an emergency pie situation? Yes.  Did I get a facial from the steam? Yes.  Do I feel like a bad ass for canning in 90 degree weather. Yes.  Mission accomplished.

Run Run Rhubarb is born (awww..isn’t it cute?!)

While sweating over the hot stove today (it’s 91 degrees in Columbus) – I decided to start a new project to go along with my 50 million other projects.  I love blogs about crafting, canning, cooking, baking, and gardening.  I love them some much, I should probably just marry them (although I’m already married). I enjoy the beautiful photography, the recipes, and the project ideas.  Run Run Rhubarb is different . I know for a fact that gardening is sweaty work. Canning causes sticky kitchen floors. Running…well…running  has a plethora of hazards. This blog is about the fun and the facts of marathon running, canning, gardening, and other household shenanigans. I’ll post the good, the bad, the grubby, and the messy. I promise to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Enjoy.

Glazed donuts - the recovery food of champions