There is something I have realized recently. Actually, there is something that I have been trying not to realize.
My well-feathered nest is just that…so well-feathered and so filled with warm downy softness. It’s so cozy and sweet…that I’m having trouble wanting to push aside the softness to peek out above the tightly woven twigs and branches in order to see what is going on in the rest of the world.
This has never happened to me before. I am usually the first in our family to be perched on the edge of our many past nests, ready to fly at the first breath of a breeze that feels fresh and inviting. The word “homebody” is not a title I’ve ever worn nor have I ever sought to associate myself. I tease my children incessantly about their introverted natures and then, here I am…
I’m not at all anxious or filled with anticipation and longing for winter to end and spring to begin. I don’t feel a yearning to escape the short days and long cold nights. It might be because I have so many New Hampshire winter recipes queued up waiting to be created in my kitchen.
Rather, if I were to guess and self-evaluate deeper, winter time probably provides me with an excuse to burrow down and not feel committed to keeping up with the pace of the rest of the world. After so many years being a mom, homeschooling year round, and moving from location to location, I am spent. It feels wonderful to get off the merry-go-round of life and stop the constant spinning.
We’re in our first semester (yes, we seem to judge life by our son’s college semesters) of being empty nesters. Patrick has practically flown around the world and back several times already since the beginning of the year. I’ve made this excuse or that excuse to not go and found myself contentedly staying behind…burrowing down deeper and deeper into the winter months up here.
I find myself perfectly content to take long winter walks in the woods crunching through the snow, listen to the rushing sounds of our icy river flowing outside our windows, and peer occasionally out into the world into the political landscape to see if our potential future nominees are still causing a stir.
And with all that said, an opportunity to fly off to Brazil has presented itself. The idea of the land of Carnivale, Brazilian cuisine, colorful bustling markets, and the land that formed Samba, has successfully ruffled my undisturbed feathers and caused a stirring in my quiet existence. Patrick has already been working there and the lure of travel for me has thankfully once again reawakened. I’m busy swapping out heavy down coats for light filmy scarves and pushing aside my clunky wellies to dig out my summer beach sandals.
The momentum is starting to build. I am reminded of how much I relish launching myself out into this world to experience all things different and exciting from what I know. I’ll have several books tucked away in my travel bag but I am a people watcher extraordinaire. Airports are the perfect venue to satisfy my insatiable curiosity about people.
From the long line of people queuing to go through security to the throngs of groups tromping up and down the terminals moving from gate to gate, I rarely tire of being visually pulled into so many diverse worlds of travelers and wondering about their varied lives.
So I leave hoping to return with a bundle of tales to tell and photos to show. I’ve barely put a foot into South America so I am eager to experience this rich and diverse culture. We’ll be based in Rio de Janeiro and I’m thrilled to be a guest of a walking food tour there…Culinary Backstreets-Rio.
Interestingly, we went on one of Culinary Backstreet’s tours in Istanbul, Turkey a few years back and it was fabulous so I’m really looking forward to bringing more of their stories here to “Thyme”.
I’m also leaving a delicious slow cooked jerk chicken recipe that is wonderfully filling for these February days. Just mincing and slicing the ingredients for this dish left the kitchen filled with exotic aromas. Because we travel back and forth to Boston quite a bit, this recipe is a wonderful one for putting into the slow cooker and letting it braise throughout the day. Warm spicy scents fill the kitchen when returning through the back door at the end of a long drive from Massachusetts to New Hampshire.
I’ll see how the flavors and cultures of Brazil affect the recipes that get a showing here on “Thyme” after returning. This slow cooked aromatic chicken dish may be just a baby step of experimentation into a whole new world of ingredients that may venture back with me to the hills and mountains of New Hampshire.
- 8 scallions, chopped coarse
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 2 habanero chilies, stemmed and seeded (I substituted Chipolte peppers)
- 1 (1-inch) fresh ginger, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 tablespoon thyme
- 2 teaspoons allspice
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (split breasts, thighs)
- lime wedges for serving
- Place scallion, oil, habaneros (or Chipoltes), ginger, molasses, garlic, thyme, all spice, cardamom, and salt in a food processor or blender and puree. Transfer ½ cup mixture to slow cooker; reserve remaining mixture.
- Add chicken to slow cooker and coat evenly with scallion mixture. cover and cook until chick is tender, about 4- 6 hours on low. (For me, 5 hours was enough)
- Position oven rack 10 inches from broiler element and start broiler. Place a wire rack in a foil lined bake sheet and coat with vegetable spray. Transfer chicken, skin side down onto rack. Brush chicken with half of reserved scallion mixture and broil until lightly charred and and crisp, about 10-15 minutes (my broiler took 5-7 min). Flip chicken over, brush with remaining scallion mixture and continue to broil until lightly charred and crisp on second side, about 5-10 minutes. Serve with lime wedges.