Supremes de Volaille a Blanc

“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook — try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!”
Julia Child

Before the French title of this post scares you away, please let me just say that this is a great chicken recipe, and it is quite simple to prepare.  In fact, it is fabulous.  Really.  Please keep reading!

As a brief introduction, I visited the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in the Spring of 2009, including Julia Child’s kitchen that was moved there from her home in Massachusetts.  (This is just one of many great displays there, including the Star Spangled Banner.  That is just a “must see,” too!)

Julia Child’s Kitchen at the Smithsonian, 2009
Julia Child quote at the Smithsonian

Truth be told, though, I was afraid of this woman and her cooking.  I was afraid to even attempt any of her recipes.  I’m not exactly sure why, except that my mother never cooked any of her recipes either.  But after seeing this marvelous display at the Smithsonian, reading more about Julia and her cooking, and feeling that I might be missing something by not attempting to cook some recipes by such a beloved national icon, I finally decided to buy her first cookbook.  I am so glad that I did.  My goodness, I wish I had done it a long time ago.

This is now my favorite chicken recipe, compliments of Julia Child… “Supremes de Volaille a Blanc,” or “Breast of Chicken with Cream.”  (Yes, cream!)  The recipe is found in her classic cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and over this past year, the book has become a favorite of mine.  I selected the variation with mushrooms, the “Supremes de Volaille aux Champignons,” or “Chicken Breasts with Mushrooms and Cream,” and I also added a few tiny carrots as well, with those being just a personal preference.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking

I have prepared this recipe so often that my book pretty much opens to this page now on its’ own… page 268.  I no longer worry about splatters on the pages because it’s just too late for that.  I guess that is the sign of a good cookbook.

Julia Child’s “Supremes de Volaille a Blanc” or “Breast of Chicken with Cream”

What stands out for me in this recipe is the ease of preparation, the perfect moistness and tenderness of the chicken, and the unbelievable flavor of the sauce.  It is just a little piece of “heaven on earth!”

This recipe is among easiest main dish recipes I have ever cooked from scratch.  It is a classic, and I have not cooked it one single time over the past year that my family and friends have not just raved over it.  I think this is also the first recipe that Julia prepared on her cooking show in 1963, but I’m having trouble confirming that right now.

The selection of chicken breasts is very important, so be sure to look for large, good quality boneless and skinless breasts for best results.  I tried this recipe one time with smaller chicken breasts, and it just wasn’t as good.  So, please don’t skimp on the chicken.  I actually buy Tyson brand in the freezer section at our local Sam’s Club because they are consistently the best quality of any I have found in our area.  I also prefer a beaujolais wine for the sauce when I have it on hand, but that’s just me.  Julia states to thoroughly dry the chicken before proceeding with the rest of the steps, and paper towels will suffice for that task.  In fact, I now follow this step when cooking any meat now because I like the end result much better.  I also use a large enameled cast iron dutch oven when cooking this particular recipe, since it transfers from stove top to oven in the same dish.  The cast iron pot also works well for the sauce preparation.

Here is the final product!  Yes, that is two cups of cream in that sauce.  (I doubled the recipe because there would be a battle over the leftovers if I didn’t.)  I swear it is even better the next day, but who can wait that long to eat this amazing dish!

Supremes de Volialle A Blanc, variation with mushrooms and carrots (Mastering the Art of French Cooking)

One of the wonderful things about Mastering The Art of French Cooking is simply the way it is written.  A basic recipe is given and variations are then listed immediately afterward, without having to repeat the “core” recipe.  Such is the case with this recipe, too.  There are two more variations that I need to try, but so far, I keep coming back to this one.  I will try the others soon, though, especially the variation with paprika and onions.

I always serve Julia’s Braised Rice with this chicken dish, and that recipe can be found on page 532 of the cookbook.  In fact, I have not used my trusty rice cooker once since I discovered this extremely simple, one-skillet method of preparation.  The rice cooks in the same amount of time as the rice cooker, with only about five minutes of preparation before the cooking time, and it comes out perfectly for me every time in my large, non-stick skillet with a clear, tight-fitting lid.   The final product is a distinctly more flavorful rice with a more pleasing consistency.

The chicken recipe can be found in the cookbook, as well as by searching for it online, and I highly encourage you to add this cookbook to your collection, if you do not already have it. I think you will be glad you did.  I actually ordered my copy of Mastering The Art of French Cooking from Amazon and got a great price with free shipping when I added another item that I wanted or for free with an Amazon Prime membership.

Please make this wonderful dish for dinner sometime soon. You will be a hero… or heroine… or just plain loved for your efforts!  😉

“Learn from your mistakes, be fearless and have fun!” Julia gives good advice, doesn’t she?

D All Original Content — © fivefs.wordpress.com — All Rights Reserved

Labor Day Weekend

“Work isn’t to make money; you work to justify life.”
–Marc Chagall

A little birthday celebration…

a little wine tasting…

a walk down the monthly art trail…

a memorable drive around town…

a good college football game…

a couple of longtime friends visiting from out of town

= a great holiday weekend.

Hope yours was grand, too!

———-

Someone turned the big, bad 5-0.  Thankfully it wasn’t me. Been there, done that.

Labor Day Weekend-5015

Llano Estacado Winery… My heart sang when I tasted their Viviana… 😉

Labor Day Weekend-5023

The first stop on the First Friday Art Trail, the Louise Hopkins Underwood Center.

Labor Day Weekend-5050

Our favorite work of the evening… brilliantly beautiful!

Labor Day Weekend-5052

We ate cowboy peach cobbler and drank cowboy coffee…

Labor Day Weekend-5029

Dirk West’s original cartoon drawings brought back memories!  I miss his humor.

Labor Day Weekend-5046

The gallery area at McPherson Winery was packed with people and great displays!

Labor Day Weekend-5065

Many others were walking the art trail at sunset with us…

Labor Day Weekend-5078

Will Rogers and “Soapsuds,” all wrapped in traditional red for game day on Sunday!

Labor Day Weekend-5093

I just adore Fall.  But then again, it does start with “F.”  🙂  Have a fabulous Fall day today!

D All Original Content — © fivefs.wordpress.com — All Rights Reserved

Stormy Day!

Storm Clouds-5014

Storm Clouds-5013

Storm Clouds-5010

Storm Clouds-5007

Storm Clouds

Specs: Canon Digital Rebel XTi, Aperture Priority f/5.0, ISO 800, Exposure 1/400, Focal Length 12mm (Tokina)

These were taken just prior to the second round of storms we had yesterday evening. The colors were just magnificent, and I used my Tokina wide angle lens (with hood) to capture as much of it as possible.

I am loving the rain, even though the first round yesterday evening was pretty intense with 70 mph plus winds and hail.  Our roads flash flooded, and I almost had to swim home from running my last errand.  But, I never gripe about rain in this part of the country.  Never.

D All Original Content — © fivefs.wordpress.com — All Rights Reserved

Fun

“People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.”
— Dale Carnegie

Isn’t that quote just so true?  I could write volumes on this, but I think Mr. Carnegie hit the nail on the head, especially as that thought pertains to the things in life that we normally don’t think of as “fun.”  I think it should also give us pause as to what we choose as professions, volunteer work, family time, etc.  Let’s be honest… not everything in life is fun, but perhaps this thought can help to change our attitudes toward our daily tasks.  That is a challenge I set for myself years ago, and it is a goal I still work toward today.

My “fun” topics will venture into some of the areas that I truly enjoy, in addition to the others that I have mentioned in previous posts.  Topics will vary, but no doubt, you can expect posts on music, movies, technology, books and travel at the very least.  I may even surprise you at times, too.  Stay tuned.

Fun is not just for the young.  Neither are iPods.  🙂

And speaking of iPods, Apple just announced their newly revamped Nanos and iPod Touches today.  Sigh.

Engadget’s Review of the new iPod Touch

Make today a fun day!

D All Original Content — © fivefs.wordpress.com — All Rights Reserved

Fotos

“Sometimes I get to places just when God’s ready for someone to click the shutter.”
— Ansel Adams

Please forgive me for using “Fotos” instead of “Photos.”  Thank you.  It worked with my “Five F’s,” and I thought it was cute.

Now that the apologies are out of the way, I want to introduce my favorite hobby… digital photography and photo editing!  Just typing those words makes me happy.

I confess that I am a newbie as of late 2007 to the non-point-and-shoot club.  Both my husband and I always wanted to delve into quality photography, and early in our marriage, we invested in a Pentax 35mm camera set.

Our first good camera, purchased in about 1985, I believe

Neither of us ever really got the hang of it, though, due to time and money constraints.  Experimenting with rolls and rolls of film and developing costs for that film just did not fit into our early marriage budget.  Ultimately, the camera made it’s way to the top of a closet, and that was it for our first attempt at photography.  From time to time, we continued to look at good digital SLR cameras, but we never bought one.  Something was starting to swell in me about pursuing photography, though, and I think my husband picked up that I was really serious this time.

Fast forward to Christmas Day, 2007.

I try to not put treasure in earthly things.  I really do.  But I must confess that when I opened my gift from my husband that Christmas that I was just blown away… really and truly.  With my family eagerly watching, I unwrapped my new Canon Digital Rebel XTi, (detailed info) the most current Canon DSLR at that time.  If I didn’t cry, I know that I wanted to very badly.  I never realized until I opened the box just how much I wanted to explore photography.  Now that I have experimented with it for almost three years, I think I know why.

I am a “visual” person.  If you want me to learn something new, you will do well to give it to me in writing and not tell me verbally because I am 1000 times more likely to pick it up that way. I am often mesmerized by the sight of something, and honestly, that can be almost anything…. a beautiful sunset, a hummingbird at the feeder, a homeless person on the street, a new baby right after he is born, or my big ol’ poodle taking a nap.  It’s like there is something that resonates inside and says, “This moment is special and needs to be preserved because it won’t come again.” This has been a part of who I am for as long as I can remember.  It is why I now take 150 pictures at my great-nephew’s birthday party.

Just look at those eyelashes and the Indiana Jones hat!

I truly believe that sometimes God is “nudging” me in what I see, so that I will wake up and take notice what he has laid before me to appreciate or notice that something needs to change.  My opening quote by Ansel Adams is my absolute favorite thought regarding photography in general, and I plan to talk more about by budding love “no color” photography at some point, too.

Part of my desire to take good pictures also stems from the experience of trying to preserve the photos of my parents… the only visual record of our family from those days.

My grandmother (right) and her sister (left) as young women, most likely taken around 1910. Her sister looks exactly like one of my cousins as a young woman.

Both my sister and I have worked on this project, and we still have more work to do.  Bless her heart, my sister sat at a scanner and literally scanned hundred of old paper photos.  I have worked to restore some of them digitally as best I can.  And we are still trying to figure out the best (and most affordable) way to preserve hundreds of slides.  But, the reward of having our oldest family pictures preserved in a better format is very rewarding indeed.  Someday, I believe that younger family members will appreciate having our quality pictures in digital format, already organized in an online database can also be searched with relative ease.  Perhaps not.  But, I will have one there for them, just in case.

The art of photography, for me, is moving the image and feeling (especially the feeling) that is so vivid in my mind to the digital image that others see, and doing it as accurately as possible.

Our big ol’ baby, now 13 years old on a “dog day afternoon”

I needed better equipment to accomplish this feat, including digital imaging software.  When I opened that camera on Christmas Day in 2007, I knew that was the first step to making a dream come true… helping others to see what I see and even understand a bit more about who I really am and what my values are.

While equipment is very important, there are techniques for good photography that can be applied to any camera, including my trusty little point-and-shoot and even my phone camera.  Even most of the basic point-and-shoot cameras today have untapped capabilities beyond what most people care to explore.  I still have a Nikon point-and-shoot camera in my purse at all times, so I’ll explore more on this topic here, too.

I have learned much, but I still have much, much more to learn.  It is all pure joy, too.  Grab your camera and come along for the journey!

Visually yours,

D All Original Content — © fivefs.wordpress.com — All Rights Reserved

Food

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
— J. R. R. Tolkien

Oh my, where do I start on the topic of  “Food?”   Well, perhaps a bit of honesty will suffice.

My mother set the bar very high in the cooking category. Her holiday meals are legendary in our family, and we are all quite sad that at age 89, she no longer opts to spend hours and hours in the kitchen preparing her famous meals. Oh sure, she will come to one of our houses and cook up a batch of fudge or two, but she now opts to let us attempt to carry on the tradition. To date, we have not even come close. But, we do try.

Until the last few years, I can honestly say that cooking was often a chore for me. Most of my first two decades of marriage were consumed with holding down jobs in my profession, raising kids, running the “mama taxi” and doing housework. More often than not, I worked more than eight hours per day at my jobs, especially my first job right out of college. My husband frequently traveled during the week on business and was unavailable to help. By the time I picked up kids from daycare, I was tired and hungry, kids were tired and hungry, and all I wanted to do was get us something to eat and enjoy some family time before hitting the evening “to do” list.

Needless to say, cooking was not on my radar as often as I would have liked, except for preparing some traditional holiday dishes for our family gatherings and some weekend meals at home.  I did, however, take advantage of my crock pot, and often used it at least once a week.  My husband sometimes volunteered to cook on a weekend, which was so nice for all of us.  Experimenting with new recipes was fun, especially ones that I had sampled from friends or fellow church members. (Oh my, covered dish meals at church… what a fond memory! How I miss them now.) I never disliked cooking. I just didn’t have much time to cook.

Fast forward to the beginning of my “empty nest” period that began a few years ago. Combine that with my mother selling her house and moving to a place that will do all of her cooking for her, and the result was a desire in me to cook more and try to fill the void of my mother’s home cooking. I appreciate great food in restaurants, but there is just something about the satisfaction and flavor of a good home cooked meal that just warms the heart.

One of my first cooking tasks was to gather and preserve our most treasured family recipes. I will talk more about that project later because it is one of the most satisfying things I have ever worked on. I will even share a picture or two of the finished product. All I can say is that I am so glad that I completed the recipe collection while my mother was still around to help clarify some of her handwritten recipes. If you are considering such a project, take that bit of advice to heart and don’t delay another minute.  Treasured family recipes should never be lost.

Food posts here will not be solely devoted to home cooking. We have dined at some wonderful restaurants, and many have been quite affordable. Others have been more memorable events that I will always treasure… in some fabulous places. Who could overlook those special times in any decent food discussion?

Shredded chicken tostadas at La Margarita, our favorite San Antonio restaurant

Stayed tuned and bring your appetite. More to come… especially calories.

Tastefully,

D All Original Content — © fivefs.wordpress.com — All Rights Reserved

Family

“Families are like fudge… mostly sweet with a few nuts.”
— Author Unknown

I am a child of God, and I know where I come from.

I am a grandchild to pioneering grandparents and great-grandparents that set out to this part of the country in search of the best life they could find for their families.

I am a daughter to a hard-working father, now deceased, who owned a small trucking company, and a life-long stay-at-home mother who still holds the title, “Best Cook Ever,” and made pie crusts from scratch.

I am a sibling to an older brother, now deceased, and an older sister, my longest and dearest friend.

I am an aunt to some great nephews and their wives.

I am a great-aunt to some truly amazing kids that are all wonderfully unique.

I am a niece to some spontaneous and fun-loving aunts and uncles that helped to raise me. All but one aunt are now deceased.

I am a cousin to some wonderful cousins. One died much too early, and his untimely death changed me, and our extended family dynamics, forever.

I am the wife of a loving, smart, funny, opinionated, kind and complicated man that I have known since I was 13 years old. I am still trying to figure him out.

I am the mother to the two most beautiful and brilliant children to ever walk on the face of the earth. Yes, you heard it here first.

With the exception of God, none of us are, or ever have been perfect. Especially yours truly.  Just ask those closest to me.  (Just don’t tell my dog.  He thinks I am perfect.)

We have laughed, cried, fought, made up, celebrated and mourned together. We have had our disagreements and have them still, if you can somehow believe that. We have dropped everything when one of us was rushed to the hospital. We have spent hours on the phone together. We have looked at thousands and thousands of family pictures and tried to figure out just how to convert old slides to digital. We have enjoyed sandwiches and chips on Christmas Eve together after a pan of chicken spaghetti exploded on top of the stove.  We have researched family history and tried to preserve what we can for those to come after us. We have tried to figure out what the doctor can’t seem to figure out. We have wished for days gone by. We have struggled with loved ones with serious addictions.  We have wished for kids to grow up. We have mourned the fact that kids are grown up. We have consumed millions of calories together. We have hosted hundreds of birthday parties. We have made the decision that we needed a break for a little while. We have prayed thousands of prayers for one another. We have brought our children to God and asked Him to guide and protect them. We fought back the tears when we watched kids walk down the aisle at graduations and weddings. We have hauled gifts hundreds of miles so that we could celebrate one single Christmas in the mountains together. We have gotten up at sunrise to go water skiing while the water was still smooth and were rewarded with breakfast afterward. We have wondered if our country is headed toward prosperity or disaster. We have bailed each other out. We have not bailed each other out. We have attended countless kids’ ball games and concerts and recitals.  We swelled with pride at Carnegie Hall watching one of our own on the stage.  We have struggled with how to care for aging parents. We have played countless card games and domino games and board games. We have made some hard decisions that have not been popular. We have proud memories, and we have regrets. We have wondered how in the world Mother will survive without Daddy. We have watched Mother survive without Daddy. We have spent countless hours on the internet researching various diseases that have sprung in our midst. We have picked and shelled black-eyed peas together. We have eaten black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day.  We have screamed to God when we didn’t understand.  We have worked long hours in our jobs and sacrificed the things we wanted to do for the things we needed to do.  We have stayed up past midnight or risen before sunrise cooking for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter meals. We have disappointed each other and hurt each other.  We have worried and prayed for a way to pay the bills when the money was not in our accounts.  We have loved deeply.  We have spontaneously jumped on an airplane after dinner to see a newborn niece across the state without packing a single thing to take along.  We held the hand of the most special man on earth and prayed and cried as he passed from this life to the arms of Jesus.  We have marveled at the letter written by great-grandmother, imploring her children to meet her in Heaven as she was dying.  We have done hundreds of other things together, both good and not so good.

It’s complicated, and it’s simple.  We are family.

One of the last pictures of my “angel” brother

Waiting for the glorious day in Heaven when we will all be united again.

D All Original Content — © fivefs.wordpress.com — All Rights Reserved