Sunday, June 29, 2014

Eat Something Sunday: Not My Mother's Chicken Salad

It's been too long, friends! While I certainly haven't stopped cooking and baking, I've severely lacked in sharing finds and favorites here with you! Today is a tasty, if not very pretty, take on a lunchtime classic: chicken salad. Delicious in a sandwich, with crackers, stuffed in a pita, or my personal favorite - with Cornthins (I love those things!). I've also served it for dinner in scooped out pear halves for a way to both fancy it up and make a bigger serving.

Fact: I generally hate all "salad" sandwich filling-type foods. Ham salad - yuck. Egg salad - horrid. Chicken salad?? I wasn't very keen on it until I played a bit with the classic blend using turkey leftovers from Thanksgiving last fall. As it turned out, when it's not super mushy or overly mayonnaise-filled (or worse, Marzetti's...blech), I quite love it! I came up with this variation in the winter and it's my go-to for leftover chicken these days.

Not My Mother's Chicken Salad
pear and chicken salad

for each 1 cup cooked chicken add:
1.5 - 2 pears (I like the Conference variety)
1/2 stalk celery
1/4 - 1/2 a medium onion
1 Tbsp mayonnaise
sea salt
ground black pepper

I tend to make this the day after I've roasted a chicken and so I pull off all the extra meat and use that before cooking up the rest of the bits into a stock. However, you can certainly use plain old chicken breasts or any cooked chicken you might have. It's super versatile!

Start by chopping or shredding up your chicken. I like to use the trick of tossing it into the bowl of my KitchenAid mixer and allowing the paddle to do its thing. (My photos show 2-3 servings, starting with about 2 cups of chicken).

Roughly chop your fruit & vegetable. Not too huge, but not too small. I use my little hand food processor to make a quick task of it.

Toss the produce in with the chicken and add the mayonnaise. Season generously with pepper and a hearty sprinkle of sea salt. Mix it up! Again, you can do this in a mixer bowl, or just by hand. Easy-peasy!

Serve as you like and enjoy the crisp contrast of savory and sweet in this simple dish!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Instalife: Summer is here!

Summer has arrived and I've been trying to enjoy the days as much as possible. Walks, little afternoon adventures, reading at the park, Pimm's, gelato...mmm...I love this time of year!

On a few of the less nice days we've hit up the movie theatre (and one day I went alone while The Scot was off enjoying the World Cup). The sunshine has also increased my indoor gardening habit. The windowsill is full of plants and a few bigger pots with large bits of green live with other treasures on the bookshelf.

Have you been enjoying this lovely season? What's been keeping you busy and happy?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

London by Postcode: Little Venice, W9/W2

As we headed out on Sunday afternoon, the plan was to have a wander around London W9 - Maida Vale. But then we were drawn to the water...and along the water we stayed as we strolled the lovely towpaths along the canal in Little Venice.

Little Venice is on the edge of both W9 and W2 postcodes (which will likely both have their day properly in this series at some point). It's at the junction of the Regent's Canal and the Grand Union Canal and there's a lovely little pond-like area where the two meet. To the three sides (but mainly 2), flat-bottomed canal boats are moored both temporarily and semi-permanently. Where the boats are more permanently moored, they even have little flower gardens and decorations on the banks and moorings areas. It's lovely.

We happened to be there as the Waterbus was arriving. This cool service runs from Little Venice down the Regent's Canal stopping at the zoo and then onward to Camden Lock. It's definitely on the to-do list for another day - perhaps when visitors are in town? - but on this day we walked the 2 1/2 miles to Camden ourselves after we'd had our fill of Little Venice.

This area of London isn't very big. Even including crossing various bridges to see take in all the angles and taking time to peek at lots of boats, you can do it in less than an hour. If you're up for a more leisurely visit, there are also a number of riverside cafes where you can relax and watch the boats go by - even a boat that's a coffee shop!

We'll be back to give W9 a more comprehensive visit another day, but I hope you enjoyed this peek into a lovely treasure of West London!

This post is part of a sporadic series.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Saturday Stroll: Brompton Cemetery

Another summer Saturday, another day out. Last Saturday we slept in far too late in the day (it was long past noon!) and didn't think we'd be able to get up to much. "Let's just go for a wander!" was the consensus. We decided to head toward the river and see where our feet took us. As it happens, they took us over the river, through Chelsea and went toward Fulham. Along the way we saw the gates of a place I've long meant to visit: Brompton Cemetery.

This beautiful Victorian cemetery dates from the mid-1800s, but in recent history much has become quite overgrown. In some ways this adds to the eerie beauty, but I also feel that in some ways it's quite sad as there are rather recent graves (from the past 40 years or so) still being attended to by families which are surrounded by overgrown grass, weeds, and brambles. Little spots around/leading to individual graves are kept clear by those who bring flowers to the memory of their not-so-long-gone loved ones.

These days, although parts are still an active burial ground, Brompton Cemetery is more of a park. We encountered dog walkers, joggers, cyclists, a few meditators sitting around the colonnade, and plenty of folks like us just enjoying a wander amongst the strange and beautiful setting.

As a longtime Beatrix Potter fan, I find Brompton particularly interesting as the long-standing rumor that she (who lived nearby in Chelsea for much of her life) likely found many of her character names while walking in the cemetery was confirmed in recent years. From a Peter Rabbett to a Mr. Nutkins, lots of our childhood friends' inspirations do (or did) exist on headstones. Additionally, great people like Emmeline Pankhurst and Dr. John Snow lie under the amazing trees and gardens there.

The Victorian cemeteries of London have long been on my list of places to visit. Most of them have guided tours either weekly or on a scheduled basis. Some are partly closed off (for safety and such), and some have been been totally left to nature. It's kind of silly that after many years of living quite close to Brompton Cemetery that this was our first visit. I do want to go back and walk in the peaceful stillness there. It's a bit sad (and a bit don't blink) but a lot beautiful.