Filtered by Category: Extremely Good Shit

Extremely good shit: McLeod Farms peaches

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As you may know, I’m not a fan of summer. But one way I’ve been making it more bearable in recent years is by ordering a box of peaches from McLeod Farms, a South Carolina operation that came on my radar several years ago when I lived in Houston.

These peaches are awesome in the dictionary-definition sense of the word. So juicy, so fragrant, so special. Every bit of them detaches from the pit so easily and cleanly, it’s genuinely remarkable. Getting a box of them delivered has become one of the highlights of my summer.

But you don’t have to take my word for it! Here are some of the things my friends have had to say about them:

“This is truly the best peach I’ve ever eaten.”

“I should have eaten that in the bathtub.”

“That was obscene.”

“I should not have eaten that in public.” (I heard this more than once!)

The peaches go on sale every year in the late spring. They are sold by the box; you can either buy a box of 20 (for $60) or a box of 40 (for $77), and when you order, you select the week you want them delivered. (They ship in June, July, and August. Also, shipping to NYC is free, but I’m not sure if that’s the case everywhere.)

These peaches aren’t cheap, which is, for me, part of what makes them so special; I make a point to really savor them (I always try to enjoy at least one while sitting outside), and to share them with friends who will appreciate them.

Oprah once said* something to the effect of “you can find God in a perfectly ripe tomato,” and I think about this whenever I eat one of these peaches. (And, yes, then I obviously have a minor existential crisis about climate change and my own mortality. It happens at the beach, too! Summer is great!!!) They are just…sublime.

*I am fairly certain it was on the final page of an issue of O Magazine that I read like a decade ago, but I have never been able to track down the exact quote, so this could be entirely made-up!!! But if Oprah didn’t say it, then I will: You can find God in a perfectly ripe summer fruit.

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Extremely good shit: this chickpea pasta recipe

Much like I believe in wearing the same clothes all the time, I am big on figuring out a few recipes that work for me and making them over and over and over again. This chickpea pasta recipe is one such recipe. It’s filling, it’s nourishing, it’s inexpensive (seriously, my grocery bill dropped considerably after I started making this several nights a week), it’s fast/easy, it warms up well the next day, it’s vegetarian and dairy-free (if you’re into that sort of thing), and you can basically always have the ingredients available to be able to make it. (More on that in a moment.) I’ve recommended it to so many people, and they’re all believers now.

If/when you’re ready to join the Cult of CPP, here are some tips I’ve found for making it even easier to make.

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  • Don't skip the finishing oil; that's where all the flavor is!

  • Cut/measure/prep all the ingredients before you start cooking. There aren’t very many ingredients, so it’s mostly a matter of doing things like opening a can of chickpeas, draining, and rinsing them; crushing a couple of garlic cloves; and measuring out pasta and tomato paste. The reason I suggest doing this is because once you start making it, everything moves very fast, and you won't really have time to do those things while the food is cooking like you might with other recipes.

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  • Instead of chopping fresh rosemary for the finishing oil every time you make it, you can chop a bunch of rosemary at once and then freeze it in individual portions olive oil cubes. I freeze the teaspoon of fresh rosemary in 1 and ½ tablespoons of olive oil — because that’s what my ice cube trays can hold — and then add the additional ½ tablespoon of olive oil when I’m making the recipe. I pop out a cube when I start making the recipe, and by the time I’m ready to make the finishing oil, it’s basically thawed. Using the rosemary cubes is so convenient and it means that I’m both less likely to waste extra rosemary and more likely to have the ingredients I need on hand all the time.

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  • You can actually freeze the tomato paste in individual servings too. (In general, freezing extra tomato paste is a good move because so rarely do you need the entire can!) It’s not like opening a can of tomato paste, measuring some out, washing the tablespoon, and rinsing the can/peeling off the label for the recycling bin is oppressive or anything...but it’s also a step I’d rather not fuck with every time if I don’t have to.

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  • If you’re feeling really motivated and meal-preppy, you could transfer the pasta to a Mason jar with measurement marks on the side so you don’t have to pour it into a measuring cup each time you’re making it.

This recipe is truly so great; it’s right up there with the perfect chicken in terms of how much I love it and how often I recommend it.

Get the recipe: Quick pasta and chickpeas, Smitten Kitchen. 🍝

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The perfect chicken recipe

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When I think of what “just good shit” means to me, I think of the perfect chicken recipe. I discovered it on Pinterest several years ago (via a really janky photo, the source for which is no longer available and hasn’t been for years). Before I found this recipe, I was basically afraid of cooking chicken. But this recipe truly is perfect; the chicken always cooks all the way through (even when the chicken breasts are way too thick to be anything but weirdo genetically engineered chicken breasts because no HEN has titties like that, I’m sorry) and is incredibly juicy and flavorful.

The perfect chicken recipe consists of two things: a five-ingredient spice blend and a cooking method. I usually eat it on salads or with a side of roasted vegetables and potatoes, but if ever I need chicken for another recipe, this is the recipe I use.

The recipe below is for a single serving of the spice mix, but these days, I make it in bigger batches (combining ~6 tablespoons of each spice) and store the blend in a container in my pantry.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. chicken breasts

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1/2 tsp pepper

  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

  • 1/2 tsp onion powder

  • 1/2 tsp paprika

  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.

  2. Combine spices in a small bowl, then sprinkle over both sides of the chicken breasts, rubbing in to coat. (Note: When I’m adding the spice blend from my big pantry jar, I just eyeball how much I'm sprinkling on each side, and I tend to season pretty heavily. Bland food is bland! Don't be part of the problem!)

  3. Add olive oil to the bottom of a Dutch oven or oven-proof pan and cook the chicken over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes per side.

  4. Put the pan uncovered into oven and cook for 25 minutes.

  5. Let the chicken rest 5-10 minutes before serving.


Note: I've used the cooking method with other spices/recipes, and the technique works nicely with those too, but I like this spice blend the best! 🍗

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