Musing with Max

Musing with Max

July 14, 2013

Back to Reality

Ever since we returned from our vacation, which is now three weeks ago, the temperature has been 85F or above coupled with 90% or more humidity. In other words: Yuck! The garden was a bit of a mess since it hadn't been tended for two crucial weeks so it's taken us a little while to whip it into shape. Frankly it is very difficult to weed away, trim, cut, mow, etc in this disgusting soupy weather. Not to mention the swarms of biting bugs that usually accompany this type of weather. So usually after 2 minutes outside we've been bitten alive and are dripping in sweat, which translates into 2 minutes of gardening every half hour or so, or not much gets accomplished. However, despite these hurdles and this daily visitor

the garden is starting to bloom and shape up.

The day lilies are exploding thanks to the concoction I spray on them so Bambi won't munch.

The hydrangeas, (which had me so scared I shot off a panicky email to Jane) have started to bloom profusely and nicely but will get a trimming once the bloom is done since they're a tad unruly. Thanks J.

I'm very happy with the cone flowers and coreopsis that we planted where the tomatoes usually go, so yes we sacrificed the tomatoes. Since we were going away we decided not to plant them. Next year we'll try them in pots...we think.

Most of the hostas are doing well...

as is this Heuchera I planted last year, unfortunately I planted 3 and only one came up so it's a little lonely.

Hot days call for cool food, like the best fried chicken room temp or cold.

Herb and Lemon Fried Chicken

¾ cup olive oil
2 lemons
3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
2 chickens cut into pieces
1 ½ cups flour
¼ cup basil and rosemary, chopped
1 egg
¾ cup milk
Vegetable, corn or safflower oil

Combine the olive oil, juice of 1 lemon and its rind coarsely chopped, garlic, rosemary, pepper and the chicken pieces in a pan or a large bowl. Make sure all the chicken pieces are well coated with the marinade. Refrigerate overnight or at least 5 hours. 

Mix the flour, salt and herbs in a large bowl. Beat the egg and milk together. Remove the chicken from the marinade; dip the pieces in the egg wash then dredge in the flour mixture. 

Fill your heaviest, largest frying pan with about 1” of oil and heat until very hot. Fry the chicken in batches (do not overcrowd the pan). 

Cook 12 minutes, turn and cook another 12 minutes. Lower the heat if chicken is browning too fast. Serve hot, cold or at room temperature.

 Serves 6 to 8.

Finish it off with some ice cream.

Salty Caramel Ice Cream adapted from Jeni's

2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Danger! This is the dry-burn technique. I don't add water to the sugar before putting it on the heat, as some chefs do. Caramelizing sugar dry means it goes faster, but you have to watch it more closely and be ready with your cream. Here is an overview of what you are going to do:

Stand over the pan of sugar with a heatproof spatula ready, but do not touch the sugar until there is a full layer of melted and browning liquid sugar on the bottom with a smaller layer of unmelted white sugar on the top. When the edges of the melted sugar begin to darken, use the spatula to bring them into the center to help melt the unmelted sugar. Continue stirring and pushing the sugar around until it is all melted and evenly amber in color--like an old penny. When little bubbles begin to explode with dark smoke, give the sugar another moment and then remove from the heat. Immediately but slowly pour about 1/4 cup of the cream and corn syrup mixture into the burning-hot sugar. Be careful! It will pop and spit! Stir until it is incorporated, then add a bit more cream and stir, then continue until it is all in.

Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry.

Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.

Mix the cream with the corn syrup in a measuring cup with a spout.

Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

Heat the sugar in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat until it is melted and golden amber in color (see note above). Remove from the heat and, stirring constantly, slowly add a bit of the cream and corn syrup mixture to the caramel: It will fizzle, pop, and spurt. Stir until well combined, then add a little more and stir. Keep adding the cream a little at a time until all of it is incorporated.

Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the milk. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.

Bring back to a boil over medium-high and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat. If any caramel flecks remain, pour the mixture through a sieve.

Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla and whisk. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.

Pour into frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy.

Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid.

Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

It's nice to be home.

...and what's the best part about being home?????????

Did you miss him? We certainly did!


  1. I will try to do this chicken recipe.
    Max must be very happy with you around :)

    1. Si, te la recomiendo. Con albahaca y romero, mis especies preferidas! Todo el que la trata le encanta, he tenido que repartir la receta muchas veces. Max está muy contento, no tanto como nosotros  Aunque quisiéramos estar todavía en España. Espero que hayas disfrutado las vacaciones en Barcelona!

  2. Hi Max!!!

    Amelia--Your flowers are all so pretty. The weather has been disgusting--I swear my yard is starting to smell like a swamp--I'm waiting for an alligator to appear.

    Your recipes look insanely good.

    (I do want to see the rest of the Spanish signs one day.)

    1. They’ve improved…when we got back everything looked awful. There’s no end in sight to this, ugh! We tried to sit outside today…Max lasted 15 minutes, we lasted 20. That chicken is a winner and it’s better at room temp or cold, great picnic food! (And I’m not much of a fried food fan).

      I’ll put the rest of the signs up soon…just for you 

  3. Wow - your garden is looking fab - at least the weather suits the flowers! I've never tried actually cooking fried chicken but this recipe sounds like a must for tomorrow nights tea - thanks! Jane x

    1. It's definitely worth it...better at room temp or cold rather than just out of the fire, not greasy either. Perfect picnic food for one of your bike rides!