One of the things I vowed to learn how to do when I moved into my apartment this summer was cook. Cooking was never a skill I bothered to pick up outside of breakfast foods and grilling. I believe I mentioned this previously in my Bachelor Cooking Adventures post a while back, in which I forgot to remove the paper off the bottom of the skillet before I cooked in it. Suffice it to say I am improving and have had no more fires.
Shortly after moving into the apartment I made a trip to the grocery store. If you have never seen college students or divorced men in the grocery store it is easy to pick us out. Cart is full of canned foods of all types, cereal, and all the instant stuff there is. Microwaveable dinners, just add water to the pack and it’s done meals, and anything you can buy already cooked. Rarely will you see us buy raw meat unless it will go on a grill. The most creative things you usually see us buy are sandwich fixins and maybe some spices. Why spices? We don’t know, but we were told we needed them so we usually find some 5 gallon bucket-o-seasoning from Sam’s Club on sale next the grills. Great for that side of beef at the BBQ cookoff but not for more civilized kitchens.
Case in point. I went to the deer hunter’s extravaganza a few months ago. RED ALERT !RED ALERT! NOVICE (idiot) in the kitchen. Why? You should not pay $ 20.00 for a box of seasonings that all start with the words “Bubbas’ Best”.
“WAH shore nuf, Bubba is THE BEST cook in these har parts!” says cousin Homer, in his overalls, tobacco stained shirt, and crinkled hat. “We caint take no credit cards. Only cayash. Thanky.”
How can you NOT buy those seasonings? I don’t know, but I was convinced at the show that those seasoning were absolutely better than then the 50 others that were there. Lately, though I became concerned that maybe I was taken advantage of. “Perhaps Bubba isn’t the best cook around. I don’t see his stuff in the grocery store. There are no Chez Bubba’s around my place with people standing in line to get in.” My Bubba’s spices stayed in the cabinet. Mocking me.
“That’s terrible Bagman. What on earth did you do?”
Well,I am so glad you asked because I am not one to brag BUT……
I took some chicken that I bought at the grocery store. Note: this was real chicken. Not nuggets or tenders that were already cooked. Raw chicken thighs that came 8 in a pack. I impressed myself that I was daring and actually bought chicken that needed to be cooked rather than reheated. So impressed that I promptly threw them in the freezer. That was in July. Last week I realized I have been putting on some weight from my frequent trips to McDonalds and Burger King so I decided I need to start cooking. So, I thawed out my daring purchase and after realizing that I had to do something with them once they were thawed, I developed a plan. Scary how spontaneous I am.
Like all good grillers, I decided I would marinate said chicken before cooking it. Was I going to grill? No. Do I have a grill? No. Marinate? Of course. So I opened my box of Bubba’s best seasonings. Then I stared for several minutes at each of the bottles, trying to decipher which of the flavors would be best with chicken, for Bubba has no poultry seasonings. Why not I wondered? So I asked him.
“Cause you ain’t gonna be shootin no chickens is ya? You only gonna shoot deer and pigs and rabbits and possums but AH aint never shot no chicken. MAH seasonins is for hunter food, not buyer food”.
Thanks for clearing that up, Oh Jedi master Yoda.
So I decided that my chicken would do well with some good old black pepper, sea salt, and three of Bubba’s goodies: ground garlic, steak rub, and jalapeno seasonings. I then began to look in the fridge to see what else I had. I took the spicy brown mustard and dropped several spoonfuls of that in with the chicken and the spice rub. I massaged all the goodies into the chicken inside a ziploc bag and let it sit in the fridge for a day, then flipped and rubbed it some more and then let it sit another day.
I mentioned there were 8 thighs. I only put four in the first bag. The second four I decided I would use in Orange Chicken. Not Asian Orange chicken, for I would have no clue how to do that. I put the chicken in a bag with orange juice, orange slices, and some salt and pepper and let it soak in that mix for the same two days. Bubba stayed out of that bag.
Last night I decided I better cook the chicken, so I got out my skillet, minus the paper label, and a pot. I took the Bubba bag, added a little olive oil to the skillet, and fried the thighs. I turned the chicken several times to ensure they were cooked thoroughly. I sampled a taste on occasion and though initially afraid I might die since I cooked this without benefit of a recipe, I was amazed at how good it tasted. As the angels came down to smell my chicken, I basked in their glory as they sang praises to me, sneaking bites before they returned to the heavens. A voice rang down from above and blessed my mustard garlic jalapeno chicken, prompting me to save some for later, knowing I might need angels again soon, for I was about to experiment again.
Motivated by my victory, I dumped the orange chicken contents into a pot. It didn’t look like enough so I opened the pantry and typical of a bachelor’s kitchen, I had canned food, soup, and bread. So, I grabbed a can of peaches and a can of cranberry sauce and dumped them in there. I then added more orange juice to it and turned on the heat with the lid on the pot. After about 30-40 minutes, with occasional stirring, there was this most wonderful Christmassy smelling dish. I let it sit for about 10 minutes and the broth thickened. Then I opened the lid.
When I woke up on the floor, I could not believe my eyes. Angels were fighting with swords in my kitchen, battling one another trying to take my fruity chicken concoction. I jumped up to separate them from each other, one hand on the pot to protect my treasured dish and keep one of the angels from sneaking in and swiping it, (like that would work) and remind them who was boss. Well, that resulted a somewhat stern talking to from the voice above, let me tell you. However, when I finally shooed them away and tasted what the angels were fighting over, OH… MY… GOSH!!!!! “Wonderful” does not begin to describe the mix of the fruit and the chicken in that sauce. I ate two bowls of my “Christmas Bliss” while talking to my parents in a fit of ecstasy with fruit and chicken dribbling down my chin, speech slurring, rambling incoherently. Diabetics couldn’t walk past my apartment without an insulin injection. My dad is diabetic and he was woozy through the phone.
So, the Bagman is learning to cook and aside from the potential for diabetic coma from all the fruit, I think this one is a winner. The mustard garlic and jalapeno fried chicken was also awesome. I, the angels, and I believe the voice from above, though he was harder to understand with the chicken in His mouth, are all well pleased.