Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dinner in the Country

Traveling east of Saratoga Springs last Thursday evening, my friend Claire (of Bitchin’ Bette’s fame) and I drove to have dinner with her sister Kathleen and her husband Ed. Recent transplants from Westchester, PA, Kathleen's and Ed’s new home sits on six acres on a quiet country road somewhere between Greenwich and the Vermont border! There’s a garden started, and six new chickens have begun laying eggs. Before we arrived, Claire and I stopped at the Hand Melon Farm and picked up Georgia peaches and nectarines.

Upon our arrival, Kathleen greeted us with South Hamptons, a refreshing non-alcoholic drink of tonic water, lime juice, bitters, and a slice of lime. Just a splash of bitters gives the drink a pretty pink color. Perfect for a summer night. Ed makes a wicked Manhattan, but I wanted to be able to function. Claire and I always talk about how much we love Ed’s “Mahhnhaaatans.” That’s what that drink does to me!

We sat chatting in the kitchen while Kathleen effortlessly (it seemed) prepared chicken a la king. She’d picked up fresh asparagus and a chicken at a local farmers market. I remember this dish from my childhood, though ours was prepared by S.S. Pierce (an especially good specialty food company) and my parents had to open many small cans to feed a family of nine! Kathleen’s version stirred up happy memories of my family enjoying that meal together. I watched as Kathleen thickened chicken stock with flour, added mushrooms, pimento and shredded chicken, and I’m sure other ingredients, but I wasn’t paying complete attention since I talk a lot! We ate dinner outside on their screened-in porch. The chicken a la king was served with brown rice, perfectly steamed asparagus, and a simple salad of baby greens with Kathleen’s own vinaigrette. It was perfect.

For dessert, Kathleen served sliced organic strawberries topped with a little bit of vanilla ice cream. As we enjoyed our meal, we were entertained by a mother bird feeding her young in a nest perched just outside the porch. There were all kinds of little country animals and birds on display. Bunnies, hummingbirds, squirrels – as if Walt Disney himself had set the stage for our beautiful evening.

Here is Kathleen's recipe:


2 TBS butter or substitute
3 TBS flour
¾ tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
¾ cup half and half or canned skim milk
½ cup hot water
1 tsp instant chicken bouillon
2 cups cut up chicken or turkey (cooked)
1 can mushroom stems and pieces (small can)
2 TBS chopped pimiento (or cut up roasted red peppers from jar)

Melt butter, add flour, salt pepper and gradually add milk, stirring constantly. Add hot water and bouillon. Stir until thickened. Add remaining ingredients and cook until heated through. Serve on toast points, over rice, or puff pastry. Serves 4

Photo by Jeannie Eddy

Next blog: dogs

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