I’ve been thinking a lot lately about leaving it all behind. The job, the apartment, the inordinate amount of stuff that has seemed to pile up around me. The cat, of course, is coming. And probably the car, because, hey, emergencies happen.
Living in a little cabin or tiny house in the woods somewhere. Growing a little garden and poking holes in the bottom of a bucket, hanging it from a tree to use as a shower. Living relatively off grid. Minimal electricity, no email, no Facebook. Gardening, foraging, hunting. I’d say, “no cell phone,” but I’m pretty sure my mom would like make sure I’m legitimately alive once in a while.
I have to wonder how long I could keep it up. I’d have to learn to hunt and forage. I’d probably have to start liking mushrooms – because that ‘s what wilderness foragers like. blech. My time in the Peace Corps certainly gave me an edge when it comes to surviving with little. I can wash my clothes by hand. I know how to bake over a fire. I have no problem growing and butchering my own food. I’m more of an introvert than an extrovert. I like the silence; I like being alone. But how long can one really last with minimal human contact – just the cat to keep me company? And there’s only so many books you can read before you’re aching for something new.
I know at this point in popular culture declaring one is “unplugging” is just a smudge past trite, but that’s the plan. For tomorrow anyway. Anything not work-related is off limits. No email, Facebook, Twitter, blog stat checking, Pinterest. No Netflix.
Just me and the cat. And a book.
Chicken Pot Pies
Adapted, very slightly, from The Little Kitchen
Makes 6 individual pies
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons each, minced fresh rosemary and thyme
12 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
6-8 Tablespoons ice water
Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and herbs in a medium bowl. Using a fork, your fingers, or a pastry cutter, cut in the chilled butter until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Mix in 6 to 8 tablespoons of ice water one tablespoon at at time, making sure to incorporate all of the dry ingredients. Knead very briefly, if needed, to incorporate all dry ingredients. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
After the dough has rested in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, roll it out on a floured surface until it is 1/4 inch thick. Using one of the ramekins or tins, flipped upside down, cut tops to fit each. Make a slit so that steam can be released and return to the refrigerator until the filling is prepared.
1 cup peeled and diced red potatoes
1 cup diced carrots
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup yellow onions, small dice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup half and half
1 cup sweet young peas, fresh or frozen (defrost if frozen, place into a bowl and leave on the counter while preparing the other ingredients)
2 cups cooked chicken
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place ramekins or small pie tins on a foil lined baking sheet to catch overflow.
In a medium sauce pan, heat salted water to a boil and cook the potatoes and carrots until tender. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, salt and pepper and cook until translucent. Stir constantly to avoid the butter and onions both burning. Add the flour and whisk for 4 to 6 minutes until a blond roux forms.
Whisk in the broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Allow it to simmer until the sauce thickens. Add the half and half and return to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, or more until it thickens again. Add salt and pepper, if needed.
Add the rest of the vegetables (potatoes, carrots, peas), chicken, garlic, and parsley. Make sure the chicken and vegetables are well combined with the sauce.
Pour the filling equally into each of the ramekins. Top with the prepared crusts.
At this point, you can freeze the uncooked pies and bake them individually in a 400 degree oven for 30 to 45 minutes. If cooking now, cook the pies until the crust is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.