Cooking is my passion. Although I am not sure my kids share my extreme enthusiasm for all food related topics, I do hope that each one will learn enough in our kitchen to feed themselves well once they leave home. I am a firm believer that being able to take fresh, whole ingredients and turn them into a meal is an essential skill (knowing how to whip up a batch of killer chocolate chip cookies also comes in handy). Given my love for cooking, I was thrilled to hear about Fearless Food, a new venture from The Peterson Garden Project.
The Peterson Garden Project, founded by LaManda Joy, has been teaching Chicagoans how to grow produce in community gardens since 2010. Teaching them how to cook what they have grown is a logical next step, and that is where Fearless Food comes in. Fearless Food programs will be skill based, empowering people to create delicious food using seasonal and pantry ingredients. Just imagine how it would feel to grow your own vegetables, then turn them into an amazing dinner.
Watching live cooking demonstrations and participating in hands-on lessons are both fabulous ways to pick up new culinary skills. Fearless Food has secured a teaching kitchen in the nearby Broadway Armory. Programs will be skill-based. Programs will be skill-based. They are working with a variety of sponsors, including Sauganash resident, Gloria Athanis of Healthful Habits, Inc. Gloria's programs will focus on how to incorporate healthy plant-based meals into an everyday diet. You can find recipes and healthy lifestyle tips on their facebook page, Healthful Habits, Inc.
Fearless Food is well on their way to equipping the space, and they already have learning stations, ovens, counters and refrigerators. In late March, they launched a Kickstarter Campaign to raise money to purchase other essentials, such as utensils, pots, bowls and a hand sink, that are needed to round out their kitchen. Backers have already pledged the $5500 needed to fund their project, so Fearless Food set a new goal and hopes to raise $7500 by April 19th. Go to kickstarter.com and search for Fearless Food. Take a minute to read more about Fearless Food's inspiring project and consider making a pledge to support their effort.
Today, I found another reason to love this project: the Fearless Food Kitchen will be hosting Chicago Food Swap on a regular basis. Chicago Food Swap currently holds monthly swaps at locations throughout the city and suburbs. I have participated in several swaps since December of 2012 and have had so much fun meeting other home cooks and trading my food for their delicious creations. You never know what you'll find at a swap: duck eggs, whole grain mustard, blackberry soda, garden fresh baby kale, chocolate frosted Guiness cupcakes. The swap has inspired me to try my hand at canning. I love searching for new recipes that (I hope) will be well received by my fellow swappers. It is exciting to know that more of these swaps will take place so close to my home in this beautiful new space in the Broadway Armory.
In the spirit of Fearless Food, I'm sharing one of my favorite, easy weeknight meals: Lemon Roasted Chicken. The chicken is stuffed with lemon, shallot and garlic, then roasted in a very hot oven. Using a high temperature helps ensure that the skin is crispy and the meat is juicy and delicious. High heat roasting is a good, simple technique to know and this is a delicious way to use it.
Lemon Roasted Chicken
- One 3-4 pound chicken. The one used for this recipe was 3.7 pounds
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- Half a lemon, quartered (optional)
- 1 shallot, halved (optional)
- 2 cloves of garlic, smashed (optional)
Why are the lemon, shallot and garlic optional? Because even without them, the chicken will have crackly, crisp skin and juicy meat. If all you have is the chicken, this is still a wonderful recipe.
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. The chicken needs to be dry so that it roasts (nicely browned and crispy skin) instead of steams.
Tuck the wings under the bird. Sprinkle about one teaspoon of salt and half the pepper inside the cavity. If using, stuff chicken with lemon, shallot and garlic. Rub the skin with olive oil, then sprinkle with the rest of the salt and pepper.
Place the chicken in roasting pan or 10 inch oven safe skillet (such as All-Clad). Roast for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Let rest for 15 minutes before carving.
Convection Oven Adjustments: Set oven to 425 convection. Follow instruction above and cook chicken for 50 minutes. Let rest for 15 minutes before carving.