Monday, July 16, 2018

The Art of Letter Writing

I am an insane hoarder of letters.

I have every card and letter sent to me in the last fifty years.

Yes, you read correctly, fifty years.  Letters and cards neatly preserved in boxes.
Every once in a while I peruse them, with much enjoyment.

I could not wait to learn to write.  In my elementary school there was always a childhood illness
(Measles, mumps, chicken pox, etc.) making the rounds and the teacher would
not begin and/or continue our lessons in cursive until all were present.  This, seemingly,
went on forever.

I have always prided myself on having a neat hand writing but, alas, these days the arthritis
has definitely altered my style.

My great, great Aunt used to write notes to me and at the bottom of the note she would tape
two dimes, for an ice cream treat.  Friends who moved away would write to me and it was
always such fun and great anticipation to open and read the letters.

And then the internet was created and, along with it, email.

I must admit that, initially, emails were fun.  They were instantaneous and that, in itself, was amazing.  I confess, however, that to this day I treat an email as a letter, usually complete with
a salutation, etc.

As we all know, the downturn in postal mailings occured due to emails.  And then texts became
the  new form of communication, complete with its own symbols and abbreviations.

And then the public schools chose to discontinue teaching cursive.  (That makes me so sad).

There are now students who only know how to print.  I don't know how they sign a check but then those are becoming a thing of the past as well!  They do not know how to compose a
personal letter or a business letter.

And, they certainly do not know the joy of holding an envelope containing  words written by someone, perhaps from another city, state or country.

If you really want to brighten someone's day, sit down and jot a little note letting them know
you are thinking of them.  I guarantee you will be sending more than words!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Chicken and Waffles

Growing up in Central Pennsylvania, Chicken and Waffles was a menu item we had quite often.

My Mother would poach a chicken, debone it, and, using the chicken stock, prepare a creamed
chicken.  She would then make waffles, using a waffle iron.  The creamed chicken would be
served atop the homemade waffles.....hmmmmm, comfort food!

Every Sunday I take my ninety-one year old Mother and sixty-one year old brother to Sunday
Lunch.  My brother has Downs Syndrome and food is his hobby!  We go from restaurant to
 restaurant each Sunday - some days it is Olive Garden, some days it is Red Lobster, others it
might be a diner.

Early this morning my brother called me.  He informed me he was in the mood for Chicken
and Waffles.  I told him I would see what I could do to make that happen.

I then punched in "Chicken and Waffles near me" on my ipad.  Many, many restaurants and
diners appeared.  I then zeroed in on the closest restaurants and was quite surprised at the
photos of Chicken and Waffles.

Instead of a Chicken in Gravy over Waffles, what appeared at these restaurants was Fried
Chicken and Waffles on the Side with Maple Syrup.  (What??????)

No where was there a chicken in gravy over a waffle. 

Apparently the Fried Chicken with Waffle on the Side is a Southern specialty.

I must confess, I never heard of that!

Digging further into the internet, an article appeared regaling the wonders of the Amish
Chicken and Waffles, only to be found east of Pittsburgh!

Aha!  Our Chicken and Waffles!!!!!

Little did I ever realize that this was a regional dish peculiar to Central Pennsylvania.
(although I must admit, I thought, as a youngster, that everyone in the world ate pork and sauerkrout
on New Years Day!!!)

With the advent of the rotisserie chicken,  available to everyone, we do not have to cook our
own chicken, make our own stock, etc. to enjoy this dish.

I found a wonderful recipe from good food stories that nails it!

Amish Chicken and Waffles
(4 servings)

1  3-4 lb. rotisserie chicken

1 large egg
4 T. unsalted butter, melted
1 cup milk
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. granulated sugar
1/4 t. kosher salt

4 T. unsalted butter
1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup milk (or heavy cream, for extra richness)
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Pull the meat from the roasted chicken and cut or shred into bite-sized pieces.
Keep warm in a low oven til ready to assemble.

Make the Waffles:
2.  Preheat a 4 square waffle maker.
3.  Separate the egg yolk and white and reserve the egg white in a small bowl.
4.  Melt the butter in a small saucepan and remove from heat to cool slightly.
5.  Whisk the egg yolk and milk together in a large bowl, then add the melted butter, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.  Whisk together til just barely combined; some lumps may remain.
6.  Beat the egg white by hand or with an electric mixer til soft peaks form.  Gently fold the
egg white into the batter with a spatula.
7.  Grease the waffle maker, if necessary, and pour the batter evenly into the waffle iron; depending on the depth and size of your waffle maker, you may have a bit of leftover batter.  Cook according to your waffle makers' specifications.

8.  Alternative:  purchase frozen waffle and heat according to directions.

Make the gravy:
1.  Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat.  Sprinkle the flour evenly over the melted butter and whisk to incorporate into a roux. 
2.  Cook, whisking frequently, til roux turns toasty golden.  It will remain pale for a few minutes,
then toast quickly so keep an eye on it.
3.  Drizzle in the chicken stock, whisking constantly as it is added.  The flour will clump, but
continue to whisk and the gravy will smooth itself out.  Add the milk and cook, stirring frequently,
until the gravy thickens and comes to a simmer.
4.  Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add chicken pieces to the


1.  Place a waffle on a plate, spoon chicken and gravy over the waffle.
(Sometimes served with a side of mashed potatoes)