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Weeks ago, just a few, I encouraged you to go for the organic chicks when grabbing your meats for the week at the grocery. Organic poultry comes with a price tag, as we know, but there’s a way to get every last penny out of the bird. In that mini series ORGANIC FOR PENNIES I shared my ways of utilizing one chicken for a week worth of dinners for 2 or even 4, if you help stretch that buck.

I buy a whole chicken every couple of weeks, and make my stock, marinate the breast and the legs, and scrape the leftover meat from the cooked carcass into a separate bowl. Every couple of weeks I’m faced with a new challenge to reinvent the wheel.

Last night I made this:

The chicken was mixed with chili peppers, grated garlic and ginger, low sodium soy sauce, and Hoisin sauce. A few scallions thinly sliced at an angle were tossed into the mix. Then I added my medley of cooked grains (brown and wild rice, black barley, red quinoa) and sautéed everything for a minute or two. To serve it, I wrapped the Grain Medley & Chinese Flavored Chicken in quarters of Blanched Bok Choy.

That’s it. The Asian theme is simply accidental. I use my Polish roots for inspiration in the kitchen just as often.

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Let’s wrap this up, shall we. Do I have all the essentials handy? Coffee, check. Music, check (streaming Xploding Plastix). Cosmo snoring right by my feet, check. Leftover pieces of chicken from our Organic Chicken Cook-out, check!

When I began this mini series, ORGANIC FOR PENNIES, a few days ago, in PART 1 I suggested breaking an entire chicken into several useful elements, all to be later utilized in separate dinner meals. We started with making the ORGANIC CHICKEN STOCK, that was later transformed into this luscious ENGLISH ONION SOUP a’la Jamie Oliver. Moreover, all the meaty parts of the bird–the boobies and legs–got a ROASTING TREATMENT for that extra tan and flavor. Today, I want you to take all the meat you scraped off the chicken carcass, wings, and its neck after cooking them in your stock, and make a brand new dish from the same $12 chicken.

There’s plenty you could do. Mix it with cooked rice, spice it up and use as a filling for STUFFED CABBAGE, or yummy CROQUETTES, or simply mix with your MARINARA SAUCE and serve over a bowl of pasta.

Or not. Want something Asian accented? Here are a few tricks I’ve been using following the idea: FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT. I make a somewhat cheated version of PINEAPPLE CHICKEN FRIED RICE.

Cook yourself a pot of rice, whatever amount makes you happy, but use common sense when building your dish later on. Set a large skillet on the stove, heat about 1 tbsp of coconut oil, add 2-4 dried chili peppers (just tear them with your fingers over the skillet), 3-4 garlic cloves (finely chopped), and stir together for 30 seconds. Add the rice and toss it with the flavors in your pan. Give it a few minutes, and empty a can of pineapple (chunks) along with its juices into the same skillet. Season with soy sauce. Stir about allowing all the flavors to get marry. Let it cook  for another 5 minutes or so, until all juices are absorbed by the rice. If you’re feeling shrimp, too, toss a bunch onto the pile. Be my guest. Finish the dish with a handful of chopped green onions and fresh cilantro. That’s All Folks! Easy, right?

I made this dish for one of my clients, when catering LUNCH to all his employees, and it was a hit. I served it to my friends another time, and they were asking for seconds. Jason puts in his request for this entree for dinner on a semi-regular basis. It’s all about the comfort of this rice and chicken combo, where sweet mixes with salty, followed by a mild heating sensation in the back of your throat.

Me likey.

In conclusion, eating ORGANIC FOR PENNIES is doable. We spent about 12 smackers on the bird, plus an extra $10 on veggies for the stock and the soup, and maybe 2 more bucks for the bag of rice that accompanied two other dinner meals. Each time, we were able to feed at least 4 people, or serve the dish more than once in a week. Over all, for about $25 total we fed an army for a week, we ate organic, and we LOVED IT!

Go ahead, be inspired to eat better, live better, and feel the power of CREATION!

February has come unnoticed, and perched quietly on a tree branch outside our bedroom. It’s the Month of Lovers, Juliets and Romeos, Juliets and Julies, Romeos and Ramons, Suitors and Darlings, Cavaliers and Sweethearts. What about FOOD LOVERS? When do we get chocolate hearts with booze filling and free tickets to WICKED? If there is a FOOD LOVERS’ DAY, can someone please pass on the memo?? Because I didn’t get it.

One month ago today we were sitting in a car with Jason moving steadily along I-10 heading west. We were driving back from Texas after the holiday break and Cosmo was still wearing his Santa costume. The drive, as I’ve mentioned before, takes two full days (in other words 24 hours plus a one night stand in a roadside motel), hence we stacked the car with books, magazines and monkey tricks to keep each other entertained.

One of the magazines was Rolling Stone; at the end of the trip the most ragged one, as Jason is fiercely passionate about music. His bond with music is legendary and of such magnitude I have all the reasons to be jealous. Let’s put it this way: if our house was on fire (knock-knock), and Jason had to choose between pulling my naked body from underneath the satin sheets we don’t have (but could have, as it’s a hypothetical scenario) and packing up his collection of vinyls, turn tables, and his iTunes library, I’m afraid he’d have gone for the latter.

Jason is a walking music encyclopedia. He knows not only the names of all albums of his favorite bands (and those go by the dozen), songs on those albums, all band members’ names along with their shoe sizes and childbirth marks on their asses. I know I tend to exaggerate occasionally, just a little tiny bit. Trust me, it’s not the case today. He loves to dig through the Internet for hours (when that luxury is available) sniffing out facts, news, interviews, music videos, logs of the creative process and predictions.

When he read Rolling Stone’s summary of the past decade in music epithets started floating inside the chamber of our car. Pepe we named it. The car, I mean. Jason disagreed with most of the magazine’s choices for their Top Ten Albums of the Decade.

Why don’t you make your own list?

I challenged him.

Why I will then.

He responded and took the nearest exit off the road in El Paso, where we stopped to feed the horses. At a Mexican restaurant I chased after a waiter and with my broken Spanish I asked for a napkin and a pen so Jason could vent his frustration with the magazine and lay it all out on the paper.

Pardon, me homie, el papel por favor.

The man with a thick mustache and a sombrero nodded with a smirk, which did not escape my attention, and started heading back to the kitchen. As the gap between us grew, I realized I forgot to ask about the pencil, and so I yelled at the top of my lungs:

Y uno mass, corazon – el lapiz un poquito por favor. Gracias, me hombre guapo.

The waiter froze, turned around on a ball of his foot and looked me deep in the eyes from across the room. He took a breath and threw back at me with the sweetest smile:

Si senora loca.

I loved that man.

Jason didn’t waste time and quickly scribbled his first choices. However, it took another month for him to have a moment to finish assigning each album it’s rightful place on his Top Ten. Inevitably some changes occurred.

Ladies and Gentlemen, without further ado I present you with the final version of

JASON’S TOP 10 OF THE DACADE:

10.  LCD SOUNDSYSTEM – The Sound of Silver

9.  PORTISHEAD – 3rd

8.  GIRL TALK – Night Ripper

7.  WILCO – Yankee Foxtrot Hotel

6.  RADIOHEAD – In Rainbows

5.  THE WHITE STRIPES – Elephant

4.  TV ON THE RADIO – Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes

3.  SIGUR ROS – Agaetis Byrjun

2.  ARCADE FIRE – Funeral

1.  RADIOHEAD – Kid A

Have I mentioned Jason is a little nutso about Radiohead? If Thom Yorke farts, Jason knows about it, not to mention any other of his creative endeavors.

Around the same time, just hours after we stepped back into our cosy abode, I also challenged myself with one of Ina Garten’s recipes for NOODLE SALAD WITH PEANUT SAUCE. I have tweaked it (hello!) by switching to organic and whole-wheat noodles as well as almond oil for canola oil, and agave nectar for honey. And then, of course, I changed proportions of some of the sauce ingredients, as the one made by Ina seemed way too oily for my liking.

Here’s my concoction:

–       0.5 cup of almond oil

–       3 tbsp rice vinegar

–       4 tbsp soy sauce, low sodium

–       3 tbsp toasted sesame oil

–       2 tbsp agave nectar

–       3 tbsp peanut butter

–       2 cloves of garlic, minced

–       1 tbsp grated ginger

Whisk all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Cook your pasta (whole box), drain, plunge into a large bowl, and pour the PEANUT SAUCE all over it while it’s still hot. The temperature will help the noodles absorb all those wonderful flavors like a sponge.

Blanch sugar snap peas (about 8 oz) for 1-2 minutes tops and shock them in an ice-bath. Drain the green bunch and toss in with the noodles. Julienne (cut in super thin strips) one small red bell pepper and into the bowl they go. Roughly chop a bunch of scallions and fresh flat-leaf parsley, and bang on top of that mountain of noodles. Sprinkle sesame seeds all over and mix it all together.

You can enjoy it right away, or cover with plastic and store in a refrigerator for later. The peppers and sugar snap peas give it a fun crunchy texture, while the PEANUT SAUCE wraps it all together like your lover’s arms on Valentine’s Day.

Countdown to the premiere of IMPORTANT THINGS WITH DEMETRI MARTIN is on. Tune in on Thursday at 10 PM on Comedy Central.

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