Idleness is being free to do anything."
I am idle.
People or questionnaires occasionally ask, "What's your favorite food?", and I'm at a bit of a loss, because I (thought I) didn't have a favorite. I like my mother's meatloaf with baked potatoes, and I like (some) barbecue ribs, and I like coffee yogurt, and BLTs, and "dirty water" hot dogs with sweet onion relish, and crispy fried chicken thighs, but I don't think I could call them favorites. They're all things I especially like, and hunger for at certain times. But none is what I'd call "my favorite food".
I think I've found my favorite.
I was thinking fondly about last night's chicken, and I realized it was very similar to another dish that used to be served at a (now defunct) restaurant in New Paltz. The New Paltz concoction was served in a casserole dish. A variety of roasted vegetables on the bottom, with a chicken breast on top, covered with a peanutty dark bitter chocolaty mole sauce, then cheese on top, broiled. The only difference was the casserole presentation, and the sauce.
Then I remembered a dish I had invented one day, back when I was cooking for Jay, when I noticed we had a lot of bits and scraps of vegetables in the refrigerator. It quickly became a favorite of both Jay and me. I'd broil chicken breasts, and while they were cooking, I'd saute veggies in olive oil with a touch of garlic. Very finely julienned carrots and onions were the necessary base, then I'd add strips of whatever else was lying around - broccoli stems, peppers, cabbage, radish, celery, celeriac, turnip, parsnip, spinach, mushrooms, even a shriveling apple - julienned and added in order of how long they'd take to cook to tender. It was always a different combination.
Then I'd heap the veggy mix on top of the chicken breasts, put thick slices of tomato on top, and sprinkle it with shredded cheese (again, whatever needed to be used up), and put them under the broiler until the tomatoes were softened and the cheese was bubbly. A complete one-dish meal. Jay called it "Cleaning the Bin Chicken".
I think I've found my favorite. A slew of vegetables on or under a chicken breast, with something tasty and wet on it, and a little cheese on top.
I always ended up with more vegetables than would fit on the chicken. I'd use the rest the next day as filling for omelets, or mix them into mac & cheese, or add them to meatloaf, or stuff pork chops or rolled steak with them. They always sweetened whatever they were added to.