Skill It Home

creative handmade family cooking


Your Kids Will Eat This

I wish I could remember which chef said that lemon is the one flavor they rely on to perk up a dish.  I think they used words a tad more dramatic, something like “why bother cooking if there are no lemons?”

Lemons are amazing.  Their bright, sweet acidity does liven up many a dish. They prevent scurvy. Their zest turns a boring cream cheese frosting into a force to be reckoned with.

And did you know they contain more fructose than a strawberry?  That’s a good one to share with the kiddos!

The other reason this dish is so amazing is the chicken itself.  It comes from our friend and farmer, Pat McNiff of Pat’s Pastured.  It was over a year ago that we roasted our first Poulet Rouge and realized that this is what chicken is supposed to taste like.

Wherever you happen to be, and if you are going to eat meat, I can’t recommend enough that you get to know someone who raises animals with integrity.

Then buy your meat from them and tell them how much you appreciate what they do. If they have family farm days, like Pat, please, please go! And definitely take your children with you.

Okay, now on with the recipe as promised. I want to describe it the way a grandmother dictates it to you and then I’ll list the ingredients.  Use your intuition on this one because it’s a pretty simple master recipe that will tolerate a lot of variation!

If you have to decide, choose to be generous with the olive oil, lemon juice, and love.

Your kids will eat this!

Greek Skill It Chicken Recipe

First, make a marinade of an overflowing handful of chopped fresh oregano, the zest & juice of a lemon, some olive oil, salt, and pepper. You can pulse in a food processor or just mix up by hand.

Set this aside and cut your chicken into quarters plus wings. Rinse & pat dry, then add to a large bowl, turning the pieces to coat with the marinade.

Now pre-heat your oven to 450 and find a large skillet or dutch oven. It needs to be stove-top & oven-safe and as big as you have.

Take a pound of potatoes, scrub them clean, and cut them into thin wedges. Smaller potatoes, yellow, red, or fingerling, cook quickly and work best. Take one large red onion and cut that into wedges. Grab as many Kalamata olives as you like and have those at the ready, too.

Put your skillet on medium high heat with a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Let it get a little hot and shimmery, then put your chicken pieces in the pan, skin side down, to brown for about 5 minutes, covered. Turn the chicken over, add the remaining marinade, the squeezed out lemon halves, your potatoes, onions, and olives.

Pop the beautifully filled skillet into your hot oven, uncovered, to roast for another 20-30 minutes. Check that your chicken is cooked by piercing with a fork to see that the juices run clear. Test your potatoes to see if they are fork-tender, too.

Serve your chicken with a little pan juice over the top and a side of vegetables or a green salad. Chard and spinach make especially tasty companions.

Ingredients (or Market List)
1 Chicken, 3.5-5 pounds
1 Lemon
1/4 c. fresh Oregano
1 lb. Potatoes
1 large Red Onion
1/2 cup Kalamata Olives
Olive Oil
Greens of Choice

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Learning to Nourish Ourselves

My good friend has a blog called exhale. return to center.

I think this is amazing advice for life, and especially life in the kitchen.

Fancy-pants restaurant food is results-oriented.  It’s fast-paced and there is a lot of ego.  Tensions run high, food critics are tough, and employees all over the restaurant find themselves burning out in their “real lives” while they give over their heart and souls to the constant churn of the nightly service.

Sometimes I catch myself approaching dinner at home with this same energy.  This can be fantastic when I put a healthy meal on the table in under 20 minutes.

My ego is very proud of my ability to think fast, work efficiently, and deliver delicious results.

But this is not what I want my life to look like!

I am really okay with getting dinner on the table in under 20 minutes.  But I do not want that frantic, restaurant energy in my home. Can you imagine a 5-year old learning to cook in a New York City kitchen? I can only picture upset and tears.

I truly believe that our kitchen is the heart of the home.  It feeds and nourishes us in every way.

I prefer to cultivate a simple, mindful energy in our kitchen.  One that is light-hearted and listens to music while grating the carrots and toasting the tortillas.

When I get to the table to enjoy our simple supper, I want to be relaxed, smiling, and joyful.  In this state of being, I can absorb the food gracefully.

This same energy of relaxation, smiles and joy sets the stage for a beautiful, soul-filling learning environment.

Our homes, our kitchens, our classrooms are the places where we teach children how to take care of themselves.

At heart, this is what motivates everything in the Skill It kitchen. We teach children to prepare food so they can care for themselves.

Even more than this, we hope to guide them towards taking care of their most basic needs. We hope to equip them with the skills and confidence to nourish their bodies, minds, and their spirits.

We have to show our children how to be with our example. We can create a peaceful, encouraging, and patient kitchen so that they can be comfortable trying, experimenting, and exploring.

And this gets created in the moment. 

One breath, one exhale at a time.

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Picked & Plucked…Fresh from the Farms

This week it’s all about the food.  We are eating melons, plums, tomatoes, zucchini, and eggplant in the Skill It kitchen.  We are soaking up the sun in the final weeks of summer.

It’s a busy time of year as we scramble to find the time to relax.  We prepare for vacations, pack up the kids, drive for hours and hours (sometimes through heavy traffic) in the hopes that we will unwind.

I heard a comedian recently say something like:

“going in vacation is just eating in a place we’ve never been before.” 

This is true, if for no other reason than our need to eat about 3 times a day, everyday.

For me, this is an invitation to explore what’s fresh, unique, and local wherever you find yourself.  Let your taste buds guide you through your vacation and stop at the roadside farm you pass by on the highway.

Incorporate a summer picnic into your vacation…there are fewer finer pleasures than eating in the fresh air and sunshine.

What about you?

Where are you going this summer?

And most importantly, what are you eating?



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