Have you missed me? I have been swamped with writing projects and travel. We just got back from a lovely wedding in New England, and helped celebrate the vows of a young couple in the Battell Chapel on the old Yale Campus. I was excited to find this post and recipe from author RJ Crayton waiting for me.
RJ is a writer who knows how to get things done. She has a full-plate of family and community responsibilities that she balances with her career as an author. I have grown to appreciate her insightful observations, and I’ve learned quickly that if RJ asks a question the answer will be important. She is a woman you want to pay attention to. What’s more, she’s fun, she laughs a lot, and that is what life is all about. And now in the author’s own words…
Cool and Tasty Summertime Dish
by RJ Crayton
When Lois invited me to do this, I started racking my brain to think of what recipe I could use. Then it hit me: since my novel is about a woman desperately fleeing a forced kidney transplant, I should offer up a recipe for kidney pie. Yum! Wait … no! Kidney pie sounds disgusting. Are there real kidneys in that? Hold on. Let me check.
Yep there are. They use ox kidneys, according to the BBC If you try to use lamb or pig kidneys, it won’t taste as good. And they recommend you start the cooking process at least 48 hours in advance. Ummm, I don’t have time to cook a meal over a three-day period.
So, in the alternative to kidney pie, let’s actually make something I know how to cook that doesn’t involve trying to find a butcher who has an ox kidney (or what he says is an ox kidney).
It’s starting to get hot here in the Washington, DC, area, and in the summertime, I prefer not to heat up the kitchen cooking all the time. On the really hot days, it seems nuts to air condition the house and then add heat from the oven to it. So, I like to make this great chicken salad dish, which is tasty, fresh and cold. It fits with my cooking style in that it’s not complicated to make. All you have to do is have the ingredients. I’m a minimalist in cooking so I prefer not to make anything that involves too much drama. I also like tasty dishes, so those that can conflict with minimalism at times, but that’s why we have restaurants, right? Someone else can spend hours slaving over a hot pot so I can enjoy a tasty meal; I used to get that for free (thanks, Mom!), but now it only happens when I pay the waiter.
So, this dish involves a bit of slicing and dicing, but it’s pretty easy and requires no cooking. The best part is, if you have a kitchen helper who’s super excited to cut stuff up, the way my daughter is, then you don’t have to dice at all, if you don’t want to. If you do want to, I suggest you have an epic rock paper scissors battle to decide who gets to do it. On a more serious note, I don’t recommend letting small children cut onions; if they don’t wash their hands well and get the juice in their eyes, it’s a bad scene. I made this dish the other day with my 7-year-old daughter, and she suggested her doll Kittyanna help us out.
1 ½ cups of chicken (you can pull leftovers from a baked chicken or use a can of chicken, drained)
½ red pepper, diced
⅓ red onion, diced
10 grapes (I like to cut them in half, but my hubby says that’s overkill)
½ apple, cut into quarter-inch chunks
Balsamic vinegar (a few splashes, to taste)
Basically, you just toss all the ingredients, except the last, in a bowl, and mix them up. Then, add enough balsamic vinegar to lightly coat your dish. It usually only takes three or four splashes. However, if you like a more vinegary tasting dish, add some more. It tastes great in a pita pocket, or on any bread that can stand up to a moist filling. Sometimes if I’m making this, I’ll also make a bean salad. As I’m simple, I make a bean salad using a can of pinto beans, drained (though you can use any kind of beans you like–perhaps kidney beans), and a quarter jar of Trader Joe’s Corn and Chile tomato-less Salsa. That’s a great side because it’s super quick.
RJ Crayton is a former journalist turned novelist. By day, she writes page-turning fiction and regularly blogs for Indies Unlimited and the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. By night, she practices the art of ninja mom.
To learn more about RJ or her books, visit her Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/RJ-Crayton/e/B00DFQ5F24
Rj also has a blog, http://rjcrayton.com/
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