I have carried this recipe with me for the last 11 years. That would be two apartments and one house for those of you wondering. Making this still makes me think of that very first apartment. It was the second floor of a house that had been converted into an apartment. Not that that is at all unusual; people convert single family homes into multi-unit dwellings all the time. The unusual detail is that from my bedroom window I could look out and see my grandmother’s front porch. From my living room, I could see her laundry hanging in the back yard.
My apartment was in the house right next door to the house I had grown up in. So there was always this sense of being at home. My apartment living room was where my grandmother’s bedroom was. The kitchen was where my brother, then I, then my sister had our bedroom. My bedroom was where my grandfather’s room was. Everything about the space was familiar, from the polished wood floors that creaked in the nights to the black and white tile in the bathroom to the curving line of the ceiling in the back rooms.
I spent seven years there, eating my meals off of my grandmother’s old kitchen table. Those meals were cooked on a tiny, half sized stove. The oven was barely wide enough to hold a cookie sheet and the stovetop was so narrow that I couldn’t have two big pots on it at the same time. Despite all that, and my general lack of cooking skills at the time, I occasionally managed to produce a meal that stood out. They truly were few and far between but I promise you they were real. As real as knowing that my next door neighbor would always check to make sure I got home safely at night, that she would call if she saw my car parked at home on a work day, and that it took less than 60 seconds to get from my living room to hers.
I remember that apartment fondly; it was where I needed to be at the time. It makes me sad to see strangers coming out of there now when I go over to my grandmother’s. I still feel a sense of ownership over that space on the second floor. When I look up at the bedroom window, I half expect to see my younger self looking back down at me. Who knows, maybe now the ghost of that younger me is what makes the wooden floors creak in the night.
One Pot Chicken Bake
Adapted from Baltimore Sun
BAH Note: The original recipe has you bake this in a 10×15 dish. I personally don’t own a 10×15 baking dish and even if I did, it works perfectly well to bake it in a dutch oven or other large pot.
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 to 3 pounds bone in chicken thighs, skins removed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 pound mushrooms, sliced
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) chicken broth
- 28 ounces diced tomatoes in juice
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
Heat the oven to 350 degrees and combine the flour, paprika, and cayenne in a shallow dish.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture and, working in batches, brown the chicken on both sides. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
Add the remaining oil to the dutch oven and cook the onions for about 5 minutes, or until they begin to soften. Add the mushrooms and cook until they release their liquid. Stir in the chicken broth, diced tomatoes, and marjoram and bring to a boil. Add the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pot and bake 45 minutes to 1 hour until the chicken is done.