I'm a bit embarrassed to show this picture, because it's kind of garish and sloppy (notice the gravy on the thrift store placemat), but it's a plate that makes me proud, reminding me of the home-cooked meals of my red clay South Carolina youth.
First up, fried chicken, using the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook recipe for Extra Crispy Fried Chicken. The technique is brilliant - first, a buttermilk brine, then a small portion of buttermilk poured into the flour and seasonings just so it makes shaggy crumbs. The buttermilk-soaked legs and thighs are then dredged in the shaggy crumbs, yielding a very crispy poultry product. I use the gravy recipe from the same cookbook - it's my go-to. My one exception to the gravy recipe is that I use exclusively chicken broth rather than both chicken and beef, that is a combination that confuses my palate. The gravy is simple: just sauteed mirepoix vegetables in butter, a bay leaf, some thyme; let cook down for at least 15 minutes, add flour, then broth and adjust seasonings. Strain before serving.
The pear salad is a riff on a Southern classic - canned pear half, with low-fat yogurt instead of mayo, and a cherry, which gives it a gaudy glow, to be sure, but guess what the kids ate first? You got it, the healthiest thing on the plate, the fruit.
This blog isn't one of the beautiful ones, the thoroughbreds put out by food stylists, photographers and chefs. It's real food by a real mom working in an average kitchen with Oprah on the tv in the background and the kids sitting at the counter reading, painting, coloring, nagging, nibbling. A little red clay on their knees would complete the scene.