Saturday, November 1, 2014

Chillin' -- And Saving -- Chez Wiles

On this beautiful autumn afternoon, it is 63 degrees in our house. Not in every room, of course. That would be crazy. We've had the fireplace crackling since 11 this morning; the family room is now a toasty 66, and my teens are draped in blankets. Adorbs!

My original intent was to wait until November to fire up the furnace Chez Wiles. But now that November is here, I wonder to what extremes the kids and I are willing to go. Down comforters? Of course. Four-legged, flea-bearing friends in bed? Perhaps. Seeing your breath in front of your face? Probably not. But then again ...

It's not, necessarily, that I'm trying to save money. I wouldn't deny the kids a warm home just to supplement my 401K. I would, however, stop spending $10 bills.

Yes, you read that correctly. I do not spend ten dollar bills. You won't find this advice splashed across the cover of Money magazine ("Single Mom Devises Retirement Strategy!") My plan is not supported by science or economics -- I'm a communications major, not an MBA. All I know is that when an Alexander Hamilton comes my way, I stash it in a pink leather envelope. When the envelope bulges, I deposit the contents at my neighborhood Bank of America.  And why not? Really. You don't see $10 bills all that often. Georges are everywhere. Andrew Jacksons abound. But if you're getting $10 in change, you're more likely to get a pair of Lincolns than an Alexander Hamilton.  So, when I see a $10, I hang on to it -- which has the side benefit of giving my kids one more reason to roll their eyes at me. (Nothing, though, gets their eyeballs spinning faster than my version of Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off.")

Think those eyes will be rolling when the thermostat drops to 60?


Roasted Lemon Chicken and Asparagus
Although this dish is special enough to serve to company, it's also super cost-effective. Use any leftover chicken to make Chicken and Saffron Rice.

One, 4-5 pound fryer chicken
1 lemon, zested
4 cloves garlic, grated (or minced fine)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 stems fresh oregano
1 pound asparagus

Preheat oven to 500, and remove all racks except bottom rack. Line a baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil. In a small bowl, combine lemon zest, garlic, oil, salt, pepper, and oregano. Use your hands to carefully loosen skin from chicken. Rub lemon garlic mixture under skin. Prop chicken on an upright roasting rack (I use a Roastup Rocket). Insert rosemary into chicken cavity. Tuck wings in back. Put chicken on the aluminum foil-lined baking sheet, put in oven, and immediately lower temperature to 400 degrees. Prepare asparagus by snapping off the woody ends. After chicken has roasted 45 minutes, add asparagus to baking sheet and toss with chicken juices. Roast an additional 15-20 minutes, or until chicken tests done. (Juices run clear when thigh is poked with a toothpick.)  Remove from oven and squeeze lemon juice over chicken and asparagus. Let chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving with roasted asparagus.

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