Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Deep Sadness, Sharing and Southern Fried Chicken

At six and half months into a journey that I would never wish upon my worst enemy I have settled into a deep sadness.

Gone (I hope) are the gut wrenching tear fests, the vomiting, the shaking and the fear.
A gentle, deep sadness has replaced the anxiety and bone crushing grief.

My tears now come in gentle streams. Memories come and go. A song, a thought, a colorful cardinal at my backyard feeder, all bring on a gentle remembrance of a life once lived. A life once shared. Dreams. Hope and promise. A life ended in its prime; cut short by circumstances beyond the control of mere mortals.

I have found that the answer to my grief is giving. Of myself. Of the one talent that I can share. I can cook.

My neighbor, just 36 years young has recently been diagnosed with Lymphoma. She has three young children and is in the fight of her life.

So I cook.

Comfort food.
Nourishing food.
Happy food.
Frivolous Food.
Once a week (sometimes twice) I make the trudge through the snow and slush to deliver something hot.
Something fun.
Something nourishing.
Soup. Bread. Cookies.
Casseroles that can be reheated after a day of chemotherapy. Sweets that can be dispensed to hungry littles.
Soup that soothes a nauseous stomach.
Sweet cornbread.
Roasted Chicken.
A light salad.
Anything that keeps my hands busy and my heart full.

Lest you think I am good. Or a saint; I have found that the answer to my pain is to give. In giving I receive. In giving and contributing to the hope of healing I see life prolonged - life healed.

Life enjoyed and life celebrated. Life at its best - around a table of good food, being shared by people who are in love. In love with life. In love with healing. In love with hope.

I hope you enjoy this recipe. It is designed to put some "south in your mouth" and a smile in your belly. But most of all it is meant to be shared.

Southern Fried Chicken: serves 4 plus neighbors

One whole chicken, quartered into legs, thigh, wing and breast portion. Rinsed and patted dry.
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon Louisiana Hot Sauce (or Tabasco)
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups plain bread crumbs
Canola Oil for frying (don't worry about calories or cholesterol - this recipe is all about comfort)

In a deep bowl combine the milk, hot sauce and vinegar, let sit for 10 minutes. Add the chicken. Make sure the milk mixture completely covers the chicken pieces. Refrigerate two hours or overnight (up to 24 hours)

Place the flour in a large ziploc bag, add salt and shake to combine.
Place eggs in a shallow pie plate and beat slightly with a fork.
Place bread crumbs in a second pie plate and set alongside the eggs.

Remove chicken pieces one at a time and shake in flour. Dip in egg, then coat with bread crumbs. Arrange coated chicken pieces on a rimmed cookie sheet. Repeat until all chicken pieces are coated.

Pour and pat any remaining bread crumbs over coated chicken pieces. Refrigerate 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

Heat oil to 265 degrees* in a shallow skillet (if you have an electric frying pan - wonderful!)

Gently add the coated chicken pieces to the hot oil and fry - about 8 minutes per side - turning until golden brown on all sides. Remove to a brown paper bag covered cookie sheet to drain the oil and keep crisp**

Serve with sweetened corn bread, mashed potatoes, steamed green beans and love. Remember to share with someone.

A Cook's Notes: *Cooking the chicken at 265 degrees will insure that it is crisp on the outside and perfectly done on the inside. Any higher and the chicken will crisp too early leaving it raw on the inside.

** Paper towels tend to get soggy with fried foods and will make the underside of you finished product soft and mushy. Use recycled brown paper bags from your grocery store. They absorb the grease and pull it away from the food, leaving it crispy and brown - the way you intended it to be.


  1. that looks so yum, you are a great neighbour, sending her prayers, from here,

  2. I wish my wife Linda & I were your neighbors, not to take from you, but to share with you.

  3. Can I come over for dinner? That sounds and looks amazing

  4. What a lovely post... man oh man do I wish I had not given up meat... it is the fight of my life, as a foodie. I think I am destined to relapse!

  5. I think of you often- I just can't imagine your pain. Your posts often bring me to tears. I know there will never be any getting over it- your life is forever changed. But it's good to read that you are gaining some comfort in giving. I imagine your neighbor really needs and appreciates you right now. Even though you don't seem to want the praise for giving, I do think it's quite remarkable you can step outside of your own grief and do for others at a time of such pain for you.

    Your recipes always look so tasty. It's good that others in need are benefiting from your talent.

  6. I'm with you, Linda. Would not wish this on our worst enemy, yet when we look around there are so many of us suffering from the pain of losing a spouse.

    The raw edges have healed somewhat, and yet the deep well of grief seems bottomless. Lately I have been thinking of my mother (dead 12 years now) and wishing I could cry on her shoulder.

    I like you've found a way through by giving. I will try that. Since I've stopped walking (too cold) I find my grief is worse. Giving does help both the giver and the receiver.

    I am sure your neighbour appreciates your cooking at this particularly vulnerable time in her life. God bless - and with small children too, ouch!

  7. I think of you often and read every day. I love my husband so much and I try to never, ever take him for granted. Hugs to you.

  8. And some day that sadness will change into something else. I don't know what that will be for you. Today, when I talk about Jason, I laugh at all the things we did. The silly, the absurd, and the sweet. I talk about him every day in my new job. A gift that I never expected in my new career. I am thinking of you always.

  9. You are giving your neighbor and her family a wonderful gift, and I'm glad it brings you some comfort.

  10. This is such a beautiful post. You give so much when you give the gift of good food. And your food is so special. Love and light to your dear neighbor.

  11. Just wanted to let you know that we tried your sage-crusted pork chops this week. Yum.

  12. So sorry to hear about your neighbor. How nice you can offer some food and solace. That chicken looks amazing. I have never had fried chicken turn out. Maybe I need to purchase an electric skillet? I will look into that.


Wow. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I love feedback... what with being a cook and all. I will respond to your comments via email (if you do not have a "noreply" address or here, below your comment) As always, Bon Appetite!

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