Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Chicken Cacciatore is a friend of mine

I was traveling through new England on a long train ride this week.  Usually when I use public transportation I find myself pondering the deeper things in life.  This time around the topic on my mind was friendship.  This random deep thoughtfulness came upon me as I witnessed two things on the train.  I had just received a phone call from my Mother who told me my Grandfather was about to have unplanned surgery removing his infected gall bladder.  Maybe it was the lack of sleep and food, or something else but I was in a highly emotional state.  The last place I wanted to be was miles away from my grandfather on a train, and tears just came and wouldn't stop.  After I eventually pulled myself together my phone rang and it was my best friend.  Could she possibly had better timing? We chatted briefly about our friend's wedding we had both attended the night before, and then I told her about my grandpa.  As always, she is comforting and caring in her wise words, and I couldn't have been blessed with a better friend in my life.

My picture does not do this dish is so wonderful!

As soon as we hung up a situation started to unfold on the train.  A girl didn't have enough money for the train fare even though she thought she had when she boarded.  A random man quickly stood up and offered to pay the extra 3 dollars needed for the fare.  The girl gladly and gratefully accepted the generous gesture.  The man went on to say he is unemployed and knows everyone is going through a hard time in this economy, but unless we all stick together and help each other out we won't make it through.  Both the phone call and the ticket issue were little moments where I felt God's presence, and took comfort in them.  I then began to think about how important friendship is in one's life.  After my High School friend's wedding I was thinking about how much we had all changed as the years have gone on...thinking of how much I have changed over the years.  It is strange how much your friends affect you and your life.

Making friends has never been an easy task for me.  Growing up we home schooled and my friends were my sisters, my teddy bears, and my paper dolls...and the occasional neighborhood friend we would schedule a tea party with.  I was that geek who read all the time, cooked all the time, and had conversations with my random invisible friends.  During my one year stint at public school my only friend was a foreign exchange student who barely spoke English.  I tried to be friends with the neighborhood girls who went to school with me, but they all quickly decided to join the cheer leading squad and I got left behind...because we all know I would never get accepted on a cheer leading squad unless it was a sarcastic squad.  Yes, I ate lunch alone and read books until the bell rang. I was invisible, and my creative self was quite good at it.

I decided to go to boarding school for my last two years of high school and making friends continued to be hard for me and my invisibility seemed to remain intact.  I went to a small school with only 10 kids in my class, and 80 in the whole school.  Many days my high school seemed like a surreal experience more likened to a movie then real life.  On nice days we would have class outside in the sun, we studied Euclid and Plato, we sang Latin songs, we learned Latin things, and we learned how to waltz.  It was a classical education, and I loved it.  I grew close with my classmates, and as time went on I slowly started to find my voice.  Still, I felt scared, timid, and insignificant compared to my smarter, louder friends.  I think at the end of the day I was a leader stuck in a followers life.

I started college full of hope and promise of a better life, and courage to finally find my voice.  Praise the Lord I attended the best possible school suited for me, and somehow I finally belonged!  I found my courage and took charge.  People understood me, laughed at my jokes, appreciated my creative yet weird mind, and loved me as I was.  I thank God everyday for letting me find such a place in the world, and for helping me finally find my confidence.  With all the horrible and tragic things that happen in the world, I can't help but think that the root of all of it is people feeling unloved and insignificant.  It is amazing what a difference a few words of acknowledgment of a job well done can do, or a simple act of kindness can mean to a person in need.  Building up another person's confidence and affirming them makes all the difference in the world!  Holding the door for an elderly person, telling a random person hello, just speaking a few minutes to person who might need a friend or a helping hand.  Words and actions are truly a gift and a powerful tool that can be used for so much good.

So find someone who might need some encouragement in their lives and compliment them or thank them.  Find someone who might need some help and pitch in...even if it is just babysitting for few hours for a Mom who might need an afternoon to rest.  Show kindness, and it will be good.  Show Love, and it will be great!

diggity, come visit so I can make this for you. : ) (To all my Daytona 2004 mission trip friends..."I affirm you." : ) )

We are friends from the Jungle Book

Chicken Cacciatore 

adapted from Bobby Flay

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 (3-pound) chicken cut into eighths
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 large yellow or red bell pepper thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes and their juices
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, or 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar or capers
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves, optional
  • spaghetti or rice
  • Freshly grated Parmesan
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat. Season the chicken pieces on both sides with salt and pepper and place in the pan, skin side down and cook until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the breasts over and cook until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the chicken to a large plate.
Add the remaining oil to the pan and heat until almost smoking.

Add the onion and bell pepper to the pan and cook until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the jalapeno, garlic and chili flakes to the pan and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the wine and cook until almost completely reduced. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, and rosemary and bring to a simmer. Return the chicken and mushrooms to the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan and cook until the chicken is tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon to a large shallow bowl and tent loosely with foil.  You can either leave the chicken whole, or de-bone and skin it at this time...I usually do this so nobody eats a bone on accident.
Increase the heat to high and cook the sauce, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, stir in the vinegar and basil and pour the sauce over the chicken. Garnish with fresh basil sprigs. Serve over pasta or rice and sprinkle with grated cheese.

Best of Friends from The Fox and The Polish!!!


  1. Dagny, I love this and you - not just because you're the daughter of one of my best friends, but because you are funny, creative and kind. I am glad you found your voice. We are all the better for it. xo Junie

  2. Dagny,
    It always amazes me that you think it's hard to make friends because you have been one of my greatest friends almost from the moment we met! You constantly amaze me and I am SO utterly blessed with your friendship. Thank you for a beautiful totally made my day! Love you and we need to chat soon! xoxo

  3. What a great post to read this morning. The chicken sounds great too!

  4. Thanks so much for all of the kind comments! My readers are the best : )