Monday, April 5, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 04/04/2021: Morning King of Glory Muffins, Persian Roast Chicken, Easter Dinner and Hoops

1. I made a couple of quick trips to Yoke's today. I thought I had everything I needed to bake and cook my contributions to family/Easter dinner, but it turned out I didn't. It's the first time I've gone to the grocery store twice in one day for about a century, it seems.

I made cornbread in muffin cups last night and this morning I started my day baking Morning Glory muffins, which, in honor of Easter, I called Morning King of Glory muffins (that made Carol, Paul, and Christy laugh -- as I hoped it would). 

The recipe I used for these muffins calls for a ton of ingredients: pineapple, grated apple, applesauce, grated zucchini, nuts, sugar, all-purpose and whole wheat flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, grated carrots, eggs, coconut, and vanilla (I might have missed something). 

I had decided that since I was using my new jumbo muffin pan and my new jumbo aluminum foil baking cups, that one of these muffins for each of us after dinner would make a really good dessert. (I was right.)

2. If I remember correctly, when I decided I wanted to roast a chicken for Easter dinner, I did some kind of search at the website The Spruce Eats where I found a recipe called "Persian Roast Chicken".  

I really liked the looks of this recipe and decided to go for it. 

It was simple. 

I sliced an onion and put the slices on the bottom of the Dutch oven.

Once I cleaned and patted the chicken dry, I crushed some saffron threads into warm water, and set it aside.

I then juiced a couple of lemons and a couple or three clementines into three tablespoons of olive oil.

I stuffed the lemon rinds into the chicken's cavity.

I took a minute, then, to salt the chicken,  drizzle olive oil over it, and then evenly spread ground cumin and ground cinnamon on it. With that done, I combined the saffron water with the olive oil and citrus juice mixture and poured it over the chicken

I put the chicken in a 450 degree oven for ten minutes.

I took it out, lowered the temperature to 425 degrees and put a mixture of baby red, gold, and purple potatoes around the chicken along with some chopped up yam.

I returned the chicken to the oven, took its temperature from time to time, and when it was roasted, removed it from the Dutch oven, put the potatoes and onions and the liquid I had poured over the chicken in a bowl with a lid, wrapped the chicken in foil, and let it sit in the Dutch oven until Paul carved it for dinner over at his and Carol's house. 

I loved how this chicken smelled as it roasted, loved having the aromas of cumin, cinnamon, and lemon fill the house. My hope was that if this chicken tasted as good as it smelled while roasting, we were in for a pretty good dinner.

3. As I finished preparing my dinner offerings and got myself cleaned up for dinner, I kept a close eye on the first half of the NCAA championship game between Stanford and Arizona, two teams I enjoy a lot. I knew I'd only watch this game until half time. In the action I got to see, Arizona fell behind early, picked up their signature defensive pressure, made a comeback, but then Stanford went on a run and pulled ahead by seven at half-time. 

I hated to leave the game, but I value family dinner more than televised basketball and was happy to pack up and head to Paul and Carol's.

I was in charge of cocktails and had decided that simple drinks made from gin would be a good drink to pair with the meal I'd planned.

Christy ordered a gin and tonic and Carol, Paul, and I each had a martini -- up, dry, and stirred with two almond stuffed green olives. 

I think I made the right call for what to drink before dinner.

Carol set out delicious food to nibble on during our cocktail half an hour: she made deviled eggs, an Easter tradition, and set out nuts and olives. Perfect.

We've been abundantly cautious at our family dinners and have covered our faces and kept distance from each other while eating in Carol and Paul's living room.

But, we are all fully vaccinated now. Earlier in the week, I texted Christy and Carol the question of whether we might return to the dining table for dinner. We all agreed that we should do that.

So we did. Carol set a handsome table. We went back to passing food to each other. We were also back to being in closer proximity to each other as we talked and ate our dinner. 

The safer arrangement had worked beautifully for me for all the months we ate in the living room and I was very happy, too, to be back at the dining table. 

Our dinner was a great success. Christy assembled a crisp and fresh green salad and made a creamy and delicious dressing called Spring Goddess. Carol roasted a cauliflower, adding sweetness to our main course. The chicken was moist and lemony. Those great Middle Eastern flavors of cumin and cinnamon added welcome and enticing layers of flavor. I was particularly happy that my idea to roast some potatoes and then cover them and the onions with the liquid from the roasting pan worked so well. That liquid had similar flavor to the chicken, only multiplied, and enhanced our enjoyment of the potatoes and the onions. We were all happy with the cornbread, too. We had left over Rose (rozay) and Petit Syrah wine from last week, perfect wines for this dinner.

The Morning King of Glory muffins provided more than a chuckle. Loaded with all those fruits and vegetables and nuts and spices, these muffins capped off our dinner perfectly.

Christy kept track of the basketball game on her phone and we learned that Stanford defeated Arizona, 54-53. 

I knew that as soon as I arrived home, I'd go online and find out who had the last possession in this squeaker.

Arizona did.

That last possession, which lasted about seven seconds, was a classic case of the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object.

Something had to give.

Arizona's coach Adia Barnes had decided that her unstoppable force, Aari McDonald, was going to take the last shot no matter what. Barnes' thinking was that Aari McDonald had shouldered the Wildcats all year long and there was no way on this final possession that the Wildcats were going to look to anyone else for a game winning shot.

Stanford knew this and created an immovable object, a wall of three defenders near the free throw line, determined not let McDonald get into the paint.

If you watch these last seven seconds, you'll see McDonald dart forward, backward, laterally, looking for a crack in this wall to get into the paint and she (nor could any mortal) can't do it.

That left her one option.

She stepped back and flung a long shot toward the hoop. It had a chance, but ricocheted off the back iron and the immovable object prevailed over the unstoppable force. 

McDonald's shot was, in part, a desperate heave, but from a distance I've seen her score from countless times over the last couple of seasons. 

It was a crushing, heartbreaking end for Arizona. Coach Barnes signaled her players to gather around Aari McDonald and they joined together in a circle of consolation around her.

I liked that both teams went for broke in those last seven seconds. 

Coach Barnes essentially decided that come hell or high water, Aari McDonald would decide the outcome of this game. 

On the defensive side, Coach VanderVeer also decided that come hell or high water, Stanford was going to defend Aari McDonald with three players, not caring that this left two Arizona players open somewhere.

Both coaches employed a risky strategy and, at the end of this particular game, Stanford's risk was successful. Arizona's wasn't. 

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