“Find something that you are passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it”
– Julia Child
For those of you who may have been following my blog, or for those of you reading this that maybe have just stumbled across this post an hour after you hopped onto the Internet to search for something completely unrelated (said with absolutely zero judgment), this blog post is slightly different to the usual posts. Don’t worry though, there is still a recipe coming, in fact its probably a little bit closer to my heart than most others have been, so just bear with me while I have a little bit of a story-telling moment here. This post marks the official end of the Ogilvy SA Graduate Program blog challenge, before they start the judging process next week. I’ll admit, this deadline completely snuck up on me and made me completely not nostalgic for varsity life at UCT and that feeling you get when you have had a semester to write your massive million word essay and all of a sardine its due tomorrow and you are left looking back at the past 3 months wondering what on earth made you think you could leave it for ‘future-you’ to deal with. The premise of this challenge was to create a blog and write about whatever you wanted to as long as you kept it relevant and made sure that it provided value. Apart from being the prestige that comes hand in hand with a company like Ogilvy & Mather, I thought that the idea of making this the application challenge was amazing and maybe it was future me talking at the time but something just told me I had to go for it.
Apart from the usual occurrences that seem to happen every time I cook like managing to burn myself, drop/throw salt cellars around and making a glorious mess, I have actually learnt a thing or two by writing this blog. I have also realized just how passionate I am about this blog, and how important that passion is in whatever you do. There genuinely wasn’t a point where I felt like I had to sit down and write something; rather, it was something that I looked forward to it. I did art at school as a matric subject, and my mom is the most incredible artist herself and for some reason I lost that outlet over the past few years. In the past few months I feel like I have found something that I didn’t even know I was missing. Whether or not this goes any further in terms of the graduate program opportunity; this blog most definitely will and at the risk of being an overly emotional female I am so grateful that this opportunity came along and gave the kick in the pants that I needed to get this blog started.
I have also been thinking a lot about why I love food so much. The healthy eating part of it is not that hard to nail down and my own personal story with healthy eating is probably as long as the Lord of the Rings trilogy so I won’t go into that just yet. But there is something about good food that brings people together, it creates this amazing space for very real human connection and somehow sharing a great meal or a good cup of coffee with people you enjoy spending time with sparks some of the best conversations. Apart from the fact that good food tastes the way it does, healthy food literally adds value your life and happiness; so if you are going to do something that you have to do, like eat, you might as well make it really worthwhile.
While the notion of “less is more” is something that I don’t usually like to associate with food (I mean, seriously, when does less food ever sound like a good thing?) when it came to finding a way to communicate my ideas on this blog it couldn’t be more true albeit with a slightly ironic side note. No one ever tells you just how much work goes into making something look simple and beautiful, or how many scathing, “…really…” looks I get when I ask whoever has the misfortune of eating at a restaurant with me to “Wait! I have to take a photo first” before they actually get to consume their lovely, and appropriate-amount-of-timely-waited-for food.
I could honestly write an entire post about what I have learnt through writing this blog, however, as it is the last week of this challenge I thought it was only fair for me to use the lessons I have learnt along the way as the inspiration for this week’s recipe and blogpost. I decided to cook one of my favorite, healthy, home-style meals for some of the people who have really been incredibly supportive of me so far. This meal is a combination of passion, bringing people together, simplicity and above all, gratitude. I really do have to say thank you to my mince-loving flat-mate for letting me completely takeover the kitchen in a completely non-democratic way; to the guy with an appetite like wolverine who is always willing to be Test Subject A as well as the very sweet butt of a couple of jokes in my posts and to everyone who for whatever reason decides to read this blog (although I don’t know how many of you are left reading it by now). More than anything, though, I have to mention my parents who taught me these recipes and who I blame wholeheartedly for the way I’ve turned out: Pops, I can’t eat sweet potato chips without thinking of you, and Momps, look, I’m using your beautiful plate for my salad. If this post is about things I have learnt, then from a 22 year-old Joburg girl living in Cape Town who will always miss home, this post is definitely for you two and I know you’ll be reading this, because I am your only child and you have to.
So… drum roll please… here is one of my favorite home-cooked meals:
Lemon Roast Chicken
This is one of the easiest, most delicious ways to make a roast chicken and it will taste just as good as one those heaven-in-a-bag roast chickens you can get from Woolies, except better because you made it yourself.
Free-range/ organic chicken
Whole garlic cloves (the number of these to use will depend on one of two things: your fear of vampires or your hope of coming right and getting a kiss after dinner)
Oven Roasting bag*
*This is an optional extra that isn’t really so optional. Oven-roasting bags are honestly going to be your best friend in this one because it stops the chicky breast part of the chicken from drying out in the oven and it keeps the chicken cooking in all the delicious juices (which is what you want). Having said that, it will work just as well without an oven-roasting bag.
How to make this happen:
1. Preheat your oven to 160.
2. While this is happening, cut your lemon in half, get the majority of the papery part of the garlic off your cloves (aint nobody got time for that), open your celery salt and get the oven roasting bag ready. That last one might seem strange, but your hands are about to be covered in olive oil.
3. Pour a little drizzle of olive oil over the top of the chicken (like you’re dressing a salad) and then generously season it with the celery salt and rub it around a bit (like you’re putting sunscreen on someone, you don’t need to get too involved here so not like its Channing Tatum and more like its someone you don’t really know that well and its sort of awkward that they asked you to do it in the first place)
4. Take the lemon and the garlic cloves and put it in the cavity of the chicken. I know. Best thing ever.
5. Put the chicken in the oven-roasting bag, breast side up, and close it. I used to get really confused at this part – just keep it facing the same way it came packaged. Cut a small slit in the top of the bag, this is to let the steam escape.
6. Pop it in the oven for 2 hours. Yes, 2 hours. The meat will literally fall off the bone by the end of it. If you don’t have 2 hours then usual roasting times apply and you can cook it at 180 for 40 minutes to an hour.
7. When the chicken and you are ready to eat, cut it out of the bag – be very careful here because the steam that comes out of the bag is really hot. I have been told my certain individuals who eat my food that I should write a blog post about how colorful my language gets while I cook. I am not going to do that, but trust me, that chicken is coming in hot.
Oven Roasted Sweet potato chips
Sweet Potatoes (you can’t really over cater for these, because they’ll be picked at no matter how full everyone is, but a good rule of thumb for this one is one per person, and one extra for gees)
How to make this happen
1. Peel and slice the sweet potatoes into chip size pieces.
2. Put them on a baking tray and drizzle some olive oil over them followed by some salt, paprika and cayenne pepper if you like some spice in your life and then shake the tray around a little to make sure they are all coated properly.
3. These guys need about 40 minutes in the oven at 180, followed by 5-10 minutes on grill just to crisp them a little bit. Grills in ovens are so ridiculous, they are as temperamental as Cape Town’s decisions on what season she wants to give you, or rather how many different ones you will get in one day – so just watch them. If you are going to replicate this whole meal, just turn the oven up when you put the chips in – the chicken will not suffer for it.
You can find my recipe for Cauli Mash here
I’m leaving this one up to you, go wild, the greener the better. If you really get stuck, use the name for inspiration and just artistically throw some green veggies and salad stuff in a bowl.