No, I'm not a farmer, nor the son of a farmer. (By the way, my parents gave me this pot of zinnias. My dad picked the color. Pretty!) I'm fairly sure little patches of vegetables and flowers do not a farmer make, even if it's more like farming than, say, blogging. Anyway, Jeremy and I have gained a great respect for REAL farmers while we've been trying to grow things in our yard. I'm telling you - it's kinda hard work! There are pesky bugs that loooove to eat the leaves on 60% of the plants in our yard...I cannot lie...I think I've killed about 10 caterpillars in the last 2 days. Grrrrr! (Meanwhile, I've decided that dragonflies are the most awesome insect - they are beautiful and just plain cool-looking - AND they don't eat our plants. They just hang out in the garden with me. Oh. I just had a horrible thought! What if they DO eat our plants?? I'm going to feel sooo guilty for bragging on them. I must Google this.)
Also, there are birds. They ate ALL of our strawberries this year. We got two (TWO! Yeesh.) teeny-tiny ones that we snatched before they were spotted by the berry bandits. I was not happy. And Jeremy makes sure to remind me that the very baby birds (we've had 5 nests of them this year!) that I oooh and aaah over are the ones who, most likely, did all of this damage. Sad. I am so torn about this situation. Look below...take note of their adorable fuzzy eyebrows. Sigh.
Anyway, I deadhead all of these plants in various flower beds and check for bugs and make sure everything is fertilized and watered. And I love it. I really do. It's intriguing to think you're partnering with God in this gardening endeavor. Plus, both of my grandparents gardened in this very yard. I love catching a breeze while I'm working in the yard and stopping to think about these traditions we're continuing.
I really love when we get a tomato or a green pepper growing on its respective plant and I watch it get bigger every day when I go out to water.
Fried green tomatoes, anyone?
As pale as I am year-round, I'm even getting a bit of a farmer's tan. But I'm still not a farmer. You know what the biggest tell-tale sign is?
I don't have a John Deere tractor.
But now I have a recipe with John Deere in the title. I'm kind of excited about it. It was adapted from a Creamy Lemon Chicken and Rice recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod. I had made the recipe, as is, a few months back, when I first got on my lemon kick. Man, I love cooking with lemons! It gives everything such a bright flavor. I'm addicted.
We liked the recipe but decided (even me) that it used a little too much lemon. But the recipe was such a great idea that I knew I'd be pulling it up again on my computer and tweaking it later. Last night was the night. I had picked our first green pepper from the cedar garden and I was not about to let it waste away in the fridge.
And we had some saffron rice...now, I've gotta admit something. I really enjoy eating saffron rice - I love the taste and the spice and all that. But it's soooo yellow that it's kinda comical to me. Like a cartoon or something. So I don't serve it often, because it's difficult to take it seriously. Everything else on your dinner plate looks like it's supposed to be there and then...BAM! "Hey, look at ME! I am cuh-razy yellow!" One of these things is not like the other, you know?
So last night's dinner menu was inspired by color. The yellow from the saffron rice and the green from the green pepper = classic John Deere colors. I couldn't help laughing when I realized it. And I knew I'd want to share it with you. So, here it is...enjoy, y'all!
John Deere Chicken and Rice
Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Juice of 1 lemon
4 Tbsp. butter
2 garlic cloves, minced (or garlic powder)
2 green bell peppers, diced
1 c. cream
salt and pepper to taste (or Carl’s All-Purpose Seasoning - doesn't that sound like it'd go in this dish??)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the chicken breasts in an oven-safe dish; drizzle a little olive oil and squeeze juice from half of the lemon on top of them. Sprinkle chicken well with salt and pepper – or Carl’s All-Purpose Seasoning, which has extra spices in addition to salt and pepper. Place chicken in oven; bake for about 30 minutes or until chicken is completely cooked.
Prepare saffron rice according to the directions on the package.
Heat medium skillet over medium-low heat and melt butter slowly. Mince garlic and dice green peppers; add only garlic to heated skillet first. Saute’ for about a minute or two before adding the green peppers, which need to saute’ quickly and gently so that they stay as bright green as possible but still get cooked. Squeeze the rest of the lemon juice into the skillet, taking care not to get any seeds in the mixture. Add cream and salt/pepper (or more Carl’s Seasoning). Simmer for at least five minutes, stirring occasionally. Can keep mixture simmering until both the chicken and rice are done. Remove chicken from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
To serve, place a bed of rice on each plate and top with chicken breasts. Ladle the lemon cream sauce over the chicken and rice. Great served with a green salad or another green vegetable. =)