A Catholic perspective on the world and all the good things therein, especially books and food. Literature cum chocolate is the order of the day at The Crockery.

Location: A Collegetown, Undisclosed Location, United States

No longer a graduate student, Teresa is now a professional know-it-all.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Variation on Busy Day Italian Chicken

The Buns in the Oven cookbook contains a recipe titled "Busy Day Italian Chicken." This chicken-and-sausage pasta sauce is, I suspect, pure genius for its ease of preparation and taste. It is one of the many simple homestyle recipes that make that cookbook well worth buying (hint, hint).

However, I've never been able to make it according to the directions, because I never keep the right ingredients on hand.

Instead of following the recipe, then, I do what I so often do when trying to cook: I make up something similar that uses the ingredients I do have. The following is my patented Crockery Variation on Lisa's delicious Busy Day Italian Chicken.

Ingredients for the sauce
2 jars of garlic and mushroom pasta sauce
2 cans of Italian-flavored diced tomatoes, undrained
2-3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, cut into bite-sized (or semi-bite-sized) pieces
3 teaspoons minced garlic
1-2 teaspoons Italian pepper blend
about 8-12 oz. fresh Crimini mushrooms, sliced or chopped for ease of consumption

For the meal:
olive oil
parmesan cheese
garlic bread

1. Grease or spay the inside of a large slow cooker crock. (You will DEFINITELY need a large cooker for this recipe!)
2. Prepare all the meats; place in pot.
3. Add in tomatoes and pasta sauce.
4. Season with minced, chopped, or crushed garlic. Add red pepper seasoning to taste.
5. Cook on LOW for 8 hours.
6. You may add the mushrooms in step 2, or you may wait a few hours and add them later so that they don't overcook.

Serve over fresh cooked pasta of your choice. This recipe will make enough sauce to feed approximately a million people (okay, more like 8-10), but that's the beauty of it: if you're feeding a smaller group, you can freeze the leftover sauce and keep it for an even *busier* day.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sometimes I hate having a pedagogical conscience

. . . because all I really want to teach in my literature classes is a range of ghost stories, mysteries, and sensation novels. Really, is that so wrong? All of those genres do or did important cultural work in their own era.

Instead, there are these concepts of "coverage" and "canon" and "course objectives." You know, things I have to teach my students so that I can go home at the end of the semester and feel that I have given a handful of young Americans just a little bit more cultural depth.

It is syllabus time in our house. I have been tinkering with a syllabus for a new (to me) survey course for some time, but now I really have to get cranking, and I don't like it. What I really want to do is run my classroom like a bookclub . . . one where I get to pick all the books. (Bossy much? Why yes, thank you.)

Perhaps my day will come when I get to teach a graduate level course. Graduate courses are more often themed, so all I have to do is come up with a wicked cool theme that somehow manages to encompass all the most fun books I can think of.

I'm working on it, I tell you. But in the meantime, I have a general survey course to plan: two hundred years of literature. Surely I won't be blamed for slipping a little Conan Doyle in there, you think? Just one of the short stories . . . it'll tide me over until the day I can manufacture a justifcation for teaching Laurie R. King's The Moor alongside The Hound of the Baskervilles.