Our fun with the airstream, selling cookbooks and seeing the country continues . . .
Saturday (Day 6) we drove across Iowa to a fabulous national park called Fisherman’s Corner on the banks of the Mississippi River, which was actually in Illinois (the river is the state line). It was a very small campground run by the Army Corps of Engineers, with beautiful, roomy sites:
We had a delicious dinner, planned by Robert – grilled bison dogs with chili, and broccoli slaw on the side, Yum – and super easy as we purchased an organic, vegetarian chili at Whole Foods:
Note our new picnic tablecloth and matching bench covers from Camping World – highly recommended, as picnic tables in campgrounds are often very dirty!
The next morning (Day 7) we headed back across the river to the darling town of Le Claire, Iowa.
If you are a viewer of a show on History Channel called “American Pickers”, you will be familiar with Le Claire as this is home base for the shop that is the central focus of the series. We went there – it’s called “Antique Archeology” – and no, Danielle wasn’t there. After our visit there, we explored the cute little town.
The favorite for us was a visit to the Mississippi River Distilling Company. They make their own vodka, “artisan spirit” (basically a vodka with a bit more ingredients in the process), gin, and whiskey in very small batches. And, the vodka and artisan spirit were great! The latter reminded me of liquor in Holland called gineveer. We bought a few souvenir bottles:
We stopped for lunch (that turned out to be brunch) at the Faithful Pilot Cafe. Robert’s crab cakes with poached eggs and hollandaise were not that great, but my fried egg tostada with chorizo sausage and cilantro was delicious:
The weather was starting to change (rain on the way) so we headed to the Laundromat to do a few loads of wash, then back to the campground for a dinner of chicken and beef kabobs with ginger couscous (the latter recipe is in A Well-Seasoned Kitchen).
Later that night, the heavens opened up to a most amazing thunderstorm, complete with lot of lightening – for several hours! It rained most of the night and the next morning. Once the rain stopped, we packed up (now day 8 of our trip) and headed to Indiana to Turkey Run State Park.
What a fabulous campground and park – including an Inn, canoeing on the Sugar Creek, and several miles of hiking trails. We took a night off from cooking and dinner at the Turkey Run Inn – quaint, kind of quirky but fun (I wouldn’t go there for the food however). Next morning we hiked a bit then headed for our next stop – Cincinnati.
More to come!
A delicious and convenient recipe for entertaining, as you prepare and cook the chicken the night before and then let it marinade in the cooking sauce overnight. It’s great for a picnic because you serve it at room temperature.
Ginger Orange Chicken:
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons mango chutney
2 tablespoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons grated orange peel
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
6 tablespoons sesame seeds
5 to 6 boneless chicken breast halves with skin on (number depends on size)
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 box (10 ounce) couscous
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shelled pistachios, toasted and chopped (or 1 cup if in the shell)
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
First, prepare the chicken: Combine orange juice, lemon juice, chutney, ginger, vinegar, orange peel, sesame oil and crushed red pepper in a 13-by-9-by-2 inch glass baking dish and whisk until well blended. Set aside.
Place sesame seeds in a shallow bowl. If chicken breasts are very thick at one end, pound to more of an even thickness. If they are very large you can cut them in half. Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper; roll skin side on seeds, coating well. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of chicken breasts (or as many as will comfortably fit into your skillet), skin side down, and cook until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Watch carefully so that the sesame seeds don’t burn. Turn over and cook 2 minutes longer. Place chicken breasts, skin side up, in mixture in baking dish. Thoroughly clean out skillet (otherwise the second batch will burn) and repeat with remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and chicken breasts.
Cover chicken in glass baking dish with foil and bake until cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, remove foil and let chicken cool for around 1 hour in marinade at room temperature. Leave chicken in marinade in dish, cover and chill overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.
The next day, prepare the couscous: Combine couscous, apricots, cinnamon and allspice in a large bowl. In a large saucepan, bring 2 cups water, olive oil and salt to a boil; remove from heat and stir in couscous mixture. Cover and let stand until water is absorbed, about 5 minutes. When ready to serve, uncover, stir couscous with fork to break apart, then mix in chopped nuts, green onions and basil and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve at room temperature. Best if not made too far ahead.
To serve, mound the couscous on a serving platter. Place the chicken breasts on top. Spoon sauce from the chicken over the top.