Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme Roast Chicken

I took my wife to see Alton Brown, a Food
Network personality, last Christmas

(yes, we are foodies… obviously).

He asked the audience,
“What’s the most important item for cooking you have in your home?”

People shouted out “Oven!” “Sink!” “Hot pads!” “Fridge!” “Chocolate!”
While he replied, “No… Nope… No…”

Then he stopped and said, “It’s the table”. He talked about how too often we are taking Instagram pics of what we’re eating, glorifying the food in a sense, rather than who we are eating with. Family, friends, breaking bread together… that’s what the glories of food and cooking are all about.

So here’s a wonderful recipe you can share around the table. It’s been one of Betony and my favorites this year. Sing the Simon & Garfunkel song together as you make it… and don’t forget the gravy.


1- 4-1/2 lb whole chicken

2 tsp dried rosemary

1-1/2 tsp ground or dried sage

1-1/2 tsp dried thyme

2 bay leaves

5 tbsp olive oil, divided

4 small russet potatoes, quartered lengthwise and sliced into wedges

8 large shallots, peeled

1-3/4 cups chicken stock

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

6 tbsp butter

minced parsley


1. Preheat oven to 425 F.

2. Rub chicken inside and out with salt; mix rosemary, sage, thyme and a generous amount of black pepper and rub some of herb mixture inside chicken. Place 1 bay leaf inside cavity and tie up chicken. Brush chicken with olive oil, then sprinkle with remaining herb mixture. Place chicken in a heavy roasting pan and arrange potatoes and shallots around chicken. Sprinkle veggies with remaining oil and remaining herb mixture. Add remaining bay leaf and toss to coat.

3. Roast chicken 1 hour 15 mins. Transfer chicken and vegetables to a platter and tent with foil.

4. Pour pan juices into a measuring cup and spoon off fat. Add enough stock to make 2 cups. Add vinegar to roasting pan and set over burners to bring to a boil; deglaze pan and reduce to a glaze. Add stock and reduce to 1/2 cup. Lower heat and whisk in butter one tablespoon at a time; season to taste and stir in parsley.

Recipe from “The Bon Appetit Cookbook” by Barbara Fairchild

Recipe: Beef Stroganoff

Sometimes when beef stroganoff is suggested people
immediately think of cafeteria food or frozen dinners.
Perhaps we’ve had bad experiences with this dish and it’s funny name (which apparently comes from a Russian family named Stroganov).
It’s like beef stroganoff needs new PR.

Let Giants & Pilgrims take on such a challenge.

This uncomplicated recipe comes with hunks of steak in a creamy, sweet sauce and the noodles create a perfect bed for such riches. It is simple, warm comfort food that goes down soul-deep. There is nothing cafeteria, pre-made, or cheap about it.

Betony presents a family recipe here that has been passed down for generations. Make this pasta and invite some friends over. It’s time they had their mind changed too.


1 lb. sirloin steak

1/2 C. minced onion

1/2 lb. mushrooms

2 Tbs. butter

2 beef bouillon cubes + 2 C. water

2 heaping Tbsp. ketchup

1 clove garlic

1 tsp. salt

3 Tbsp. flour

1 C. sour cream

Cut up beef into little bite sized bits. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook mushrooms and onions in butter until tender. Remove mushrooms and onions. Do not wash skillet. Brown meat in same skillet – don’t stir too much. Let it get some nice color on a side then flip.
Set aside 1/2 cup bouillon. Add remaining bouillon, ketchup, garlic, and salt to skillet. Stir, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Blend reserved bouillon mixture with flour. Stir into meat mixture. Add mushrooms and onions. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute. Stir in sour cream and serve over egg noodles or rice.

Recipe: Banana Bread with Chocolate

To me the taste of fall is found strongly in sweet breads- dense and wonderful loaves of pumpkin or zucchini or banana. The smell of them baking in the oven can make a house into a home.

This banana bread recipe is one that Betony often makes come autumn. And the warmth of a slice provides great contrast against the continuing crisping days of September. Enjoy.

Makes 1 loaf

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 large eggs
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup well-stirred whole-milk plain yogurt
(not low or nonfat)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Set a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 350F.
Grease a 9-by 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray or butter.
2. Melt the butter on the stove or in a microwave and set aside to cool slightly.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the chocolate chips and whisk well to combine. Set aside.
4. In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a fork. Add the mashed banana, yogurt, melted butter, and vanilla and stir to mix well. Pour the banana mixture into the dry ingredients, and stir gently with a rubber spatula, scraping down the sides as needed, until just combined. Do not overmix. The batter with be thick and somewhat lumpy, just make sure all the flour has been incorporated. Scrape the batter into the loaf pan and smooth the top.
5. Bake until the loaf is a deep shade of golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 mins to an hour. If the loaf seems to be browning too quickly, tent with foil.
6. Cool the loaf in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Then tip out onto the rack, and let it cool completely before slicing. The loaf freezes well wrapped in plastic wrap and again in foil to protect from freezer burn. This is great eaten warm out of the oven, but also delicious grilled in a skillet on both sides with some butter. Yum.

August is a Good Month for a Picnic

Gather the picnic basket (or whatever you have), pretend it’s the 1950’s (for wholesomeness’ sake) and find a park worth going to! This month’s recipe is a few ideas to pack for a meal out on the blanket among the grass and trees. Enjoy the picnic.

Cake Batter Cookies


1 (18.25 oz.) yellow box cake mix

1 tsp. baking powder

2 eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, stir together the cake mix and baking powder. Add eggs and oil, then mix until well blended.

Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto cookie sheets.

Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven.  Allow cookies to cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.


Below: Curry Chicken Salad Sandwiches

chicken salad1 chicken salad2 chicken salad3

Curry Chicken Salad Sandwiches


1/2 Cup Mayonnaise (more if it seems dry)

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons curry powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

3 cups diced cooked chicken (from 2ish lb boneless skinless chicken theighs or breasts – I usually chop and trim the chicken, salt and pepper, and then cook in a skillet until done)

1/2 cup diced apple (gala works nice)

Handful of dried cherries or cranberries

1 cup seedless red grapes, halved

3 tablespoons toasted chopped walnuts
Sliced bread/or large tortillas, for wraps

Romaine lettuce

Balsalmic vinigarette dressing

Sliced provolone cheese



Mix all salad ingredients in a bowl. Let sit for 20 minutes or so in the fridge for flavors to blend. Serve between two pieces of wheat bread with romaine lettuce, a drizzle of balsalmic dressing, and a slice of provolone cheese. Note: This recipe is very flexible, feel free to modify to what you have around – add onions, celery, sub yogurt for the mayonaisse, etc.


Spicy Glazed Chicken Skewers Recipe – BBQ

There are really three High Holy Days of Barbecue. Labor Day and Memorial Day are the “lesser” encounters of the grill; a wondrous pair of Mondays we all look forward to honoring. The grandest and holiest of them all is, however, July the 4th. It seems absolutely appropriate that the culmination of pride for my country is best celebrated with fire and delicious meats. The corn, biscuits, chicken and steak are the best fair our great country has to offer. I will showcase my nationalism this year, same as years past by setting this good table.

May your charcoal be hot and your propane plentiful.


You can’t go wrong with these Spicy Glazed Chicken Skewers. They always turn out amazing. The yogurt dipping sauce is the perfect cooling complement to the kick from the chicken.

Spicy Glazed Chicken Skewers

Adapted from Bon Appetit, July 2013


1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar

1/2 cup unseasoned rice vinegar

1/3 cup hot chili paste (such as sambal oelek)

1/4 cup fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)

1/4 cup Sriracha (or less if avoiding spice)

2 teaspoon finely grated peeled ginger

1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs trimmed of fat

       cut into 1 1/2-inch–2-inch pieces

8 bamboo skewers soaked in water at least 1 hour (or metal if you have them)


Prepare grill for medium-high heat. Whisk brown sugar, vinegar, chili paste, fish sauce, Sriracha, and ginger in a large bowl. Add chicken and toss to coat. Thread 4 or 5 chicken pieces onto each skewer.Transfer marinade to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until reduced by half (about 1 cup), 7–10 minutes.Grill chicken, turning and basting often with reduced marinade, until cooked through, 8–10 minutes. Serve with garlic yogurt sauce.

(Original Recipe –

Garlic Yogurt Sauce

Just trust me on the anchovy and mayonnaise. It won’t be what you expect. 

Whisk one finely grated garlic clove, 1/2 finely chopped anchovy fillet, 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 cup plain

whole-milk yogurt, and 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice in a medium bowl; season with kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper and more lemon juice, if desired. Cover and chill.

Gourmet Lemonade Stand

Betony, Lucy, Hattie, and myself did this Gourmet Lemonade Stand as a family last summer. It was so fun as Lucy (then 4) championed herself as the chef).

We used the profits to buy school supplies for a drive that was going on in our city. It was one of those really wonderful days. And it was the first time we’d talked to Lucy about giving money towards charity rather than what you’d want. It made the trip to the store to buy the school supplies just as fun and meaningful as the stand.






Flavored Simple Syrups

Club Soda

A twist on the typical lemonade stand that’s pushing powdered,

insta-drink. Instead host a Gourmet Lemonade Stand!

Make some of your own simple syrups and get creative. Add carbonation to the drink, sprigs of mint, and so on. As you sell the beverages plan on making the summer day endeavor a charitable event. (Last summer our 4 year old made the hard sell AND played the part of chef. This was perhaps against child labor laws but effective. The monies collected went to buying school supplies for a drive that was going on that fall.)

Advertise on social media to get more than just neighborhood traffic and make an event of it.

Basic Simple Syrup


1 cup white sugar

1 cup water


In a medium saucepan combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool.


Mint/Basil/Lemon Balm

Add a handful of mint leaves to the hot syrup and allow to steep/cool for 15-20 minutes. Strain


Add one cup blueberries to the basic simple syrup recipe. Simmer 15 minutes and then strain.


Add 3 Tbs dried or fresh culinary lavender flowers to the basic simple syrup recipe then strain.


Add 1/4 whole cardamom to the basic simple syrup recipe. Simmer 15 minutes and then strain.


4 oz fresh ginger – Peel the ginger root with a vegetable peeler, and cut into thin rounds. Simmer with water and sugar and then steep for 30 min.

Recipe: Old Fashioned Soda

When the Coons family makes a summer trip to Dairy Queen, Betony will often ask for an “old fashioned soda.” Most of the time this is met with a blank stare that begs explanation. But every once in a while a seasoned employee smiles and nods. 

It’s what Betony’s grandfather, a great man affectionately called “Daddy” (short for Daddy Goose), would order. In the treat’s simple ingredients it’s easy to be nostalgic- for a time not overcomplicated with rich flavors and too much sugar- when going to DQ actually was a rare, special event.

It’s surprising just how good that simplicity tastes.

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Old-Fashioned Soda

1/4 cup milk

3 tablespoons chocolate syrup

1 cup vanilla ice cream ( or 1 large scoop)

club soda (cold) or seltzer water ( cold)

canned whipped cream

maraschino cherry


Pour the milk into one tall 16-ounce glass.

Stir in syrup. Add in ice cream and enough

soda water or seltzer to fill almost to top of glass.

Top with whipped cream and a cherry.

Serve with a long spoon and a big straw.

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May Recipe: Strawberry Shortcake

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I didn’t like strawberry shortcake growing up. Then I met my wife. 

You see, I had a preconceived notion of the dessert in my mind: it was made with strawberries, dry- pre-packaged- store-bought angel-food cake, and cool whip thrown over it all. That was the way I’d had it prepared by relatives and pot-lucks over the years.

Then my wife cast a new vision for me, repainting the glory of what could be… nay, what strawberry shortcake was MEANT to be.

When she made it, it was homemade shortcake, hand-spun whipped cream, sugared strawberries. 

THIS is strawberry shortcake. How it was really meant to be enjoyed. I love how the truth of something can be revealed by experiencing the real thing. There’s a larger story in there somewhere…

Enjoy the real thing here. And make this great recipe for May.



6  C. sliced strawberries
1/2 C. sugar, divided
2 C. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 C. unsalted butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 beaten egg
2/3 C. milk

Homemade Whipped Cream 

1 C. whipping cream
1 Tbs. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Stir together berries and 1/4 C. of the sugar; set aside. Stir together remaining sugar, flour, and baking powder. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs (can be done in the food processor). Combine eggs and milk; add all at once to dry ingredients. Stir just to moisten. Don’t over mix! Spread into a greased 8 inch round baking pan, building up the edges slightly. Bake in a 450 degree oven for

15-18 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Split into 2 layers. Spoon the fruit and whipped cream between the layers and over the top. Serve immediately.

For whipped cream, beat cold cream, sugar, and vanilla until soft peaks form.
Note: for a yummy variation, add some thinly sliced mint or basil to the sliced strawberries and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
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April Recipe: Tomato and Basil Quiche

Photo: Elaine Williamson, Betony’s Mom and chef ex·tra·or·di·naire. 

From Tim:

My wife is an incredible and serious cook. She reads cookbooks in bed and sometimes has dreams of new recipes. Seriously.

I only have one complaint. She enjoys exploring new culinary adventures so much she rarely repeats a recipe.
I know, poor me.

But there is one dish she comes back to consistently. It’s her mother’s tomato and basil quiche; a rich and wonderful comfort food. It works for breakfast, lunch, dinner and maybe even a midnight snack. 

So for our featured April recipe enjoy this versatile, spring dish. One worth returning to.


Tomato Basil Quiche

1 pie crust, unbaked

(homemade is best, but store bought is ok in a pinch)

3/4 of a 15 oz can of diced tomatoes, drain off juice

1/2 small onion, finely chopped

1 Tbs. olive oil

1 tsp. dried basil or 1 Tbs. fresh, chopped

1 1/2 C. to 2 C. half n’ half or light cream

1 1/2 C. grated sharp cheddar

3 eggs

1 Tbs. dried parsley


Saute the onions in the olive oil until soft. Add the diced tomatoes and the basil and simmer until almost all the liquid is absorbed (about 10 minutes). Spread this mixture on top of the pie crust. Beat the eggs and stir in the cheese, half n’ half, the parsley, and some salt and pepper. Pour over the tomato mixture.

Bake in 350° oven for 50 minutes – or until middle is set.
Let set 5-7 minutes before slicing.

Serve with crusty bread and roasted asparagus for a delicious spring dinner.


March Recipe: Shepherd’s Pie

We’ve crafted a tradition for the last several years for our St. Patrick’s Day celebration. We ask people to bring a poem, a song, or an Irish joke.
Over appetizers and drinks we sing, speak, and laugh together before
the big meal. 

As fun as this is, it’s never the highlight of the evening. Betony makes an incredible spread for our celebration: soda bread, corned-beef and cabbage, irish desserts… But the star is her Shepherd’s Pie. It’s a good one.


For the potatoes:

1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
1/4 cup half-and-half
2 ounces unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 egg yolk

For the meat filling:
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 carrots, peeled and diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds ground lamb (or ground beef)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup fresh or frozen English peas

Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch dice. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Set over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover, decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until tender and easily crushed with tongs, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Place the half-and-half and butter into a microwave-safe container and heat in the microwave until warmed through, about 35 seconds. Drain the potatoes in a colander and then return to the saucepan. Mash the potatoes and then add the half and half, butter, salt and pepper and continue to mash until smooth. Stir in the yolk until well combined.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling. Place the canola oil into a 12-inch saute pan and set over medium high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and carrots and saute just until they begin to take on color, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the lamb, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 3 minutes. Sprinkle the meat with the flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.

Add the corn and peas to the lamb mixture and spread evenly into an 11 by 7-inch glass baking dish. Top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up and smooth with a rubber spatula. Place on a parchment lined half sheet pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving. – Adapted from Alton Brown