Friday, November 14, 2008

Like it's 1984 in our house. Plus Leavin's.

When I was a kid, Shake 'n Bake was all the rage.

Now, whether my mom did the Shake 'n Bake, I don't recall - but I do know that I never helped. Not that I cared, the Shake 'n Bake on TV never looked that good, and you know if they can't even make it look good on TV, it's gotta be nasty in real life.

I mean, if TV can a McDonald's cheeseburger look good, they can make anything look good, is how I see it anyway. And since that Shake 'n Bake chicken looked like hell, I saw no reason to divert my wanting away from other seemingly delicious things like, well, McDonald's cheeseburgers that I wasn't allowed to have.

Thank you, mom.

Anyway, in my deep rooted desire to conquer the Leavin's the other night, I managed to make a meal that nearly screamed, "It's 1984 in this house and I helped!" And, well, I'm all proud of myself and wanted to show you how I turned back the clock in my kitchen while also getting rid of the Leavin's known as a bunch of random shit laying around that needs to be eaten before it goes bad.

Leavin' #1: Those carrots.

See, I had about 6 carrots of varying size left from the farm share last week. That's too few for two servings or just enough for one greedy serving. But then I unearthed half a sack of frozen organic peas from the bottom of the freezer basket (wuv you, TJ's!) and couldn't resist the urge to have Peas and Carrots so that we could recall the entire dialogue of Forrest Gump at the dinner hour.


Leavin' #2: Celery root that I thought was something else.

Ok, I'll admit, when this thing showed up in the farm share last week, I was at a loss. I thought it was something else. And now I don't remember what that something else was. Anyway, the newsletter that we get with the share said "Celery Root" and also that it can be prepared just like mashed potatoes. Which was handy given that I had three small red potatoes sitting around with it in the basket from last week just awonderin' what was going to become of themselves.

So, I decided on a Mixed Mash of celery root and red potatoes to go with the Forrest Gump peas and carrots. And then, I realized a sad, scary theme.

Our dinner was about to become 1984.

Leavin' #3: Frozen chicken breasts

We don't eat a lot of chicken in our house because we're sick of it and now Bubba only likes it if it's fried and I think you know I don't do too much frying around here unless it's eggplant and covered in the Best Tomato Sauce Ever. Yep.

But we had the beginnings of Dinner from 1984, which practically screamed FRIED CHICKEN NIGHT IN AMERICA. But I couldn't fry chicken, that's nasty. I mean, it's GOOD, but nasty for when we try to wear clothes without elastic waistbands. You know.

And then it dawned on me, what is more 1984 than fried chicken?

Shake 'n Bake chicken!

But that's gross and I don't have Shake 'n Bake in the house and I'm not even sure if they make that stuff any more (as it turns out, they do). But EVEN MORE 1984 than Shake 'n Bake is Oven Fried Chicken with Cornflake Crust.

Oh yes. And we have cornflakes. Well, more specifically, work has cornflakes. And I can bring some home to put on my chicken. I'll just have less cereal for breakfast to even out. I am not a thief, y'all!

And now I will admit to you that I went through my whole day being really proud of myself for creating a thematically amusing menu using random shit left over in our house. It actually made me happy. I believe I thought of the peas and carrots and smiled in traffic.

I know. My life is small and pathetic. Whatever.

So, after cutting my morning's cereal allotment in half and stowing some cornflakes in my bag, I proceeded to make 1984 for dinner. I even used the microwave and everything! You know - just so it'd be as authentically 1984 as possible. I wish I could have used mushroom soup somehow, but I don't keep that in my house for reasons associated with pork chop trauma (a story for another time).

And, even though I barely cared if it was edible, because HELLO it was getting rid of all this odd stuff, Bubba LOVED it.

I mean, cleaned his plate in moments and asked when we were having it again and also the chicken was SO good, kind of loved it.


Anyway, if you want to make 1984 in your house, whether you have these items laying around already, here are the "recipes".

Recipes made up by Finny out of desperation and limited supply on hand.

Oven Fried Chicken with Cornflake Crust
One whole boneless skinless breast of chicken, sliced into two breast halves
1 cup of cornflakes, crushed
1/3 cup flour
1/4 t cayenne
1/3 cup FF milk
Kosher salt

To make
Preheat the oven to 365.

Spray down an 8X8 glass dish with whatever cooking spray you like.

Tenderize the crap out of that chicken breast so it's not one big ball of chicken (GROSS).

Mix flour, cayenne and however much salt and pepper you like in a bowl. Then put the milk in another bowl and the crushed cornflakes in YET another bowl. (It makes a mess this stupid chicken).

Coat each chicken breast in flour, then dip in milk, then coat with the crushed cornflakes. Put them in the dish together and bake for 20-30 mins or until they are no longer pink inside. I do believe you want your poultry to a piping 160 degrees before eating so the cooties die. Double check on that to be sure. Finny doesn't want you to die.

Remove from the oven and serve with the other 1984 side dishes and a tall glass of milk if you want to be gross but authentic. We, personally, had cocktails, but we're heathens like that.

Mixed mash
3 small red potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 medium celery root, peeled and cut into same size pieces as your potatoes
2 T butter or margarine
Kosher salt

Bring a pot of salted water to boil while your chicken's in the oven and drop in the potatoes and celery root. Allow it to boil until you can easily prod a potato or celery root chunk with a fork. Drain the pot of water and return to the stove. Turn off the heat. With your potato masher, mash it all up and then add the butter. Continue to mash until the consistency is right (no lumps , damn you) and then add salt and pepper to taste.

If you choose to go the add hard boiled egg pieces route, please don't tell me because I'll have to hate you. That is gross. DAD!

Keep covered in the pot until ready to serve.

Peas and carrots
1/2 bag of frozen organic peas, thawed
6 or so misshapen and unsightly carrots (smallish to mediumish in size), peeled, cut into coins

To make
In a microwavable container, add about 1/4" of water and your sliced carrots. Cover loosely. Microwave on high for approx 2 minutes or whatever your micro recommends for "Fresh Carrots". My micro tells me what to do, so I just choose this from the menu on the screen, but if your menu is less bossy, I think it took about 2 minutes on high. Just so you know.

When the micro dings take the dish out, uncover it and pour the peas in there. Maybe stir it up a bit. Put the cover back on and put the covered dish back in the micro. Just leave it in there doing nothing. The residual steam and heat will warm your thawed peas so they don't get nasty.

When the chicken's done, plate it accordingly and watch the last half of Sixteen Candles, which just happens to be on Encore as though it were 1984 in the whole world for an evening.

Also, bask in the glory of your genius, etc.


  1. Holy sweet moly, that is fun. It kinda looks like it is out of a Hungry MAN box, but I know you'd never.

  2. oh man, I so remember shake and bake, and I think I was a little helper!

    I on the other hand, never had cornflake chicken, but John told me it was all the rage in his house. I thought his mom was crazy, but clearly she's not the only one ;)

  3. Too bad you couldn't get a cream of something in there. Between cream of and those crispy onion topping things you'd have my whole childhood diet!

  4. Huh. How did YOU like the mashed potatoes and celery root? Because we just happen to have about 6 celery roots in our garden right now. And of course, enough potatoes to feed a small country, so it's not like I couldn't easily make this. And pretend it's healthier than straight-up mashed potatoes, because of the celery.

  5. Hard boiled eggs in mashed potatoes? People think of the oddest things. And if it's your dad, well, what can you do?
    I myself was brought up on peanutbutter and mayonnaise sandwiches, and I still think they're delicious, so I can't talk.

  6. You need this next time there are rogue carrots in the house:

    But that's just 'cause I want to try them and the other half won't eat the darn things in any form.

    And your dinner is making me hungry, AGAIN. Arg its late and now I want shake&bake chicken and its not gonna happen. humph. ;)

  7. Wow, all you need is clam dip and chips for an appetizer and Jell-o pudding cups for dessert. Hey, the newest WHAM song is on. Let's dance, peeps!

  8. Ok I gotta say, that sounds SO good right now. And I happen to love 16 candles so there! :p

  9. Sorry, honey, but it's more like 1974 and I am, sadly, old enough to know that.

  10. ok, seriously? we have shake and bake pork chops like once a week. I love them!!! i dip them in horseradish mustard. mmm...

    and you should try potato chip fried chicken. talk about death by delicious and fattening.


[2013 update: You can't comment as an anonymous person anymore. Too many douchebags were leaving bullshit SPAM comments and my inbox was getting flooded, but if you're here to comment in a real way like a real person, go to it.]

Look at you commenting, that's fun.

So, here's the thing with commenting, unless you have an email address associated with your own profile, your comment will still post, but I won't have an email address with which to reply to you personally.

Sucks, right?

Anyway, to remedy this, I usually come back to my posts and post replies in the comment field with you.

But, if you ever want to email me directly to talk about pumpkins or shoes or what it's like to spend a good part of your day Swiffering - shoot me an email to finnyknitsATgmailDOTcom.