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Vacation Collage and Chicken Stroganoff with White Wine, Green Pepper and Mushrooms

2010 September 22

Where was I yesterday? Well, my day started off normal. I went to post what took me hours to write and organize but instead of working as it should, the site went down and more problems occurred…but it’s better now. On with the show!

Instead of boring you with days and days of “we did this and that while on vacation,” I thought I’d create some simple collages. Ha, simple! These took me all day yesterday to throw together but I’m glad that I did and might just do this for every trip from now on.

The view from my parent's backyard-my grandparent's field

Unlike in the past, I realized that my every activity while away from the dabble might not be what you, my dear reader, wants to spend time, well, reading. Those activities are for Greg and I to keep in our hearts and minds for as long as we can. Quick opinion: I think dementia/Alzheimers would be a horrific thing to experience or have a loved one experience. Shiver. Just put a storyline in a movie with either of those and it’s guaranteed that Annie (that’s me) will be in tears. If I don’t mention doing something, family and friends, don’t feel left out or that that time wasn’t important to us because it was-oh man was it ever!

A scene in Greg's hometown

For the next few days I will share our trip with a few of these collages and briefly describe the pictures within and toss in a recipe perfect for the season at the end. Are you ready for this (cue that song that they play at basketball games to pump you up)?

First, this is where we come from: Roanoke and Warren, Indiana. These are our hometowns, elementary, middle and high schools. My elementary school was recently awarded 4 stars which is a big deal and I always knew it was special. The other schools in the huge county….not so much.

Roanoke, Indiana is my hometown. I spent most of my years near or around this small town until college. It’s growing with the expansion of the city of Fort Wayne, about a 10 minute drive on Hwy 24 or I-69 (or a few back roads that I won’t mention to keep hidden from the increasing traffic) will get you to this metro area. My parent’s own land in both Ft. Wayne and Roanoke counties. (Our home and shop/barn are in separate counties.)

My grandparent's pond

Most of my family have roots in farming with other careers on top of the agriculture. You can see my parent’s apple trees and greenhouse, as well as, some of my grandparents/neighbor’s land and pond. This is where we went fishing and Greg caught a 19-inch bass which we feasted on with the other 70 plus fish (mostly blue gill) that the guys caught that day. Thank you to my grandma and grandpa for cleaning and preparing the fillets! Oh, and big thanks for the many, many jars of salsa. Thank you to my bro-in-law for frying most of the fish! Yum.

Warren, Indiana is Greg’s hometown. He also grew up in this town until college. Both of us traveled to high school (and me for middle school) to Huntington, Indiana (my relatives founded this city, supposedly sent from the queen herself…maybe I should apologize for this-kidding) where we attended Huntington North High School. Huntington was about a 20 minute or longer drive from our homes. We came from the same large county but on opposite ends. The top left photo is a tree Greg’s family calls Peter Pan’s Hideout and is the scene of many family pictures as it can accommodate several people between its multiple trunks. We took winter shots there last year. The photo on the right side is a natural flowing well and located on their property.

It might look like weeds now but I promise there are hundreds and hundreds of tiny trees planted in here. People of Warren: take note.

His mom and dad both had their own businesses at one point, based in Warren, until his father decided to close his construction business a few years ago. His mom’s real estate business is still running strong or trying to rather in this economy. His parents now live in what used to be his grandma’s farmhouse, the home where Greg’s mom grew up, and participate in the American Tree Farm System (read more at that link) which earned them a state conservation honor last year.

We are proud of our families and miss this kind of living. We miss land to wander around on and nourish for our own and shared produce. There was a time where I wouldn’t have admitted that but I’m older and wiser now. These days, Greg and I are trying to combine our modern-metro mind with the wisdom and knowledge we’ve learned growing up in small country towns.

Of course, I have to include my adorable nephew Nolan. He’s a doll. The faces he makes are absolutely hilarious and my sister is lucky that I didn’t take him here to Minnesota…she might have agreed with the lack of sleep. He’s doing better these days after having some issues with acid reflux. At his last doctor appointment, he was about 22 inches long and almost 11lbs. at a month old. I’m just wondering when he will be taller than his auntie. Give him a few years. (I’m almost 5’3″) By the way, two of my aunts, my sister (the mommy), my dad, grandpa and me are in this collage with the little guy.

More vacation collages to come tomorrow. (Don’t give me that look.)

I’ve been in the mood for stroganoff, a Russian dish with a sour cream sauce. Skeptic that I sometimes am, wondered if a sour cream-based sauce would be delicious and it was…years ago when I first started making this recipe from Real Simple. Don’t change a thing-even though the combination of ingredients might sound weird, it’s perfect for fall. Infact, I call this one an “easing into fall” recipe. Serve with more hot sauce on the side if you like which I do.

Chicken Stroganoff

Chicken Stroganoff from Real Simple
Serves 6

Ingredients:
2 tbsp olive oil
3 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced into rings
1 green pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
salt/pepper
8 oz. button mushrooms, thinly sliced
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tbsp barbecue sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp hot sauce
1/2 cup sour cream

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, stirring frequently, until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the green pepper, salt/pepper and mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are tender, about 6 minutes. Place the vegetables in a colander, reserve both the vegetables and the liquid. You should have about 1/2 cup of liquid. Return the skillet to the heat and add the remaining 1 tbsp of oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Cook the chicken in batches until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add to the vegetables.

Pour the wine, broth, and vegetable liquid into the skillet. Bring to a boil. Loosen any brown bits in the skillet and let cook in the sauce.
Add the barbecue sauce, Worcestershire, mustard, and hot sauce. Whisk and bring to a boil until reduced by half, to about 1 1/2 cups. The liquid should thicken slightly. Reduce the heat and whisk in the sour cream. Do not let the sauce boil. Return the vegetables and chicken to the pan and simmer until heated through. Serve over rice, pasta, or toast and maybe some more hot sauce.

2 Responses leave one →
  1. September 22, 2010

    What beautiful landscapes…what beautiful people! It is obvious you come from a warm and welcoming place. And thank you for sharing the stroganoff recipe…it sounds perfect for a cool Fall night. Thanks for sharing!

  2. September 23, 2010

    I’m going to enjoy this dish, for my father made a beef version of stroganoff when I was a child. The fact I didn’t like Dad’s beef version was probably an early indication for not eating beef today. This chicken version with the green peppers is definitely worth trying. Hope you have a lovely time visiting your family. The pictures look beautiful.

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