Celebrate our planet this April

April 2011

Earth Day is in our hands 2011

Earth Day is celebrated worldwide on April 22, although it may be commemorated on other dates in your community.

Dear friends,

Despite tax season, April is a fun month. The weather is generally a little warmer, spring is officially in full swing, and people’s spirits are generally much better than they were during the chilly winter months. Plus there are several great events to look forward to!

As we’ve told you before, one of our favorite charities is the Nature Conservancy, whose motto is “Protecting nature. Preserving life.” This year in celebration of Earth Day (on April 22nd), they are encouraging all of us to get outside, have fun and explore nature as a family. They’re also urging people to “picnic for the planet,” by hosting picnic meetups in 199 cities around the globe.

The Earth Day Network is also urging people to pledge to live and act sustainably. You can find great resources about how to reduce your carbon footprint on their Website, find ways to get involved and can even make donations to the cause.

But Earth Day also means the release of a brand new film from Disneynature, African Cats! The film follows two feline families striving to make a home in the wildest place on earth. See African Cats during opening week, and Disneynature will make a donation in your honor to protect the savanna these cats call home. And before you watch the movie, be sure to visit the African Cats Website for educational information and downloads that can help you teach your children about the science and geography themes in the film.

And if you’re in Cincinnati, you can join us down at Sawyer Point at noon on Saturday, April 16th for the 41st Anniversary Celebration of Earth Day! There will be tons of stuff to see and do for the entire family, including animal presentations featuring an aquarium and petting zoo, a rock-climbing wall, great food and live music.

Then, on Friday, April 29th, head on down to Great American Ball Park for UC Night at the Reds! The Reds will take on the Florida Marlins and the park will be packed with UC alumni. Buy reduced rate tickets, then be sure to show up early for the pre-game activities and FREE giveaways in the Reds fan zone!

The reptile house at the Cincinnati Zoo during Zoo Blooms

Color explodes at the Cincinnati Zoo during Zoo Blooms throughout the April 2011.

Get out your garden gear and prepare to plant a tree, because the 29th is also Arbor Day. For those of you who aren’t sure what the Arbor Day Foundation is or how the day gained popularity across America, you can check out two articles Jathan wrote last year about the trees in our lives and the origins of Arbor Day on his philanthropy blog, Some People’s Lives.

April is also a great time to start planning your summer garden. You can visit the Cincinnati Zoo for ideas during the entire month of April as the park explodes with color during Zoo Blooms. This event always fuels our imaginations, particularly since spring makes us anxious to plant tons of herbs, veggies and flowers of our own. Because we plant the majority of these plants in containers, be sure to watch for a future blog post about that. We’ll give you some great tips on gardening, including inexpensive ways to make your yard look phenomenal!

And in case you missed them, be sure to explore our site for great food ideas, including everything from kitchen basics like heart-healthy Chicken Broth to our favorite Southern Fried and Southern Barbecued Chicken recipes. Then check out family favorites like Tomato Soup with Mozzarella Croutons, Classic Cinnamon Buns and No-Bake Peanut Butter Rice Krispies Cookies. If you love Italian cuisine, try our authentic Italian Minestrone and Rigatoni with Rapid Ragu. For something spicy, kick up the heat with Hoppin’ John, a traditional Southern dish with just the right amount of heat. There’s something for everyone on Jathan & Heather!

So what are you waiting for? Get outside, commune with nature, plant a tree, take a picnic, watch a game, or plan your garden. It’s spring, and there is no better time to enjoy the great outdoors!

Jathan & Heather

p.s. Watch the preview to African Cats below!

Chicken two ways

Chicken is one of the easiest, inexpensive and most convenient dishes in a family’s culinary repertoire.   Roasted, baked, sautéed, broiled, grilled or fried, you likely already have a favorite chicken recipe or two up your sleeve. Perhaps you’re one of the lucky ones who learned how to make these simple poultry classics from your mom or grandmother, or even an uncle or father who happened to know his way around the kitchen. But in case you’re not, or even if you are but you still like to try new variations on these recipes, today we’re going to teach you how to prepare two of our favorites.

With Our Favorite Southern Fried Chicken you’ll sink your teeth into flavor filled drumsticks that are as juicy as they are crispy. And with our Southern Grilled Chicken, you’ll savor rich pepper glazed poultry that cooks up great on the grill or on the stove. We’re making chicken two ways, today on Jathan & Heather!  

Buying chicken

Before we get started, we’re going to tell you a little tip that saves us time and money every time we make chicken. We love dark meat when we eat poultry, and if you do too, you should know that your butcher probably sells thighs and drumsticks already packaged together. If so, you’ll want to get a 5-pound bag or carton (and if you want the whole chicken, just buy the 5-pound equivalent, whole or cut up). Now that you have that handy, we’re going to brine the poultry.

Kosher Salt

Kosher salt dissolves easily in water to make a basic brine that creates succulent poultry.

Brining poultry

In case you don’t know, brining is an important step in preparing truly fabulous poultry. Brining changes the consistency of your poultry, making it more fibrous and porous, which is a good thing. This allows your chicken to retain moisture as it cooks so by the time you serve it on the table, it is still juicy and oh-so-delicious! So let’s begin. Now for those of you who have brined poultry before, you may have seen a more complex method than what we’ll use here, but you really don’t have to. Our method is quick and simple, and has the same effect as other recipes that tell you to use multiple herbs.

PREP: 10 minutes
REFRIGERATE: 8 hours or overnight

6 quarts water
2 tablespoons kosher salt
5 pounds chicken, cut up

  1. In a large stock pot, combine 6 quarts water and 2 tablespoons salt; add chicken. Cover and chill for 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Drain chicken; rinse with cold water, and pat dry.
  3. Step three? There is no step three. Brining is that simple!
Our favorite Southern Fried Chicken

Our Favorite Southern Fried Chicken is juicy, zesty, crispy and delicious. Here we've served it with sides of Spicy Roasted Cauliflower with Golden Raisins and Sautéed Green Beans.

Our Favorite Southern Fried Chicken

PREP: 5 minutes
COOK: 30 minutes
STAND: 5 minutes

2 1/2-pounds chicken, already cut up and brined
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups vegetable oil
1/4 cup bacon drippings

  1. Combine salt, pepper, cayenne and flour in a large heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag. Place 2 pieces of chicken in bag; seal. Shake to coat. Remove chicken; repeat procedure with remaining chicken, 2 pieces at a time.
  2. Combine oil and bacon drippings in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, heat to 360° or until a few water droplets dance on the oil when shaken from your fingertips into the pan. Add chicken, a few pieces at a time, skin side down. Cover and cook 6 minutes; uncover and cook 9 minutes.
  3. Turn pieces; cover and cook 6 minutes. Uncover and cook 9 minutes, turning pieces during the last 3 minutes for even browning, if necessary. Drain on paper towels; keep warm.

TIP: For best results, keep the oil temperature between 300° to 325°.

YIELDS: 4 servings.

Southern Barbecued Chicken

Pepper glazed Southern Barbecued Chicken is great off the grill or cooked atop the stove. Try serving it with Baked Beans, Cole Slaw and Corn Bread.

Southern Barbecued Chicken

PREP: 25 minutes + marinating
GRILL: 40 minutes

2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup canola oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce (We use Chipotle Chicks Hot Flash Habanero Sauce.)
1 tablespoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 1/2-pounds chicken, already cut up and brined

  1. In a large saucepan, combine the first eight ingredients. Bring to a boil; stirring constantly. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring often. Cool.
  2. Pour 1-2/3 cups marinade into a large heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag; add the chicken.
  3. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate overnight, turning occasionally. Cover and refrigerate remaining marinade for basting.
  4. If cooking on a grill, prepare grill for indirect heat, using a drip pan. Drain and discard marinade from chicken. Place skin side down over pan. Grill, covered, over indirect medium heat for 20 – 25 minutes on each side or until juices run clear, basting occasionally with reserved marinade.
  5. If cooking on the stove, heat a cast-iron grill pan until pan is hot and water droplets sizzle on the surface. Drain and discard marinade from chicken. Place skin side down over pan. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 20 minutes on each side or until juices run clear. Do not baste as bottom of pan will fill juices from the poultry.

YIELDS: 4 servings.

© 2011 Jadeworks Entertainment.