Pineapple Blood Orange Sweet & Sour Chicken
Sweet & Sour
For the most part my childhood was anything but nurturing. The list of things that I was permitted to do was very short and I was under no circumstances allowed to try and expand my reach beyond reading, writing and sketching. Sports or hobbies were out of the question for me because they were deemed unconstructive.
I can remember visiting one of the little girls I used to play with. I always had to leave when it was time for her softball practice or her soccer game. I was so envious of her life because she was allowed to do things.
I felt so out of place. My so-called friends made fun of for my hair, my clothes and my eye-rolling ridiculous imagination but ironically I was always useful for my listening ear and my strong shoulder to cry on when they needed me. And because I wanted to be needed, I was always there. Hurtful comments were almost bearable because I knew their insecurities and fears. I comforted myself in knowing they were just showing off and kept smiling while they just thought I was off my rocker. I still kept each and every one of their secrets.
Fortunately, I have developed a creative imagination that has only grown with time. I had no idea that one day I would make a living from my own creative ideas, but it may not have reassured me anyway.
When I was five I had imaginary friends. When I was seven I started playing with modeling clay and I would construct herds of my favorite animals. I would always make one special family of animals out of my favorite colors. That family would be the ridicule of the herd for one reason or another…but they always ended up winning in the end.
After that I started writing and sketching more while also listening to music twenty four hours a day. I listened to rap, r & b, classical, jazz, country…even music from other parts of the world and sometimes I would listen with my headphones on and a book open in my lap so it didn’t look like I was wasting time letting the music wash over me so I could feel the emotion that music inspires.
I wasn’t able to help with dinner and creating my own recipes was completely out of the question. My mom hosted cooking classes when I was a campfire girl so I had a strong interest, but not much opportunity until I was in my late teens.
I disliked the woman that taught me how to cook. She was a mother, wife and worked for her husband as his servant by running the family business. She was an expert at frugality, creativeness in the kitchen and making things from scratch.
Her husband looked down on me with disdain and being an obedient wife, she also made an effort to show disapproval of my multiple ear piercings, my audacity to dye my hair black and listen to that heathen grunge music. When she and I were in the kitchen together, we were equals. In the kitchen, she treated me as her own daughter, but in a good way. It wasn’t even about the food, it was the sense of closeness that I really valued more than anything that money could ever buy.
She taught me how to make some of her signature family recipes and when we would sit and eat together I would tune out all the negative conversation and I just focused on the food. I made this. It is beautiful and everyone loves it.
It took a long time for me to even fathom that I could actually create my own recipes into anything I could dream up. Thanks to my imagination, anything is truly possible!
For some reason that has been on my mind lately and I am so relieved to say that all feels like it is a part of my past. An ugly part in some ways, but it really has made me into the person that I am right here and right now. I am proud of the person that I have made myself to be since I know how far I have come. I have a long way to go but one day at a time I learn, I grow and I love what I do.
Pineapple & Blood Orange
Taylor gave me an inspiration by suggesting that we have something for dinner that was both sweet and sour like a sour gummy worm. My mind connected with a vision of a sweet and sour sauce, which I have never ever made before in my life.
I had the sweet in the form of fruits from our weekly produce order combined with sugar. The sour could easily be vinegar and I knew of some veggies that would love to volunteer for this dinner…along with a few unsuspecting chicken breasts.
I was so pleased with the way this turned out that I just had to share it with you. The tangy-ness of the sauce was subtle and the sweetness was excitingly pleasant. Tender chicken and vegetables were thoroughly coated with the sweet, tangy sauce nested atop the fresh rice. This was the most balanced sweet and sour sauce that I have ever had the pleasure of eating. I only made this once, but I did keep notes on what I did so that you could create this dish if you want a really good sweet and sour sauce. This is going in my list of favorite chicken dinner recipes and if I ever write a cookbook I will be sure to add this one. I have never had the desire to try a chicken sweet and sour sauce recipe, but now this may be a regular at our house. I have seen quite a few blood orange recipes but I do not believe I have seen one quite like this. I did make extra sauce with this and I am becoming quite a fan of blood oranges.
This experience started with fruit flying everywhere and ended up with my mutterings that varied between curses and excited squeals of happiness! I had no recipe to modify only a faint memory of sweet and sour sauce that I had tasted years ago, but didn’t enjoy.
Maybe this will encourage you to try an idea that you’ve been tossing around, but you think it won’t be well received. Screw it, my friend. Just go for it.
Pineapple Blood Orange Sweet & Sour Sauce with Chicken and Vegetables
by Dionne Baldwin
Core of 1 pineapple, chopped
1 1/2 cup chopped pineapple, 1/2 cup for blending and 1 cup for cooking with the chicken and veggies
2 blood oranges, peeled
2 cups of water
1 1/2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast
6 tbsp vinegar, will use 2 tbsp. at a time
3 small bowls, each with 1/8 cup packed dark brown sugar
Alaea Hawaiian sea salt
fresh ground pepper
1 chopped eggplant, skin removed if you want
1 diced green pepper
*If you have a large pan or are cooking a smaller batch, you do not have to divide in half. Leaving space in the pan and waiting for liquid to reduce is imperative.
Cube chicken and cook in a pan seasoning with salt, pepper and onion powder to taste on medium heat. While chicken is browning, add pineapple core and 1/2 cup chopped pineapple, blood orange, a pinch of Alaea salt and water into a blender and blend for at least 60 seconds. Strain out fruit pulp and reserve the liquid, setting aside. Once chicken is cooked, remove and reserve half of the chicken and let the remaining chicken cook in the pain until there are those precious little brown bits sticking to the bottom of the pan. Turn heat up to medium high and deglaze the pan with just over 1/2 cup of the fruit puree. Add 1/8 cup of brown sugar and 2 tbsp. vinegar. Add 1/2 of your eggplant and green pepper along with 1/2 cup of your chopped pineapple. Simmer and taste your sauce, adding additional seasonings to achieve your ultimate flavor. That is what the extra 1/8 cup brown sugar and 2 tbsp. vinegar are for. When sauce thickens, remove chicken and sauce from the pan. Repeat with the second batch of chicken. You can make additional sauce by simmering in a pan using the same process only without chicken and vegetables. Serve over rice.