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March 24, 2023

Plain Talk About Food | My Friend, Snag

I lost a dear “friend” sometime during the storms in January, which day or night I’ll never know…I wasn’t privy to its demise. I only know the evening during which I realized my friend Snag had disappeared from the horizon.

My hubby Norm and I had a ritual every evening. Norm would take out martini glasses and measure into each glass an overly generous amount of Tanqueray Gin along with a capful of Martini and Rossi Vermouth (the one in the green bottle), plop in a very large green olive and add ice cubes to the mix. Since the passing of my sweet Hubby Norm, this ritual fell onto me, and last evening was no different, with one exception.

Balancing my glass carefully, not wanting to spill a single drop, I settled back into my recliner. Glancing across our San Lorenzo River, my eyes immediately sought out my friend Snag. But Snag was no longer there.

Once a beautiful 100-foot redwood tree, time had taken its toll, and the tree was now what the tree industry calls a “SNAG,” their name for a dead tree. The branches of Snag were void of any greenery — the perfect place for our owls and birds to rest and/or watch for rodents along the riverbanks and fish swimming in the river’s waters. Insects lived in the tree’s bark and woodpeckers would drill holes for their nests and feed on those insects.

We have watched squirrels, nuthatches and salamanders run up and down the trunk of Snag, as well as a young buck deer rubbing its antlers against the tree’s trunk to rid itself of the velvet still clinging on to each point. We have seen the mother raccoon chasing her kits up the tree out of harm’s way from a preying fox.

Eventide for my hubby and me was the best time of day; the time we would watch through our binoculars for the wildlife that Snag had to offer.

A month ago, I watched the mother owl along with her owlet light on one of the branches of Snag, and after a few moments, the mom left her babe, while I worried if she would return. A half hour later, the mom returned with a rodent in her beak. She sat patiently while the babe tugged and pecked at the night’s dinner being offered.

My hubby and I have watched the kingfishers dive and catch their food from the river’s waters, and while perched on Snag’s branches, the catch was devoured.

Yes, I have lost a dear friend, but will remain thankful for my memories of Snag and for what I was offered.

Soon, the weather here in our beautiful valley will turn warmer, which for me means a blanket, a good book, a basketful of picnic “fixings” and a spot under one of Joyce Kilmer’s beautiful trees.

If you give yourself a little more time than usual, and read the directions carefully, you will have that picnic basket filled with the very best fried chicken you have ever eaten. Coupled with a potato salad and a glass of chilled white wine of any varietal, your day will be complete.

Crispy Fried Chicken 

Cut chicken breasts (3-3 1/2 lb.) in half in order that all the parts will be of equal size and will cook evenly.

In a bowl add 2 cups Buttermilk with 1 Tbs. salt.

Mix together and add chicken parts.

Marinade for 2-12 hours in refrigerator.

Remove chicken and discard marinade. Do NOT pat dry.

In a bowl add:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1 Tbsp. ea. black pepper, celery seeds, ground ginger, Italian seasoning and garlic powder.

Stir together and add:

6 Tbsp. Fresh Buttermilk

Mix Batter with fork…the batter will be very lumpy.

Add wet chicken parts, pressing as much batter mixture as you can onto each chicken part. Do not shake off. Place on a rack and refrigerate for two hours. The more batter you press on, the better the crust will be.

Bring 1-1/2 quarts vegetable oil to a temperature of 350deg. Add chicken pieces one by one, skin side down in oil. Cover pot for 10 minutes. Do not open lid.

After 10 minutes open lid and turn chicken over. 

Cover and cook 8 minutes more. 

Remove chicken and drain on rack. Let rest for 10 min. in a preheated 170deg. oven. Enjoy!

German Potato Salad

2 lbs. red potatoes, boiled until fork tender and sliced into bite-sized pieces.

12 oz. bacon cut into 1in. pieces and fried until crisp. 

Remove from pan and into bacon fat add:

2 minced garlic cloves

2 Tbsp. gran. sugar

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 tsp. Tabasco sauce

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

Cook for 1 minute and turn off heat. Add potatoes and bacon to pan. 

Mix together and serve warm.

Dress with diced green onions and minced parsley.

Colly Gruczelak, a Ben Lomond resident, loves people and loves to cook. Contact her at [email protected].

Colly Gruczelak
Colly Gruczelak, a Ben Lomond resident, loves people and loves to cook. Contact her at [email protected]


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