Baked Chicken and Lentils

I wish I were better at singing, or could play an instrument.  Damn my third grade self for quitting piano, because I definitely have great piano hands (I'm not sayin' I'm just sayin' - long, thin fingers are where it's at), can read music (maybe not so well anymore, I'm out of practice), and have a pretty decent sense of rhythm (which is oddly inconsistent with my inability to be physically coordinated in everyday life).  I sing often enough to myself, when I'm cooking or showering or on my way to class, and many a toddler has been sung to sleep when I'm on babysitting duty, but I don't have a great vocal range, or the ability to harmonize very well.

But oh how I love music.  There's very little I won't listen to, but I usually have to rely on others to introduce me to new material.  I'm not good at discovering music I haven't heard in some coffee shop somewhere, or at a friend's dorm room.  I tend to play the same songs over and over, discover new songs, and then play those over and over.  Certain songs I return to often, especially when I want something soft, gentle, and quiet.  I've got that genre down pat.  Norah Jones will forever be my favorite artist; followed by James Taylor and Jewel; then by Patty Griffin; Van Morrison; Bon Iver; and Eric Clapton.  And I really like making playlists that represent important pieces of my life, like the people or my moods or notable periods of time in my life.  Since the summer, I've been working on a song project that is basically a musical representation of my life to date.  I'll share it sometime, when it's fully updated.  Until then, this (see below) is the playlist I've been listening to fairly frequently, especially walking to class (I've been using my over-ear headphones as ear muffs, since it's frickin' cold here).

Are there any playlists you listen to a lot, or ones that you use for specific tasks like homework or cooking, or ones that remind you of someone important to you?  Maybe it's the lyrics, or the overall tone of a piece, or the style of an artist, but I love when I hear a song and am immediately reminded of someone.  Or even better, when I'm mulling over a song in my head, humming to myself, and it dawns on me that it perfectly represents someone I care about, or represents my relationship with that person.  It's so amazing that you can connect that strongly with a piece of art, produced by another human being you don't even know, just by listening.

Little reminders

1. Pompeii - Bastille
2. Mrs. Robinson - Simon & Garfunkel
3. The Water - Johnny Flynn featuring Laura Marling
4. Same Love - Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert
5. Counting Stars - OneRepublic
6. 22 - Taylor Swift
7. Waka Waka (Esto es Africa) - Shakira
8. Jump in the Line - Harry Belafonte
9. We Found Love - Rihanna
10. When You Were Young - The Killers
11. Summertime Sadness - Lana Del Rey
12. I Will Wait - Mumford & Sons
13. Let Her Go - Passenger
14. All I Want Is You - Barry Louis Polisar

Baked Chicken and Lentils

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
6 chicken thighs
4 garlic cloves
1 medium onion
1 carrot
1 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, divided
Handful parsley, chopped
1 half head radicchio, sliced thinly
1/2 c white wine
~2 c chicken stock
1 c lentils

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a cast iron skillet and season chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Sear chicken ~2 minutes on each side to create a crust, then remove from the pan.  Chop the onion and carrot in a medium dice, mince the garlic, and sweat in the warm oil.  Add in the spices and 1/4 teaspoon salt and sauté, ~5 minutes to perfume the spices.  Deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping the bottom (with a non-metal utensil) to remove the yummy bits and incorporate them into the sauce.  Add in the radicchio, lentils, and stock, then nestle the chicken thighs into the lentil mixture (being sure to add in the juice from the chicken).

Cover and place in the oven, cooking for 45 to 60 minutes until the lentils are soft and have soaked up the stock and wine.  Serve alongside something crisp and/or crunchy and fresh, like a radicchio and escarole salad with orange segments, walnuts, and brightly sour-sweet vinaigrette.

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