I complain about friendships sometimes. A lot of the time actually. Mostly to Gerrit. I complain about the fact that we have very few friends that live in town. I complain about friendships that sometimes feel fake and how I miss my friends that live far away. I complain about feeling like I’m not very good at making friends, and how hard that is to do as you get older. And then weekends like this past one happen, and I’m reminded that I’m never as friendless as I feel sometimes, and that a deep friendship is worth more than so many surface friendships, and how even when friends live far away they still add so much value to your life.
My college roommate, Leigh, came to visit this past weekend. We lived together for our first year and a half of college, having decided to choose each other as roommates after meeting at a scholarship weekend instead of leaving it up to the roommate potluck. We both transferred to new schools after our year and a half together, and in the years between then and now we have had so many life adventures. We have talked often, and then not so much, and recently, when we started emailing back and forth constantly again, we made plans for her to drive down from Ohio to visit.
I’m not going to lie. While I was so excited about her visit, I was also a little nervous. It can be weird to go years without seeing a friend, especially when so much has happened in life. But it didn’t take us long to find that connection again and to remember why we had decided to live together in college. We spent the weekend watching football and exploring Lowe Mill and talking talking talking. We talked about school and work and family and friendships. We talked about money and politics. We talked about how life takes us to different places and along different paths, and how while most people’s are the same while they are in school, those paths vary widely as we become adults. We talked about the things that have been hard in our lives and the things that have been wonderful and about how we are always uncertain about the future.
Leigh’s visit reminded me of what a true friendship can be, of how we can pick up as if years haven’t passed, of how we can share the things that are uncomfortable and be received with grace and understanding and love when we do, of how we can laugh together and share meals and joy together and come away feeling refreshed.
It’s easy to feel poor in friendships when they aren’t there all the time to remind you, but after a weekend like this past one I feel quite rich.
Lemon Chicken with Croutons
adapted from Ina Garten
This is one of the best roast chickens I’ve made, and the croutons below come out crispy and toasted and soak up just the right amount of chicken flavor. Make sure you a buy a good chicken (this will make a difference in the flavor). This is a perfect meal for easy entertaining, as the chickens are prepped ahead of time and the croutons just have to be toasted and the chicken cut right before eating; it makes a beautiful and fun presentation too, with everyone going back for more croutons off the plate throughout the meal.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
1 large yellow onion, peeled and sliced
1 medium sized chicken (about 4-5 lbs.)
2 lemons, quartered
2 tablespoons butter, melted
6 cups bread cubes (about 3/4 inch) cut from a baguette (or other similar bread)
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Place the sliced onion in the bottom of a roasting dish or rimmed baking dish. Drizzle some olive oil on the onions and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss together so that all of the onions are coated in a bit of oil. (Note–it also helps to add a bit of liquid to the bottom of the pan, like wine or chicken stock or even water, to help keep the onions from burning.)
3. Place the chicken breast side up on top of the onions (make sure you’ve removed any excess fat or leftover pin feathers). Season the inside cavity with salt and pepper and place the lemons inside.
4. Pat the outside of the chicken dry with a paper towel. Tie the legs of the chicken together with kitchen twine and tuck the wings underneath the chicken (so it looks like its hands are behind its head). Rub the outside of the chicken all over with the melted butter and season well with salt and pepper. Add just a bit of water or white wine to the bottom of the pan to prevent your onions from burning.
5. Roast the chicken for 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes, basting is two or three times while it’s cooking by scooping up the juices in the bottom of the pan and ladling them over the top of the chicken. The chicken is done when the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh.
6. Remove the chicken from the oven and cover with foil. Let rest for 15 minutes.
7. While the chicken is resting, prepare the croutons. Pour about 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil into a large saute pan and heat over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the cubed bread and season with salt and pepper. Saute the bread, tossing frequently until the croutons are crispy and beginning to turn golden brown, about 8-10 minutes (if your pan seems exceptionally dry while you are toasting the bread, you can add a bit more oil, but not too much because you don’t want the croutons to be oil-laden here).
8. Pour the croutons onto a serving platter. Remove the kitchen twine from the chicken and cut the chicken into pieces, cutting off the breasts and slicing them and cutting off the thighs and legs. Place the chicken pieces over the croutons, and serve immediately.