October in the kitchen – Easy Baked Chicken with Lemon

October in the kitchen – Easy Baked Chicken with Lemon

One of the wonderful things about living in California is having a Meyer Lemon tree in the backyard. It was already a mature tree when we purchased our home 25 years ago. Unfortunately the tulip magnolia it was planted next to is now huge and shades half of the lemon tree in the summer. But, this less than ideal situation doesn’t stop it from producing prolific amounts of lemons.

I use those lemons almost every day. There is not much that isn’t improved by a last minute grating of fresh lemon zest or a squeeze of lemon, or both. Meyers do well in containers if you don’t have yard space; they only need a warm spot with some sun and a deep watering once a week.

For lemon chicken you will need:

  • 4 chicken leg quarters, the leg and thigh attached
  • 2 large lemons
  • 8 sprigs of thyme
  • Olive oil
  • A pinch of chili flakes
  • Sea salt or kosher salt
  • ¼ cup of white wine
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Cut one lemon into thin slices and the other in half.
  3. Line a baking dish with foil and place the leg quarters in the pan, skin side up. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and a pinch of chili flakes. Lay the slices of lemon on top of the chicken, then the thyme sprigs. Squeeze the halved lemon over it all and drizzle with olive oil (you don’t need much). Toss the squeezed lemon into the pan with the chicken.
  4. Pour 1/4 cup of the white wine in the bottom of the pan. Pour the cook a glass as well.
  5. Bake, uncovered, for an hour to an hour and 15 minutes depending on the size of the quarters. The juices should run clear when pierced with the tip of a knife. Let the chicken sit for 15 minutes before serving. Don’t toss out those lemon slices! They are caramelized and delicious to munch on.


Your kitchen is about to smell amazing!

Finished lemon chicken

Finished lemon chicken

You’ll have some scrumptious pan drippings. Pour them into a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until they begin to thicken slightly. This simple gravy can be poured over mashed potatoes, yum.

Or, simply moisten slices of some good crusty bread with the juices and bake them until crisp in the oven. I just lay them in the roasting pan until they soak up some flavorful drippings, then place them on a baking sheet back in the oven until crispy. Watch carefully so they don’t burn. Yum, yum! Serve the chicken on top.

If you are counting calories, the chicken is delicious “as is”. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice and some chopped parsley is all that is required.

10 Kitchen basics to grow in pots

10 Kitchen basics to grow in pots

If you have a deck or terrace with some sun, you can grow the following 10 herbs and vegetables. Having a pot of these herbs near your kitchen will encourage you to use them regularly. The fresh ones are infinitely better than the dried.

Many of them are actually easier to grow in containers. The first four are Mediterranean plants often found growing wild beside a road or path in the warmer parts of Europe. They will grow without any attention on your part other than a slug of water every now and then. In fact, withholding water concentrates the oils and makes them more flavorful.

The mint is best grown in a container; given a chance it will take over your garden.


  1. Thyme
  2. Rosemary
  3. Sage
  4. Oregano
  5. Mint
  6. Parsley – will need to be periodically replanted, not too often if you keep it sniped
Thyme and mint

Thyme and mint


  1. Arugula
  2. Salad greens
  3. Radishes
  4. Scallions or chives

Yes, you can grow arugula and other salad greens in pots. They will need regular water to taste their best. Without it they will wilt, become bitter and generally unappealing. If you have to be away for a period of time, I have some ideas that will help keep your garden healthy until you return. Look for another post coming soon.

Having lettuce near your kitchen will encourage you to snip the leaves for wonderful salads. You can either pinch off the outer leaves when they are of the size you want, or cut the entire plant back about an inch above the soil line. The plant will come back for a second or even third time, it’s called cut-and-come-again. The salads from these greens are infinitely better than those from even the finest grocery store. Plus, you can grow exactly the type of lettuce you want. Those commercial mesclun mixes always have too many spinach leaves for my taste. Seed catalogs are full of beautiful lettuces and lettuce mixes. Cooks Garden is famous for their mesclun; take a peak at the varieties available in their on-line catalog.

Radishes are easy to grow, too easy! I find that I forget about them unless they are front and center. My first gardening failure was in my grandparent’s garden when I was 9. I was excited when my grandfather gave me some radish seeds to plant. However, I immediately forgot about them until they were overgrown, woody, and way too hot to eat. Believe me I’ve had lots of failures since! So, put them in a container where you can watch them every time you pass by and pull them up when ready. In France radishes are a favorite starter with a crisp baguette, unsalted butter, and flaked sea salt on the side. I particularly like the French breakfast variety.

Scallions or chives will grow well in a pot. Having them close to the kitchen will encourage you to snip a bit to use with eggs, or salads, or as a fancy garnish. You can grow chives from a transplant, or from seeds. Your plant may die back in the winter but will come back in the spring. The flowers, pulled apart, are beautiful added to a salad. Scallions grow from seed, or even easier, a bunch from the grocery store. Put a bunch, with the rubber band still around them, into a glass with about an inch of water. Change the water every day or two. Once you see the roots growing and new greens on the top, you can plant them into soil. Simply snip off the green portion as needed or pull one up.

Parsley and basil

Parsley and basil

If you have herbs planted further away from the kitchen, cut a few sprigs while you are out in the garden.  Put them close by in a glass of water (change it every day). If you are sure you won’t forget them (I would), you can cover the glass or jar with a plastic bag and put it in the refrigerator. I like to see them and they add a really nice herby scent to the kitchen, much better than those fancy infusers. I often have glasses of parsley, basil (in season), oregano, and rosemary on my kitchen table; ready to use when I feel creative.