Very few musical acts inspire me to purchase tickets and leave home, but whenever I hear Valerie June is coming into town, I secure a seat! So it was I found myself in a formal theater, with one of my best gal pals by my side, listening to Valerie’s twang fill the room and then some. Her medusa locks serpentined to and fro. She swayed whimsically, as she tip-toed barefoot across the stage, swapping guitars for banjos, for baby banjo ukuleles. If I had to pick THE single most beautiful human being, I just might pick her.
As she tuned her guitar, she spoke about two songs coming to her in dreams (how’s that for a Liz Gilbert Big Magic affirmation?). She said they were meant to be played in that beautiful theater, that the songs would be happy there. I love the idea of being a vessel for creativity. It takes away so much of the stress, insecurity and general negativity of the creative process, and in the end, the product is just happy to exist, on its own.
Roasted chicken salad surely lacks the beauty and depth of a Valerie June dream song, but in the spirit of creations willing themselves into being, this roasted chicken salad follows suit. I planned the Cabin Menu for Two in preparation for our stay at the Beaverdam Cabin, well in advance of learning the stories of the bones of the building.
The history of Green Gables Restaurant & Huddleson Court:
In 1927, a young farmer, an entrepreneur and artist at heart, decided he had milked his last cow. Weary of his 5 a.m. forays into the dairy barn, he hit upon the idea of opening a roadside sandwich stand on Route 985 in Jennerstown. It evolved over the years into a Laurel Highlands landmark, Green Gables Restaurant and Mountain Playhouse.
Founders James “Jimmie” Stoughton and his sister, Louise Maust, were soon known for their delectable chicken salad sandwiches and angel food cake. A year later, the pair began gradual expansion of their humble roadside sandwich stand, known today as Green Gables Restaurant.
You see? This chicken salad was meant to be made at this cabin. It was part of the story of this cabin. We just happened to be joining along, mere vessels happily observing the pieces become a whole, while soaking up the quiet and calm of the little cabin with its gurgling stream.
I may not go to sleep to song-filled dreams. I may not wake up and pen lyrics that form the happy tunes that linger long after the guitar returns to its case. But I can make a mean chicken salad sandwich where farmers once tread, and that is serendipitous enough for me.
Spicy Roasted Chicken Salad
About this Recipe: There are no precise quantities for this chicken salad. Simply adjust to your own taste inclinations. Experiment with different mayos too. I recommend Sir Kensington’s Dijonnaise for this version, but they have an entire line of non-gmo mayo variations that use healthier oils and ingredients.
croissants or sourdough bread
Mix everything together in a bowl, adjusting to taste. Serve on croissants or sourdough bread with a side of veggie chips.