Colin, My $25 Organic Chicken

For health reasons, I need to eat meat and it needs to have as few hormones, antibiotics and other bad stuff as possible.
Working at being as smart a shopper as possible, I’ve learned that the “certified organic” label is expensive. Sometimes free range chickens, when you know the source, are just as good without paying for the certification.
Usually I get my chicken at the local co-op in pieces. I shop the local farmers market for produce often and also get packaged ground lamb which isn’t really available elsewhere. The farmers market chickens are whole chickens which bother me to handle and don’t fit in my slow cooker, which is my preferred usual method of cooking. I do not want to cut up a chicken.
So when one of the vendors I buy from sent his e-mail list a notice that there were a few cut up chickens available, I reserved one. It was over four pounds of chicken but, wow, it cost over $25. I try not to show sticker shock on my face and the booth salesperson thankfully kept her eyes averted.
This very precious, expensive chicken had been in my freezer for a few months and a few days ago I put it in the fridge to thaw. After two days it was still kind of frozen so I rinsed it off under tap water and put it in the crockpot. I was worried that there might be a neck and giblets wrapped in paper in the frozen center (there wasn’t) and let it cook for a long time so there wouldn’t be any pink surprises to gross me out.
After it cooked and cooled I carefully separated the chicken from the bone and got rid of the skin. Then I made broth from the bones, being way more careful of not wasting anything than usual. By now I had named the chicken Colin.
Colin is a chicken referred to in the pilot of the series, Portlandia which is premiering in a few days although I watched it on Hulu. It is a comedy about the 90’s culture in Portland, starring Fred Armisen. It is clever, but like with many comedies, I didn’t laugh. I laughed a lot during the wonderful King’s Speech film which I blogged about very recently which has way better humor than Portlandia.
Anyway, the main characters go to a restaurant and think about ordering the chicken and are questioning their server about it’s pedigree which she goes into in elaborate detail. They want to know more, like just how many square feet Colin had to roam freely in, etc. The server shows them a dossier with a photo paper clipped to it. (Colin looked like a hen.) Then they wanted to know why there wasn’t a picture of Colin with his wing around another chicken to show he was happy and sociable. Eventually they visit the farm where Colin was raised to check further. Maybe I don’t find the show amusing because I’ve actually met people like that, more so when I lived in Colorado.
Now I have frozen broth with pieces of chicken in it so I can savor my expensive purchase awhile longer and am keeping a closer eye on my budget.

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Nutmeg

There’s a mess in my kitchen that involved melted butter. I was preparing brussel sprouts for the slow cooker and then piled chicken thighs on top. The melted butter was mixed with Dijon mustard, soy sauce and black pepper. I think. Not remembering the exact measurements, just remembering how good it was when I fixed it a few weeks ago, it’s definitely a keeper recipe. I got it from Stephanie O’Dea’s blog. It lands in my inbox with slow cooker recipes, often using gluten-free ingredients. She’s written several cookbooks–I’ve just saved the posts with recipes I want to try, in a folder.

Rebuilding my health, after things I won’t go into, it’s good if I eat mostly organic veggies and some organic meat.  When you feel really, really tired it’s challenging to learn a new way of meal shopping and preparation.

I’ve been looking through the side dishes in the WordPress food blogs and found some interesting posts about turnips and beets. Filing the general information away in my head, I’m not able to provide links.

The one that caught my attention was turnips roasted with nutmeg. I decided to do both beets and turnips. Nutmeg is a spice I’ve never used in my years as a sporadic and rather sloppy cook. I was surprised how expensive it was. Running around doing lots of errands yesterday, I didn’t notice until I got home that I’d bought whole nutmeg. Dang.

Looking it up online, I learned that freshly grated nutmeg is far superior to using ground nutmeg. O.K. I looked at the graters and grinders too  and decided to pop on over to the gourmet cooking shop a few blocks away. Like almost everyone else, I am really keeping an eye on my finances. (We all know about that reality and we’re going to do our best here.)  Too expensive.

Later I ended up ordering one from Amazon and bought a book to make enough for free shipping and ended up spending more that if I’d just bought it at the shop. Now I need to wait also.  Well, I’m moving in the direction of better financial choices.

I can find some way to grate a whole nutmeg in the meantime or use lots of ginger instead. Ginger and turmeric are my favorites.

Nutmeg needs to be used sparingly.  Ingesting more than two tablespoons at a time gives it a hallucinogenic effect.  That isn’t at all what I’m intending while searching for ways to eat tasty, healthy vegetable dishes.

I’m continuing to really enjoy watching “Victorian Farm” on YouTube. Looking at the meals they’re eating puts me more  in a mood for old-fashioned  home-cooking.

The woman of the house is having a laborious time cleaning. The coal they cook with,  leaves dust everywhere. For cleaning metal, she used brick dust and vinegar. When she swept dust off the stairs she used saved, damp tea leaves so the dust would clump into balls instead of flying all over.

Women usually had three or four dresses at one time and made them last as long as they could. The woman in the series made a new dress for the May Day celebration and it took her over sixty hours.

The farm had lambs born–also piglets, chicks and ducklings. Almost nothing went to waste. They boiled a pigs head and ate the eyeballs along with everything else. It was mentioned that the work was so hard the historians participating in the documentary began to crave animal fat where as otherwise it wouldn’t sound appealing at all.

Most of my impressions of the Victorian age are from novels that are usually set in London instead of the country.  Anne Perry comes to mind–I’ve especially enjoyed her novels.  The poverty was grim and frightening but the upper classes had their restrictions and constraints also.

That was their mission, even if they didn’t articulate it, to explore and develop the outer world and get humanity to a place where it wasn’t all about survival. Now in many ways, we are needing to explore and develop the inner world more. People are at all ends of the spectrum on that one. It’s in a transition phase. I’m all for the inner-directed life but recognize that it’s dangerous and ineffective to neglect the material world.  All too often I seem to get de-railed into survival issues.

After watching the segments of this series, I’m really appreciating tap water, flush toilets, forced air heat and my electric range and lights.