I found the recipe, but I died of hunger



Yes, I am about to hit you with a first-world problem. Yes, it is petty and silly but I just wanted to throw this out in the world and see what you think. Let’s create the scenario:

You look at the clock and it’s close to 5pm. “Crap! I haven’t EVEN thought about supper. Better find a recipe,” you say to yourself. You have chicken thawed in the fridge (miraculously…I know this never really happens, but play along), and you are hormonal, so you want something creamy, full of cheese, and at least 7,000 calories per serving. Your Google search brings up several pages of yummy sounding dishes, and you click on one that sounds tasty: “Maw Maw’s Secret Never-Fail Creamy Cheesy Crunchy Super-Easy Baked Chicken”.

It is on a “mommy blog” kind of a blog site, which all great, but as soon as the page loads, you realize you have a problem. The title of the page may be “Maw Maw’s Secret Never-Fail Creamy Cheesy Crunchy Super-Easy Baked Chicken”, but directly below the title, there is no recipe. Just words. A lot of words.

In fact, it is a ten chapter story about how Great-great-great-great-great grandmother Maw Maw created this recipe in the latter part of Colonial times and fed it to the early settlers where it was supposed to have saved an entire village following an outbreak of smallpox.  She then passed it on to Great-great-great-great grandmother Mildred, who brought it to a potluck after the signing of the Constitution, where Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin both declared that it was the best thing they had ever eaten. Some years later, Great-great-great grandmother Maypearl was able to save the famous recipe from the hands of the Union soldiers by smuggling it in a secret compartment in her hatpin. Later, the recipe was served at various family functions, saved lives, and was sworn to secrecy and only released upon Grandmother Minnie’s death in 1987.

Interestingly enough, the recipe includes 2 cans of cream of chicken soup, a “99 cent bag of Doritos”,  a box of Velveeta (cubed), and a brick of cream cheese. But who am I to be asking these kinds of questions?

It all started for me after reading The Pioneer Woman’s blog years ago. At first, I looked forward to her close-up photos of melting butter, cheesy strands of deliciousness as it was being served, and gooey, creamy dessert goodness. But after a while, the number of photos increased. The story grew in length, and suddenly EVERYONE in the blog world was standing two inches from their cast iron skillets with their Rebel DSLR camera to grab that perfect macro shot of a stick of butter dissolving into a lovely yellow pool. Look, I’m not knocking the woman, after all, she made a mint off of her posts, but enough is enough and I’m certainly not picking on dear Ree. But sheesh. Recipe novellas just need to die. It’s five o’clock, I’m hangry and hormonal, and if I don’t find that recipe (and after reading all of that you had BETTER put it into a print-friendly format!), I am gonna throw this laptop between two sliced of (heavily buttered) bread and eat it.

Something else of note is that I’m sorry, but Paula Deen and the like didn’t pull these recipes out of thin air. They have made a fortune on reprinting the exact same recipes that I can get out of my Junior League of Fussybottom/Possum Holler Full Gospel Baptist Church/Coonlick County Electric Co-op fundraising cookbooks.

Now I’m off to my cookbooks to find something that calls for Doritos, a cream soup, and 2 sticks of butter. See ya!



Lipstick & Gizzards


We were watching Jerry Clower one night, and the late and great Mississippi-bred comedian was talking about times when people in the South got together. Oh, there are pea-shellins, corn-huskins, and taffy-pullins, sure. But no one really gets excited about chicken-pluckins. Here’s why:

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: Broiler chickens are nasty.

I love animals, but broilers AKA meat birds AKA Cornish crosses are just….gross. They can hardly help it, I know, because they were bred to make one thing: chicken nuggets. (Well, other things, too, but “nuggets” is just a funny word.) They eat and then they poop. Continuously. And then they laid in said poop. If you are familiar with chicken poop, it’s obviously gross, but there is no poop like broiler poop. Imagine Old Faithful. Need I say more? Yes, it really is THAT bad. Please see above photo for reference.

Anyway, last fall, my dear friend Big Rig and her husband, PeeDee, brought over a passel of meat birds to send to chicken Jesus in the sky. Big Rig was to the point where so many of us find ourselves with farming: either the chickens had to go or she was moving to a new place where you never had to move a chicken tractor much less see a chicken ever again.

So, because we have chicken processing equipment, they came to our farm and we got everything set up. Now, Big Rig and I haven’t ever done a ‘chicken-pluckin’ together, so this was a whole new experience. You have your cages full of ‘pre-nugget’ AKA live chickens, your ‘killing cones’, a giant pot of boiling water, and then a processing table. Obviously, chickens go in the cones first and that’s where it’s “off with their heads”. But anyway.

Big Rig volunteered to put the first chicken in a cone. They go upside down and their little heads stick out of the bottom of the cone, and their feet out of the top. Ideally, they don’t wriggle around too much, but, this isn’t always the case. As Big Rig went to put the wildly thrashing nugget with legs in the first cone, something terrible happened. Remember the visual of Old Faithful? Yes friends, at the very moment chicken was going IN, something else was coming OUT in a steady stream RIGHT ACROSS BIG RIG’S MOUTH. As I looked up, there was a weird strangling noise and she was wildly gesticulating with her hands, eyes as wide as a turkey platter.  Her lips were so pursed, I thought that maybe she had lost them permanently. With arms flailing and loudly throat-screaming, “MMMMMMMGGGGGGGDDDDDKKKKKKKKMMMMMM”, I grabbed a roll of paper towels and threw it at her. PeeDee and Jason had a horrified look on their faces which quickly dissolved into a fit of doubled-over laughter.

It was a day to remember, that’s for sure.

Revenge of the Nuggets.

Then, as if I didn’t get enough of fecal-laced lip balm, when my friend Dubyacee called and said she would have about twenty more nuggets to process, I immediately said, “Yes! Bring them over!” At least I had given myself 6 months to recover.

This day went without any face-painting incidents, but I did learn that I never want to skin a chicken ever again. It was a long, gross, wet, and feathery day, but in the end we had twenty or so little birds in the coolers. The only issue was, I hadn’t bought enough ice. When you are butchering birds, you really need to live next door to an ice factory. I don’t care how much ice you buy, it isn’t enough. You will always, ALWAYS be short by 2 or 3 bags.

So, I got in our truck and drove down to the little general store down the street. Before I got out, I took a look at myself. My mud boots were soaking wet and covered in things we won’t discuss, but that did include feathers. My freebie t-shirt and shorts were sprayed with who-even-knows what. My hair was sweaty and in a tall bun that looked like I had slept in it for two days, not to mention looking like I had grabbed a hold of a bare electrical wire in my sleep. Make-up free, I was the perfect advertisement of how NOT to go out in public. I grabbed my purse and fumbled around in my side pocket. Grabbing my candy red lipstick, I smeared it across my lips. Because,  I may be a grubby old chicken processor, but I’ll be danged if I’m going out without my lipstick.

Lipstick & gizzards. Welcome to my life. chicken2