Back When I Was Young
I grew up on an acreage just west of Saskatoon. My mom gave up a promising career as a pharmacist to raise a family. She later told me I “might not have the privilege of staying home with my children” because of the economic need to work in today’s world. [As an aside, she was right. For Kevin and I, farming enabled us to be present with our kids AND have careers.]
To survive on one income, my parents planted and harvested a huge garden. Mom pickled, canned, froze and jammed every fruit and vegetable in sight. We kids had the seemingly tortuous duties of weeding, picking chokecherries, shelling peas, tipping beans and digging potatoes in fall. We all believe we had it so rough as kids! Now I can say “thank you mom and dad for teaching us life skills”.
For a few years, our family also had laying hens for eggs and broiler chickens for meat. I loved the chickens but despised butchering time. I have vague memories of a huge log with two protruding nails, about a chicken neck’s width apart, an axe, a camp stove topped with a huge pot for scalding, and our bathtub filled with icy water to chill the finished birds. If I only knew then what I know now . . .
Strategically Delicious Food
My best chicken memories are of Sunday dinners. Before church, mom would prepare a fat roasting chicken for the oven, stuff it with raisin bubbat, and nestle onions, potatoes and carrots around the bird. When we arrived home, the indescribably welcoming, warm smell of roast chicken filled the house. As fast as we kids could set the table, the bird was carved and plated with all the trimmings (including Jello salad), and we tucked into a delicious meal.
Now that I’m a mom, I see that my mother cooked strategically. Creatively inspired leftovers always graced our table during the following week. We ate creamed chicken with rice, chicken soup, chicken salad sandwiches — and loved it all.
I’ve adopted the same strategy. Cook once, eat multiple times. It’s my sanity saver. You know, it’s all about minimizing “arsenic hour” — the time when the kids come home from school, mad hungry and the first thing out of their mouths is “What’s for supper?”, while I’m still in the office frantically finishing my workday. No “hello”. No “how was your day?”. No “What can I do to help you mom?” Just “What’s for supper?”. Rant over.
Our weekend roast chicken leftovers find themselves in quesadillas, chicken Caesar salad, chicken pot pie or in soup. I take the time on the weekend to make broth from the bones which I freeze for future use in risottos or stews or use immediately that week as a soup base. Easy peasy.
If I do the math, I’m getting approximately three meals for four people from a $25 chicken. That’s $2/person for nutritious, delicious protein in a week. Fits the budget. Fits the menu.
One chicken. Three meals. Winner winner chicken dinner!