Category Archives: Food

Pin Feathers

My mother didn’t cook much, but she was a good cook who really cared how her dishes turned out.  She was particularly fussy about her chicken. When I was a very little girl, mom would buy chicken from the meat man in the back of Nelson’s department store. The chicken came whole and was wrapped in white butcher paper.

She usually cut up the chicken she bought and baked the pieces. I have vivid memories of her holding each piece over an open flame on the gas stove to remove any possible remaining pin feathers that were missed when the chicken was processed.  There usually weren’t any such feathers, but it was something she had learned growing up on the farm, and she always did it.

Husband and I like to get big roasting chickens, but they have been hard to come by lately. In desperation the other week we took a chance and bought a “Southern Hen” in Walmart. It was indeed from the deep South in Alabama. It was the right size (about 9 pounds), and we decided to cook it whole in the slow cooker.

The roasters we usually buy are nicely processed and have clean skins with no pin feathers.  I would have needed a blow torch to remove the feathers and quills from our Southern Hen. I tried a lighter to no avail, and ended up laboriously removing it all with a needle nosed pliers.   My mother would have been appalled.  I guess they have different standards in chicken processing in the South.

The meat was tasty, but I made sure every bit of skin was removed and discarded once the chicken was thoroughly cooked. Husband has indicated that it might be nice to keep a few  chickens in our retirement. Our experience with our Southern Hen makes me think otherwise.

What do you remember about family food ways  from your childhood?

A Hill of Beans

Husband and I returned home from Minneapolis last Sunday to find that it was time to harvest our pole beans.  We had covered the four bean towers with a tarp before we left, and hoped we could forestall the effects of a killing freeze until we returned.  The very hot weather we had in July pushed the entire garden behind schedule, and the beans needed as much time as they could get to mature. We grew Good Mother Stallard and  Petaluma Gold beans.

We first encountered shell beans when we lived in southern Indiana.  Shell beans are like dried beans  (think cannellini and pinto beans) before you dry them.  They are fat and sweet and buttery. The pods are long and bulging. Our favorite is Vermont Speckled Cranberry Beans, but there seemed to be a shortage of seed last Spring, so we grew the two other varieties.  Good Mother Stallard is the quintessential New England  heirloom bean.  Petaluma Gold was a good variety that we grew several  years ago.  People sometimes let them dry on the vine and store them in bags, but  we like to harvest them before they dry and store them in the freezer. They are terrific in soups and stews.  They are also so pretty before you cook them. The header photo is some of the Good Mother Stallard we harvested.

It got so cold here while we were gone that the bean vines died despite the huge tarp we covered them with. The pods did not freeze, however, so we spent Monday night shelling the beans and blanching and freezing them.  My thumbs hurt from shelling them.

I realize that our obsession with pole beans is sort of odd, but they are such good beans. Husband gets gout from beans, but he insists we have them in the garden every year.

What are you obsessed with? Who have you known who had obsessions?


Birthday Boy!

Today is the birthday of our dear leader Dale!

We’ve talked here over the years of the gift that Dale has given us by starting the blog and setting a tone that we all appreciate.  Now let’s make a list of what gifts we would like to give Dale.

Here’s a poem for Dale’s birthday – although not quite up to the standards of Poet Laureate Tyler Schuyler Wyler.

You’re honest,
decent, lovable,
and truly are first rate.
You’re charming,
and clearly pretty great…

You’re dignified,
gracious, sweet,
and kind.
You’ve got a lot
of talent
and a wit that’s
hard to find.

You’re cleaver, cool,
and clean up really nice.
You’re worldly wise,
and wonderful
and full of good advice.

You’re fun
and entertaining,
not to mention
very smart.
You’re altogether awesome
and you’ve got a lot of heart!

What gift would you give Dale?

The Peach Man Cometh

Our town boasts two large grocery stores in addition to Walmart.  All three places have terrible produce, especially when it comes to summer fruit.  We waited all summer for Idaho, Colorado, and Washington peaches,  but they never arrived, leaving us with the second rate California peaches which always seem to disappoint.

Husband’s paternal grandfather was a door to door vegetable salesman in eastern Ohio from 1925 until 1968. He drove his truck up and down the roads and highways around Bridgeport, Ohio,  shouting “Vegetables!” and selling produce he grew himself or bought wholesale in Wheeling.  Husband grew up with great expectations for really nice produce, which is probably one reason we garden so much.

All summer we keep a look out for the fruit trucks that come through town, usually on the weekends. The Peach Man (who also sells Flathead Cherries) always parks in the small parking lot by the State Farm Insurance office and the Music Store.  He is a local guy who drives out to Montana and Washington, fills up his truck with peaches and cherries, and sells them here and in the little towns around us.  His produce is terrific.

We only got to the Peach Man twice this summer, and were feeling deprived when I noticed that one of his competitors, The Fruit Club truck, was in town one last time last Saturday. Off we went, and we came back with 10 pounds each of plums, peaches, and pears.  They all ripened Monday, so we are making jam and freezing pie fillings.  Sometimes  you just have to go overboard.

What do you find hard to resist?

Make a List!

today’s post comes to us from tim.

  1. The weekend at my daughters school was pretty lame
  2. We got a late start my fault
  3. Got to dinner too late after unloading at airb2b
  4. Had to deal with oncoming illness
  5. Events were poorly planned out and yet ok
  6. Seeing daughter was great
  7. Letting 16 year old hang with her sister was worth it
  8. Brunch should be go to meal every day
  9. People watching is my 2nd favorite thing

What’s a summary of something in your life with bare bones description?