Monday, February 18, 2013

Chicken Tossing Guilt

I stood in the kitchen last night staring at a picked over chicken carcass and feeling guilty that I was about to throw it out.  I left it on the counter for a few hours while I had an internal battle over throwing it out or freezing it, finally telling Paul that it could be tossed, and not looking while it disappeared from my counter top.

I grew up with stories of a great grandmother in North Dakota who hoarded cheese puffs (if I remember correctly) and once slid a steak off of her plate and into her purse to save for later and I can't help but wonder... is this how it started?

Then I think no, with a little pang of guilt, because any depression era grandma worth her salt wouldn't have been throwing out that carcass!

But I have quarts of homemade broth filling the freezer at the moment and I'm out of jars to make more, and besides, I think I'm set on broth through summer at this point (or at least until the spring semester is over) and if I keep roasting a chicken once a week and dividing up the meat for meals, the supply is going to continue to far exceed what we need.  So, the carcass went.

Roasting a chicken is my favorite way to trick my family into thinking I'm a fantastic cook who's slaved for hours in the kitchen.  It's so easy.  I open the chicken, take out the giblets and neck if they're there, and rinse it inside and out then I set it on the roasting pan and pour a dollop of olive oil over it.  Next I sprinkle it with a layer of garlic powder and onion powder and a bit of kosher salt and black pepper, cover it with foil and pop it in the oven at 350 and let it fill the house with it's garlicky chicken goodness.  I served it alongside blueberries, which I'd found on sale and baked sweet potato fries (sprinkled with the same toppings and tossed).  It's a meal that doesn't trigger any reaction with Patrick and it makes the whole family happy.  And there's leftover chicken for at least one more meal (last night it was cranberry chicken cabbage wraps, which were also a hit!  And which made it feel kind of like Thanksgiving!).

I've realized, however, more and more of late, as I folded a clean but used zip loc bag and put it back in the drawer, that this recession has changed the way I think on a fundamental level, probably not all that different from the way our depression era relatives changed.  I find myself smiling and shaking my head at the many, many frivolous purchases I made back in college when paycheck after paycheck disappeared at the mall.  In many ways I laugh at myself now, as I found myself doing over my internal chicken struggle last night and yet... I definitely think more about how I can use things in different ways and stretch them to make them last longer.  I find myself reluctant even to throw out small pieces of fabric because just think! With enough of them I could make a quilt!

And I'm enthusiastically planning my garden for this year.  I'm planning to go big!  And pinterest is helping me get excited about the hard work to come!

What about you?  Have the past few years changed the way you look at the world?  Am I alone in my chicken tossing guilt?


  1. Isn't it crazy how people think roast chicken is hard? I don't even baste mine half the time. Have you tried without the tinfoil? I never cover my chickens and they are always fine (will save you money).

  2. I am certainly more frugal now than years ago. (The other day I fished a gnat out of my lemon water, so that I wouldn't have to waste the water and lemon.)

    My husband was raised by a woman who was raise by a depression era orphan who was raised by religious sisters. I don't even know if I can convey the levels of frugality going on with those two women.

    However, I also see how this frugality can turn to waste as well or the eating of food that could potentially cause you to be ill. (or, cause a whole group of people to not want to eat at your house.)

    Being frugal is something my dh and I work on together, I think he's learned that being frugal doesn't mean needing to eat rotten food while I've learned to cut a bit of mold off of cheese.

  3. I make my chicken in the crockpot (it's in there now!) and then put the carcass back in with a few more ingredients (spices and veggies) and let it sit overnight. In the morning, I have the most delicious chicken stock ever... and lots of it! I probably make one chicken every 6 weeks and that gives me enough stock to use about 2-3 times a week for various things... to cook veggies and rice in, base for sauces, etc. I get every last penny out of that chicken!

  4. My mom tries to save as much as possible. She also tries to stretch meat for different meals. At least one night a week is left over night. We have a garden every summer. I don't know if it is because of the times. Or the fact that my mother was raised by grandparents who lived through the depression. Her grandma was left an orphan at sixteen the oldest who had to care for 13 younger brothers and sisters.

  5. I've definitely become way more frugal over the last few years. And, I would feel tons of guilt over throwing away a chicken carcass too. I always make chicken stock in the crock is so, so, so easy that way.

  6. You are not alone in your chicken tossing guilt. I've been known to save bones from other meals (Like if we get thighs on sale etc) until I have a "chicken's worth" to make stock, and both my mom and stepmom know I'll show up to thanksgiving with 2gallon freezer bags for their turkeys.

    When I run out of jars I start storing my (cooled) stock in 2 cup amounts in quart bags. They stack nice and save a lot of space.

    In addition to cooking with it, I'll serve stock by itself. When other people might make cocoa, coffee or hot apple cider, I will make a warm mug of stock. It's delicious and also helps keep you healthy in the winter!


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