On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

cutting up a chickenPublished in the Rains County Leader September 8, 2015:

Ideas came easily the last two weeks. All I had to do was recount the antics of Spike, the mischievous pet we were staying with while his “parents” were out of town. Both columns were written and submitted on Saturday, well before the Monday morning deadline. Not so this week. When I turned on my computer after lunch on Sunday, I had a bad case of writer’s block. I played several games of Free Cell, Mahjong, and Spider Solitaire while I waited for inspiration, but as dinner time approached, my Word document was still blank.

I finally resorted to a modern source – Facebook – where I posted the following status update: I have a City Girl column due for this week’s paper without a clue what to write about. Suggestions? I received a few responses, but the first one caught my attention. As I was standing at the sink cutting chicken wings apart to make some hot wings, I started thinking about how many chickens I have cut up and fried during my lifetime. Do any of you young girls cut up a whole chicken for frying? My daughter is a fabulous cook, but she wouldn’t have a clue how to cut up a chicken! You young ones weigh in on this…I’m thinking I may have become antique!

Apparently home cooked fried chicken is becoming a thing of the past. She received thirty responses, the majority from people who had never cut up a whole chicken and who had never even fried one.

I learned to cook when I was eleven years old. We lived in Mesquite, Mom worked in Dallas, and it was 6:30 by the time she fried chickenmade it home each evening. I volunteered to add dinner to my household chores, and with lots of instructions, I could soon put a simple meal on the table. With practice, I increased my skill and my menus, and I eventually learned to dissect and fry a decent chicken.

Then I married, and my new family preferred hamburgers and hot dogs to fried chicken. Over time, I grew lazy, and the grocery stores began to market chicken pieces in addition to whole birds. When chicken was on the menu, I bought breasts and cooked them on the grill.

David’s tastes are much broader though, so now I occasionally buy legs and thighs, but I still don’t fry. I actually bought a whole chicken recently, but I cooked it whole in the crock pot. It was tasty, but it was so tender I had to remove it from the pot in pieces with a spoon.

Today’s general lack of homemade fried chicken is more than replaced by the many commercial eateries that specialize in the delicacy. Still, they serve breasts, thighs, and legs, and in some cases, various flavors of wings. When I used to cut up chickens, there were other pieces. My favorite was the wish bone, better known in my house as the pulley bone. Mom liked what she called the side boards, now sometimes included as a part of a split breast and called the rib meat. There was also a back and a tail piece. I don’t really miss any of those pieces except maybe the pulley bone, but I sometimes wonder what happens to them after the rest of the chicken is packaged and on the way to market.

Some pet foods list chicken by-products in the ingredients list. In addition, lots of chicken sausages, hot dogs, and sandwich meats are now on the market. Maybe I’ll quit asking questions. Sometimes it’s better not to know.



winding road Cover 25 percentA LONG AND WINDING ROAD: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos

Available in paperback and digital versions.

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