As we are hunkering down for record-breaking cold, it is wonderfully comforting and reassuring to look at the shelves stocked with jams and preserves and a freezer loaded with vegetables and fruit, most of it from the garden, the rest from local growers.
A few people have asked me lately, “What will you grow in your garden this year?” I have not given it any thought, and frankly, I don’t want to quite yet. I am still recovering from a long gardening and canning season.
The freezer was filled almost to the top, and the board I am using to keep track of the freezer content was full, too when, the day before Christmas Eve, I suddenly had to make room for more.
Our farmer neighbor showed up with four fresh gutted roosters. We had asked to get some the next time he would slaughter chickens yet we had no clue they were coming that day.
When I first looked at the roosters, I thought they were turkeys. They were huge, too large to freeze whole, or even to store in the fridge overnight. They required immediate attention so my husband sharpened the knives and I quickly turned the kitchen into a meat-processing facility, pulling every bowl from the cabinets.
I cut up the chickens, a task that I am usually a bit squeamish about but somehow managed fine while my husband packed the pieces in freezer bags and labeled them. And, in the midst of this our Vizsla, going nuts over the smell.
On the fourth and last chicken, I cut myself. It was a small cut on my left pinky that did not look bad at first but it was rather deep and did not stop bleeding. Neither ice nor pressure helped; after two hours I caved and went to the emergency room to get two tiny stitches and, as a precaution, a prescription for antibiotics against salmonella while my husband finished the job.
Initially I did not want to make any chicken dishes for a while but last night I did make chicken soup. As we were starting to eat, my husband told our son, “Eat this with appreciation, it cost us $20 a spoonful.”
I feel like in one of those MasterCard Priceless commercials. Mine would go like this: Four fresh free-range chickens: $$. ER visit: $$$. Antibiotics: $. A soup that tastes like real chicken, and a good laugh about the whole thing for years: Priceless.