Monthly Archives: March 2011

The Chicken, the Whole Chicken and Nothing but the Chicken, so Help Me…

Let me be clear: I have an aversion to chicken.

It dates back to my childhood years of poking my meat with a fork to check for veins or other signs that my entree used to be a live animal.

I wish I was past this.  I wish I didn’t care that there are things in chicken like fat and “gristle” (a word that still makes me shudder).  Mostly I just wish I was a vegetarian.

But then I couldn’t have steak or fish, both things for which I salivate.

So.  The chicken.  I deal with it on a semi-weekly basis because it’s easy, cheap and the husband enjoys it.   I usually just cut it up and cook it with some simmer sauce.  But do I like it?  Unclear.

Recently I’ve been flipping through various cookbooks and the same recipe keeps jumping out at me: whole roasted chicken.  Every single recipe taunts me with how easy it is, how low-maintenance, but they all seem to forget one little tidbit:  I have to TOUCH the chicken to make it.

So, without actually touching it, I managed to get this 4.5lb chicken from its packaging to my chicken-only cutting board.

Ten minutes later, the chicken still looked like this, because I was pacing back and forth in front of it after reading the following in my cookbook: “Remove organs from cavity of chicken.”

Surely there must be some other way.

I finally decided that without rubber gloves I was going to have to resort to using a paper towel.  I wrapped my hand in the paper towel and stuck my hand into the “cavity.”   It only took about two seconds for me to realize that I could not feel a thing, nor could I move my hand to grab at anything.

I was going to have to do this the hard way.

I took off the paper towel, counted to three and dove my hand in so fast I convinced myself I wouldn’t feel a thing.  But I did feel a thing.  His organs.  How do people do this?!

I promptly threw them in the trash and then washed my hands within an inch of their life.  Only I should have kept reading because it wasn’t long before I was rubbing salt and pepper all over the bad bird and then shoving a lemon up his rear.   Good times.

I became a huge fan of rosemary in the process, because I quickly discovered that I can jam it into the chicken without ever touching the slimy flesh.

My jaw really hit the floor when the cruel authors of the cookbook demanded that I lift the skin away from the meat with my finger and put whole garlic cloves underneath. Excuse me?

I put the whole thing in the oven and instantly realized why people love cooking chicken this way: you can walk away for an hour.  This, in cooking, is priceless.  Usually when I cook chicken, it’s stir-fry style and I have to stand there and move the chicken pieces around for twenty minutes.  With the whole chicken method, I’m watching Bethenny Getting Married and having a glass of wine.  Why didn’t I know about this sooner?

The resulting bird was really a thing to behold: all golden brown, perfectly crispy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside (and by inside, I mean the meat…not the “cavity”).  Mike was astonished that such a thing of beauty would come from the work of my hands, especially since he knows about my aversion to poultry.

So now I am caught in a bind: do I make the chicken more often, considering how easy it is and how much Mike likes it?  Or do I banish forever the image of my hand up the backside of a bird?


Filed under AwkWORD (Humor)

Disposing Martha

There was a time when women got married, bought a four-bedroom house, and expertly knew how to care for every aspect of their home. 

2008, the year I got married, was not that time.

And my mother knew this about me.  She knew that not only did I not really have a clue about home maintainance, but that I was taking the easy road by living in a condo versus a house (thereby eliminating half the work — cleaning out gutters is not part of my spring cleaning routine).

So she turned to the expert to teach me how to become a decent homeowner:

Yes, she bought me Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook, and I’ve never looked back.

While most people would stuff this on a shelf and only dive for it in the wine-on-carpet disaster scenario, I have decided to read it cover-to-cover.  I tend to retain information like this, so I figure if I just read the whole thing I won’t need to look everything up all of the time.  Naturally I do this in a closet with a flashlight, because reading it is, of course, mortifying.

What’s less embarrassing is when that book totally saves the day. 

Last week, Mike and I were talking about how we tend to make each other do chores based on gender.  For instance, I always do the laundry and change the sheets, and he always takes out the garbage and fixes anything that breaks.  

But then the garbage disposal broke.  And we got into a tiny argument about the fact that neither of us intrinsically knows how to fix a garbage disposal.  I was extremely dismissive, you know, in that charming “Not my problem!” manner.  He was slightly irritated that this was his job just because he’s wearing the pants.

And then it hit me — MARTHA!

I ran into the den and pulled Martha off her place on the bookshelf.  I remembered reading a little how-to on fixing the garbage disposal.  I raced through my index, found “Garbage Disposals” and flipped to page 89.

“How to Fix a Jammed Garbage Disposal.”  Eureka! 

(I love how she even has optimism in her How-To.  No, your disposal is not broken — it’s merely jammed!  Let’s fix this in a jiffy!)

Mike opened the cabinet below the sink and had all his tools at the ready.  I started reading from Martha (everything was numbered and extremely detailed with things like “1.  Turn off circuit breaker to stop power to disposal.”  I honestly would not have thought of that).

After shutting off the power, Martha told us all about removing blockage and using our “reset button” (disposals have buttons?). 

After jamming things around in the sink for a few minutes (no actual tools required), we turned the power back on and tested the disposal — voila!  The genius of Martha lives on!

Mike’s look of shock was barely disguised, and my victory dance wasn’t remotely concealed.  We felt like we had broken through the genderism and had actually fixed something together…well, the three of us — Mike, Abby, and Martha.


Filed under Good WORD (Etiquette)

It’s Not Unusual…

Yesterday at Steven’s Pass, Mike, Annie and I boarded a chairlift with what turned out to be a very precocious 7-year-old, who was wearing a helmet covered in neon-pink spandex in the shape of a pig’s head.  The following is as true a story as I can retell without the aid of a digital recorder.

Annie:  The conditions are pretty much perfect.  If it was snowing I wouldn’t even be here.

Abby:  Really? Because of visibility, or the —

Pig Helmet Girl:  LOOK!  SKI SCHOOLERS!

Annie:  Uh, yeah…there’s some ski schoolers down there…do you take lessons?

Pig Helmet Girl:  NO.  I don’t need them.

Annie:  Oh, that’s great!  How long have you been skiing?

Pig Helmet Girl:  Since I was one and three-quarters.

Abby:  Wow.  That’s young.

Mike:  I don’t think I was even walking.

Annie:  I think I started when I was like 12 or so, which, honestly, was sooo long ago.

Pig Helmet Girl:  How old ARE you?

Annie:  Twenty-five.  Old.  I’m so old.

Mike:  You’re old balls.

Abby:  Inappropriate.


Abby:  (silence, pretending this isn’t happening)

Abby:  (deciding to finally address the pig helmet)  I like your helmet! 

Pig Helmet Girl: (silence, pretending this isn’t happening)

Annie:  I’m cold.

Abby:  Oh, it’s because you don’t have your hat with you…even your ears look cold.  They’re turning red!


Annie:  Um, thanks.

Mike:  So last night we were at the Triple Door, and you wouldn’t believe this band.  It was the most obnoxious wedding-singer cover band we’d ever seen.

Abby:  And you’ll never believe their name — “Dudley Manlove.”  Seriously. 

Annie:  Oh my gaw, I love it.

Abby:  I think the real low point was when we heard the opening strands of “It’s not unusual to be loved by anyone…”

Annie:  Tom Jones!  Yes! 

Pig Helmet Girl:  TOM JONES!?  (bursts into song) SHE’S A LAAAADYYYYY…WHOA WHOA WHOA SHE’S A LADY!

Abby/Annie/Mike:  (nearly fall off chairlift due to hyperventilating laughter)

Annie:  You know Tom Jones?

Pig Helmet Girl:  Of course.

And without further explanation, we ski off the lift.


Filed under AwkWORD (Humor)