Friday, November 25, 2016


I was talking with a colleague recently who had made chicken soup the day before.  It was her first time making her mothers recipe from scratch. I asked if she started with a whole bird and she said no, she bought parts and had the meat counter at Safeway package chicken "soup bones."  She did make the stock.  

I asked why she didn't just buy a whole bird and she said she has never known how to cut one up.  I am amazed at the lack of basic kitchen skills of the average American cook.  I won't try to offer a tutorial, there are tons of videos on the Food Network or You-Tube.  Everyone should learn. The best way, is watch a master, buy a couple of birds and go to it.  

My English grandmother taught me.  Now grandmother Emily was not the best cook, but she understood the basics and she took the time to show me how.  She had learned from her late mother-in-law who kept chickens first in the backyard at the house in the city, and later in her declining years on the farm.  The last livestock other than bees on the farm were grannies chickens and one milk cow.  When she died, the livestock all went.  She would bring a "fresh" chicken in from the barn, and she showed grandmother Emily how to cut it up, and she showed me. I was never shown how to get the chicken from the chicken coop, ready for the kitchen.  I sometimes wonder if I should learn, there is a farm in Maryland that offers Saturday classes in chicken butchery.   

Emily also showed me how to can fruits and vegetables. I was her helper, in the last few years she canned, she needed help with the heavy lifting.  When I am in a nesting mood, I make pickles or applesauce, easy stuff to make and preserve.     


  1. I can bake from scratch, but that's about it. I'm lazy; sue me.

  2. I watched my mother cut up whole chickens, some from our yard and later from the grocery store. Just have a very sharp knife!

  3. I'd rather just buy it cut up. I guess I'm lazy too.

  4. Anonymous11/25/2016

    One word loomed large in my life as a child growing up watching my mother in the kitchen. Heinz.

  5. I bake from scratch like Anne Marie. Chickens? I pay the price for the boneless variety.

  6. David,
    That surprises me too that so any don't know how to cut up a chicken. I like chickens, even had four as pets when I lived in Pennsylvania. I would never kill a pet chicken but I do buy chicken at the store (they are anonymous). When I was growing up my parents raised chickens, perhaps 35 or 40 at a time. I've but chicken heads off (didn't like it) and dipped them into boiling water to pluck (stinky). Oh yes, I know all about chickens.