Crossing the Chicken Road

I’m a vegetarian. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 12. I don’t even remember what it was like to bite into a hamburger with texture. Just mush for me, thanks!

Despite my anti-protein lifestyle, I’ve had quite a few close encounters of the meaty kind in my young adult life. Partly through my previous life as a duck biologist and partly through my awesome farmer friends.

A duck biologist is a real thing.

A duck biologist is a real thing.

I’ve gone hunting. I’ve had conversations about ranch butchers. I’ve watched a live rooster turn into fried chicken. I’ve even helped Russ cook a rabbit and taught an anatomy lesson during a mallard evisceration.

That word just does not bring up appetizing images. Sorry…

Be vewy quiet...

Be vewy quiet…

What I’m saying is, my relationship with meat has been weird. And up until very recently, I’ve been just fine eating nothing but carbs. I squeaked by on my protein intake with beans, some grains, and an occasional yogurt (don’t ask about eggs or I’ll gag all over you). But I’ve been noticing some signs that are getting hard to ignore and it’s making me reconsider the diet decision I made as a kid.

Does that mean I didn’t know everything as a pre-teen? Can’t be!

These days, when I walk into a Safeway, the only thing I smell is the fried chicken and the only thing I can do is drool. A chicken salad sandwich is the only meal that I could ever imagine actually keeping me full for more than 25 minutes. I feel dumber and weaker and like I might have been missing something these last 15 years.

So a while ago, prompted by farmer friend conversation, I declared that if I ever started eating animals again, I would know exactly where they came from and how they were raised. I would be comfortable with handling it whole and understanding that it had a life before it became part of mine. So when Russ bought a stew hen from one such farmer friend, I took it as an opportunity to explore my options…

We can roast it or crock-pot it or stew it or whatever! Until it came time to actually cook the chicken and I realized that I no longer had the stomach to take out the chicken’s. Russ had to do everything. This man cleaned, prepared, and roasted the chicken, and when carving with a knife was too slow, he literally ripped it apart (bones and all) with his bare hands. I’m betting that two years in Africa had something to do with that.

I didn’t end up eating any of it. Actually Russ didn’t either. Turns out a stew chicken is best cooked as stew…So we’ll repurpose the meat and do a take two, but in the meantime, I get to brag about THIS:

Stock pot time!

Stock pot time!

That’s right. Thanks to farmer friends and a temporary hold on my gag reflex, I’m making chicken stock. I think this may have to be my first step back into the meat world – liquified. I’ll make some sort of vegetable soup and trick my body into absorbing animal protein again.

So for tonight, I’ll sit by our fireplace, admire our Christmas lights, and pride myself on the boiling carcass in my kitchen.

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