Farmhouse Chicken Wings

IMG_4301I’m not sure if I’ve ever actually had Chicken Wings in a pub setting.  Most likely because I had left the city and was living on this lovely little island before they became a “thing”.

There are, however, a couple of recipes of sticky, yummy chicken that I remember most fondly.  One was a family recipe of friends that used to summer on Okanagan Lake.  I travelled with them for a couple of summers, babysitting and thrilling in my time away from the city.  I remember there always being a bag of this amazing chicken in the picnic cooler anytime we spent the day out on the boat.  I’ll see if I can track down that recipe.

The other recipe was submitted to a cookbook I put together in 1982 as a fundraising project.  They were simply called Japanese Chicken Wings, but the flavour told a much bigger story than that.  They were dredged in egg & flour, browned in skillets of melted butter, and then cooked in the oven with a sweet & sour type sauce.  I’m sure there were huge amounts of calories, they were messy to make, but always a favourite at potlucks and gatherings.  I made 5# of them once to hold the kids over for 5 days while we were away.

So these little wings have a little bit of both those stories.  They were concocted one afternoon, when we were foraging in the freezer for that night’s supper.  There was only one proviso, that they would be Gluten-Free for my co-conspirator sister. Continue reading

Slow-Roasted Chicken with Lemon & Garlic

IMG_3553For the first twelve years of our marriage, we lived in a 40’ x 9’ trailer.  We had renovated the inside, built a roof and an extra room.  Most people didn’t realize it was a trailer.  Just a really well planned little cottage.  Its lights ran off a 12-volt car battery, while the stove, fridge, hot water and furnace all ran off propane.  It was set up like a boat, a cupboard or a drawer for everything.  Anything that didn’t fit, wasn’t kept, or was relegated to a storage room in our barn.

The kitchen, although tiny, was really efficient.  Something I carried forward to our home when we built it.  I’m proud of the meals our kitchen has provided.  From the everyday ones to the meals that just keep on going.

One of its first epic meals was dinner the day the trailer was being moved from our place to friends that were about to embark on building their home, and needed a small home to shelter their family of 5.

The moving of the trailer was an all day event.  It had been sitting in the same place for years, and needed to have any additions removed before it could start its long trek out of our place.  With lots of eager people dropping by to help out, we ended up with over 20 people at our place.  When the trailer was towed past the house, and out onto the driveway, we all cheered as it trundled past.

Our cheers were a bit shortsighted.  It only made it about halfway up the driveway before it was stuck.  It would be hours before the guys figured out how to get it out.  We have a very steep and windy driveway, about .3 km long.   As everyone was standing around scratching heads, I realized that their vehicles were all going to be staying put for a long time.   Somehow I was going to have to pull dinner out of a hat.  Scouring the freezers and the fridge, we came up with a wonderful meal of this and that, fed everyone within 2 hours, even making a dessert.  The house was full of people laughing, talking and eating.  No one seemed very concerned about things; some of the youngest children were asleep waiting until the drive was cleared.

Sometimes a meal is just about being together.  It doesn’t need fancy ingredients, it just needs to be simple and taste good.  Here’s a simple (really simple) recipe that can be the center of an easy meal with good friends, or the centerpiece of a dinner party.  It can be doubled and tripled easily. Continue reading

Roast Chicken

IMG_2310For many years we raised our own meat birds.  We’d do 50 at a time, raise them on a vegetarian diet, with greens added, and could expect 8 – 10 lb. birds in a couple of months.  We had a chick room, and a finishing room, and during the warmer months, both would be busy.

One year we noticed that some of our young birds had black feathers around their necks and tails.  They weren’t growing as quickly as our Cornish crosses, and acted like, well, like layers!  We built a large outdoor run adjacent to the barn, and let them grow. Fortunately it was our last batch of the year, so we didn’t have to move them out to make room for the next group.  They turned out to be beautiful Columbian Rock chickens.  So we wouldn’t be getting meat from these birds anytime soon.  However, we did find a buyer for the flock of hens and a couple of the roosters, and about a month later had the rest of the roosters finished for meat.  I suppose there was someone out there that had a bunch of meat birds instead of these beautiful layers.  Sorry!Columbian Rock

Having spent lots of time outdoors, eating grass and bugs, these birds had a much fuller flavour than the chickens that had been raised under cover.  The usual Cornish crosses really didn’t have the sense to come in out of the rain and you could loose a few if there was a surprise downpour, consequently, they were raised with a roof over their heads.

It’s been several years since we last raised any poultry, and the flavour of store bought just doesn’t have the flavour of homegrown.  It’s well worth the effort to find someone in your area who raises meat birds on a vegetarian diet (except for any bugs the bird finds itself).  You don’t get handy little packages of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but you do get a rich bird that is perfect when roasted. Continue reading

Clay Baker Chicken

IMG_3044When my parents first moved to Thetis in the late 70’s, after having summered on the island since the early 60’s, they moved into a small trailer while they built their home.  They also built small chicken & duck houses, and bought chickens and ducks, a few at a time, ‘til they had a flock.  Along with this endeavor came the learned art of poultry butchery.

I would travel over every couple of weeks for a few island days away from my Vancouver life.  One of my favourite meals was this chicken.  It was never made from a store bought bird; always from a young rooster who’s destiny was in the pot.  I still use the same clay baker – one is all you’ll need for the rest of your life, an incredible investment.  Continue reading

Ab Fab Chicken

Living in a remote place, when you spontaneously decide to have friends over for supper, you need to be creative from your larder.  Now, I must admit, my larder probably has more depth than most, but available ingredients do define the meal.  Having a kilo of boneless, skinless chicken thighs started my mind ticking over the possibilities for the meal. The final menu was this: Ab-Fab Chicken (named during the meal), Mushroom Risotto (made in the oven), Swiss Chard with Fruit & Nuts, Fresh Green Beans, and Lava Cakes with Raspberry Coulis & Cream.  As I was cooking a bit off the cuff, I may not have photographed as many steps as I would have, had I not had a wine glass in one hand and a spoon in the other.  My apologies.  Recipes for the other components of the meal will be posted over the next several days.

Anyhow, our friends brought over a couple of bottles of wine, and we had a wonderful meal! Continue reading