Thursday, December 22, 2011

FOOD: Holidays, Milestones and Blessings

The winter holidays are definitely the time of the year we celebrate with food, and I am amazed at the crucial role food has played in my life during the past month:

I crafted my first successful Thanksgiving dinner. I had attempted it once before, but this time it all seemed to turn out perfectly, and my family and in-laws gave me rave reviews.

Yummy turkey.

Table setting 1.

Table setting 2. So thankful my in-laws gifted us their large dining room table. I had enough "good" seats for 12.

I killed and processed my first chickens. A local farmer was nice enough to give me a couple of meat-type chickens, but my laying girls did not take too kindly to their new friends. With my husband’s help, I said a nice prayer and thanked God for each chicken, and I made sure it was quick. I felt such a sense of empowerment. This was also a perfect opportunity to have a great conversation with my daughter who did not like the idea of eating her new “pets.” But she was quick to realize that the other chickens were out for blood. I did not want her to watch this first attempt in case something went awry, but she was eager to get a look at what made those chickens tick. We will be having one of those chickens for dinner tonight.

I cheated... we just skinned them instead of plucking. Too much work!

My nearly three-year-old son has decided that he likes bell peppers, so I get to add one more veggie to his list of food likes. That is such a blessing! I need someone else in my household to help me eat them.

And did I mention that my daughter has slimmed down? It’s amazing what will happen when you don’t allow your child to continue eating double lunches and cookies every day at school. I think she had a “eureka” moment. The pants I had to buy her in November are now too big.

My younger sister and I were passed the Reed Christmas Cookie torch. For years and years, my grandparents made holiday cookies and presented each of their kids and grandkids with a box of delight prior to Christmas: chocolate chip with walnuts, oatmeal, date nut balls (similar to wedding cookies), and Pop’s special chocolate caramel cookie bars. After my Granny passed away a few years ago, my “Pop” continued the cookie making with my sister’s help, but finally decided to give it up due to being uncomfortable with a full day on his feet. I gladly took on the role as the new cookie guru even though I had some worry that my cookies may not be as good. But they were. And I know why Kristen does not want to make the cookies at her house… they won’t be there for her to eat until they are gifted away. I may have to make a few more.

We added a new cookie this year: peppermint sugar cookie. Thank you, Pillsbury! They are fabulous!

Finally, I have eggs running out of my ears. The hungry hawk has migrated, and my remaining hens miraculously starting laying the day after I “processed” the meat chickens. I laugh to think that my girls might have thought they would be next if they didn’t start earning their keep, but I honestly think they just got happier; they aren’t looking over their backs every second of the day worried about being a local critter’s dinner. Don’t laugh, but I also now feel a Godly connection with my chickens. I don’t want to call myself a chicken whisperer, but I can honestly say that I understand what is going on with them. Instead of running away when I walk by like they used to, they squat down still as can be, and allow me to pick them up with nary a fuss. They also seek me out when they need something. They even came running out to my car one day when the door on their coop closed shut. I got out, walked up to the coop with a line of anxious chickens running behind me, and they hopped in as soon as I opened the door. They were ready for some real food. And to my husband’s displeasure, they have also decided to venture to the house and get on the front porch. I don’t mind it a bit; we have formed a symbiotic partnership, and maybe they’ll keep all the bugs off the porch next summer.

My peeps.

The first publicized photo of our chicken mansion. My husband is an engineer and it had to be perfect.

I love my food-centered life! And my Christmas prayer to my readers is that we all learn to celebrate food as the wonderful blessing that it is. Thank you, God. Thank you, farmers. And thank you, chickens.

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