Thursday, May 13, 2010

Chicken N' Dumplings

My neighbors had a beautiful rooster last year. I haven't seen him, or heard him in a few weeks. My neighbor is also taking lessons to be a Chef and just bought a new heavy duty smoker grill. Hmmm. I wonder.
Seriously, I don't think any of that has to do with Rooster being gone. There are cats around here and I'm sure that's what happened to Mr. Chanticleer, or else he just flew away to a new roost.
When I was little, Mr. Willie had chickens. They laid brown eggs and you could find them almost anywhere in the yard as well as in the old World War 2 bunkers that were on Dewey Hill. There were three old shed like things that supposedly were either barracks or ordinance storage. They were cleared out and Mr. Willie made use of them to raise chickens. He had several and now and then he would ask me to gather the eggs for him when they were out of town on a weekend visiting his family in Olar, S.C. I made a quarter a day and that was a lot of money. I wasn't sure it was worth dodging his rooster though! I'd never been around a rooster but Mama told me about one that got her once when she was young. I had a fair respect for him because of that, and because he actually chased me once, and that scared me. Apparently the rooster chased Mr. Willie or one of the kids once too often because he came to visit us one morning to talk to Daddy. Something was mentioned about something being 'too tough' for anything but stew.  I wasn't sure what the plan was but later that day Mr. Willie came down to the house and he had the rooster with him, holding it by it's legs. It was squawking something fierce. I guess it didn't like riding upside down.  Daddy and Willie went across the street and off to the side of the house that the Cumbees used to live in. I was watching from the porch and I am sure I wasn't supposed to see it but I was more curious than any cat so I watched. There was a stump of a China Berry tree on the side of the house and Mr. Willie held the Rooster's legs and tried to put it on the stump, but it was wiggling too much so Daddy took hold of it's head and held it down and then took a hatchet and "Whack!".  Instantly Daddy let go of the head and Mr. Willie let go of the legs and that bird went running around and around and around that yard for about 15 seconds before it fell over on it's side. Daddy and Willie acted like this was perfectly normal but I was absolutely fascinated! I saw blood coming from the chicken's neck but never imagined anything could go anywhere without a head! But he did and from then on whenever someone said they were "Running around like a chicken with it's head cut off" I instantly get a visual of this! We had chicken and dumplings for dinner that evening and Mr. Willie and his family came to eat with us. I was too young to instantly figure that the chicken would be in the pot that same day and in fact, probably didn't even connect fried chicken or any other kind of chicken with what ran around in the neighbor's yard that day. However, once everyone was seated at the table and started passing around the pot of chicken and dumplings, I came to realize that this chicken was that rooster and I couldn't eat it.
Why Mama was delegated to make the chicken and dumplings was simple and easy - She made the BEST and everyone knew it. Cracker Barrel wishes it had her recipe!(Or would if they knew about it)

She made her dumplings from scratch, just like her biscuits and she seasoned the stew perfectly. I make a pretty good imitation of her recipe, and it takes me back to a time of simplicity, of awe, of sharing, and of everything that was good about growing up with less than most, but being all the more wealthy because of it.

Now, where did the neighbor's rooster get off to? ... I sure do wish I knew...I'm sure it's too tough for anything but stew...


  1. Strange - My neighbor sent me a plate of grilled chicken thigh and leg just a while ago...Coincidence? Let's hope!

  2. LOL good one. My Mama used to wring the chickens neck but our neighbor put its head on a log, held the chicken down with her foot and chopped it's head off. Come visit me at my blog sometime. paulinescountrytales

  3. Sue Ellen, your Aunt Margaret (my mama) use to wring two chicken's necks at a time...seen her do it more than once and I; like you, was fascinated by the chickens running around with no head on!!!! lol Bless her heart...mama loved animals too..but she loved us MORE and knew we had to eat! This sure took me back to Horseshoe Bend!
    love you,

  4. Thank you Paula and Carlene! It was fun to write this one... Like you said, Carlene, it was fun to go back and relive a few moments of a warm summer Saturday.

    I'll definitely visit your blog, Paula! Right now!

  5. OMG! LOL I hope your neighbor didn't cook the bird!