Tag Archives: Generosity

My Italian Mom and her 13 Chickens

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13 Chickens

I’m one of those people that has always found it easier to give than receive.    I believe that most lean toward one or the other.  Maybe it’s how we are raised or an innate part of the way we are created that determines this.  This is a story about giving.  I learned about giving from my parents who both expressed kindness and generosity often.

For instance, Dad always footed the bill. No matter where we were or whom we were with, when the bill came, he paid.  Every dinner out, every trip ( always fireworks oriented) , every lunch time food pick up, he pulled his wallet out.  He never said a word about it unless you objected and tried to pay.  But this story is about my Mom.  My Italian Mom’s giving side and the quirky way she often expressed it.

She loved to give. She donated to everything and everyone she deemed good.  St. Jude, St. Vincent De Paul, DWB, etc…If she opened any mail with “free greeting cards”, well she sent money there too . After all, they sent her nice greeting cards…(Eye Roll) ! She not only donated money, but generously gave her time, an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, a hand to help, prayers for the lonely, needy, sick and the Fighting Irish …but her staple was always food. If you stopped by her house, you left with something whether you wanted it or not. She gave away all kinds of food but this story is just about the chickens.

Jeanette loved to give people chickens. Yes, it’s true and Amish chicken to be exact – no, they didn’t come with little buggies and clothes with no buttons, but the were very good chickens. I was thoroughly warned about buying inferior chicken with yellowish skin that left an unruly amount of scum on the surface of the pot when boiled. Keep in mind that this was before the popularity of the organic free range happy chickens currently trending.

Jeanette ordered her special chickens from the butcher in quantities of 13.  At the time, my mom and dad were the only ones that lived at home.

You may wonder, as I often did, who needs 13 chickens?  Dear God, apparently she did. She insisted on it and didn’t like being questioned about her inventory management. They were stacked 3 deep on the 3rd freezer shelf and re-ordered when she reached the 2 chicken minimum reserve.

She usually had Joe pick them up on his way home from the factory because, of course, that way he paid (refer above, he always paid). He paid but shared his opinion of which was usually, ” What in the hell are you doing with 13 GD chickens Jeanette?

Her reply, “shut up Joe, I need them” and she said shut up in the most loving don’t question me kind of way.  So Joe made his wife happy by picking up and paying for the chickens – and making sure she got the backs and necks too.

She worked this rotation of 13.  She herself made chicken for dinner, that’s a fact, but mostly she gave them away. She is the only woman I know who gave a frozen chicken as a parting gift. That’s just what she did and it was as natural for her as vacuuming the dog.  She gave them to everyone but here’s how it went with me…

“I’m leaving Mom, bye…ok? yea, see you later, yes, I’ll be back tomorrow, No, I won’t drive fast, Yes, I’ll be careful and yes, I’ll call you when I get home (even though I live 3 miles away and if you’re Italian you know what I mean) ! No, I don’t need anything. I’m good. I almost made it out the door and the following usually took place at 2:25 pm in real time:

Mom “Wait, what are you making for dinner?”

Me “I don’t know, Mom”  (wrong answer)

Mom “ Do you have anything?”

Me “ Yes, I have stuff”

Her ” Get a chicken”

Me “I don’t want a chicken”

Her ” Get one from the freezer, they’re good, they’re Amish”

Me ” Yes, I know but I don’t need the chicken”

Her ” Take the chicken.  Put it in the oven with a little garlic and oregano, it’ll come real good”

Me “I don’t like chicken”

Her “Liar”

Me (I’m losing my resolve) ” I may go out, I don’t need the chicken, I have chicken”

Her (never loses resolve) ” Not like my chicken”

I realize she is never giving up so ok, I give. And then there were 12. But it wasn’t over:

” You want a pack of backs? – “I don’t want the backs”, – “Take the backs, makes good soup” OMG – Fine, I take the chicken home and the backs. Damn, now I have to cook. She’ll know if I don’t use the chicken.  So I cook.  I turn on some music,  get out the oil and garlic and cook up that chicken.

She’s right. It does “come good”

If you came to visit her chances are you left with a chicken or a loaf of Servatti’s Buttercrust bread purchased in lots of 3 or 5 stored on the top shelf of the same freezer, but that’s another story. What you really left with was love.  Jeanette gave love and love was sometimes disguised as an Amish chicken.

I’m sad she is no longer here to push her chicken agenda on me. I’m thankful for the loving mom I had as I know it’s not a given. Thank you for reading this story and the continued support that you so kindly give by allowing me to share my memories and my obsession with skin.

Speaking of my obsession with skin:

Chicken skin only looks good on chickens

So…..

In the spirit of giving,  I’d like to share a recipe with you. Lets face it, it’s just not feasible for RSC to give away chickens not to mention it’s weird (in a good way).  Although I do vacuum our dogs now and then, only one woman could get away with both.

Jeanette’s Fast and Easy Amish/Italian Fusion Chicken 

First things first, turn on some music. Jeanette loved  Andrea Boccelli. I like him too but when I cook, I cook to Elvis. 

1 whole Amish Chicken, cut up

1 or 2 cloves fresh garlic minced  (dice it yourself so at the end of the day when your hands smell like garlic, you know you fed your family well)

Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper

Oregano

Drizzle some olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Take the tiny buttonless clothes off the chicken and put the pieces in a 9″ x 12″ pan skin side up.   Put a little of the minced garlic on each piece, sprinkle salt, pepper oregano and lots of love and Elvis on them. Give generous swirls of olive oil to each piece. Cover the pan with foil and put in a 350 degree oven.  Depending on the size of your chicken, cook it 40 to 60 minutes. Take the foil off half way through so the skin gets nice and brown and crispy.  The kitchen will smell good. Check a temperature guide if you must, I just know when chicken is done. It’s something my mom taught me.

DSC_0079*A Note  about this Music Selection: Go figure ” It’s Now or Never” and “O Solo Mio”  are one in the same song and sung by both  Elvis and  Andrea Boccelli, respectively.  This is an instrumental version by The O’Neill Brothers Group.  Perfect.