Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Tough Old Hen

(If you are looking for Civil War Sunday, it will resume later this month.)

Yesterday, I blogged about our initial experiment with cooking a free range chicken for my mother in law, recovering from surgery to implant a radioactive device for her cancer treatment.

Here's the crock pot.  It's large, too large (and heavy) for her to use anymore.

And here's the chicken. It wasn't quite a tough old hen (we knew about those, years ago when we raised our own chickens) but we figured it would need some good, slow cooking.

My mother in law has an appetite (not everyone undergoing radiation treatment does), and it doesn't appear that acid food is bothering her (right now, anyway). Acid foods can be a problem for some.  So spouse decided to make chicken cacciatore.

Here's the recipe, kind of.

First, spouse chopped up four celery stalks into chunks, along with three small onions (home grown), and three cloves of garlic from a recent farmers market.  Then, he threw them into the slow cooker with the contents of a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes that were flavored with basil.

Then came a pint of boiling water. Spouse added the chicken, sprinkled dried thyme into the mixture and started to cook on high heat.

After a couple of hours, he lowered the heat, added some fresh mushrooms, and cooked for about six hours total.  The dark meat was fall-off-the bones tender. Somehow, the breast (the part I like) was actually a bit dry.  But we both considered the meal a success.

Spouse served the chicken over a mix of egg noodles and whole wheat noodles, along with some steamer green beans.

Now, a blogging friend suggested we take the bones and make bone broth with them. We do this a lot with roast turkey bones. But, with this chicken, spouse felt the chicken was so well cooked that the bone goodness would have already melted into the cacciatore.

And my picture of all this cooked chicken is is where?....well, I didn't even think of taking a picture until we were almost done with dinner.  Too many things to think about - too many distractions.  As my iPhone is practically grafted onto me, I consider that a historic occasion!

(and now you know why I don't write a cooking blog.)

My mother in law has been doing quite well despite the ordeal of the past few days - highlights of which include her having to give herself injections.  Some might call her a "tough old hen": but if you think about it, as insulting as that might be, there are really a lot of expressions related to our culture's love affair with chickens (inspiration for another post, perhaps?)

No, I call her a remarkable woman. (and I am eternally happy I do not have to administer the injections.)

The care giving journey continues and I will be blogging on and off about it for the next week.


  1. I'm so glad the meal turned out to be a success. A tough old chicken could be changed to 'a woman of strength and experience' for your mother-in-law. I hope she handles her illness with fortitude. I admire your dedication to a member of your family. I wish everyone took care of their own rather than sending them to nursing homes.

  2. Congrats on a successful bird. I think my crock pot is my favorite appliance. I'm not a cook by nature so I have to do easy a lot.

  3. There is so much love, honor, and respect you have added to this recipe, that it strikes me that your mother-in-law's wellness is due, in large part, to the tender loving care you and your spouse are giving her!

    I can't imagine having a radioactive device installed in my body or the sickness that might cause, in the effort to kill cancer... bless her heart! And bless your heart, for all the care-giving!

  4. Your meal sounds a great success. Wishing the same for your mother in law.

  5. It sounds like a very successful, tasty meal :)

  6. Oh, I'm glad your crock-pot chicken meal went so well! I'll bet it made the house smell wonderful all day, too!

  7. Oh, I'm glad your crock-pot chicken meal went so well! I'll bet it made the house smell wonderful all day, too!

  8. Best wishes to your mother. That sounds delicious. I might have to pull out my slow cooker and try something similar one day. Especially if it stays so cold.


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