Chicken Chow Mien, Kind Of…

This was another one of those evenings where I was thinking, “What in the world am I going to fix for dinner? I don’t know. I’m tired of the same old thing. What can I fix that is different and tastes good?” You have those days, right? Well, I knew we had plenty of things on the shelf we had canned that would be good and that needed to be used, so I came up with this dish. It isn’t really Chicken Chow Mien in the strict sense of the description, it’s just one of my versions. Which version I fix depends on what I have on hand. Here is this one.

We had chicken and chicken broth that we had canned. Carrots from last summer. There was a can of bamboo shoots, along with some celery and green onions left from the layered salad that need to be eaten. And then there were a few more frozen peas in the freezer. That would make a good meal. 

I have a few of  those egg noodle things that are used with Chow Mien dishes, but I decided to use a jar of the chicken broth and make rice instead. So I put the chicken broth in the pan, it is about a cup and a half and added a good, long splash of soy sauce. To that I added a cup of rice, and handful of dried onions…..

and some dried, minced garlic.

The burners on our stove will not turn down low enough to fix rice without burning it, so I put a cast iron trivet under the pan. It doesn’t totally alleviate the problem, but it does help.

I leave the lid off of the rice until I can’t see the broth bubbling up any more, which takes about 15 to 20 minutes. Then I put the lid on for another 20 minutes. It works great.

I buy soy sauce in a big jug from a warehouse market. We bought a regular sized bottle at the store so we could have the dispenser top. It’s easy to refill and much cheaper to buy it in bulk. I keep the big jug on the bottom shelf of the door in the frig. This works well.

While the rice is cooking, I chopped up the celery and onions. By the time the rice was ready for the lid on the pan, I started cooking my vegetables. This is another meal that I use my cast iron wok. It is a wonderful pan for meals like this. 


I start off with a few tablespoons of olive oil. When it is good and hot, I add about a tablespoon and a half of dried minced garlic. Into that I add the celery and onions and let them cook for a few minutes until they start to become semi clear.

Then I add the drained bamboo shoots for a minute or two.

Now is the time for the chicken with all of it’s liquid. This gives me enough ‘juice’ to thicken up in a few minutes. I drain the carrots and add them as well.

Add a generous amount of soy sauce along with about two tablespoons of parsley and some pepper to taste. I like pepper. I seldom cook without it. Let this cook for a few minutes until it is bubbly hot.

I add a cornstarch rue for thickening. First, add the cornstarch to a bit of cold water and stir until smooth. This will prevent lumps. This would also work with flour. The two tastes are a little different, but they both work fine.

Don’t add this to the pan until you are just about ready to serve the meal because it will thicken up quickly and stick to the pan if you are still in the cooking mode for very long. When you do add the rue, stir constantly to evenly coat your ingredients. It will thicken up quickly and your liquid will ‘disappear’ into the coating.

Dish it up and enjoy! Be creative with what you have on hand. Grow and preserve what you like to eat. Be frugal, be persistent, be diligent. Be prepared.

Until next time – Fern


From Rooster to Chicken Salad

When we recently butchered our last extra rooster, we decided to simmer the entire carcass to make chicken stock. The meat we decided to grind and make chicken salad.

Years ago, when we replaced our old laying hens, we decided to butcher  and eat them. Well, they were very, very tough. We tried baking one very slowly, like you would a turkey. Way too tough! We tried simmering one very slowly, again, way too tough! We tried taking the meat off of the carcass raw, grinding it up, then cooking it and using it. This worked okay but was a lot of work and wasted some of the meat.

This time we decided to simmer the entire carcass, make stock, then grind the meat.


We used the small grinding blade on our Kitchen Aid. I sure am going to miss electricity! Do you have manual backups for the ‘tools’ you use? Kitchen and otherwise?

Always make sure you are using your equipment in a safe manner. This grinding attachment has the hopper high enough up that if you use your finger to push the meat into it, you cannot reach the auger and injure yourself. In a grid down or collapse situation, injuries will be very dangerous and maybe fatal. Make sure you practice safe procedures now with an eye to how you might be performing these same tasks under more austere conditions.


The meat is fairly dry and crumbly. It turned out kind of funny looking.

There was plenty to use and plenty to freeze.

This is a new copy of the old version of Betty Crocker. It has all of the old pictures and shows how things used to be made. It’s a good reference to have on hand.

We decided to look up a chicken salad recipe and follow it since we hadn’t made any in a very long time.

The recipe calls for:
2 cups cold cut up chicken chunks
1 cup cut up celery
1 tbsp. lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2-3 hard cooked eggs 

I like the old-fashioned wording.

I said we followed the recipe. Well, the differences are we ground the chicken instead of cutting it into chunks. And….I didn’t measure how much meat there was.

And…..we didn’t have any fresh celery, so we used a tablespoon of celery seed, or just about this much.

Pepper to taste. I really didn’t think the eggs would taste good in this. Tuna salad, maybe, but not this. And speaking of tuna, we have bought our last canned salmon. We do not trust the radiation levels of the Pacific Ocean and the damage it is doing to all of the sea life, therefore, we will not be buying any more. We really enjoy eating canned salmon. We caught and ate a lot of it when we lived in Alaska, one year even canning up 100 pints ourselves. That was the first time I ever canned anything. It will be sorely missed.

I put more mayo than the recipe called for – measured precisely, of course. Then added one more dollop. I figured if it was still a little dry after everything chilled, I could add more.

I made this in the morning and we ate it at lunch. It was good then, but better the next day. From this tough rooster we will get about six meals, not to mention the eight pints of chicken stock. That is a good amount of nutrition from a bird some would not consider for food. Granted it is much easier and less work to just give away or do away with one bird and there have been many times we have done just that. It is all a matter of self-discipline and determination. Look around and see what opportunities you have that will provide more for your family than you expected. It will be a skill that we will need to have and depend on to thrive and survive.

Until next time – Fern

From Rooster to Chicken Stock

We kept two roosters for our 20 hens. We have had this ratio many times before when the roosters have been raised together. Usually there is a dominant rooster and a secondary and they get along most of the time. Not this time. There is just too much ruckus in the chicken house so one of them had to go. We really liked both of them, so we debated for a few days who got to stay and who would turn into chicken stock.

They are both big, strong, beautiful birds. The one on the left is a little taller, but the one on the right has a bigger fuller chest, thus more meat. We went back and forth for several weeks, trying to decide, then changing our minds again. The final kicker was when the one on the left decided to fly up on the fence of the chicken yard. Not a behavior we want to get started. So this one is destined for the pot.

I gathered the tools I would need for butchering and got everything ready. The only problem was, that rooster was not the least bit interested in being caught. So on to plan B, which involved a couple of 22 shells. Even after that he refused to die, so we ended up using the ax to chop of his head.

After I got him dressed and cleaned up, I cut up the carcass and started the broth.

I added a tablespoon of salt and a splash of cider vinegar to help tenderize the meat a little. We expect the meat to be tough since this bird is seven months old. 

We simmered the bird in the pot all afternoon – for about six or seven hours. Then we chilled everything, as is, overnight. The next morning, we put it back on to simmer for a while longer.  

While we were out doing chores and picking more pears (I know, more pears??), we turned it off to let it cool. Then I took the bones out and semi strained it.

Now it’s ready to be pressure canned. So I heated it back up, set up the canner and started heating the water in it, started heating the water for the jars, rings and lids, then got out the usual equipment needed to pack jars – funnel, magnet stick for the jar lids, jar lifter, ladle and vinegar to wipe the jars with before we put on the lids. Since there is fat in the stock, I made sure to wipe the rims of the jars with vinegar so they will seal. Since I didn’t filter out all of the last bits of chicken or chill the broth to remove the fat, I will can this stock the same way I would meat – 10 lbs. pressure for 90 minutes.

We ended up with 8 pints of great broth from this old rooster and a bowl full of rather tough meat. We will grind it up and try out a few different meals. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Keep cluckin’ along. Learn something everyday. Laugh. Love your family. Enjoy the blessings God pours out upon you each and every day, for they are many.

Until next time – Fern