Tag Archives: Nerdy Hausfrau

How to use a whole chicken: The Chicken Tortilla Soup Edition

ChickentortsoupIt’s kind of a dumb show, but have you watched Eureka? (Don’t run out and watch it if you missed it, this isn’t a show I’d recommend to normal people.) We watched a couple seasons of it, but probably only one episode sticks in my mind. The one where the whole town loses its sky high IQ because they’re eating cloned chicken breast.

Anyhoodles, with my freezer full of home grown chickens, boneless skinless chicken breasts are not on the docket. It’s made me realize how ubiquitous the boneless skinless chicken breast has become.

Whole chickens have a huge advantage; they taste better. Their only drawback is that they can be a little more trouble. They take a little planning, and very few modern recipes start out with the whole bird. This is my go to “recipe” it tastes delicious and it doesn’t take long to get started. It is a great company dish or a great weekend soup, I’ll make it Friday or Saturday and we’ll eat it all weekend, it tastes better the second day. This is a super forgiving dish, so start out here and see where it takes you. I don’t think I make it exactly the same way twice, but I paid attention and made notes just for this occasion.

Whole Chicken Tortilla Soup

  • Servings: makes 5- 7qts
  • Print

  • 1 whole chicken, skin removed
  • 2 cans (15oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can(15oz) diced tomatoes with chilies
  • 15 oz salsa (Yes, I hate dishes, use the tomato can.)
  • 2 cans black beans,
  • Water or chicken broth
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 3 to 12 cloves of garlic, or just lots
  • 2 TB chili powder (I use mild.)
  • 2 TB oregano (or more)
  • Oil for sautéing      
  • Any or all of the following for garnish
  • Limes (must)
  • Cilantro (must)
  • Fried tortilla strips
  • Tortilla chips      
  • Cheese
  • Avocado
  • Sour cream or yogurt (Especially if you have kids around.)

Saute onions and garlic in oil, add chili powder and oregano.  Place in an eight quart crock pot.Add all tomatoes, salsa, and beans, and give it a stir. Add  the chicken with breast side down and add enough water to fill pot and cover chicken.  Cook on low 6 hours. Pull the chicken out of the pot carefully, it will probably come out in pieces. Allow chicken to cool enough to handle comfortably. Pick the meat of the bones, shred and salt the meat and return in to pot. Taste for seasonings. You can add heated chicken broth to the pot if you prefer a thinner soup.

Serve with garnishes on the side with warmed tortillas and chips.

Notes: Watch the heat, heat gets stronger in the crock pot, medium salsa works well and if I’m throwing in a stray jalapeno it needs to go in toward the end. I often use a cup of soaked dried black beans instead of canned beans, but they do add cooking time to the soup.

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Efficiency-my nemesis.

“It’s my one weakness.”

-Dorcas Lane in Lark Rise to Candleford

Dang it! Where are those goat babies? Monday morning I awoke in a panic. Sophie cannot go any longer than 155 days, or she will explode.  How many days has it been exactly?

Last year’s calendar, which contains my meticulous notes is long gone. Where else will the date be? The date  on the service memo reads 10/29/11, which puts the due date around March 26.  How does one make a mistake like that? Am I, the girl who never knows what the date is, truly that calendar challenged?

Efficiency caused this dastardly mix-up.

Due to an efficiency binge last year’s calendar is long gone. The girls made bookmarks from it; very green, very tidy.

All devotees of efficiency know that you should only record things once, but frequently items of importance get written down on my all purpose wall calendar and then transferred to the appropriate place.

This has nothing to do with the fact that the wall calendar is on the wall and I’m too lazy to find the appropriate binder, jot my note and put my binder away again. It is efficiency; if you don’t get it out it doesn’t need to be put away.

How the date got counted out wrong is a question to which I have no real answer. I didn’t bother to count out the days until the pregnancies were confirmed with blood testing; by then the evil mix up must have happened.

Resolved- Before I head out on any more efficiency binges, I will print out a calendar for next year and use it. I will just leave my binder out if necessary.  Here is my favorite place for calendars and forms- www.donnayoung.org.  Donna Young, a home school mom, has made many beautiful and useful forms available for free, so unless you suffer from a printer that is perpetually out of ink, there are no excuses to be without a calendar.

Meanwhile, I am sleeping all night for a few nights without listening to barn noises, and faithfully eschewing all efficiency.

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A formula for figuring out what buying a whole pig by hanging weight may cost you. Or What happens to my brain at the end of the school week.

The pig has returned in little white packages and they are at their best. We sold one pig, so we only have one to eat. We ate some bacon. We ate some pork chops, and they were good, ‘strornary good. It is much more flavorful than what I’ve been occasionally buying at the warehouse store, (we all know what that’s code for)and much better than the ‘pork’ chop I bought on sale (cheap) at the grocery store last year. (It was bear, unless it was dog. Don’t ask me how I know, I just know.) But the big question is… “Was it cheaper?” Just because you produce food yourself it isn’t free, and in this economic climate, it isn’t cheaper either. It’s a little strange, but because of how we raise animals now and the cheap factory farming practices, you really can’t raise meat for less than you can buy it.Here are the un-entertaining facts for those of you who are considering purchasing or raising a pig.

If this sounds like math… it is, kinda sorta in a nerdy house wife way.

It cost us X to raise out the pig. The cut and wrap (Y) was an additional 68% of that number or X. That little bit of information is pretty much useless if you are planning on purchasing a hog from someone else, because presumably they are hoping to make a profit. The butchering and the cut and wrap was 41% of the total project. Let’s add X and Y together and call it P, for project, or for pig, or for psycho nerdy housewife. Then in that case Y= .4P The actual bring home weight of the beast was 70% of the hanging weight. Therefore, you should be able to develop a ball park number when you choose a hog to purchase. Basically, increase the price per pound of hanging weight by 70% to 75%. Let’s call ball park price B and hanging weight H. In that case (B= .7H+ H) The fatness or leanness of the beast will mess with the equation but it should give you a general idea. Let’s call general idea G and make up some more equations, just for fun, like a ninth grade Algebra book. Sometimes pigs are sold by the whole beast by people like us who have no clue of what they’re doing. You could do all sorts of fun equations and have no idea of what it will actually cost you, if you want.

My actual per pound number ended up being a little more expensive (by a little) than buying cheap cuts on sale or at the warehouse store, but cheaper (by a lot) than buying the same quality and cuts of meat at the grocery store.

Things outside the realm of Mathematical equations.

Having meat in the freezer helps me to plan menus more effectively, and means fewer, “I have no idea what’s for dinner let’s have daddy grab a pizza” nights. (You all have these too. It’s not just me, right??? Tell me I’m not alone.)

Knowing that our meat is not full of antibiotics is something that weighs into the equation for me. The pork industry has a history of overusing antibiotics, which stinks, because pork chops are the ultimate home fast food. Anything that gets to the table in under 15 minutes is a rock star in my kitchen.

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