The Chicken Zone….

Disclaimer:  I thought I would have this posted about two weeks ago.  Unfortunately, life took over and, alas, I did not.

As I teased earlier this week on Facebook, yesterday, I drove over to a neighboring town to receive an order of 120 pounds of very cold, bagged, chicken breasts.  People, that is A LOT of chicken!  Three waxed, cardboard cartons worth, sitting on plastic in the back seat, to be exact.

So, why on Earth did I have 12o pounds of said chicken pieces in the car with me?  Because, according to Zaycon Foods, they are, “100 % natural chicken with no added hormones, additives or artificial ingredients.”  It was also only $1.99 a pound and that is a really good deal for my area.  I can occasionally get chicken breasts at this price, but it is the cheapo, frozen, injected with salt water stuff in the bags at a big box store.  Certainly not hormone and additive free.

Plus, I love seeing my shelves and freezer full of good, healthy meals ready to be eaten!  Real food is a good thing.

I first learned about Zaycon and their wonderful chicken from the blog One Hundred Dollars a Month.  I used her referral code to sign in and set up a free account.  I read her articles on how she dealt with a huge box of chicken breasts when she got them home.  And, then, I, quite tentatively, ordered a 40 pound case of chicken.

Wow!  Was I even impressed!  Each breast is about twice the size of the anemic looking ones we got at the local grocers, so we promptly cut them in half and put them in labelled ziplock bags with 6 portions (worked out to 3 whole breasts) in each bag and froze them.  Hubby cut the breasts in half and pulled off a few remnants of skin, but the chicken was clean and nice.  I think we got 19 meals worth frozen from that original case (plus the meal we ate that night) that we ate over the next few months.  We enjoyed it grilled, fried, baked, in soups, casseroles, you name it.

The price was right and it was better quality than we could get locally.

Problem was, we ran out before they ran their next sale in our area.  So, this time, we were fortunate enough to have been able to put back some money in anticipation of the sale that was this week, so we decided to order…more than one case.  We finally decided that two cases would, in all likelihood allow us to make it to the next planned sale in our area.  Plus, I like to pressure can foods to use later, so a case to can up would be handy.  Ultimately, we purchased 3 cases, for an unprecedented (to our family, anyway) 120 pounds of meat to all be picked up on a single day.

In preparation, hubby and I asked the kids what their favorite chicken meals were, looked up a few new ones that looked worth trying, and pulled out some tried and true recipes.  As we have gotten into a bit of a cooking rut of repeating meals lately, I decided that instead of plain chicken in bags, we would try and make as many as possible into “freezer meals” or packets with everything needed to get to cooking a particular dish.

At this point, we ate one delicious meal of a balsamic chicken that my Mom made last night and put up 29 other meals into the freezer.  I won’t post recipes here, because until we try them all, I don’t want to accidentally recommend something that doesn’t work out quite as planned.  We also poached 15 breasts and put them into the fridge to shred tonight when they weren’t boiling hot.  We also gleaned off 6 quarts of chicken stock to use in soups later.  That looks like about 35 meals total (with a generous serving of chicken per person) for 6 large apetites out of 120 pounds of chicken.

We started off wondering if we would have enough recipes for variety.  We ended up with no more than 2 of any one recipe, a few singles, and none left over for canning.  You could have knocked me over with a feather to not have any left to can up!

For the record, I didn’t take enough pictures of the process this time.  And not everything packet is a complete meal, but we did manage the following:

1 packet of chunks for chicken fried rice

2 packets of chunks for chicken teriyaki

1 packet of chunks for chicken korma

Shredded chicken for

Taco meals

Enchiladas with green sauce

Tamale pie

2  Baked chicken parmigiana

Serving size pieces packaged for

Fried chicken

BBQ chicken sandwiches

Buffalo chicken sandwiches

Lemon Pepper chicken salads

2 Southwest Chicken Dinner ( 1 pot meal)

Chicken Fajita wraps

Quick Chicken Posole

Greek Chicken in Yogurt marinade

Chicken Marengo (1 pot meal)

Chicken Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Italian Chicken in marinade.

After we verify that everything turned out great for this freezer meal, chicken edition, we will share recipes either here or in an inexpensive e-book.  Most are available online to try if you really can’t wait.

I encourage everyone to try Zaycon Foods.  Here is my referral code.  I will receive exactly $1 off of a future order if you set up an account and make your first purchase.  At that point, you will get your own referral code to use to share with others.  If you use my code, thank you.  If not, I still really want you to try some of this great chicken!  It’s easier on the budget than you think and it ‘s good quality.

Edited to add:  we have been using these meals for about two weeks now and they have all been fantastic!  It’s been nice not to think about dinner other than to thaw it in advance and toss it in the crockpot!

Have you ever put up large quantities of meats?  What are YOUR tips?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Technical Colleges: A Solid Choice For Higher Education

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As a homeschooling mama, my long range view is ever toward my children’s futures. I want to make decisions to allow my sons to utilize their potential and achieve their goals and dreams. But, as the years creep closer to the day when I will no longer be my children’s primary educator, I am faced with deciding what avenues of later education I should encourage my son’s to pursue (knowing all the while that the ultimate decision is really not mine).

The choices were easier in centuries past. Poorer families could continue on with subsistence farming on their Lord’s property or perhaps be lucky enough to be sold into an apprenticeship to learn a trade. There were no wages during the time of apprenticeship, but a solid career awaited at the end of training. Richer families became scientists, poets, or just rich hangers on at various Courts. They could also manage their lands and go hunting, perhaps taking some of the poorer subsistence farmers along as guides for the day. There were no middle classes to speak of.

It would have been much easier to choose a path in those days, but the options were (especially for the poorer families) somewhat grim. Now, we have a plethora of options available to our youth, but we tend to only recognize one, the four year college education.

Please go to Molly Green Magazine to read the entire article.

Does your community have a Technical College?  Do you plan to utilize it?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Log Cabin Lessons

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The Purdy Cabin, circa 1984. Photo by Eddie Hatchett

Summer of 1984 was a busy time for our family.  My parents, John and Judy Purdy, had purchased land about an hour outside of Atlanta, and were breaking ground on their dream home.  I had just finished my Junior year in high school and we were making our big transition over the summer.

Visit Molly Green Magazine to discover more of our family adventure.

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

 

Whew! A Finish!

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Embroidery by Judy Purdy; photo by Jan Hatchett

It has been a whirlwind month.  About two weeks before the big day, my baby brother announced that he was getting married!  Since we had already met and fell in love with our new family member, and my new sister-in-love, we were very excited, but under the gun for the wedding gift.  As quilters, we like to make, you guessed it, quilts and it was going to be very, very tough to get one made in two weeks for the wedding.

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Center block of the quilt holds the label.

And, honestly, we didn’t make it.  Even after Mom and I sat at the dining room table with two sewing machines and sewed like fiends, we didn’t make the deadline.  They were married on February 4th and we gifted them with their quilt on February 22nd, after they had come down to celebrate my brother’s birthday with us.  We put the last stitch in it on February 19th and washed and dried it on the following day.  Not too bad, all things considering.

I may have been a little gung-ho to get this done (out of fear of it languishing around for years, unfinished), as Dad dubbed our work area as “Jan’s sweat shop.”  Ahem.  Nuff said.

As the bride didn’t indicate any favorite colors and we couldn’t be too bold and ask outright (it would ruin the surprise), we took an “anything goes” palette of scraps in all colors.  I used an “organic, improvisational, modern” approach.  I have since learned that those terms mean, essentially, “wonky, but cool.”  In order to save time, we densely quilted the blocks onto the batting as we made them, adding the backing on separately.

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Completed quilt top.

It was an interesting way to finish a quilt and it was quite efficient in some ways.  In retrospect, I would have added backing to each block and joined them Quilt as You Go style with sashing strips.   My sewing machine just couldn’t handle the stress of sewing through the intersections and the free arm was just short enough to prevent me from quilting the back on “in the ditch” as originally planned.  Hence, we tied the back on, Appalachian style.

It does kind of work as I tend to quilt my quilts and my Mom tends to tie hers.  This one is a unique hybrid of both techniques.

But, I wish the quilting went through to the back.  Live and learn.  It was quick and simple.  I love the end result.

And the best part is that my brother and his gorgeous wife love it, too!

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And this is why it was all worth it! Ain’t they cute???

The worst part was wanting to tell this quilt’s story, the new technique and all while I was making it and knowing that it would blow the surprise if someone told them what we were working on.  I am horrible at the discretion part of this gifting stuff!

What are you working on lately?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

 

Horse Pillows

Another Hatchett job, photo by Jan Hatchett, horse pillows, crafts, frugal gifts, horse lovers, equestrian gifts

“Barn Moms” get pretty creative when left to our own devices!

Eldest son is absolutely horse crazed!  I can’t claim to be far from it, myself.  But, he is a born cowboy and he loves to ride.

So, how could I not craft up a little something for Christmas that was right up his alley?  A bunch of the “Barn Moms” and I got together and made some absolutely adorable pillows decorated with horses on them.  Some were fanciful, others looked like a particular horse, we even had a fantastical unicorn in the mix!  Lots of the “barn kids” received pillows among their Christmas gifts and they seemed to be a huge hit with everyone.

My kiddo received a pillow that represents “his” horse Doc.  Doc is a quarter horse who hates baths and brushing and just wants to throw on a saddle and go–much like my son!  He is a true cowboy horse and he has claimed my son as one of his very favorite people.

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(L to R) Pillows representing Hans the Hanoverian (in show braids), Baron the Shire, and Doc the Quarter Horse.

On the right are three of the pillows that I made.  I wish I had gotten more photos of them before I delivered them.  On the left is one that went to one of DS18s riding instructors.  It looks like Hans, the big, goofy warmblooded Hanoverian that lives at the stables.  His instructor often rides him in ACTHA rides and Equestrian events, hence the braids instead of a mane.  I hoped that the paisley fabric would emphasize his fancy “show” prowess.

The middle pillow represents Baron, the Shire and our only draft horse at the stables.  Unfortunately, not long after I made this pillow, he suffered a strangulation lymphoma and didn’t make it.  I am hoping that DS18s other instructor enjoyed receiving this remembrance of this big, gorgeous boy.  As much as he was my favorite horse to ride and to love on, he clearly loved her (and she loved him) more than anyone else.  It’s sad to lose a friend, but I will always remember that drafty personality and big, pretty walk of his.  Sigh.

On the far right is Doc, the Quarter Horse.  His mane is made of looped twine that is “blowing” backward because he is running across the fields.  This is my son’s favorite horse and if he had been available to lease, we would have done it.  They make such a good team together, even reading each other’s minds.  Doc is kind of a no muss, no fuss kind of horse who hates brushing, braiding, baths, or pretty much anything other than riding, meal times, and peppermints.  It’s an ideal match for my son, who pretty much feels the same way about baths and anything too fussy related to hygiene.  LOL!

Fortunately, all of the pillows seem to be well received and enjoyed!  My kiddo sleeps with his on the bed at night. He is afraid it will get messed up if it falls on the floor.

Did your child have a favorite gift that you made?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

More Painting Fun!

My inspiration piece.

My inspiration piece.

The painting bug hit pretty hard this Christmas.  After I took a class in November, I realized that this opened the door to making even more creative gifts for family and friends.  This painting is of a Painted Bunting.  We see these beautiful, colorful birds each year when we go down to Jekyll Island for vacation or to visit.  They are a family favorite.

I looked at scores of photographs online of the Painted Bunting, so I could try to be reasonably accurate in the color placement, etc.  All in all, it was a pretty fun project to complete.  Not a masterpiece and certainly not a photograph, but a bright, happy, obvious bird painting.  Works for me.

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Painted Bunting

This particular painting was inspired by a painting of an Eastern Bluebird.  Since the shapes were largely similar, I kind of kept the outline the same and then changed the coloration to be that of the more showy Painted Bunting.  Birdie then became part of Christmas for my youngest son, an avid bird watcher.

He really seemed to enjoy it and asked for another to go with it.  He is just determining which bird he would like next.  Love that!  I think I would like to try the mottled Bluebird, myself.

Do you ever attempt a new craft?  How did you like it?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

 

Sneak Peek Update

Another Hatchett Job, photo by Jan Hatchett, dresden pillows, dresden plate block, hand stitching, quilting, crafts, frugal gifts

Ready to start stitching!

Do you remember this post?

That block that was ready to be stitched down, ultimately became one of four dresden plate decorative pillows that were given as Christmas gifts this year.  I couldn’t share them before now, because we hadn’t had our final family celebration yet.  Despite a false start or two where the block didn’t want to stay put while I was stitching it and bunched up badly, I eventually used fusible adhesive to hold the center of the blocks in place while I hand appliqued the edges down.  It worked like a charm!Another Hatchett Job, photo by Jan Hatchett, dresden pillows, dresden quilt blocks, quilting, crafts, frugal gifts

I must say that I was fairly intimidated by the idea of hand applique with a hidden stitch.  I had done hand blanket stitch applique before, but after my friend, Beverly, showed me the proper stitch, it just felt like something that I would be willing to try.

I am proud to say that all of the pillows turned out beautifully and were happily received!

Did you make any Christmas gifts this past year?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett