Monday, December 28, 2009

In search of a one -year- old hen

I got up and wanted to make something with chicken because we have plenty of it in the freezer. There was a recipe for chicken corn soup with rivels (coming soon) but we didn't have all the necessary ingredients. As I looked at other recipes I noticed one which called for "1 chicken (preferably a one-year-old hen)". I imagine when this cookbook was originally published it was highly plausible that a woman like myself could have gone into the backyard and selected the particular hen which was close to her first birthday. Perhaps I would have said to that feminine fowl, "Happy Birthday Ms. Hen, you are about to be served straight up with a twist of pepper." I admit to being a bit envious of those who could guarantee that degree of freshness on their family dining table.

I read this interesting ingredient request to a few family members. They laughed. One of my daughters suggested that perhaps it meant you bought a chicken at the store and let it sit around a year or so. The idea of having your own horde of hens to harvest didn't even occur to her. In her lifetime, she hasn't known a soul with their own crop of poultry out the back door. So, to the grocery store I go. When I get a whole chicken I will be making some chicken soup. I am going to check the packaging carefully. Who knows? Maybe there is a DOB on there somewhere.

I did make a hearty Chicken Salad with some chicken breasts that I baked and chopped.

3 cups diced, cooked chicken
1 1/2 cups diced celery
3 hard-cooked eggs
3 sweet pickles, chopped
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
2/3 cup mayonnaise
3 T cream.
Cut the cooked chicken. Chop celery, pickles, and eggs and add to chicken. Add seasoning. (I took the liberty of adding about a teaspoon of seasoned salt) Add cream to mayonnaise, when smooth, mix with chicken. We ate this salad on bagels. It was very tasty! I love the creamy mayo dressing and also the chunkiness of the salad.

This recipe was adapted from the Chicken Salad recipe submitted to the Mennonite Community Cookbook by Sadie Eash and Mrs. P. R. Kennel. Thank you ladies.



  1. An old hen is well worth it. She may have thick skin, but hey that can be a good thing. She may be a little tough, but time will do that to you. She has fat in all the right places and her good taste cannot be surpassed by a younger chick. The hunt for an old hen is worth the effort even if she is reluctant to disclose her DOB.

  2. I just discovered your blog and am doing some reading in the archives. This post reminds me of one of our favorite family stories. We live on a Mennonite farm in central Illinois. Our children are the 5th generation on this farm. Once, when one of our daughters had been visiting her Grandma who used to live in this house (and who also makes Scramble, btw!), she heard some stories about what it was like when Great-Grandma lived here and had chickens and would kill a hen on Sunday mornings to prepare for Sunday's dinner. In telling us about that later she reported it thus, "You used to have to kill a chicken to get chicken!!" I don't suppose that translates as funny here in a post....but it was the wonder in her voice, as it had dawned on her that buying chicken at the grocery wasn't how it was always done, that gave us such a giggle, and makes it a family story we tell again and again.

  3. Thank you for sharing this. I love family stories. It is so important to keep the memories alive. About the Scramble, was it the same recipe?