When I was in the fourth grade, we played bingo for prizes the day before Easter vacation. As I recall, the prizes were the usual Easter fare—chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, and of course, Peeps. But, the ultimate prize was what I was after—two purple-dyed chicks.
It seemed like we played for hours with the teacher calling out numbers. So far, I had no luck, but the big prize was not on the table yet. I was saving my win for those chicks.
Finally, it was time for the big game—the final game before Easter vacation and the game for those neon-dyed beauties. The teacher called the first number. I had it! I placed my dried pinto bean on the square. I was off to a flying start to win those chicks.
The bingo game seemed to drag on and on. Was anyone going to win?
Finally, the teacher called out B5. I had it too. My face began to turn red as I realized I had won.
I was just able to croak out a stuttery “I got it!”” As the teacher checked my card, I could not keep my excitement to myself. I now owned a pair of perfect purple Easter chicks.
For some reason, mom picked us up at school that day (which was probably a good thing—she saved the poor chicks a ride home on the bus). She didn’t seem to be as excited as I was about her daughter being the proud new owner of Easter chicks. But, she found a shoebox and we hauled them home.
We lived on a farm but it was a farm without chickens. We found a place for them in the barn and as soon as dad got home we built a make-shift pen.
My parents soon realized that the newness and excitement of winning the chicks was wearing off. After three months, if you looked close, you could still see a bit of purple fluff on these almost fully grown chickens. We also realized that we had a rooster and a hen.
One day my Grandma asked if she could buy my chickens. Was it a miracle? Not only would I be minus one chore, but she was going to pay me $10! I figured that if I really missed them, I could visit them at Grandma’s. SOLD!
I don’t remember much about my chicken days. I don’t remember their names or if I even named them. I remember the win and I remember selling them to Grandma. It was a good thing I was not so attached to those purple Easter chicks.
One Sunday as we sat around Grandma’s dining room table (you can see where this is going), my younger sister asked, “Which purple chicken are we eating?” There was an awkward pause and everyone looked at me.
We had always lived on a farm from the time I could remember. We always ate what we grew. We knew that when we bottle-fed a calf that one day it would be sold or fattened up for butchering. Even the lambs and pigs we raised by hand for showing in 4-H would be sold or eaten. (And they even had names!) This was just life on the farm.
Was I mortified that Grandma had butchered and cooked one of my purple Easter chicks? Not really.
“Pass the chicken and noodles, please.”
I am not a huge fan of chicken and noodles (and it doesn’t have anything to do with the Easter chick incident from my past), so here is another recipe that could work well on the Easter table.
Roasted Chicken with Italian Sausage
(Adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe in Food & Wine—March 2007.)
2 T. crushed brown mustard seeds
1 T. Champagne vinegar
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
3/4 c. white wine
1 T. dried chervil
1/4 c. fresh flat leaf parsley
1 T. Worcestershire
1 large onion, peeled (I used five “over-wintered” onions from the garden.)
1 sprig of rosemary
1 bay leaf (fresh is best)
Ground pepper to taste
5 lbs. of chicken pieces (breasts, thighs, or assorted pieces)
1 (16 oz.) pkg Italian Sausage (I used some locally made authentic Italian sausage.)
In a blender, pulse together mustard seeds, vinegar, oil, wine, chervil, parsley and Worcestershire. Place liquid in a large sealable plastic bag. Quarter lemon and onion and place in bag. Add bay leaf (crushed), rosemary, and ground pepper. Add chicken pieces. Mix all ingredients together in bag to coat chicken well.
Let marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
To roast, preheat oven to 425 degrees. (I used the convection roast setting.) Remove chicken from refrigerator and let stand for 15 minutes. Pour chicken and marinade into a large roasting pan. Remove bay leaf and rosemary. Place chicken in pan so skin side is up. Arrange sausage(s) around chicken.
Roast for 1 hour.
After thirty minutes, turn the sausage(s). (If you would like the chicken browned more, place under the broiler for 1 minute.)
You may sprinkle with fresh parsley before serving.
Serve chicken and sauce over rice. (I actually just stirred my parsley in the rice before serving.)
Now, if I could just be so lucky with that Mega Million Lottery!