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Deal 1005: Stewed Birds and Open Fire

You always want to begin with a clean workspace and a stable source of heat. If burning wood, you will need a heavy cast iron pot to spread the heat from the fire to all sides, and hold it hot as the fire burns down. You won’t need to put the pot directly in the fire, balanced at one edge is often preferred because it can be turned occasionally, or moved closer and further as wood is added and consumed.

If potatoes are handy, tuck a few at the edge of the fire, in the ashes so they don’t burn. Turn occasionally and let them roast for a while before adding them to the pot near the end.

Butter and herbs will form the base. Other fats may be used, of course. Use what is at hand as long as it isn’t rancid. Rub the bird in salt and pepper too, and brown it in the hot fat before adding anything else. If the goal is a stew and time is not on your side, you can always break the bird down into pieces that will cook quicker and render more flavor into the broth.

Of course you can even spatchcock it if you’re feeling fancy. No one really enjoys picking around the backbone anyway.

Chop a few roots, rinse ashes off your potatoes and break them into chunks, and add to the pot along with more salt and pepper and some water. If some beer is at hand that won’t be missed immediately, add it in place of half the water or so. It will cook down and make a richer broth.

If you have time to simmer them until cooked, you can always drop chunks of biscuit dough into the top of the pot. Little fluffy bombs of bread will steam in the broth in no time at all.

To serve, all you need is enough large bowls and an appetite.

More of that beer you raided for the broth would probably go well too.

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Deal 1001: The other side

It is safe here. It is safe here. It is safe here.

I keep telling myself that. It is safe here.

I don’t like it here. It is safe here.

I don’t like it here. The tea isn’t good. No room. I need space. It is safe here.

But I am strong. I will try to stay and be safe.

I go outside. It is safe here. But I don’t like it. And then, the mirror. The mirror frightens me. I run back inside, frantic. It is safe here. I don’t like it here.

Food is plentiful. I am warm. I avoid the mirror. It is safe here.

But I must go. I don’t like it here.

I imagine I can be safe somewhere else. It is safe here.

I sneak away. I don’t look at the mirror. It is very quiet as I sneak away.

Too quiet. Nervous in the quiet. I rustle. Quiet. It was safe there.

I am stuck on the verge. It was safe there. I don’t like it there.

This is the edge. This is the choice. I am safe there but I don’t like it there.

So I can cross the edge. Cross it. Cross it now. Fast. Fast. Cross it fast. The possibilities are limitless.

I was safe there. But I was captive. I’m not safe here.

Why did I go?

I am free.

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Deal 946: Why did the chicken?

In the back woods on a lonely highway, I saw the chicken crossing the road.

I stopped for a moment to think and observe. Here was this monster rooster strutting across the highway like it was his own private drive. I thought briefly of asking him why, but then came to my senses and drove on.

And on. The highway extended across the flats as far as the eye could see, in a nearly perfect line. It undulated just enough to be unsettling if you drove too fast, but not enough to do away with the sense that it extended to infinity, and possibly beyond.

The chicken crossed the road.

Again.

Same chicken as an hour ago. That seemed more than a little strange, as I was really sure I had made not turns, and had been zipping right along. My headliner had the dents from my head to prove it too. And yet, I’m sure that was the same bird except it cannot be.

Still, I won’t get any answers from the chicken, and now I’m beginning to worry I’m late, and worse, lost. I’ve seen the movies. I know what happens to city folk who get overconfident on lonely isolated country roads. Like this one. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve seen a single other living soul aside from that chicken—

The chicken that just crossed the road again.

This time I thought I heard a faint cackle in the distance, something like an old hag amused at her fun and games.

But aside from that nut that tried to feed me that strange herbal tea at breakfast, I haven’t offended any old hags…

Damn. There goes that chicken again.

Now I’m sure even the trees are mocking me.