A blizzard of leaves drove through yesterday. With the howling winds came the inevitable drop in temperature. Cold weather always means soups, stews, and casseroles to me – and I was prepared!

I was at the Lancaster Farmer’s Market in Strafford on Wednesday to order our 32+ pound Thanksgiving Turkey, and picked up a 6 pound stewing hen while I was there. It went into a big ol’ pot yesterday, along with some wine, chopped onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and bay leaves, and simmered all day. (I didn’t peel any of the vegetables, and used the onions, skin and all – onion skin adds flavor and helps make a nice, rich colored broth.)

The aroma wafting through the house was wonderful! It reminded me of childhood at my grandparent’s house in Bakersfield, CA. My grandmother made the best Chicken and Rolled Dumplings! I wish I had her recipe (not that she ever followed one, but I’d love to know how she made those light and delicate dumplings!) Not feeling that adventurous, I took about a third of the broth and chicken and made a quick stew that I topped with a simple homemade bread dressing, and then baked off in the oven. It was yummy!

A simple unattended simmer on the stove has provided us with several meals. I now have about a gallon of rich broth in the fridge that will go into the freezer today. Some will be used at Thanksgiving for the gravy. And the chicken meat is sitting in a tupperware container – ready for whatever gastronomical delight we come up with! This is what “fast food” should be!

I love this time of year!

For those who may not know, here are a few chicken tidbits for ya…

A broiler/fryer can weigh up to 3 1/2 pounds, is usually around 2 1/2 months old and is best, as the name implies, when broiled or fried. The more flavorful roasters have more fat and are perfect for roasting and rotisserie cooking. They usually range between 2 1/2 and 5 pounds and can be up to 8 months old. Stewing chickens usually range from 10 to 18 months and weigh from 3 to 6 pounds. They’re more flavorful but less tender, and are best stewed or braised.

Bon appetit!