There are, in our lives, certain days that are magical and live on in our memories that way.
Such is the day, about 20 years ago, when a coworker and I made a three-hour trip to visit a client deep into Wisconsin Amish country. It was a bit of a rush, but that was tempered by the winding and curvy secondary road that took us past tidy Amish farm houses. We saw a sign reading "Amish Bake Sale" that pointed to a side road and looked at it longingly but did not have time to stop. It was fall, and I yearned to sample big buttery cinnamon rolls and perhaps something made with apples.
This gray October day lives on because it was filled with a kind of promise, the promise of another, more serene way of living. The road not taken is always more intriguing.
Since then, I've been to several Amish quilt auctions and sampled Amish baking. For a time there was a small Amish community up this way, but it lasted only a few years.
Now I am left with my chicken. Let me explain. I buy this Amish-raised whole or cut chicken that is organically raised and supposedly has no additives, hormones, antibiotics. That's what the label says; I hope it's true.
Anyway, since I've been buying it, we've had chicken every Sunday. Yesterday's chicken was baked with garlic and sun-dried tomatoes and thyme and rosemary. Tonight, we ate it in the form of a salad, with fresh tomatoes, Kalamata olives, cheese dotted with garlic and basil, roasted croutons and slivered almonds. Whatever I had on hand, went into that salad.
Last night, I used the carcase, the herbs, and most of the garlic to make a rich savory broth for future soups.
I am pleased, very pleased, that my modest investment in that chicken provides such culinary mileage.
It's the famous French frugality kicking in, but I like to think those thrifty Amish housewives can appreciate it, too.