10 Lessons I learned from Chicken Feet

It seemed like a good idea, at the time.  I was circling the sparse, spring farmers market; deep in thought, considering the week’s dinner and had the idea,

“Ohhh, chicken soup!” 

My heart was set.  

The small family farm’s booth, where I had purchased a stewing chicken, was dead ahead. I swear, on that teensy bird’s head, It made the most delicious broth I had ever made. I headed straight over, the woman lead me to the freezer case. 

I saw the stewing chicken and she said,

“The meat on these is really not edible.  If you are just making stock, we have a soup kit.  Would you like to see it?”

Soup is my favorite food, period. This was like someone offering to a diamond lover, a viewing of the Hope Diamond.  I was awash with excitement.  As she opened the case, the freezer air swirled.

The kit was raised, she explained,  “It contains chicken backs and…. chicken feet, these make the best broth, full of taste and rich in collagen.”  

She had me at collagen. The bag was clear, yet it was misted over in a freezer fog and I couldn’t see exactly what was in the kit, so I took her word for it.  

She continued, “It is a little tough to get the skin off the chicken feet, yet it must be removed as do the finger nails, they can be tough to strain from the broth and they are dirty.”

I gulped and kept a brave face.  

She added, “Don’t worry, there are a few YouTubes on how to do it.”  

A bit reluctant, yet, curious, I placed the kit in my oversized canvas bag.  

I got home and several hours later the feet emerged more clearly as I removed them from the outer packaging.  

White, bony with sharp nails, they laid blandly.  All I could think was, 

“I really should have asked a few more questions.” 

I sighed as I resigned myself realizing it was as they say… “Too late.”

Two Youtube videos with perky home chefs gleefully showed their skin, and nail removal method. My stomach turned and my face squinched like a kid who thought they got the best piece of candy only, it turned out to be a sour lemon drop.

Just as the YouTubes had instructed, I plunked the first claw into the boiling water.  It slowly unfolded, much like a human hand revealing a stone.  It turned in the water and as it came out I cooled it in a bowl of water.  

With a resigned sigh, I pulled the claw out and began attempting to scrape off the skin.  

Soon, I realized, this was a job that was going to require my own fingernails.  The skin peeled reluctantly off the long “arm” bone yet as I neared the “palm” and the “fingers” it clung tight.  

Never mind pulling off the nails, even an all in one tool didn’t work.  I reserved that job for the big chef’s knife, and whacked them off with a blunt chop.  As I worked I grew more disgusted and thought only…

“This’d better be good soup.” 

As I gritted through this life lesson, my thoughts turned to how this is like business and pulled these lessons:

When you have the thought, “I mean, how bad can it be?”  Heed it.  

Some things seem like a good idea at the time, but you will find out later… are not

Sometimes the extra effort is NOT worth it

Sometimes things that look easy are not

Some things that take time to do are just things that take time to do

Some things are just gross, no matter how you try to spin it

Busy work really is busy work

There will be times you may have the thought, “It may be a disaster, but I did my best.”

When you have the feeling and then the thought, “I really should have asked more questions”, remember that feeling, because you will want to ASK more questions next time BEFORE committing.

If you have to gulp and try too hard to keep a brave face, perhaps it’s just wrong

Sometimes, it’s ok to just give up and go a different direction.

The soup turned out to be very tasty, yet the tried and true small stewing hen would have been just as good.  

As for me and chicken feet, never, ever again.  Once was enough.  And, next time I have “that” feeling, I WILL ask more questions.