Food: The saga of the traveling rubber chicken leg
You wouldn’t think a rubber chicken leg could cause much havoc, but I’m living proof that they do. And the fact that I even have one of these incongruous gag gifts in my possession is thanks to my friend Dianne Jacobson, who presented it to me as a Christmas present.
This story started when Dianne expressed an interest in helping me “process” some of the roosters in my flock. Something needed to be done because it was complete bedlam in the coop, with a dozen males all vying for top bird. Crowing started about 3 a.m. every day and their sparring resulted in alarming cockfights that had me running out into the yard yelling, “Stop, stop, STOP!”
And these boys weren’t only partial to fighting among themselves. One day I watched a big white rooster with a mean glint in its eye attack my little dog, Homey. But this particular bird’s final demise was determined when he ambushed me as I turned to retrieve some stuff out of my Jeep. He flew into my back with a flurry of hackled feathers and scissoring spurs. “That is ENOUGH!” I said as I flung him off. “You are one dead bird.”
But he wasn’t the only trouble maker. In fact, there were about seven others that were causing just as much coop chaos and when I made up my mind on their doomsday, Dianne decided to come over and help. She even kept a few feathers from a beautiful speckled black and white bird to include, she explained, in some crafts.
Imagine my surprise and delight when she came to my office and presented me with a beautiful chicken-themed pine wreath, adorned with those feathers. Then, as I oohed and ahhed over it, she handed me a rubber chicken leg. “Here,” she said. “I wanted to put this on the wreath, too, but I didn’t know where. Maybe you can wire it on when you get it home.”
I hung my fragrant present on a door knob, but the rubber chicken leg was a conspicuous item among the paper and pens on my desk. In fact, I was getting quite a few comments from co-workers, so I stuffed it into my camera case and forgot about it.
That is, until the next day when I went to a photo shoot at a Santa open house. I placed my camera bag on a table that was occupied by three sweet elderly ladies who were there to help kids make a craft. When I unclipped the case to retrieve my camera, the rubber chicken leg burst forth like a sprung missile, landing with a solid plop on the table. “Oh my,” said one lady, while the other two looked at it askance. As I quickly grabbed the rubber leg and crammed it into my coat pocket, one asked, “What is it?” I mumbled a hasty explanation, with all three of these kind and gentle women looking at me as if I were some kind of media nut case.
But, true to form, once again, I forgot the location of my rubber leg and proceeded to my next stop. This was to visit a friend whose little boy delights in greeting me by sticking his hand in my coat pockets looking for a treat. You can imagine the look on his face when he pulled out the chicken leg and asked, “Can I eat this?” Let me verify right here that it isn’t easy to explain to a four-year-old why grown-ups carry around rubber chicken parts.
Thinking I could stop this mayhem once and for all, I stuffed the thing into my glove box. But peace was not to reign. A friend and I were going to the store a few days later when I asked him to retrieve a tire gauge from…you guessed it, the glove box. Again, the rubber limb shot forth, this time onto my friend’s lap, causing a reaction similar to one most people exhibit when they see a mouse run across the floor. “What is this?” he asked, wide-eyed, while I broke up laughing.
The chicken leg finally made it into my house where I thought no one would ever again be affected by it. In fact, I thought it would make a great toy for Homey (it also squeaks) but when I presented it to him, he turned his head in disgust.
However, when Crawdad the Cat sauntered up, a look of maternal longing came over her face and she immediately fell in love with the rubber chicken leg.
For the last few days, I have observed her wrestle with it, lick it and rub her face on it. One morning I woke to come eyeball to eyeball with the thing as she even likes to sleep with it. It is her pagan idol and one tiny squeak from this rubber appendage has her zooming into the room with frenzied concern.
I’ve deemed the rubber chicken leg Crawdad’s official Christmas present, but for Homey, I’m going to make some homemade doggie treats that he likes, and I’ve included that recipe this week.
So at this point, I would personally like to thank my friend Dianne for giving me such a unique present which has provided a lot of comic relief in my life lately. And I’m sure if old Crawdad the Cat could talk, she’d say it’s truly a gift that keeps on giving.
Puppy Cut Outs
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 cup peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
1 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour and baking powder. In another bowl, mix peanut butter and milk, then add to dry ingredients and mix well. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead. Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness and use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes on a greased baking sheet until lightly brown. Cool on a rack, then store in an airtight container.