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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Power Over Poultry

For those who don't know, I have huge food contamination issues.  One of my worst has to do with uncooked meat.  I don't even like to touch the packages in the store.  I've been know to go into full panic attack mode if I do.  Hyperventilating, sobbing, the full nine yards, right in the middle of the supermarket.

I do love to cook, and this has made it really hard for me to do so in the recent years.  I'm the wash the hands several times, every minute or two, kind of girl.  Crack out the Clorox wipes and scrub down the kitchen a few times as well.  Yes, it makes sense and is important to wash your hands and disinfect surfaces when working with raw meat, but for goodness sake, it takes me 45 minutes to prepare a meatloaf for the oven!???

I understand why I have these food issues.  It's a complex combination of things.  We had to be extra careful with cleanliness and food prep when my brother had cancer.  On top of that, I have had food poisoning three times (thanks to two restaurants and a boxed food item).  One of those times, I ended up in the ER and my mom ended up hospitalized.  I've also had an uncle get E.Coli from a restaurant in Chicago.  It nearly killed him and he hasn't been the same since.  So, you can easily see where my food issues come from.

Last night, I decided to make roasted chicken legs for dinner.  It was a challenge to myself.  About a week and a half ago, I roasted a whole chicken.  Poultry is usually a HUGE issue for me.  As soon as I know I'm going to work with poultry, the OCD voice in my head starts chanting "SALMONELLA...SALMONELLA".  It starts out slowly and quietly at first and builds in both speed and volume.  Usually, by the time I finally get the bird (or bird parts) in the oven, I'm frantic and hyperventilating.  Still, I go through it, because I love chicken.

Preparing that whole chicken a week and a half ago was different though.  I prepped in advance as Rachel and I had discussed I should do when working with raw meat.  I had the oven preheated, dish out and sprayed, everything ready in advance.  All I had to do was open the chicken, remove the giblets, and get it into the dish before I could wash my hands.  All of this went off without a hitch.  The first part of Battle Poultry went as planned.  (I will admit one squeamish moment when trying to tuck back the wings.  The stupid things just didn't want to cooperate, and I felt as if I was torturing the poor creature.)  Next, I prepared the olive oil and my homemade seasoning salt by removing the lids and setting them to one side.  This allowed me to pour and season with one clean hand while rubbing the olive oil and seasoning into the bird with my second hand.  Once that was done, I used my clean hand to open the oven and stick in the bird.  Done!

All that was left, was cleaning up the mess.  I resisted the urge to wash my hands first before picking up the chicken wrappings that were laying in the sink and tossing them in the garbage.  Why I ever thought I needed clean hands to do so is beyond me.  Once the mess was out of the sink, I washed my hands, washed the kitchen shears used to open the bird, and wiped down the sink, faucet, countertop, etc. with a Clorox wipe.  I washed my hands again for good measure and left the kitchen.  I didn't return until the bird was done.  : )

You might still think that is a lot of hand washing, but really it is greatly pared down for me.  Only one Clorox wipe to boot!  That's not the biggest deal, however.  The biggest deal is that there was no panic mode, no hyperventilating.  I think the OCD voice must have taken a vacation that day, or possibly had a sore throat.  I'm not sure.  Either way, there was no chanting of "SALMONELLA...SALMONELLA".

Needless to say, I was so proud of myself that I did a little happy dance.  When I told Rachel during our last session, she said that I had every right to be proud of myself.  It is a big deal.  Yet, my OCD voice (obviously fully recovered and/or back from vacay) kicked in and told me, "It's just a one time thing.  There's no way you can do that again.  You're not strong enough."

So, last night's chicken legs were a challenge to myself and my OCD voice, a way to prove it wrong.  I'm happy to say, it went relatively well.  Was there panic?  No.  There was a moment when one of the drumsticks flipped out of my hand, flew across the counter, and came to a rest on the lid of the container to my homemade seasoning salt.  (The seasoning salt itself remained unaffected as I'd opened the container earlier.)  My first thought was, "CRAP!!!  Now the entire counter is dirty and full of germs, and I'll definitely have to wash that lid.  Will the lid dry enough to be able to put back on the seasoning salt without making the seasoning salt clump???"  Still, that was the extent of it.  They were valid thoughts.  They were reasonable and there was no repetitive chant of "SALMONELLA...SALMONELLA" and no panic.  Just annoyance at having to wash the lid and deal with the mess.

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