Wednesday, November 28, 2012

THANKSGIVING IS THE BEST HOLIDAY EVER!!!

Click Here for Pic

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  I hope your Thanksgiving was as incredible as mine was.  This year, I celebrated in Nashville, literally right up the road from Carrie Underwood.  Awesome!!!

For those of you who don't know me all that well, Thanksgiving has forever been my favorite holiday.  It helps that I am able to see past the fact that originally we most likely sacrificed and slaughtered lots of Native Americans and their game in order to have a fabulous and fierce dinner.  No, it is my absolute favorite because it has no religious affiliation, I usually get to travel somewhere fun, and it is all about the family we keep in life.  That could be the family we choose or the ones we don't!  Let's not forget that we also get to eat like gluttons for three to five days following the big meal.  Stuffing should be its own food group!

Thanks (Gratitude) and Giving.  Two concepts of my favorite concepts of late.

Gratitude.  The act of being grateful is a powerful one.  For me, when I am feeling a little blue (and I remember, which is the tough part), I start to think of all of the wonderful and happy things for which I feel grateful.  Sometimes it may feel as if there are none, but start small and work your way up!  I promise within the period of about thirty seconds, something changes on the inside.  Call it an energy shift or call it emotional movement.  Call it what you will, it's the openness and expansiveness that attracts the good feelings into our thoughts and therefore our bodies and souls.  It feels good.  It just plain feels better.  If you don't believe me, try it for yourself.

Giving.  I like to think of myself as a giving individual.  I give to people all of the time.  The best part is I expect nothing in return.  I give without expectations.  I give to be more ME.  I give to spread joy into the world.  Giving is not about what you receive, it's about the act of giving.  Granted, every relationship has its ups and downs and so on.  With regard to giving in relations, we need to always be aware of the life-giving qualities present and current.  When it stops being life-giving and life-affirming, then perhaps its time to move on.  It's always hard, and it sucks for a while, but really, on this malevolently fantastic life, it's all about you, your life, and your happiness.  Be good to yourself.  Be good to others!  Give!  Give!  Give!

Something fun to read.  Enjoy!


Step 1: Go buy a turkey
Step 2: Take a drink of whiskey, scotch, or JD
Step 3: Put turkey in the oven
Step 4: Take another 2 drinks of whiskey
Step 5: Set the degree at 375 ovens
Step 6: Take 3 more whiskeys of drink
Step 7: Turn oven the on
Step 8: Take 4 whisks of drinky
Step 9: Turk the bastey
Step 10: Whiskey another bottle of get
Step 11: Stick a turkey in the thermometer
Step 12: Glass yourself a pour of whiskey
Step 13: Bake the whiskey for 4 hours
Step 14: Take the oven out of the turkey
Step 15: Take the oven out of the turkey
Step 16: Floor the turkey up off the pick
Step 17: Turk the carvey
Step 18: Get yourself another scottle of botch
Step 19: Tet the sable and pour yourself a glass of turkey
Step 20: Bless the saying, pass and eat out


Final Thoughts:

1)  I'm also grateful that I didn't have to kill the turkey myself.  I have had enough slaughtering for a while.
2)  Black Friday?  Cyber Monday?  What's next?
3)  In the next two weeks, I will start a cyber-wide countdown (sorry, I couldn't resist) for my upcoming book, "How I Learned To Smile From The Inside."  It should be available around January 15, 2013.  I am so psyched!
4) One more thing, if we treated ourselves the same way we treat our dogs and cats, can you imagine the love we would feel for ourselves.  Love yourself.  You always win!
5)  If you like what you've read, please share it with everyone!  If not, don't say word!


Click Here for Pic


A Smile From The Inside Production :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

HOW TO SLAUGHTER YOUR CHICKEN - PART TWO




How to Slaughter Your Chicken -- Part Two

I know you guys have been dying to read Part Two of the Slaughter.  Craziness, right?

I caused quite a stir amongst my friends and family this past week.  People have either a greater respect for me or they think I'm nuts and a killer.  For those of you who believe I am ungrateful or did not think me serious about the whole situation, I must assure you that is incorrect.  Ahem...soap box please!  We had been planning this event for four months.  I do not take what I did lightly in any way, shape, or form.  As I said in my email last week, I am grateful for the 10,000 chickens I've eaten prior to this event and for the 20,000 chickens I will eat after this event.  I do not make light of what happened last week.  It wasn't easy for me...at all.


And for those that question if perhaps I've gone a little off topic and how does slaughtering a chicken possibly relate to a Smile From The Inside lifestyle, I would say the following.  Living a Smile From The Inside life is about hope, love, inspiration, and it's about being in gratitude.  This blog also happens to be about me and sometimes I do crazy or unique things which I want to share with you.  It's a commentary on how I live my life and how well I handle certain situations.  It's been a riot, don't you think?

Lastly, I would like to point out that if we all asked our grandparents and great-grand parents (if they are still around) whether they had either witnessed a slaughter or slaughtered a chicken in their day, I bet the answer would be a resounding yes.  Further, if you leave the country and travel to anywhere south of Texas, and asked that same question, they would simply laugh...and say, "You Americans!!!"  In fact, they would probably be curious as to "how" you slaughtered the chicken, right?


Step 1:  Prepare
Step 2:  Slaughter
Step 3:  De-Plume Your Chicken

Secure some strong rope and hang it from a tree or strong tree branch.  The rope serves so you can tie up the chicken while removing all of her feathers.  Prior to tying the chicken up by just one leg, dip the hen in the HUGE pot of scolding hot water.  Be careful not to burn yourself, but you need to make sure the entire chicken is submerged and absorbs water everywhere.  You might think this easy -- not the case.  From there, you just start plucking.  It feels weird at first, but you'll get used to it right quick.  The last and very important step is, after you have de-plumed your entire chicken, you must singe the skin for random feathers/hairs.  Trust me, that are not tasty at all.  You can use a creme-bruler torch.  That's what we used.  :)





Step 4:  De-Gut your Chicken
This part, although you would think to be disgusting and nasty, was actually informative and captivating.  Adam, for those that don't know, is a physician.  Therefore, as he was dissecting the incredible "Butterball," he was explaining the anatomy and physiology of the bird, with an insane amount of detail, AND he was also spouting what I can only refer to as a comparative analysis between the human species, bird species, and transient beings at large.  It was very very cool.  Even though he had only watched the video of how to remove the entire digestive track in one "fowl" swoop (pun intended), he was a pro!  Be gentle with your chicken's insides.  You don't want a mess and you don't want anything to spill on any of the "good/edible" parts.  The goal is remove their innards all at once.  Good luck!

Step 5:  Clean/Prepare your Chicken for Dinner

After the de-pluming and the de-gutting, it was now time to clean off the bird.  She was a mess at this point.  To me, at this point, she now appeared to be a small whole organic chicken that you would purchase at Whole Foods.  I washed her in lukewarm water for about ten minutes.  It doesn't necessarily need to be that long, but I felt she was really really dirty.  We had purchased another organic chicken from Whole Foods, which was indeed thrice her size, which makes me really wonder what the hell they are injecting into those hens.  Anyway...I followed a recipe by Martha Stewart -- her Double Roasted Chicken.  Basically, coat the inside and outside with loads of organic butter, use salt and pepper sparingly, and every herb you can find in your herb garden, which was precisely what we did.  



In addition, I made my own stuffing from scratch and enthusiastically stuffed "Butterball," as well as the other organic steroidal-induced chicken.  Wouldn't you know there was even enough to make a blanket between both chickens inside the pan itself.  It turned out delicious!  The key to an amazing stuffing is securing day old French bread, cutting the whole loaf into small cubes, and then toasting them for about 5-7 minutes in the oven.  Add onions, celery, carrots, raisins (if you like 'em...i don't), turnips, and sweet potatoes, along with a bunch of herbs, some butter, garlic, salt and pepper...and voila.  There you have it!

Lastly, don't forget to invite some fabulous friends, make some fabulous dishes, and ENJOY.  Since we are gay and do things a little bit fancier than others, don't be afraid to ask your fab guests to bring specific wines, Astis, or whatever you so desire to have in your house for next time or a special occasion.  In all honesty, it was a bit challenging to eat "Butterball," but her meat was delicious!  I just couldn't eat her skin, but Maggie, was more than willing to eat any and all parts of her.

THE END.  Okay.  Now, I'll stop with the chicken slaughtering.  You have my word.


FINAL THOUGHTS:
1)  I cannot tell you what a sigh of relief I feel now that Obama has been re-elected.  Now, I just hope he gets a TON done.  Can I get an Amen up in here???
2)  P.S.  I have only had chicken about three to four times since that frightful day, and it's official, I can no longer eat chicken skin.  For whatever reason that may be, I just cannot do it.
3)  Keep your fingers crossed...there are some good opportunities on the horizon for me!!!
4)  Update on my manuscript, How I Learned To Smile From The Inside.  It's going well!  Working on last and final edits in the up-coming week.  I am preparing my soundbytes and my PR-ready questions.  It looks like it could be available within the next six weeks.
5)  I wanted to take a moment to thank each and every one of you for sticking with me and my blog.  I am proud to report that since February 15 (essentially), i have had over 7,500 unique hits.  (Who knows what that really means?)...but it sounds great, right?  Doesn't it?  Thanks to you all!
6)  I cannot wait for next week.  Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday EVER!


ButterBall is on the right

A Smile From The Inside Production  :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

HOW TO SLAUGHTER YOUR CHICKEN -- PART ONE


ButterBall's Last Supper

I don't know where to begin.  If you are a little queezy, then you probably shouldn't read this particular blog.  It's okay...i won't be offended.  I will try NOT to be too graphic, but some things need to be explained.  Here is the story.

In Preparation for this momentous occasion.  First, you need to purchase the chicken.  Adam bought our lucious "Butterball" from GreenFireFarms.  Check it out!  They also sell amazing and rare hens.  Second, you must raise the chicken.  Word of caution: Don't name or touch the chicken.  We named our hen "ButterBall" as we knew that would ultimately denote her unblessed but not ungrateful fate.  I believe that I touched her four times in her 100 days with us.  Two times just to see how soft she was; the night prior to the slaughter for a practice run; and finally for her last two minutes of life.

Continuing In Preparation:  It is recommended for the last two weeks of their life, you enclose them in a small coop/area where pretty much all they can do is eat, shit, and sleep.  During these two weeks, you feed her whole cow's milk every day and lots of chicken feed -- in essence, all in the effort to lavish her with grapes and wine like 15th century Medieval European royalty.  Hopefully, at the end of the two weeks, you have fattened the hen up as much as possible.  It kinda-sorta worked.

What We Didn't Expect:  Life always gets in the way.  It just so happens that our pipeline to the city sewerage system decided to back-up and overflow in our backyard not five days prior to our sacrificial event.  For days we had endured smells, gurgles, and other excrement nonsense in fears that we would have to call the plumber.  Finally, we broke down, and with our landlady's permission, they came to our house.  Instinctively, I knew there was something wrong and it could be a much bigger deal.  I was right.  It turns out that we needed a whole new set of pipes.  The plumbers were awesome.  It turned out that we had a great super uber-gay friendly straight plumber who was incredibly intrigued by the idea of the sacrifice.  So much so, in fact, that he asked if he could invite his photographer friend for the sacrifice at 2pm.  Yes, this is my life!!!

Right before the sacrifice, he advised that our landlady would need to come to the house the following day to inspect the situation and make some major decisions with regard to our current sewage debaucle.  Only issue was, we were not certain if she knew we had hens in our backyard, let alone the two amazing and incredible Vinnie and Trixie Van Goat.  Needless to say, we were scared shitless about what might transpire the following day.  More to come...

There are FIVE steps to slaughtering and preparing your chicken:
Step One:  Set Up Your Three Stations: Killing; De-Pluming; and De-Gutting
Step Two:  Slaughter / Sacrifice the Chicken
Step Three:  De-Plume Your Chicken
Step Four:  De-Gut Your Chicken
Step Five:  Prepare Your Chicken for Dinner

Step One:  Set up your three stations:  Your Killing Station; your De-Pluming station; and your De-Gutting station.  The Killing Station consists of a firm chair/seat, a very very sharp knife, some candles (for ambiance), and a couple of plastic trash bags.   For the De-Pluming station, you need strong rope, a tree or strong tree branch, a pot large enough to submerge the entire chicken, and some plastic bags to trash all the feathers.  In the De-Gutting station, make sure you have two very sharp knives, a table/platform (standard height), a roll of paper towels, more plastic trash bags, a flat sheet-pan to de-gut the chicken, and a deeper pan to house the insides you want to keep.

Step Two:  Slaughter / Sacrifice the Chicken
It wasn't that easy, but it wasn't that hard either.  To be honest, I needed to take about two shots of Southern Comfort (with apple juice chasers -- if you haven't tried it, it's incredible!).  Thanks Danielle for your support in that.  I was nervous, I'm not gonna lie.  Even with the alcohol piercing through my veins, I had no idea what to expect.  We had watched an incredible chicken lady do her respectful rendition of a slaughter about ten to fifteen times prior to embarking on our own sacrificial endeavor.  (Click here for that link! -- She's really cooky!)  Anyway...because I was anthropomorphizing our hen so, even speaking about "Butterball" in therapy, we allowed "Butterball" to have one last night of freedom.  Free of the coop.  Freedom to walk the earth.  One more day.  :(

I want to mention that during our practice run the night prior to the elicit affair, as she was in between my knees and I was feeling her carotid artery and massaging it,  I swear there was a moment when she closed her eyes and it was as if she had resigned to die.  She just knew.  Of course that could be me being silly or it could be the intuitive side of me.  Who knows?  Either way, at that moment, I knew it would all be okay.  She was ready.  Was I ready was a-whole-nother situation?  I was shaking when Danielle, our restauranteer friend, handed me Butterball.  (Just an aside, Danielle (and a lovely young lady named Jennifer, own this incredible casual wine bar Vintage Enoteca in West Hollywood, just up the street from our house.  It is absolutely incredible and our neighborhood place.  Check it out.)

My favorite line from the day was when Adam asked me if I wanted to put on shorts.  My response:  "No, I want these to be my slaughter-pants."  And now, they are just that.  It reminds me of my favorite scene from My Cousin Vinny where Joe Pesci asks Marisa Tomei what type of pants he should wear to go huntin'.  Her response is hilarious!  Watch it!  It's one of the all-time funniest lines in a comedy, Ever.

I'll tell it to you straight and fast.  It was quite a scene.  Justin, the plumber was watching, in his plumbing outfit.  Frank, the photographer was there.  I placed Butterball between my knees and squeezed tight.  The tighter the better and the more she calmed down.  Butterball's feet were to the right side of my legs and Danielle was on feet patrol.  Adam was hovered around to help hold her down as she would squrim from time to time.  We quickly gave thanks to the 10,000 chickens we have eaten prior to Butterball and the 20,000 chickens we will consume after her.  I started to massage the area right below her little beak.  Everyone was telling me to take my time, but I just wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible.

I waited for Butterball to relax a bit (ten seconds or so), and waited for her to close her eyes.  I gently sliced into her as if I was cutting a stubborn piece of meat.  She squirmed a bit.  Be prepared.  Blood started to drain and then started to spurt everywhere, so please make sure you clear an area of about 5' by 5'.  Adam explained to me that as the blood drains, she grows weaker and weaker and basically just goes to sleep.  After about thirty seconds of letting her bleed out, in one three second motion, I quickly snapped her neck back over my thumb and pulled off her head as if I had done it one hundred times before.  Believe me, I wanted to get over it quickly.  And just like that, it was done.  It was messy.

I was fine up until that point.   As her little head lay about two feet away from the rest of her body, still in between my legs, her head was still moving.  Her eyes were opening and closing and her tongue/beak/mouth acted as if she was struggling for air.  Of course she was, I had just ripped off her head from her body.  LOL.  It was in that instant that I went into shock.  It's hard for me to describe.  Not because I don't have the words, but just because it makes me re-live the event over again.  All I have to say is prepare yourself for the spontaneous nerve convulsions to last anywhere from three minutes to about ten minutes.  I kid you not!  In disbelief that she was dead, I kept asking those around me if she were dead.  I was traumatized for a bit.  I just sat there.  Blood covering my hands, my feet, and all around.  I couldn't escape it...and oh yeah, I had just killed a chicken with my bare hands.  This  whole situation can best be described in the photo below.

Things you should know:
1)  Your hands will be covered in blood.
2)  Blood is much brighter than the movies.
3)  Take your time and breathe deeply.
4) Blood is HARD to clean up...as we all know from Dexter.  (Check it out -- the final season!).
5)  Thanks to Ciara for the incredible hen collage...the first picture!!!

To Be Continued...




FINAL THOUGHTS:
1)  By the end of this week, I should be able to give everyone a new available date for my upcoming book, How I Learned to Smile From The Inside?  I cannot wait!!!
2)  As much as I have enjoyed my first week of filing and scanning, hopefully this week, there are some new opportunities on their way.  Thank God!  Thanks, Kristin!
3)  Thanks to Justin, the great Plumber, and Frank Dorosy, for the fabulous shots.
4)  Stay tuned for more about our landlady.  Did she discover we had chickens?  Vinnie & Trixie?  Pigs, Goats, and Chickens, Oh My!
5)  If you understand the quote below, please let me know.  If you are part of the google group, kindly forward me an email directly at sethsantoro@mac.com.  Thanks all!


Sincerely yours,
Seth (a/k/a the Chicken Slayer)



"It is better to be the head of chicken than the rear end of an ox” - Japanese Proverb




A Smile From The Inside Production  :)