Saturday, June 22, 2013

Chicken Wings and Concrete things

Do you have critters in your yard? I’m not talking birds or bees or foxes or squirrels or, sigh, mosquitoes.  I’m talking little statues.   You may have a little girl on display in your flower garden or a dog placed under a tree marking the spot where your dear pet is buried.  Is there a clay bunny running across the grass or cement chickens like the ones around my mail box?

Our town allows us to raise chickens in city limits now. Maybe I will switch to the real thing.
I confess I am a fan of all sorts of concrete statues, from the religious shrines found along trails in Europe to the wolf mascots for our beloved NC State to the unexpected Yoda.   

The salesman and I had a long conversation about the philosophy of Yoda and the reason for the statue's popularity. 
 Folks may have inherited their statues and love from their grandparents in the country. Some may want to echo the gardens in Italy. Others just plain love kitsch.  I guess for me it is a bit of all the above.  I inherited a garden bench, fox, turtle and Japanese fountain from my mom.  I've seen lovely statues in gardens in France. I have preschool grandchildren I love to see smile. That explains my giant snail right there!

Got this from my mom. The grandchildren love to pat its head.
I created a gravel garden this week from a corner that doesn’t grow anything unless the plant is a survivor of the best kind.  But gravel gardens need more than a few hardy plants. They need focal points. I found a gold mine this week at J and C Garden Statues across from the Farmers Market.  Giraffes, elephants, moose, lions, bison, hippos.  I could create my own zoo for my grandchildren. There were trains, tractors, and trucks. There were also very poignant statues of Jesus and marvelous crosses.  Good sense prevailed.   Good taste, I think, prevailed and I found a couple of pieces for my gravel garden.

But there was one that gave me a good laugh and a craving for Buffalo wings.  Stay with me here.
The butler chicken's sign reads "Eat More Beef!" It was only a matter of time before the chickens rebelled!  

I am sure it wasn’t the butler chicken’s intent. After all, he is carrying a sign that says “eat more beef!” Maybe it was the giant chicken behind him with the giant limbs. But Buffalo wings were all I could think of this week while I worked in my garden! Hot and spicy, eat with your fingers, protein.

Before I share my recipe, I need to get this off my chest: Why didn't one of my friends tell me Buffalo chicken wing sauce is the simplest thing to make? My New York friends, especially. What a relief. Restaurant wing sauce is full of things that are bad for me like corn sweeteners and thickeners. But I love the hot sauce taste, the ritual of licking my fingers and cooling my mouth with blue cheese dressing, celery and carrots.  So like with everything else, I have been on a mission to create something that would taste good and not send me into anaphylactic shock.
I’ve experimented with different recipes of how to prepare the chicken wings and drummettes.  Now, I must admit I bake rather than fry my wings for health reasons but I make the sauce the way it should be made – with butter and Frank's Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce. Love that stuff. It sets your mouth on fire, clears out the sinuses and wakes you up! The NY crowd may know the history of the wings. I am just glad to have discovered Frank's. Simple list of ingredients. No xanthan gum and just the right tang. Mix it with butter, a few of my own spices and voila.  

Be warned. Most baked recipes that say they are healthier than fried have a load of salt in the mix. There is sodium in Frank's so I go light on the salt and focus on a few added spices.  Traditional recipes add cayenne and black pepper but Man O likes to eat without fear of eyes watering. Not manly to cry, ya know. 

Here is the recipe for my Toned Down and Healthied Up Buffalo Chicken Wings:

Two 1lbs drummettes and/or wings, coated in a bit of olive oil and baked at 400 degrees for 40-45 minutes. You can also put it on a rack to keep it out of the juices and make the skin crispier.

Take out of the oven and toss in a bowl with the Buffalo sauce you have already made of the following ingredients:

1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/4 cup hot pepper sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground celery seed or celery salt
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard or squirt yellow mustard
Salt, optional to taste.

(Again, if you like it hot as the middle of summer on an asphalt parking lot in NYC, sub back in the cayenne and black pepper, same amounts.)

Melt butter and mix in other ingredients. Drizzle over wings and drummettes. Serve with celery and carrot sticks accompanied by ranch and bleu cheese dressing.

It is easy, simple, and gives me more time in the garden.  But I'm having nightmares about that giant chicken chasing me down!



  1. looks good! not sure I can handle that kind of spicy though :-( I've never been too keen on statues - a friend of mine has some in her garden and they look good but whenever I've shopped for some it looks like a gigantic cemetery with all the stone :-( never can look through them and the benches made out of that stuff get HOT! of course here in Houston everything gets hot in the summer :-(

    1. I got sunburned there at the lot this time, Susanna. Yep, you have to use your imagination surrounded by all that concrete. Some of the stuff freaked me out. Other things were rather poignant.

  2. Oh, this looks delicious!! I never knew it was so easy! Now I have to try... just as soon as I replace the oven.
    I'm pretending it's not broken. I think we can all live on sandwiches an popsicles for a while.
    It seems too cruel that I have to shop for an appliance right after going through vehicle shopping. *clutches head*
    But your recipe is giving me incentive!

    1. Virginia, fyi one lb of drummettes is about six or seven of the little things. That is a lot of gnawing on bones for your family.

      Do you still cook on the cook top or is that separate? Shhhh, whispering, our oven is the last appliance to be replaced. If I could I would have a six burner monster.

  3. I am playing in the gardens this coming week after I'm back from retreat!!! I have a little window of time... and slave labor.

    1 + 1 = SUCCESS!!!!

    1. My kids complain I use the grandkidlets as free labor. But the four year old told me a better way to fill the cracks between the pavers on the patio so I let him have at it.

      And Ruthy, you are supposed to spill on REAL Buffalo wings.

  4. This recipe sounds great, Julie! My boys love spicy anything, and I think they'll really go for these.

    Me? I'm more of a honey/barbeque sauce type - but we can do both, right?

    Oh, and statues...I have none. They really don't move well. Or, not at all.

    But my great-grandfather had a concrete business during the depression. Made statues and grave markers out of concrete. He even made his own grave marker. The problem was that he used the poorest quality cement, and you can hardly read what it says anymore.

    But it fed the family, and that's what's important, right?

    1. I can't have a live corgi so I have to make do.

      Such an interesting story about your great-grandfather. Concrete fed the family and also provided a service for those folks who couldn't afford marble during the Depression.

      I have seen a ton of recipes where folks make two sauces or MORE. Bake the wings and then put them in separate bowls.

      Bet your boys want the original recipes with cayenne and black pepper.

  5. We love chicken wings! Yum! But I always get them mild because I am not a spicy-lovin' person.

    "Buffalo wings" -- not in western NY! Just call 'em wings, as in "Let's order pizza and wings". Or "chicken wings".

    It's mid-morning, I haven't yet eaten breakfast, and now I want wings. Gee, thanks, Julie. ;-)

    BTW, we have NO statues in our yard. However, I would kinda like a weeping angel, but, knowing my luck, someone in my family would keep moving it around, making me verrrry paranoid...

    1. Okay, Melanie, now you have me wondering about the regional nature of wings.

      And would you please explain the significance of the weeping angel? I am clueless when it comes to Dr. Who!

    2. The original appearance of the weeping angels is in Dr. Who, season 3, episode 11, with David Tennant as the Doctor. The episode is called "Blink".

      It's available for watching instantly on Netflix.

      But two warnings: don't watch the weeping angels episodes with Matt Smith (seasons 5 & 6). They ruined the premise.

      Second warning? Don't watch this episode alone. And don't watch it at night.

    3. I have instant download for Netflix. Now you have me wondering why people would want it in their garden at ALL!

  6. I get a new bottle of Red Hot every summer for my daughter-in-law. (yes she's from Buffalo)

  7. I never watched Dr. Who....

    I love angels. We had a coloring book of "Stained Glass Angels" last week and the older kids used fine point markers to make them... It's transparent paper, so the color bleeds through and they have that stained glass look when they're done. The kids had a great time with them and we got to talk about seraphim and cherubim... and how things aren't just words.

    Just wings, here. Proximity to Buffalo, maybe?

    And I love the country sweet ones, done with a mildly spiced sweet-n-sour sauce.

    I love your gardens, Julie!!!!!! Just love 'em to death!

    1. Has to be a geographic thing. When folks down here in NC label their crab cakes, Maryland style, I know something is a foot. NC has great blue crab cakes all on their own.

      We are looking at our front and back yards as "rooms" now and are redecorating. Unfortunately, we are laying down mulch only in some areas, like putting in new carpet.

      You would love my shrine, Ruthy. I just planted a fern garden there.

      Peace, Julie

  8. Oh yum!! I've never tried making wings but LOVE them! And I love Frank's. it's my favorite I'm omelets. I'll have to try this! Thanks for sharing, Julie.

    1. Missy, I have had hot sauce on scrambled eggs and loved it but never made the leap, until now. I am thinking Man O is afraid I will start putting Frank's on ice cream.

  9. Replies
    1. Thanks! But after watching the aforementioned Dr. Who episode, I am never, ever going to get a crying angel statue.

  10. Great recipe and so easy! Thanks for posting it. I love your statues. I don't have any, but they do give me some ideas!

    1. Just don't tell your hubby where you got the idea. I am being blamed for all sorts of garden projects these days.