Due to the popularity of this post and requests to repost, I’m reposting it!
Well, the “Chop” has hit the fan and it’s flying all over the place like feathers in a windstorm. I’ve gotten so many questions about it and it seems as if the concept is catching on. Terrific! Any more mail on this and I’m renaming this blog “The Chop Blog.”
If you have any more questions about it, feel free to let me know, but I’ll go over this as thoroughly as I can. “Chop” is a feeding concept. It is like you’re making two lasagnas and you cook one for dinner that night, and put the other in the freezer because you’ll be able to pull it out some evening when you don’t have time to cook. Or maybe your Aunt Ellen is coming over with her family. You know what a pain in the keester her family is. But you remember you already have the lasagna prepared in the freezer and all you have to do is slam it in the oven. It’s one less thing you have to worry about because her kids are little juvenile delinquents. They’ll tear up the house and try to flush the dog down the toilet if you don’t watch them every second, so who has time to cook a big meal? And Aunt Ellen doesn’t give a damn because she already knows where you keep the Scotch. So thank God for that lasagna lying in the freezer and aren’t you glad you took the time to make two?
My Mother used to buy a huge load of cooking apples in the fall, (usually green Granny Smith apples) and then she would make dozens of apple pies. She wouldn’t bake them, she would simply cover the unbaked pies with aluminum foil and place them in the freezer. Over the winter, we would have pies to take out of the freezer, bake and my family would have hot, fresh-baked pie all winter. This is one of the reasons why I don’t eat much pie now. I ate so much damned apple pie when I was a kid, I got tired of it. I think the only reason she never made cakes was because she couldn’t freeze them. Her apple pie was considered the quintessential home made pie and it was worshipped far and wide. I was simply tired of it. “Oh good God, no. Apple pie again?” I know, I know. But I digress…
Well, “Chop” is based on the same idea. If you’ve ever heard of “Once-a-month-cooking”, or “OAMC” as it’s called, making chop is the same thing. You are making a HUGE batch of a fresh and frozen vegetable mix for your birds and then packaging it up in baggies or plastic containers in an amount that will feed ALL your birds for one meal. My baggies contain about 6 tablespoons of chop. Each bird gets about two tablespoons for breakfast along with other various items. (Nyla gets more because she is a complete and utter hog.) You simply take out two baggies the night before you are going to serve them; one for breakfast, one for dinner and let them thaw overnight in the fridge. The next day they’re ready to rock and serve up to your little dudes. This lowers the daily “PITA factor” (pain in the ass factor) in your daily routine. “Chop” can consist of absolutely anything that is good for your birds. But the base is primarily fresh and frozen vegetables which is what the little feathered gangsters should be eating anyway.
I have to point out that for once in your life there is a concept that is not about the birds, it’s about you and the time you have to take care of them properly on a daily basis. You don’t have to cut corners with chop because you ran out of time or your kid is throwing up all over the brand new carpeting, and isn’t it unfortunate that he had Hawaiian Punch and fruit loops for breakfast? So you have a mess on your hands that you need to clean up before you end up with a “Jackson Pollock” splatter effect on the dining room floor and you have to get him to a doctor. Just open the fridge, grab the bag of “chop,” toss it in their bowls and run the kid to the clinic. The birds still get a healthy meal and it didn’t take any time at all. So I guess it really IS about the birds again. (You know, they do tend to rule the household, don’t they?)
In the day-to-day, “Chop” is easy, fast, convenient and consistently good for your guys. It is as good as the stuff you put in it. The trick is to take the initial time to make a big batch of it, bag it, freeze it and you’re off the hook for as long as it lasts. If I had a chest freezer, I’d probably make about five gallons of the stuff and only have to make it about twice a year. It’s easier if you have a few people to get together with and make it. It’s more fun that way and there are extra sets of hands to snap open the baggies while you’re filling them and someone else can refresh the cocktails. When you’re done, and it’s in the freezer, it looks like this:
Now people have inquired as to what I put in it. EVERYTHING! I use bags of frozen mixed vegetables without any sauce. Fresh vegetables go in there as well. The last batch I made had the following fresh items in it: dandelion greens, beet greens, carrots, celery, and jalapeno peppers. The frozen vegetables it contained were mixed bags of vegetables containing asparagus, broccoli, corn, carrots, cauliflower, squash, zucchini, peas, green beans, snow peas, red peppers, green peppers, yellow peppers, chopped kale, lima beans, wax beans and a whole peeled yam. All of this gets cut up a bit if necessary and thrown into a food processor. Chop it to the consistency your birds prefer and throw in a big bowl, (or in my case this time, a big-ass stock pot. The recipe got a little out of hand and the amount just kept getting bigger, so I resorted to the stock pot.)
I threw in a little bit of seed, about three tablespoons each of flax seed, hemp seed and rape seed. I put in a couple of cups of uncooked dry oatmeal. I added about two cups of cooked quinoa, and two cups of cooked brown rice. I also cooked up and added about two cups of cooked, whole-grain, “fancy-schmancy” corkscrew vegetable pasta because I was in a squirrely mood when I was at Whole Foods and thought they’d get a kick out of the shape and color. I cooked up some spelt and that went in. I threw in about a tablespoon of celery seed and a good shot of dried pepper flakes, probably two or three tablespoons.
Higgins makes a product called “Snack Attack Leafy Greens and Herbs”. It is a dried green product that looks like orgeano or any dried herb which is essentially what it is. It contains alfalfa petals, basil leaves, bee pollen, chamomile, chives, leeks, parsley flakes, rosemary and cinnamon powder. I threw in about a half a bag of that. Sometimes I add whole cranberries that I buy in season and freeze. Sometimes I add fresh radishes for flavor and color. I also add dried unsweetened coconut, about a cup or so.
This flipping batch got so big I had to pull out the big guns and use my stock pot to mix it up in. It was like “The Blob”; it just kept growing and growing:
When I was done bagging it up, I had 75 baggies containing one serving for each of my Greys for one meal. That’s over a month of meals where I don’t have to stand over a chopping block every damned day cutting up vegetables for my birds. I couldn’t be happier and the birds eat this stuff like it was their last meal.
As I’ve said before, it’s quite versatile: You can put it in bird bread, mix it in with scrambled eggs for them, (don’t forget to save one of the shells, crush it up and add to the mix…It’s great calcium!) and you can put damned near anything in there that they like and even don’t like, because they’re going to end up eating it. You can spice it with herbs, you can add milk thistle seed, throw pureed squash over it, or cook it in rice pancakes for them. I’m thinking about making some kind of “birdy biscuit” with it. The possibilities are endless with this stuff.
I just counted the number of different items in this batch of chop, and if I’m not mistaken, there are 39 different items in this batch. That’s a lot of different stuff that they can get nutrition from. It makes me happy to know that not only are they getting a wide variety of different foods to benefit from, but I’m not tied to a chopping board every day.
Now you know how to make “Chop”. What I want to know is: What are you going to do with all of that free time on your hands? I don’t know what you’re going to do, but I have a suggestion! How about sitting down and watching a nice video? : Good Bird!