Dithering. Many people wring their hands and can’t quite wrap their head around getting started making Chop. They worry. They put it off. They concern themselves with the details. They simply don’t know how to begin. Well, I guess you should begin at the beginning.
The easiest way to handle what appears to be a daunting prospect is to divide the workload into two days. Day one, you cook all of the grans, rice, pasta and beans. This makes things easier right from the get-go. Because on day two, you are simply adding to the cooked stuff by chopping all of the produce. If it feels easier, then it is easier. It doesn’t seem like such a huge proposition.
I didn’t do it that way my first few times around and it’s a long day. By dividing the workload into two days, it’s easier on your feet and your mind. Another positive about cooking the starches the day before and storing them in the fridge is that it keeps the vegetables chilly while you are chopping, mixing and bagging them.
I learned something else: You know how I put newspaper down on top of the grates in my Grey’s cages to keep things easier to clean? I do that to the counters of my kitchen now before I make Chop. Cover the whole damned thing with newspaper. All of it. Don’t worry about the floor; a quick sweep and a mop will take care of that. But it is so much easier to simply wad up the newspaper and toss it when you are through with the Chop. All your counters need is a quick going-over with a soapy cloth and you’re good as new.
You needn’t be afraid of making Chop simply because it seems like such a daunting task. Start small with just one each of a few vegetables, add some cooked quinoa and see how it goes over. Adjust your ingredients to their preferences and to their specific needs as you do more research on what that species requires. Here is one of my smaller batches from years ago:
It really looks more difficult than it is. And the payoff is wonderful. Do your cooking on day one and “Shop and Chop” on day two. The best part of day two is waking up and realizing that half your chop is already completed.
Dry ingredients at the bottom before adding chopped stuff.
I made about 220 portions of Chop this past weekend for my three Greys. It’s very likely not all of it will be going to my Greys, because I have a couple of friends that like it for their birds. But this batch came out really nicely, with a dark green, robust color with touches of red, orange and yellow. Because I used a lot of wheat grass in it, it has a rather shaggy appearance to it. The long strands were appealing to my birds when they taste tested it. I think it added texture and interest as well as the nutrition.
Pot #2 closeup before being added to the batch.
And when you’re shopping, you never know who you’re going to meet! Yes, I met my friend Barbara over at Whole foods in the pasta aisle!
I don’t know when I’ll have to make Chop again, but in all honesty, I don’t think I’ll have to pull that food processor out again until about February.
September 4, 2012 at 8:36 am
So I was thinking, you always seem to get people who ask what the ‘recipe’ for chop is. For regular cooks having no recipe is no problem but for neewbies or people who don’t consider themselves cooks this could be ‘scarry’. Not knowing if they have to much of this or not enough of that. Also, just WHAT they should (or shouldn’t) include can be scarry. They don’t want to put something that could hurt their babes in the pot. Point I’m trying to make: maybe you could come up with a ‘basic’ chop reciepe. Simple ingredients that can be found at a local grocery store or supercenter. Add a few ‘substitutions’ people can try. IMO, this may help some of thoes who WANT to make/try chop but just are too afraid because they don’t have instructions.
September 4, 2012 at 8:54 am
The problem with that is that it steps on my philosophy that I do not tell people what to feed their birds. Other people do it and I’m not thrilled with that approach.
There is no learning in that approach. I just don’t believe in it. I’ve been writing about it and have provided lists of possible ingredients. I’ve taken literally hundreds of photos, a multitude of videos, posted photos of both the process and the end result. I have dozens of posts about how I do it.
Angel, while I agree that it might be easier, I simply don’t know what kind of birds people have. And I just don’t want to be responsible for providing a recipe for someone else’s bird when I have no idea what kind it is.
While I understand that providing a recipe would be “easier,” it would also be a copout. What I have seen people make is amazing! And I think providing a “One size fits all” recipe would inhibit people from creating some absolutely beautiful batches of Chop.
September 4, 2012 at 9:19 am
Point taken =)
September 4, 2012 at 9:19 am
Just remember as far as veggies go use what is available and concentrate on a variety of things. With the grains and other ingredients again variety is the key. There are no set proportions and initially have more of what you know your bird will eat so the birds will try it rather than ignore it. And have a Chop party, get together with a friend or two will make the work much easier and you can divide the Chop. My friend Lynne and I made some at my bird club which went to members to try and local rescues, I had precooked the grains and in only about 1 hour we had about 3 gallons of Chop – not a lot if you have any large birds to feed but it was well over 100 bags.
September 4, 2012 at 9:37 am
That is one beautiful batch of Chop!
September 4, 2012 at 10:12 am
P, I’m telling you there is some kind of ESP thing going on between us! Just yesterday I was thinking about CHOP and forming in my mind an email to you to explain, tactfully, that even though you feel very secure in making CHOP there are some of us that have never purchased, cooked or eaten any or most of the items in most CHOP.
So the thought of me going to a grocery store and choosing these items that are as foreign to me as sushi (I don’t eat/cook any seafood) is too daunting! As much as I love my parrots and would do anything for them, I just can’t bring myself to try to tackle choosing, buying, cooking and mixing a correct CHOP. I know, I know, get over it!! But as you’ve thoughtfully stated above, “Many people wring their hands and can’t quite wrap their head around getting started making Chop. They worry. They put it off. They concern themselves with the details. They simply don’t know how to begin.” You were reading my mind… again!!!
As the wonderful writer that we know you are, when is the CHOP instructional book and guide coming out? Please hurry!!! I see it with chapters on different CHOP recipes for different species and why. Also, chapters on cooking and storing techniques, pots and utensils and options to try for those picky eaters like me… oh, I mean my parrots!
Thanks so much for understanding us non-chefs but get chopping on the book “CHOP – Save your Parrot and Your Sanity… meals made nutritiously easy”
September 4, 2012 at 4:02 pm
I’m going to second this. Putting together a “recipe book” of CHOP would be a marvelous idea. And no doubt you could get it published, Patricia.
September 4, 2012 at 10:16 am
I am SO thrilled to read that you added wheat grass to yours. I didn’t have the “recipe” when I made my first batch, just kind of went by my gut and common sense and I added wheat grass. It did get a little annoying because it did make my Chop so “hairy” looking but I know what a powerhouse nutrient wheatgrass is. I also added just a touch of spirulina.
Still trying to get one of my picky Greys to do more than ask me “wanna try it?” when I give her the Chop but I guess I will just have to keep working at it. I think I will have to add more grains to mine for her.
September 4, 2012 at 10:20 am
I’ve been making Chop for my flock of 12 for a couple years now and make it about once every 3 months. They LOVE it!!! And it makes feeding time much quicker & easier in the evening when I’m trying to feed my human family around the same time. Over time I’ve figured out what they like & don’t like in it. So it’s just a matter of starting out with small batches and seeing what your birds will eat.
September 4, 2012 at 10:52 am
I saw the bee pollen in one of the photos. 🙂
Also, I like the analogy you made the other day about making a salad. There is no recipe! You just look at what you have and what you/your flock healthfully likes to eat!
September 4, 2012 at 11:34 am
How about starting a small business of this? Why not package and market it to people like me who would be willing to buy fresh food for their birds. I see fresh foods for dogs and cats in the freezers in pet stores, but nothing for the birds. You know, a packaging material like the one tuna fish comes in. (Ready to eat in those nice little sealed bags).
With packaging and fast mailing (Amazon is introducing daily deliveries of products and groceries soon) it would be a great start.
Just a thought. I enjoy reading your blog posts. I have been a bird owner for only two years and I am loving every moment of it. I am taking tentative steps at making chop. I am introducing them to a couple of ingredients at a time and seeing which ones they like best. Then I am going to mix a batch with the ingredients that my birds like.
Thanks for doing this. I get a lot of insight and comfort from all the knowledge on this site.
September 4, 2012 at 12:45 pm
It would be so great if you would sell some chop…I’m in for buying some! My U2 is such a bad eater….she eats grains cooked soft, but is not a veggie or fruit eater : ( I am trying Higgins Worldly Cuisine and she likes it….but I would LOVE to try some chop either incorporated into her other food, or by itself…I wish she ate like Parker…he gets right in the bowl! She only does that for mashed potatoes!
September 4, 2012 at 1:24 pm
I also wish you would give a basic chop recipe. Have heard for years no quinoa, pasta or rice for parrots as they are ’empty carbs’ and cause digestive problems but you appear to use all three? Also what can be made and then frozen safely? Frozen cooked veggies turn to mush when thawed & my parrot won’t touch them. Have you considered just a ‘starter’ chop recipe that could be frozen? Then we could add our own fresh veggies. I really have no idea where to start so have not tried it….
September 4, 2012 at 2:09 pm
Quinoa is not an empty carb. It is considered the Mother of all grains and is one of the few foods that contains all 9 essential amino acids. I’d post more but this will give you an idea about quinoa, for starters!
Quinoa is high in protein and includes all the nine essential amino acids supplements. It is a popular choice for vegans, as it helps them take in the adequate amount of proteins, sometimes a tricky thing if you’re a vegan. It is gluten-free and a wonderful source of phosphorous, magnesium, zinc, copper and manganese. It contains vitamin B6, niacin and thiamine. It has lysine for building proteins in the body, and contains riboflavin (vitamin B2), an extremely important vitamin for producing energy.
And don’t worry, I’m writing a workbook on Chop!
February 20, 2013 at 5:55 pm
Hi, Patricia. My flock consists of my only child Oscar, a Senegal
. I need to buy small quantities and often hit the salad bar at Whole Food at about 11 am when everything is fresh and pristine. Frozen works well and I can use a half a bag and save the rest for the humans. The trick, as you have said countless times, is to make the system work for your individual situation.
February 28, 2013 at 2:14 pm
Its funny because 20 or so years ago I was doing a ” version ” of chop without knowing what it was, mind you I didn’t know about all the great ingredients you have been telling us about. The stuff I made was shredded carrots, broccoli, peas and bit of corn, brown rice, parsley and the birds loved it, now the chop I make is much healthier. Thank you Patricia for the information you share 🙂