“The American poultry industry had made it possible to grow a fine-looking fryer in record time and sell it at a reasonable price, but no one mentioned that the result usually tasted like the stuffing inside of a teddy bear.”
—Julia Child, My Life in France
We’re no Henny Penny! The lowly chicken is humble no more after undergoing the Triple Take treatment. In this issue we highlight chicken preparations with assistance from home cook Cristin Shelby of Shelby & Ross Produce, Tallgrass Prairie Table and, of course, from Team Edible Tulsa.
The Home Cook
Cristin Shelby of Shelby & Ross Produce is married to fourth-generation Webbers Falls farmer Bill Shelby. The farm began pre-statehood in 1902 when Bill’s great-grandfather, Andrew Ross, was given a small acreage through the Cherokee Nation allotment. It is currently farmed by three generations including Bill’s grandfather, Robert Ross Sr.; his uncle, Bob Ross Jr.; and Bill himself. Today, the original farm has grown to 1,800 acres with up to 250 acres devoted to fresh market produce each year.
Cristin, a Tulsa native, graduated from Bishop Kelley High School and with honors from Oklahoma State University, in international business. Bill met Cristin at OSU while earning a degree in agribusiness and finance. Upon graduation, they married and moved to Australia for 13 months while Bill earned a master’s in accounting and entrepreneurship from the University of Sydney. Cristin says Australia is where she really learned to cook. She says although she “grew up eating casseroles,” she and Bill traveled around Australia visiting produce farms and even wagyu beef operations. “Bill and I loved the food in Australia. We bought different fresh seafood from the market every Friday and would research how to prepare it!”
Cristin says that although she’s trying to get better at cooking “country” food, she makes a mean chicken and dumplings. She prefers to cook with mostly fresh ingredients and doesn’t “do many sauces or heavy dishes.”
Look for Cristin and Bill at the Cherry Street Farmers’ Market most Saturdays throughout the market season, where they’ll be selling watermelons, cantaloupes, sweet corn and pumpkins. In many years, it’s not uncommon to have watermelons and pumpkins sold alongside each other although this year has been a short watermelon season.
“This is our ninth year selling produce at the Cherry Street market,” Cristin says. “We love it! There is something incredible about growing food and handing it to the person who will eat it! We take a lot of pride in what we do and we love sharing our produce with people who love good food.”
Cristin, who “happily answers to Corn Lady and Watermelon Lady,” inspires us to get ready for pumpkin season and to ask them about roasting pumpkin along with your chicken, onions and potatoes. Cristin and Bill live in Muskogee with their three children Eli, Kate and Claire.