Making Chop is a big job. And the bigger the batch, the more work it is. That is unless you share the labor. Making a large batch of Chop is a more efficient and easier way to feed your birds over the long term and it is no issue storing it because it freezes so well if you ensure it is fairly dry when you freeze it.
A great solution to this problem is to share the work, the cost and the Chop. It’s more fun to get together with a group of people and make a large batch to share.
I call them “Chop Parties.”
I once presented at a fundraising event for Florida Parrot Rescue (FPR) where a group of people got together and made about 250 pounds of Chop. We called the event "Chopalooza," and it was a huge success. The Chop was given to attendees who got some of the Chop for a donation to Florida Parrot Rescue. Rebecca Stockslager and Bonnie Grafton, hosted the event at their bird supply store that is now called Noah’s Bird Nest. That day the Chop, along with other events and a raffle raised over ten thousand dollars for the rescue. We were pretty proud and FPR was thrilled with the results. The funds we raised went a long way in helping Florida Parrot Rescue pay for veterinarian bills, food, toys and in promoting the fine work that they do. Parrot rescue, adoption and placement is an enormous undertaking and the selfless work these people do is amazing.
This activity is a natural for any bird club or fund raising event.
It's a group activity and people can learn so much by actually participating in helping to make it. The American Federation Of Aviculture and I designed what they called "The Iron Chop Competition" This contest was a takeoff on the television show. "Iron Chef." It was a huge hit at two of their conferences and people were happy to have guidance from others who knew how to make it while participating with others that were seasoned pros in making Chop.
Here are some suggestions for hosting one of these events for making your Chop Party more fun and more productive.
Create Shopping Lists
Make a master list of all of the ingredients including those that need to be cooked prior to use. Assign the lists and make sure all attendees wash and dry the produce as well as coming to the party with the pre-cooked items already prepared. If you are being strict about sharing the cost, ask that the attendees keep all receipts. If you like, the host can cook all the items the night before and simply have attendees bring the produce. Don’t forget to buy zip-lock and gallon-sized bags with printed label spaces on the bags for packaging the Chop. When you invite people to participate, remind them they can bring a cooler or insulated bag with them to transport their bags of Chop in order to keep it cool until they arrive back home.
Don’t Forget The Tools
Have everyone bring a sharp chef’s knife and a chopping board. If you are making a big batch, you might need more than one food processor. If you’re a bit persnickety about cleanliness, you can always place newspaper or butcher's paper over the floors and counters of your kitchen for easy cleanup. At the end of the day, simply roll up the newspapers and toss them into the trash.
Make sure your dishwasher is empty and ready to go to work. Use a large “Master Container” to dump all of the chopped ingredients. Rubbermaid storage bins work well for this use. Ensure your have Sharpie Markers to mark the gallon bags of Chop. Have some extra extension cords handy to plug in the processors.
Plan your party to include food and beverages. It can be as simple as ordering a pizza. You could provide a simple buffet of snacks or you could make a one pot meal like chili or stew and include some bread or rolls. Making Chop is hungry work! Beverages are up to you but beer, wine and soft drinks such as iced tea or coffee are nice to have on hand for those helping make the Chop. Some great music always makes things more fun.
Man Your Battle Stations!
Set up your workstations with a cutting board and knife, garbage bowl, rubber spatula and a food processor.
Test the processors before you get going. You might need extra extension cords. Have a bowl nearby to transfer the chopped product into the “Master Container” so you can throughly mix all of the product.
Divide people into teams: one person cuts the produce into pieces small enough to go into the food processor and the other person processes it. Or to make it even easier, pre-cut the vegetables into ready to process chunks.
Once the produce is chopped and all dry and cooked items are added, take turns mixing it.
If you’ve put down newspaper, cleaning up is pretty simple. Simply roll up all of the newspaper and toss it, wipe down the processors and wash out their bowls or put them in the dishwasher along with the bowls and utensils. Let the dishwasher run while you are bagging the Chop.
It’s In The Bag!
Once again, it’s a time for teamwork. Assign people as “scoopers,” “rollers” or “baggers.” The baggers, pull out the sandwich-sized bags and snap them open for the scoopers as well as stuffing the filled bags into the gallon bags and sealing them. The scoopers scoop the Chop into the bags and weigh them if you’re being precise. The rollers squeeze the air out of the bags and seal the zip seal. The filled gallon bags then go into a freezer or cooler until they are ready to be taken home by all attendees.
And You’re Done
That’s all there is to it. You now have as much Chop produced as you had planned for and maybe even more. You’ve had a great time, gotten together with friends and produced something wonderful, healthy and nutritious for all of your birds to share and eat. Chop parties are a great idea for a fun get-together with your friends with birds. Plan one today!