Saturday 31 August 2013

Are The Chickens Pulling My Leg?

Here are the eggs I gathered. ~

The middle one is my usual extra large size that the girls regularly give me.

The one on the far left is almost the size of goose egg!  Now who could have laid that monster?  Gertie is a regular as rain layer of normal eggs.  It's her job and she gets it done with very little fuss and bother.

But, I must confess I have been covering up for Dizzy Lizzy.  She's never been known to lay an egg since she came here and my sister doesn't think she ever did when she lived at her house.  She was just a kind of cranky, none too bright, doesn't earn her keep chicken.

After the two new hens moved in, she must have been feeling the pressure.  Yup, she laid that behemoth egg and she's been laying one that big ever since. ~

I never did find out who laid this sorry offering. ~

These little, yolkless efforts are often called fart eggs.  Hey, I didn't make the term up!  Since a chicken has several eggs in various states of development inside her, these unformed ones sometimes slip through. Or out, as the case may be.

The huge egg won't fit in a regular egg cup.~

I have to be a little inventive with this one.  A candle holder, maybe?

The chicken world is a great mirror of our own lives.  There are overachievers and underachievers, steady as a rock reliable ones and some that only perform well under pressure.  To be honest, I belong to the last category, so I should be a little kinder to poor Dizzy Lizzy.

Stay tuned to find out all about chicken PMS!

Friday 23 August 2013

Do You Want To Make Butter?

My 13 year old niece came to spend a week with me.  She spends a week or two here every summer while her parents are working.  Of course at thirteen, she doesn't need to be babysat any more and it was a pleasant surprise to get a last minute request to have her here.

For the first time ever, there was a list of things she wasn't allowed to do.  She also came without any electronic gear.  I emailed her dad and asked if this was supposed to be some kind of boot camp and he said he just wanted her to get a different perspective on things.  "Can you expand on that a little?".  "I don't want her to be one of those facebook brats."  Yeah, 'cause I'm never on a computer here! LOL Anyway, on her last night here, she phoned her folks and told me her dad was disappointed that she hadn't made butter. Well, I've never made it either!  He reads my blog and may have thought I was going to send him back a little Amish girl instead of a regular teenager.

Do you want to make butter, facebook parolee?  Yes! ~

Alrighty then, we'll make butter at 10 pm, just as soon as I remember how I saw my mom do it in the seventies.

I have some organic cream in the fridge.  You need cream with a minimum of 35% butterfat. ~

I remember my mom using a blender but we went with a mix master.  The bowl was way too small and we got a liberal spray of buttermilk when it started to separate.  I find a food processor works best.  At least make sure you use a big enough bowl with your mix master! Pour the cream in and start mixing at medium speed. ~

At first you get whipped cream. ~

Keep mixing and it will separate into globules of butter and buttermilk. We've switched to a food processor here. ~

Pour the liquid off and keep it in the fridge for recipes requiring buttermilk.  About half the cream becomes butter and the rest is buttermilk.

Turn the butter out into a shallow bowl.  The closest I could come to my mom's real wooden butter bowl was a heavy plastic one I use to chop walnuts in.  It's not dirty, just stained from the nuts.  Use the back side of a wooden spoon to press the butter up against the bowl. ~

As you press, more buttermilk will be forced out.  Keep pressing and draining off the liquid.  This will take four or five minutes.  It's really easy when your niece is doing all the work and you are standing around taking pictures.  Hey, I'm not the delinquent teenager!

Now, you are ready for the ice water wash.  Put some ice cubes in a cup of water to chill it and pour about half the cup on the butter.  Smooth the back of the wooden spoon over the butter. You'll find the water will become cloudy.  Pour the liquid off and discard it.  ~

Add some more water and keep 'washing' the butter until the water runs clear.  This helps preserve your butter.  It usually only takes two washes to get it clear.

She did it!  She made butter. ~

At this point you can add some ground sea salt for flavour.  The reason salt is added to butter is as a preservative.  Add some finely minced garlic and you have garlic butter.  I've been playing around with various herbs as flavouring as well.  Organic herb butter is a big hit when you take it as a hostess gift!

I did a little research and found that butter from grass fed cows actually decreases your cholesterol levels. Yay!

She was pretty proud of herself and I do believe that kids have a much healthier attitude toward food when they see the process involved in making it.  It's worth doing at least once with your kids.

Then we had to take turns on my computer posting about what we had done on facebook.

Next time, send her with her electronics!  She's rehabilitated!

I'm sharing this with:  Real Food FridayFrom The Farm Blog HopFreaking Awesome FridaysParty JunkSilver Pennies SundaysClever Chicks Blog HopWhat's It Wednesday

Monday 12 August 2013

Rocks In Their Heads!

I'm quoting my Dad here.  Whenever someone did something he thought was just plain crazy he'd say, "They must have rocks in their heads".

Just before I started into my annual pickling season, I took a day trip to visit my daughter in Toronto.  We did a little shopping and I went into Williams Sonoma to totally rip off look at their design ideas.

Artfully scattered around the displays were these. ~

For $8.95 you could purchase a quart sealer.  Seriously?  And to think I was upset because a case of 12 had gone up to $6.99 at my local hardware store!  When did plain, old, clear sealers become high fashion home decor?  They aren't pretty colours, antique copies or zinc lidded.  They are just sealer jars.

If you need lids for those jars, you can get a package of 12 for $13.60.  Or, go to my hardware store and buy the same number for $3. ~

Now, if you want a crock to go along with the jars, you can have this one for $99.28.  It doesn't have a lid and you can buy the same plain Jane crock at a yard sale for a few bucks.  ~

I sincerely hope I'm not hurting anyone's feelings, but those are crazy prices just to have a little country feel in your kitchen.  Isn't that exactly the opposite of what country is all about?  I have visions of Gucci clad young professionals scooping these things up to add a homey feel to their designer lofts.

On the bright side, I've figured out how to make my fortune!  I'll dump the contents out and sell the jars! ~

Any buyers?

If you did buy those jars and can't think what to put in them, you can find my world famous (maybe not world but certainly village famous) garlic dill pickles here.

Then, you really should have those rocks removed from your head!

Wednesday 7 August 2013

I'm Old Fashioned

I was making relish today and listening to a tribute to Glen Miller.  As I lined up the filled jars on a tea towel, a Jerome Kern/Johnny Mercer written song came on. "I'm Old Fashioned" was written in 1942 and a hit in the soundtrack for You Were Never Lovelier. ~

I'd say old fashioned pretty much sums me up. ~

If you want to try my recipe for sweet, green relish click here. 

I'm old fashioned, I love the moonlight
I love the old fashioned things
The sound of rain upon a window pane
The starry song that April sings
This years fancies are passing fancies
But sighing sighs, holding hands
These my heart understands
(Jerome Kern & Johnny Mercer)

This time of year, when I start to harvest and store the gifts of the garden, I revel in the smell of vinegar, herbs and spices. ~

I'm transported back in time to the kitchens of grandmas, aunts and my own childhood home.  It's simple, honest and I can understand it.

When I was young and new to this house I almost pulled out a heritage rose bush.  It only bloomed for one short week a year and I knew nothing about heritage roses back then.

Nothing comes close to the scent from these vintage roses! ~

I'm old fashioned but I don't mind
That's how I want to be
As long as you agree
To stay old fashioned with me

Did you know that Rita Hayworth was one of Fred Astaire's favourite dancing partners?  She was born into a Flamenco dancing family and he said she danced with her whole body.

If you're feeling old fashioned today and want to see Rita and Fred dance and sing to I'm Old Fashioned you can see it here. ~

Saturday 3 August 2013

The Chickens Found Me

Yup, the chickens found out where I live.  They want to be with me ALL THE TIME!  That's because I'm totally awesome to fowl.  I have yummy food.  I break up their fights.  I save them from scary things like planes and motorcycles.

I was gazing out the back door at my peaceful yard when I saw this. ~

Not the arrow.  I edited that in so you would notice the chickens perched on the top of the eight foot high fence.  A white arrow floating in the trees would have been worthy of a separate post, don't you think?

They're taunting Gertie and Lizzie, calling them sissies. "You're too fat to fly!" ~

That's the two new girls, Kay and Molly, that I brought home the same day I picked up the kittens.

"You didn't think this little fence would keep us in here, did you?". ~

Actually, Kay, I did think it would.  It's for your safety.

Okay, I can live with them digging up the potato plants. ~

They also dug up the new grass I planted to fill in an old fire pit.  They like to take dirt baths there.  Hmmm - what to do about this eyesore?

I'll pretend it is supposed to be there.  Paint up a little sign and designate this a chicken spa area. It sounds so much better in French! ~

I feel much better about it! ~

Now, what should I designate this area of the rose garden as? ~

My favourite part of all this chicken freedom is finding them following me down the sidewalk on the way to visit my neighbour.  Nothing looks as chic as a chicken entourage!