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Monday, January 30, 2012

Nesting Box Herbs - Chicken Aromatherapy



Presumably you have been following my blog and have already decided to grow the chickens their own herb garden in order to brew herbal tea for them. Well, here's another way to put the herbs and flowers to good use - in your nesting boxes and coop. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Basic Baby Chick Care



So...you've done your research into how many chickens you are allowed in your area, you've chosen the breeds you want to raise, maybe even placed your order for day old chicks due in the spring or checked with your local feed store about when chicks will be available.  Now what?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Creme Brulee Three Ways


A creme brulee recipe was first published in Fran├žois Massialot's cookbook,“Cuisinier Roial et Bourgeois” (Royal and Borgeoise Cooking) in 1691 and literally means 'burnt cream'. This classic dessert is one of my favorites and often appears on restaurant dessert menus, but it's easy to make at home - and made at home with fresh eggs rivals any that I have had at any restaurant.

Here is the classic recipe and also two delicious variations:  coffee-brandy and bananas foster.  All three recipes use the same basic recipe and techniques.   A handheld kitchen torch makes the bruleeing easier, but you can also broil your custards in the oven if you don't have a torch.

 Classic Creme Brulee

(makes 2)


1-1/2 Cups Heavy Cream
1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
4 Egg Yolks, whisked to blend
1 teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste
2 T Brown Sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place two 3/4-Cup round or oval ramekins in a baking pan and set aside.  Heat water to a boil in a teakettle. Combine cream and granulated sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat and gradually whisk in egg yolks and vanilla.  Strain and divide into the ramekins.  Pour enough boiling water into pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake for 30 minutes (centers will move slightly when gently shaken). Carefully remove ramekins from water bath, cool, then cover with plastic wrap and chill for three hours or overnight.  
 

When ready to serve, pat a thin layer of brown sugar over top, then broil or torch until sugar melts and bubbles. 


  Let cool just until topping hardens and serve.
______________________________

Coffee Brandy Creme Brulee 
(makes 2)


1-1/2 Cups Heavy Cream
2T Granulated Sugar
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee crystals
4 Egg Yolks, whisked to blend
1 teaspoon brandy
1/4 teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste
2 T Brown Sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place two 3/4-Cup round or oval ramekins in a baking pan and set aside.  Heat water to a boil in a teakettle. Combine cream and granulated sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat, add coffee and gradually whisk in egg yolks, brandy and vanilla.  Strain and divide into the ramekins.  Pour enough boiling water into pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake for 30 minutes (centers will move slightly when gently shaken). Carefully remove ramekins from water bath, cool, then cover with plastic wrap and chill for three hours or overnight.  
When ready to serve, pat a thin layer of brown sugar over top, then broil or torch until sugar melts and bubbles.  Let cool just until topping hardens and serve.
______________________________

Bananas Foster Creme Brulee
(makes 2)

1-1/2 Cups Heavy Cream
2T Granulated Sugar
4 Egg Yolks, whisked to blend
1/4 teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste
2 teaspons Dark Rum
1 teaspoon Banana Liqueur
1 small  Banana, thinly sliced
2T Brown Sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place two 3/4-Cup round or oval ramekins in a baking pan and set aside.  Heat water to a boil in a teakettle. Combine cream, milk and 2T granulated sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat and gradually whisk in egg yolks, vanilla, rum and banana liqueur.  Strain and divide into the ramekins.  Pour enough boiling water into pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake for 30 minutes (centers will move slightly when gently shaken). Carefully remove ramekins from water bath, cool, then cover with plastic wrap and chill for three hours or overnight.  

When ready to serve, remove ramekins from refrigerator and let stand for 20 minutes.  Arrange banana slices over custard.  

Pat a thin layer of brown sugar over top, then broil or torch until sugar melts and bubbles.  Let cool just until topping hardens and serve.

~Recipes adapted from Bon Appetit magazine~


This post is featured at Katie's French Language Cafe.
Shared with: Walking on Sunshine, Mandatory Mooch 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

So You've Got a Broody Hen - How to Break Broodiness in Chickens


A broody hen can be a godsend if you are trying to hatch chicks.  No worries about incubators, brooder boxes or heat lamps...the hen will take care of it all.  

Sunday, January 22, 2012

DIY Make your own Feed Bag Market Tote Tutorial


Feed bags are made of incredibly sturdy material and come in all sorts of pretty colors and patterns and it's a shame to just throw them out. Some communities are banning plastic grocery bags, others are taking a few cents off your grocery bill for each tote bag you use, but even if you live in an area that doesn't give an incentive to use a reusable tote bag, its still an in expensive, easy, eco-friendly way to help save the environment.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Scratch - A Homemade Winter Treat for Chickens


If you have ever fed your chickens scratch then you know that it's like crack for them. They scramble around pecking it up as fast as they can, fighting and scratching for each last piece. It's like crack for chickens. Not nutritious, but a great cold weather energy source for the chickens and they love it! I toss a scoopful into the run each afternoon in the winter a few hours before dark.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bathing Beauties - Why Dust Baths are So Important for Chickens


Dust baths are a chicken's way of keeping clean. The fine sand or dust keeps their feathers clean and helps them stay free of mites, lice and other parasites. You can help make bathing easy for your chickens by finding a nice dry spot in the run where there is fine dirt or sand and adding some fireplace ash, food-grade diatomaceous earth and dried herbs.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

It's All About the Eggs

Eggs make such wonderful subjects ! They cooperate, they stay where you pose them, no worries about blurry photos, and they are so beautiful !

Here are some of my favorite egg photos from the facebook page this past year.



                                       
  





















                                                 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Have a Surplus of Eggs? Try Freezing 'Em


Egg laying natural slows at various times of the year due to the heat, shorter days, molting etc.  [Read more here...] But if you plan ahead and freeze some of your eggs when they are plentiful, you won't end up having to resort to buying store bought (icky) eggs.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Secret to Easily to Peel Fresh Hard Boiled Eggs: Steam Them


I love hard-cooked eggs.  I like to keep a container of them in the fridge and like to pop one in my mouth for a quick, nutritious snack.

The one downside to fresh eggs is how hard they are to peel.  Everyone says 'just mark some and put them aside for a few weeks and then they'll peel fine'. Well, to me, that defeats the purpose of raising chickens for the fresh eggs if you're just going to let them sit around and get old.  I was determined to figure out how to get perfectly peeled hard-cooked eggs.  I tried every method out there I think - with mixed results. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Weasels and Foxes and Hawks......Oh My !


Not long after you start keeping chickens, every predator in the neighborhood will have your coop on their radar.  One of the hardest things about keeping chickens is keeping them safe from predators, but if you can figure out what you're faced with, it can make trapping or otherwise dealing with them far easier.  This is clearly not a topic that is pleasant to think - or read - about but as a chicken keeper our responsibility is to keep our chickens safe. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

It's our One Year Anniversary !

Help FRESH EGGS DAILY Celebrate Our One Year Anniversary !



Hard to believe that this coming Monday will mark the one year anniversary of the inception of our facebook page Fresh Eggs Daily ! Almost 3,000 fellow chicken keepers strong, we certainly haven't changed the world, but I like to think that we have made the world a better place for many, many chickens - as they have done for us.  


We are also celebrating the launch of our new blog.  In just a few short weeks, it has already gotten more than 3,200 hits. 

To celebrate our milestones and thank all our fans, we will be giving away prizes for the remainder of the month including an egg apron, calendars, feed bag totes, window decals, art prints, chick cookie cutters, Chicken Poop Chapstick and more ! We also have an exciting grand prize that we will be announcing in a week or so!

In order to be eligible to win any of the prizes, all you have to do is:


1)  ‘Like’ our facebook page AND
2)  Join our blog. You can either click on the Follow button at the top of the blog home page or choose to get email blog posts by entering your email address.  


Winners will be chosen at random over the next two weeks from everyone who enters to win.

With your help we look forward to an exciting year ahead!

Suzanne, Lisa and Yvette
The Farm Chicks at Fresh Eggs Daily



Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Eggs Benedict ~ Heaven on a Plate


April 16th is Eggs Benedict Day. I had no idea such a day even existed until I did a quick Google search awhile back looking for recipes, but since I LOVE Eggs Benedict, I'm totally on board with them having their own day. 

I enjoy cooking a leisurely breakfast on Sunday mornings and there's nothing better than using fresh eggs collected that very morning. They are wonderful scrambled, over easy, fried, and as omelets...but if I had to choose just one way to eat eggs for the rest of my life, I would chose Benedict-style.

Nesting Box Curtains - Not as Frivolous as They May Seem


A few months after we started raising chickens back in the spring of 2009, I saw a coop with a valance over the row of nesting boxes in one of the myriad of chicken magazines I subscribe to.  I thought - what a cute idea. So I googled 'chicken nesting box curtains' and got over 140,000 hits!  Wow! Who knew such a thing even existed?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Herbal Tea for Two...or for the Whole Flock

"Polly, put the kettle on, we'll all have tea."
~ Charles Dickens~


One spring project you might want to put on your list is an herb garden for your chickens. I have a small section for herbs in my vegetable garden, you don't need a lot of room for them.

The chickens love to eat fresh parsley, basil, cilantro, mint, oregano and other herbs. Herbs contain lots of nutrients and since chickens can actually choose to direct nutrients towards themselves or to their eggs, the more nutrients they eat, the more excess they have to direct right into their eggs. 

In fact, oregano is supposed to combat coccidia, salmonella, infectious bronchitis, avian flue, blackhead and e-coli...I am definitely planting tons of oregano in our herb garden next year.

Any culinary herb is perfectly safe for chickens. For a list of herbs and their specific health benefits click HERE.


Another thing I like to do is to brew herbal tea for my chickens. (Just make sure it's served warm, never hot) They really seem to enjoy the warm tea on cold winter days and it gives them a welcome, and nutritious, change from plain water. 



Their favorites seem to be mint, rose hip or lemon balm tea, but I have also made basil tea, lavender tea, parsley tea, and oregano tea for them, as well as a blend of a few herbs. 

The tea is also great to serve to baby chicks. It helps build healthy immune systems and has a wide array of health benefits for growing bodies. 




My chickens also love to gobble up all the petals as the roses fade and the petals fall to the ground. Then I crush up the Vitamin C-rich rose hips for them when I deadhead the flowers. Both the petals and hips make healthy tea and the rose bushes make a pretty, and nutritious, addition to our run. 


To Brew Chicken Tea: Just fill your teakettle with water, toss in some fresh cut herbs, bring to a boil and then let steep for ten minutes or so. Stir in a dash of honey for some great antibacterial healthiness and let cool until just warm.  Or brew a potful in your coffee maker.


(In the summer I add ice cubes and serve the tea iced.) You can strain it or just leave the herbs in. The ducks especially love fishing them out and gobbling them up.  Note: I don't like to leave the herbs in the tea for small chicks or ducklings because they could choke on them.

Batch of tea cooled and ready to strain and serve.


These herb teas are considered 'greens' and can be fed unlimited to your flock. So brew some herb tea for your girls - and brew a cup for yourself while you're at it and enjoy tea time together.

After all...

"There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea."
~ Henry James ~