Thursday, July 31, 2008

Little Eggs

Bubba and the Feather Footed
I am so excited! My bantams have started laying. Their eggs are just too cute. I am not sure who is laying. I can't even remember what kind of bantams I have. I know the silkies and I know I ordered partridge cochins, americanas I think and beyond that I can't remember! When I ordered 25 weeks ago I picked out alternates in case my first choice wasn't available. Then they packed all 43 of my chicks in one box! The broilers came with green dye on their heads. The others were not marked and to make matters worse they sent some free 'rare breeds' but didn't say which ones or what breeds.






The green one is the bantam egg

The bantam eggs are green. I think it is the bird we call Road Runner but I can't remember what she is. She is super fast though and likes to roost in my ficus tree if I don't put her in the coop at night. Who knows, there might be eggs up their in the old dove nest. The bantams were out the last two days so tomorrow we will have an egg hunt and make sure they aren't hiding them in the bushes like our big girls used to do.




Hidden Treasures

We have been getting eggs from our girls for over a year now and I still get excited when I go out and find eggs in the nest each day. It is a little blessing everyday.

Monday, July 28, 2008

eggs


We are in full swing egg production! I would say we are getting about a dozen eggs a day. The little green eggs are from our bantams and they are so cute. They make a bite sized fried egg and are super cute for making pickled eggs.



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Silkies and a BBQ

Well, they aren't much to look at. Two silkies are about enough to feed 4 people on a diet! If I were planning a meal around bantams and everyone was going to be eating at home I think 4 birds would be good. There are 6 of us and two of us are teenage boys!



The brining was a hit. The meat was very flavorful and not tough or stringy at all. The darkness of the meat didn't seem to change the taste. I was expecting the stronger taste of thigh meat or something similar to dove. The bones were black. Coal black. Very strange.

Posted by PicasaSince we were going to have the BBQ going I made an apple cobbler and set it out on the grill to cook while we ate. I did it the same way as I did the blackberry cobbler. 12 coals on top and 12 underneath. It took about 30 minutes. It was very easy. I cheated on the crust because I used a homemade gourmet mix. I think it was Texas Cobbler. For the apple filling I just sliced up some apples and cooked them in a skillet with some brown sugar, coconut oil and cinnamon. A pinch of salt and a splash of lemon juice and a few minutes to let the sugar get syrupy was all it took. We had left cobbler so we will have it with a dollop of plain yogurt for breakfast. Yum!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Silkie Roosters

We added 15 bantams to our backyard flock this spring. Five of them were black silkies. These are the coolest looking chickens. They look like a Jim Henson/George Lucas collaboration. We knew that when we ordered our bantams that we would end up with some roosters. Bantams don't come sexed so it is the luck of the draw. The plan was to butcher the roosters. Well out of 15 bantams only 3 seemed to be roosters. I thought we would have more than that! I butchered those 3 unlucky birds over a month ago. All seemed well in chickenville. Then the other morning we heard a strange noise. A cock-a-doodle-siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiighhhhh. Just a little noise. Cute really. We thought surely that wouldn't bother the neighbors. It wasn't very loud. We weren't even sure who was crowing and if they were really crowing. Maybe they were just pretending to be a rooster. Each day it got a bit louder and as the saying goes, practice makes perfect! My neighbors are way cool about our city flock and enjoy watching them and love the eggs but they aren't too keen on roosters. I knew this guy's days were numbered. The problem was I didn't know which bantam was the guilty one. Out of the 10 remaining bantams I was pretty sure it was one of the silkies. They are strange birds and I wasn't sure how to tell the difference between a rooster and a hen (or cockerel and pullet). Two seemed to have a slightly different comb and wattle. But wait, we only heard one crowing so maybe the strange comb wasn't the sign of a rooster. As I sat on the porch listening to my girls cackle over whose turn it was in the nest box I heard a cock-a-doodle-doooooooooooooooooooooo but mid doodle it seemed to start again. An echo? I don't think so, this is Texas, not a box canyon. Sure enough two late blooming roosters were trying to out doodle each other. The weird comb IS the sign of a rooster. I have butchered 18 chickens over the last 3 months. I don't have a problem with the butchering, I am farm girl, hear me squeal! I just wasn't looking forward to butchering the silkies. They are so fluffy and feathery. I wasn't sure what to do with all that fluff!


Might as well get to it. I wanted to take care of the crowing before it really annoyed our neighbors. I got into chicken butchering attire, pink rubber gloves that match my pink crocks. I gathered my knives and headed for the coop. I decided to use my lazy farm girl butchering technique. Bantams are smaller than regular chickens so it is a bit harder to dress them. The wings and back don't have a lot of meat and since silkies have fuzz all the way down to their extra fifth toe I knew I wasn't going to use the feet for broth. I decided I would skin them and just take the thigh, drumstick and breast. No need to gut or pluck. The silkies are known for their black skin (these are black silkies) and I considered plucking them just for the novelty of it but as the mosquitoes started fixing me in their sites, plucking seemed like more trouble than it was worth. Interesting FYI, their meat is darker too. The tendons, bone and meat are all dark gray. It is really strange. I wonder if it will taste like dark meat?




The other roosters I butchered were a bit stringy and tough. I decided to try brining these two to see if that would helped tenderize them. I used a brine mix that I found at Old World Market. It has rosemary, onion, garlic, cranberries and peppercorns. It is stronger flavored than what I usually make but I thought that if the meat is dark it might also have a stronger flavor and so the turkey brine might mellow it a bit. I mixed the brine with boiling water until the salt dissolved. Then I cooled it down and poured it over the chicken pieces. I put that in the frig and tomorrow we will throw them on the grill. Can't wait!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Do you have a Bubba?


My youngest. We'll just call him Bubba! I didn't plan to call him Bubba, it isn't the
name on his birth certificate. I am a SoCal girl, we call people dude, not bubba but somehow this little guy is a bubba. What is a bubba? Well for starters look at the t-shirt. This was a new, clean t-shirt just minutes before this photo was taken. Notice the stretched out neck, the slight staining around the chest. The rumpled slept in look. A bubba puts on a clean shirt and immediately finds something to wipe on the front of it. Maybe toothpaste that was never rinsed off his chin, maybe a gigantic bugger that was just mined. Maybe a bit of breakfast milk or butter from toast. It doesn't really matter, it will wind up on the shirt. The stretched out neck is from reaching in to his shirt to make armpit farts. What can't be seen in the picture is that Bubba is most likely not wearing any pants. Just undies. Probably with spiderman or camouflage on them. If he is wearing pants you can bet money they are camouflage. The only acceptable substitution for camo is khaki or olive. So this is my little Bubba and he has stolen my heart! He likes to help me with just about any new adventure I jump into.

Blackberry Cobbler




I have been wanting to try my hand at cast iron cookware for a while. I finally took the plunge. I picked up this dutch oven for under $10 at the sporting good store. It is Lodge Logics and came pre-seasoned. It does not have feet like some dutch ovens so to get heat on top and bottom it needs to be on a rack. I used my BBQ pit.
I prepared my coals just like when getting ready to BBQ. I placed 10-12 coals under the grate and another 10-12 on the lid. I let it cook for about 35 minutes. It smelled wonderful. The best part was that it didn't heat up my kitchen!


EASY BLACKBERRY COBBLER

1/2 c. butter
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
2/3 c. milk
1 (16 oz.) pkg. frozen blackberries, thawed

Melt butter in casserole or dutch oven. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and milk in a small mixing bowl, mix well. Pour mixture over melted butter, do not stir. Spoon blackberries over batter; do not stir. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden brown. If you are cooking over the fire place 10 or so coals under the dutch oven and 10 or so on the lid of the dutch oven. After 35 minutes carefully lift the lid with lid lifter and see if it is bubbly and golden brown. Be careful, the dutch oven and handles get very very hot. Also be careful not to drop any coals onto your feet!
After we devoured the cobbler I washed the pan in hot water, towel dried and rubbed with a little beef tallow and set it back out on the cooling grill to season.
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