Monday, June 29, 2015

Are my chickens racist?

I came home the other night at dusk and as I went to close the coop door I noticed that the 6 young chicks were all lined up on the roosting bar by breed. First came the two buff's then the two Plymouth rocks then the two araucanas and this got me thinking do they know they are different from each other and is that why they are sleeping next to their breed mate? And if they do know they are different breeds how do they know it. First I thought well they know they are different because they don't have the same coloring but then I said to myself well how the hell would they know that its not like I installed a mirror in the coop so they would know that they don't all look alike.

Now I really meant to do a study on this to gather some empirical data before I wrote about this and I envisioned maybe having a table or two for you or maybe a graph but all I have is the one night I saw this so I guess you can take it with a grain of salt and perhaps give my chickens the benefit of the doubt.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

When money is tight call in the PASTA!

Booker posing with the receipt

My husband and I were arguing about money the other day and I said to him if I give you money for weed what am I going to buy groceries with and like a true addict he said I don't care about groceries and I said well I am sorry but I do like to eat. (For some background my husband smokes weed like a crack whore smokes....ok I think you get the picture). But this got me thinking and to prove a point this week I am going to shop as lean as I possibly can while still trying to eat well. What do you do when your budget is limited but you still want to eat well.....make PASTA! So meat is out which will drive him crazy not that there will be no meat but it will be a small part more like a condiment instead of the main deal. So since I have dinner with my parents on Tuesday and I usually make Tommy franks and beans or bring leftovers for dinner this mean I have to come up with 4 meals for the work week. Three of my favorites popped into my head immediately so I just need one more idea.  I wish my garden was further along than it is that is always a wealth of inspiration nothing better than letting the ingredients available in your yard decide whats for dinner.

Like everyone else I get stuck for ideas and two great websites that get me all geeked up to cook are food and wine magazine and the new york times. Both websites feature great recipes and inspiration to try new things and inspiration is always a huge bonus. So the recipes that came to me immediately are Spaghetti Carbonara, Linguine with Zucchini and Tomatoes (sounds blah but trust me it rocks) and then Spaghetti with Clams Garlic and Tomatoes. Total yum. So what about the fourth night? Now I could easily just make a red sauce but that doesn't excite me right now. Hmmm maybe go outside the Italian box and do a homemade lo mein? I also have some really nice Orecheitte in the pantry that could be a good thing. My usual budget is anywhere from 5 to 10 bucks per meal but I think with pasta I can get that down a bit even splurging a bit on a good wedge of parm and some pancetta. I think we will go with the Orecheitte now we just have to figure out what kind of sauce? Go with the old stand by of Broccoli Rabe and Sausage and Garlic? Nah not springtime enough.

Okay I have been trying to find the last recipe for about 25 minutes and after searching a  handful of websites and I cant come up with it. Too many ideas bouncing around my head but its almost time to bring the garbage to the dump before it closes and then head to the grocery store think woman think! Springtime.....peas asparagus mint ricotta clean light flavors basil tomatoes flavors heading into summer but I am already using tomatoes in two out of four dishes so.........And to make matters worse remember there is a budget so dishes featuring sexy things like burrata are out.  Okay finally fourth recipe Orecheitte with Cherry Tomatoes, White Wine Basil and Fresh Mozzarella. To make it more interesting I think I will roast the tomatoes a bit to add a little depth. So kill me 3 out of 4 recipes have tomato but hey remember its a super food so why not? Off to the store be back with a report on how I did with the budget.

So I am back from the town dump and the grocery store. I spent a total of $21.03 on the food for the next four nights so that is a grand total of $5.25 a night. Not too freaking shabby and that's buying good shit like pancetta and fresh mozzarella and decent pasta. Trust me I could have done this for much cheaper but I like the promise of low cost dinners being a little decadent too like pasta carbonara. Only problem I forgot to get something for lunch and I am hungry! Oh well! I will post the recipe for each night so stay tuned. Can two people eat well on 5 bucks a night I think they can well you be the judge
Happy Cooking.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Chicken Update wine and chores dont always mix.

Friends stopped by yesterday and we started talking about the chickens and I was explaining how once I introduced the new chicks to the big hen she would probably torment them a little bit to establish the pecking order etc but since she was outnumber six to one I thought not any one chicken would suffer too much. One friend said oh is that where that phrase comes from and i said yep just like hen pecked and he started to laugh and commented that he knew all about that. Ha marriage is funny.  Interesting where phrases come from though just think "fed up" "under my thumb" and "wrapped around your little finger" all come from falconry.  Fed up is when a bird as fed and is mellow under my thumb is when you secure the jesses around your thumb and wrapped around your little finger is when you take the jesses and well you get stuff right? Well maybe not maybe you fell back asleep.

Anyway the chickens spent the day in an old dog cage next to the hens run. And later in the day the hen seemed to forget about them so when we got home right around nightfall from watching the triple crown with my parents and going out to dinner I decided hey the big hen is probably almost asleep this could be the perfect time to put the juvies in the coop. Okay now you should not attempt farm chores of this kind after a couple of glasses of wine.

First with Tommys help with tried to put the dog crate on top of the run but then we were smooshing their feet so take two i just opened the door and grabbed (gently) each bird and tossed her (again gently) into the coop. I told Tommy to go inside as I figured I had it all in hand (another hawking reference maybe hmmmm) it wasn't until then that I noticed that one chicken had gotten through the cracks when we picked up the dog crate off the run and was now sitting on top of the run slightly confused. And of course as I tried to grab her and get her into the coop i dropped her and she ran into the very very dense weeds near the garage. By this time the sun had set and as I tried to look for her I knew I was never going to catch her in the dark and she wasn't obliging me my peeping so i could freaking locate her. So I settled everyone else in for the night figuring Ella would be fine luckily we do not have alot of nighttime predators here the biggest predator they face is Lulu the pitbull mix.

So at six a.m. this morning (I am not an early riser on the weekend) I woke up with a start remembering the chicken and at the same time for some reason trying to remember the judd lady who is an actress...just came to me ashley.  So i ran outside in my nightgown with no shoes on forgetting how chilly it was going to get last night and low and behold the 5 chickens where in the run and Emma the escapee was next to them just separated by the fencing. So deep breath still have six new chickens I didn't kill anything yet.

Now the next task is trying to capture the little devil...At this point my feet where blue so i dashed back in for shoes and finally after looking like an idiot running in circles around the coop trying to catch a chicken she got distracted by the evil attentions of Mrs. Fluffybottom and I managed to grab her. So now all six juvenile birds are in the run cowering from the older hen. But like i had hope she is outnumbered and doesn't manage to actually peck any of them they just run and as time goes by today she seems to be losing interest.

Update: just went outside and checked on everyone good news the hen is chilling out taking a dust bath and the juvies are eating and drinking and seem happy OMG did something i tried actually work?

Enough adventure for the day time to start painting this house....Cheers.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Getting the juvie chickens out of the house FINALLY!!

Mrs Fluffybottom

Finally it is nice enough out to start getting the new chickens acclimated to the one older hen I have left Mrs. Fluffybottom. I meant to do it earlier this week but the weather was kind of cold and I figured a few more days of hanging out in the laundry room wouldnt kill them. Athough I am certainly ready to NOT have chickens in my house. My house is odiferous enough thank you with two dogs and four cats, six chickens added a certain je ne sais quoi to the mix which i really do not need. So today is breezy but gorgeous and Tommy helped me carry out the dog crate full of chickens outside we placed it next to the run so they could see eachother and hopefully get used to eachother before I put them into the coop. The seem pretty happy so far and I think the peeking with be lessened since the older hen is certainly out numbered. I stopped naming my chickens awhile back but when I told the girl at the feed store she seemed so disapointed in me I figured I would though caution to the wind and name them all. And in the spirit of George Foreman I decided to use names that all begin with "E".  So the two buffs are eliza jane and eliose...the two araucanas are esther (after my grandmother) and Euphemia (where did that one come from funny first name that popped into my head) the two plymouth rocks are emma and ella.  See how much restraint I showed not one of them is named after myself Elizabeth.  Proud of me right?

This one is Esther named for my rockstar 97 year young grandmother

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

What to do with almost a pound of ground beef and not much else? Jamaican Beef Patties!

Okay I had a day off from work today and stopped by the local market to get something for lunch and on a hunch a picked up some nice looking ground beef for dinner figured worst case scenario I would make tacos or burgers. But then the wheels starting turning and I have been really trying to cook creatively lately digging a little deeper than what first pops in my head. And for some reason today while I was updating my resume making Jamaican Beef Patties for dinner popped in my head. Now I dont know if my husband Tommy will be on board or not but that doesnt really bother me too much (good thing I dont have kids) in my house get on the bus for dinner or make yourself a freaking hot dog. I found my go to recipe for this (Jeff Smith - The Frugal Gourment On Our Immigrant Ancestors 1990) (shit am I really that old?) now i happen to be without the scallion and onion called for in the recipe but they should be still good I will amp up the garlic a bit! If you use the recipe below and happen to have a onion and some scallions go with one medium onion small dice and 2 scallions finely diced and again if you have it toss in a half a jalepeno diced fine into the ground beef mixture). Its rainy cold and coldy here today so this dinner should get the blood heated!

Jamaican Beef Patties (12 small appetizer sized or six large me sized for dinner)

For Filling:
1 lb-ish ground beef your choice (turkey would probably work too hell with curry who cares)
3 cloves garlic minced fine
1 tsp ground thyme
1-1/2 tablespoon curry powder
1 tsp paprika
1/3 c bread crumbs
1/2 c water
salt and pepper
note: I added a healthy dash of cayenne pepper in place of the jalepeno.

For Dough
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp tumeric
1 tsp salt
2  cups crisco
1 egg
1 tbl white vinegar
3-4 tbl ice water

In a large saute pan add oil garlic (onions scallions and jalepeno if you have them) and cook for a few minutes only they soften add ground beef and cook over medium heat until crumbly. Add in spices and bread crumbs stir till combined and spices are fragrant. Add water and still until absorbed. Add salt and pepper. Turn off heat and allow to cool.

In a large bowl mix flour curry powder and salt together. Add shortening and cut in with a pastry blender or two forks. Mix till crumbly and it resembles coarse cornmeal. Add vinegar to egg and mix then add to flour mixture. If its still too crumbly and wont come together add ice water until it does. Stir till it comes together (like a pie crust) then flour liberally your work service (liberally this dough is super short) Once it comes together divide into either 12 or 6 pieces. Form each piece into a ball and roll out using lots of flour into a circle about 3 inches for small and 6 for big. I divide the meat into the same amount of servings to make it easy and to make sure they are even. The grab one portion of beef (if its cool just use your hands easiest way) and place on the dough not quite on center but on one side so when you fold the dough over it forms a half moon like a calzone. Crimp edges with a fork or with your fingers. The dough was so mallable even when I missed it up it was easy just to rebuild it a it like a bionic beef pattie.  Cook in a 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.