Monday, December 31, 2012

Juicing!

The first time I was presented a green smoothie, I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical on how good it was.  I even waited for my husband to try it before taking the plunge!  To my surprise, it was delicious.  After all how can a bunch of fruit and vegetable mixed together be bad? 

We decided that juices would be a good addition to our diet, not a way to replace eating vegetable/fruit but more so in a way to add more nutrients and vitamins to our diet.   So once the decision was made, we looked at the kind of juicer we wanted to get. 

We started juicing by making smoothies in a blender.  I have to admit, I am not a fan of the thick pulp that remains in the drink and it makes it fairly difficult to swallow.  I prefer an actual juice.  We decided to settle on a masticating juicer over a high power centrifugal juicer or blender.  The main reason is that the masticating juicer rotates at a much lower speed keeping all the nutrients and vitamins intact (not cooking them).  The process of masticating removes the pulp and only extract the juice from the fruit and vegetable. 

A lot of people seem to be worried about not having the pulp and therefore eliminating the fiber in the process.  It’s true that most of the fiber is removed in that process but the goal is to actually get a higher amount of nutrients and vitamins necessary and not fiber.  The good news is fiber can be found in a lot of other ways through other products consumed on regular basis.  Plus, the juices are an addition to our diet already rich in fruit and vegetable.

The juices have also been a great compromised for my 5 year old daughter to ensure she would get what is needed for her growth.

I have found that juicing 3 to 4 different items works well.  Here are some great combinations I have tried:
 
  • Green apples, carrots, and beets – This gives a beautiful rich pink juice, really sweet.
  • Kale (or spinach), green apples, and carrots – This is a guaranteed authentic delicious green juice!
  • Green apple, Fuji apple, carrots, and clementine (or orange) – It is a bright orange juice filled with vitamin C.

There are many other combinations to be done and this is why juicing is so fun. 

Cheers to a healthy 2013!
 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Espalier - The Belgian Fence...

For years, I was not quite sure what to do with one part of our garden.  It is a pathway between the front and the backyard, on the north side of our house, it is maybe 6 feet wide, and two of our bedrooms windows overlook it.  I wanted something pretty to look at but since I am all about edible gardens, it needed to be something edible but not too wide.  This is when it came to me: Espalier!
I decided to try my hand at this beautiful art.  My design choice was the Belgian fence.  There are many reasons why I chose that design, but the main one is because I can have more trees on a small area.
Here I went to my local Costco this past winter; they offered a great range of fruit trees at a very affordable price. I picked 4 different apple trees and 2 pear trees.  The reason of having so many trees is for succession harvesting (eventually).  So I have early, mid and late apples and pears. 
Going back to the espalier design, I planted all my trees along the fence, leaving about a foot between the fence and the trees and leaving about 18 inches between trees.  I then chopped all the trees to about 18 inches tall.  This last one was the hardest one since the trees were already a good 3 to 4 feet tall; I am always afraid I am going to kill the trees.  But it had to be done to encourage the growth of lower branches; the idea is not to have a tall trunk with branches along it.  It is to have a short trunk, usually 12 to 18 inches and then keeping only two branches.   
I built my support trellis as well, using two 4x4x8 non-treated posts on either side of the trees at each end.  I then added wire at 18 inches, 48 inches and 72 inches (linking the two posts).  Using 5 foot long bamboo sticks, I designed my Belgian fence along the wires.  Next I attached the two strongest branches of each tree to the bamboo poles: one branch on one side and one on the other side, each at approx. 45 degree angle.  I trimmed all the other branches not needed.
Et voila! Now I need to use patience and lots of pruning to get these trees stronger and growing nicely. 
I am pretty happy with the look already. In a few years, it should look even nicer and have fruit.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Review on Rabbit deterants

I am all about natural methods when it comes to my garden so in order to deter the very persistent rabbit(s) from my garden I have turned to several methods, some with success and some without:


1) Bonine - Repels All granules: Sprinkle granules around the area where rabbits and other rodents tend to be in the garden.  Main ingredients are dried blood and rotten eggs.  Results: it did not seem to keep squirrels out and as for rabbits, it may have worked for a couple of days but then evidence of rabbits showed the quick inefficacity of the product.  We have had a lot of rain so this could be another reason it did not work as well (even with several re-applications).  Another thing to note is that it smells bad (I guess rotten eggs did not help!).



2) Bird netting: Wrap the raised bed in bird netting.  Results: it seems to keep the rabbit (and even the squirrels) out, no evidence of rabbits around the beds with the bird netting.  Note: It is an easy and fast installation, fairly inexpensive.  My dislike is everything gets caught in it including my feet, trip hazard.  Maybe this is one of the reasons rabbits do not like it either.



3) Poultry netting: Wrap around the raised bed and secure with small screws to the bed.  Can add small garden posts at each corner of the bed for better support.
Results: after installation, no evidence of rabbits but it may be too soon to be sure. Note: Easy installation, more expensive than bird netting but better convenience as no feet get tangled and better access to produce.



4) Live trap: Follow the directions and add bait. Place in the area where rabbits tend to gravitate.
Results: No rabbit caught! (So far).


5) Warning sign: Drawn by my almost 5 year daughter! "No rabbits allowed".
Results: too soon to tell, pretty sure it will not deter the rabbit but it is too cute to pass.  It is officially placed in the garden.
 
 



All in all, it seems the bird and poultry nettings might the best options.  So far, with them on the raised beds, my produce has finally been able to grow.  I am hoping the broccoli bounces back, I think rabbits love broccoli! 
I know the rabbit is still (I hear there is more than one too!) around and still very interested in my garden as I saw it today in my neighbor’s yard.  It quickly fled when it saw me. 
How long do rabbits live again? Is it over 10 years? Argh! 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Fruit Roll Up

Rolled in parchment paper
A couple months ago, my daughter came home from school and mentioned she wanted to have fruit roll up for her lunch.  I looked at my husband and asked him, what in the world is a fruit roll up!  As he explained it to me, my face started changing (not in a good way)...Nothing about it sounded appealing to me...Treat full of preservative and very sticky!  I told my daughter at that time that my version of fruit roll up was to take a fruit and to roll it.  Even at 4, she knew that this would not do!
One of my friends ( Wendy, thanks Wendy!) came across a homemade fruit roll up recipe in Martha Steward magazine and decided this would be the ideal compromise for our family! 
I told my daughter that if she wanted fruit roll up, she will have to help me make them and that way she could see how they are done.


This turned out to be a great activity for the two of us and we made delicious (preservative free) treats!
Amelia proudly takes her fruit roll up to school and even tell her friends she and her mom made them!  Maybe we are on our way to change the world one kid at the time, ok maybe not but I like to believe I am making a difference.
This is how it looks like



Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The pecking order

I have come to fully understand and experienced what the pecking order really is! 
Over the last year, I have had my first flock of 4 chickens and never really saw one taking over the others and claiming her place.  This was until I introduced 4 additional lovely chicks!
Rosie
My beautiful big brahma named Rosie has now claimed her place on top of the pecking order!  She will ensure that no chick whatsoever is in her way.  She can’t stand the charming clucking of chicks becoming pullets around her, she can’t stand when they eat…She runs from one side to the other to ensure they get out of her way.  She is the boss.  She walks around the run like a dangerous shark keeping an eye on her surroundings.  It is not only the chicks she can’t stand but also Paulette, my broody Partridge Rock.  As soon as I get Paulette out of the nesting box to get her to eat and drink, Rosie has the uncontrollable need to pecking her and running after her.
The once peaceful coop has become very active.  I find myself standing in the run chasing Rosie to allow the little ones to eat some.  The good thing going for the younger girls is they can fly and fly they do!  Great way to escape from Rosie and Sweeney (Speckled Sussex) who is the next one pecking the chicks!  As I mentioned, Paulette is broody so for the most part she leaves the chicks alone (otherwise, she also would peck them).  The only one who could care less is my fantastic black sex link, Gossie, not only she is one of my best layers but she is friendly and gentle.  She even bunks with the chicks, kind of saying to the others “they are not that bad!”
It is going to be very interesting once the young girls are fully grown.  I am not sure if they will continue to allow the pecking order that way or if one of them would take over…
In the meantime, we get endless entertainment watching the young chicks running from one side of the coop to the other, Rosie roaming the coop and the run like she is queen of the castle and Sweeney right behind her.  There is little squawk and squeak every once in a while, a little feather being pulled but in the end, they somehow all seem to co-habit just fine.  Everyone has a place in the pecking order.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Little Bunny Foo Foo, hopping through my garden...

It started on Mother’s day when one of my neighbors told me I had a little bunny under my gigantic shed.  A bunny? I said, what?  She explained that other neighbors had a rabbit that had babies, for a total of 12 rabbits!  Yes, I guess the saying about rabbits is true.
Yesterday I came home, to find a larger rabbit just wandering in my back yard.  Of course they are cute and all fuzzy which makes it that much harder to hate them.  As long as it keeps eating the dandelions, we are ok.  My husband could not resist reminding me that before long it would be attacking my garden.  The garden I worked so hard to get all set up (not to mention the money I spent on it too!).  I now declare war on bunnies, not so cute after all (ok, still very cute but…).  Do you realize how fast rabbits run and how sneaky they are too?  Needless to say, I did not catch it.  Every time I got close, it would run back underneath the shed. 
I eventually decided to inform the neighbors (the rabbits’ owners) just so they were aware about their rabbits running around the neighborhood…Now, we are two backyards away…They sent the 8-year old boy to the rescue.  Result, the rabbit isn’t caught and it was time to retire for the night.
This morning I woke up and saw the rabbit still around my yard, still eating weeds and dandelions until it moved on to a kale plant, that was it, this put me over the edge, do not get between me and my kale!  I tried to spook it but of course, it ran super-duper fast and kept on hiding.  Well, it was time to leave for work and no time to play catch the rabbit quite yet. 
Now, my husband and I have a strategy: tonight we are getting the butterfly net and a large box and we are planning on catching that rabbit.
Did I mention that she is apparently pregnant…
More to follow…Stay tune.



UPDATE: The bunny ate most of my garden!  I have estimated I lost about 45 to 50 veggie starters plus she ate all the leaves of my four apples trees planted this year and being trained on espalier.  We did not catch the bunny, we were only able to chase it back towards her "home".  Hopefully we are done now.  This week-end, I will be busy buying new starters and replanting everything!  This was the first year I experiemented and started most of my veggies indoor...What a waste!  Argh!



Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Les oeufs au lait

One of the great benefits of having backyard chicken is certainly the great abundance of fresh eggs. I am really excited that since the last week of February, all my 4 grown hens have returned to full time egg laying.  I enjoy finding 3 to 4 eggs each day…Yes it is bit like Easter every day in my backyard!  Many people seem to worry about the amount of eggs I get and wonder what I do with them…Is there such a thing of having too many eggs?  I sure don’t think so (that’s why I just got another 4 chicks that should start laying in the summer!).
I can find endless possibilities to use eggs. And if for some reasons I happened to have too many, I bet I would find lots of devoted volunteers who would sacrifice themselves and offer to take some eggs just for MY convenience.
So going back on the subject of finding some fun ways to use eggs in the kitchen other than omelets, oeufs cocotte, scrambled eggs, soft boiled eggs, hard boiled eggs, quiche, frittatas, deviled eggs…Ok, I think you get the picture, it got me to remember one the simplest desserts of my childhood, les oeufs au lait (caramel custard or pudding).

My mom was not the best baker but there were a few desserts she really mastered: crepes (I will have to dedicate a special post to that one) and oeufs au lait. This latest one happens to be a very simple dessert just made of five ingredients: milk, eggs, vanilla, water and sugar.  As a kid, I could not have enough of it.  As my daughter is not so fond of eggs, I am trying to be creative and incorporate them in different ways so she won't feel she is eating eggs.
So here I decided to try my hand at making some oeufs au lait.  They were simple to make.  I had to make a few changes in regards of the temperature as somehow when my oven was at 350F (as the French recipe called for), it was not cooking and after 45 min it was still very” liquidy”.
In the end it turned out exactly as I recalled it, super yummy!
Even my daughter liked it although she told me that next time I should make chocolate chips cookies!
Here is the recipe should you wish to try your hand at it:
For the custard:
-          4 cups of milk (I use 2%)
-          6 eggs
-          ½ cup of sugar
-          1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
For the caramel:
-          ½ cup of sugar
-          4 tbsp. of water

Preheat the oven at 450F.
Make the caramel. Heat up the sugar and water until the mixture turns a light brown color.       Once done, pour the caramel into a round dish.
Prepare the custard. Melt the sugar into the milk avoiding boiling the milk.  Add the vanilla.  Let rest a few minute.   Meanwhile mix the eggs.  Then slowly add the milk to the eggs constantly mixing (to avoid cooking the eggs).  Once all the milk is incorporated, pour the mixture into the caramelized dish. 
Place in the oven and bake for 45 min to 1 hour or until the top is getting golden brown.
Let it cool down completely.  Once cooled, reverse it into a serving platter and enjoy.



Monday, April 2, 2012

Spring Cleaning! (of the coop)

Spring cleaning is done!  I decided it was time to do a deep clean of the coop.  Although I maintain the coop clean and as smell free as possible.  I would say a deep cleaning is in order once a year.
I change the deep litter regularly, about 3 times a year, which seems to be the right amount. 
For the deep cleaning, I used ½ cup of bleach for over a gallon of warm water. The deep cleaning consisted on removing all the litter (including all of it stuck in the corners).  I then, cleaned the floor, all the roosts, windows etc. with the bleach mixture, let it stand for about 5 minutes and rinse everything with warm water.  I allowed the coop to air dry completely before adding fresh pine shaving.
While doing all this, Sweeney was in one of the nesting boxes taking her sweet time to lay her egg…She did not seem bothered by all the cleaning though.
Sweeney laying an egg!
A few weeks ago, I also decided to put an addition to the coop.  I went from an 8x4 to an 8x6 coop.  The two additional feet made a lot of difference.  It is now roomier and I even dedicated a small corner for food and other supplies.  I reorganized the interior, lowering the nesting boxes, adding roosts and poop boards as well.  The last transformation was to add a temporary separation in the coop to allow the introduction of the new flock.  It is all ready.  I am very happy with the results.  The girls seem to like it too (or so I like to believe). 


Temporary movable wall
 
Supplies corner
The next step is to extend the run.  I currently have 48 sqft of floor space and I am looking at adding another 72 sqft.  This should give a total of 120 sqft of space or 15 sqft per bird (5 more than the recommended). Again this is also just floor space.  Part of the run is over 6 ft tall.  I want to add more roosts and maybe some "toys" to keep all the girls entertained.
I am hoping to be done with the run before the end of May. I will post more pics when ready.

I wish you a great spring filled with projects! 



 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Chicks, Chicks, Chicks...Hooray!

And here we go again.  Peep! Peep!

If I were a hen, you could say I have been "broody" lately. I finally got 4 new little chicks.  I had to stick to the plan and only get 4!  There is something so exciting about the peeping and perkiness of new chicks.  I got them at the Bothell Feed Center (same as last year).  They have so many new chicks and breeds, it was hard to pick.

This time, I decided on trying 4 new breeds: Barred rock (Lolie), Delaware (Della), Buff Orpington (Maggie) and Ameraucana (Stella).  My daugther is really excited about the Ameraucana and is hoping she will lay blue or green eggs (and ham!).

Since, I don't have a garage the chicks are currently in the spare bedroom.  I am hoping to keep them in the house only for three weeks and then move them to the coop with the heated lamp.  Last year, I remember getting lots of dust in the room towards the end (that was the un-fun part!).  So, I am currently working on modifying slightly the coop to make a separation between the current flock and the new one.

One thing I have done different too, is the waterer.  For some reasons, the ones meant for chicks and chicken don't seem to be my favorite.  They get very messy, very quickly and they hold everything BUT water.  This year, I opted for a small rodent 8oz waterer and it is working just great.  Who said that chicken were stupid?  Right away, the new chicks knew what to do with it.

I love new chicks, they are really entertaining...I can spend hours looking at them...Good thing for the red light as I have to take breaks in order not to see everything green!

It surely feels like a deja vu and I am excited to keep going on my chicken adventure.

Monday, March 12, 2012

What I have learned during my 1st year of backyard chicken keeping?

I am coming on to my first year of backyard chicken keeping and I thought this would be a good time to reflect on what I have learned so far.

Number 1: I really adore my "girls", they are fun, curious and beautiful!  I love the charming and peaceful clucking sound, I love that they come and get me out of the house, really they peck at the window when they see me inside. 
Although, many people might refer to chicken as "stupid", I am just not a fan of that harsh word.  To my surprise they are actually a lot smarter than I expected. 
They have definitely brought a lot of joy around my house and both my daughter and husband enjoy having them.  I have even caught my husband several times picking one up and "chatting" with her!  And my daughter loves discovering eggs everyday.

Number 2:  Bigger is definitely better when it comes to the coop.  I really enjoy the fact that I can walk in the coop, specially in the winter.  I am loving it so much that I am in the process of adding an addition (more to come on that).

Number 3: I am not a big fan of the hanging waterer made for poultry.  I started with rabbits waterers which are very handy but not big enough.  I recently made a home made hanging waterer with a 2 gallon bucket and two nipples.  It seems to be working the best for what I was looking for: keeping the water clean and last more than a couple a days.  I could have gone with a 5 gallon but it felt almost too big.

Number 4: Keep the food outside under cover.  Yes, I read it in books but I figured that I would just do it differently just because I could. I find out the hard way that a "resident" mice (or small rat) had moved in with the girls!  Ahhhhhhhh.  Not loving it.  To its defense, it was my fault as I left the coop partially open and it was able to get through the chicken wire very easily.  Which brings me to the number 5.

Number 5: Chicken wire or hardware cloth:  Definitely hardware cloth. Do not cheap out! Plan on using 1/2x1/2 hardware cloth.  I was so focused on making my coop raccoon proof that I forgot about the smaller rodents that can get through tiny holes! Yes, it is amazing how rats and mice can squeeze through holes as little as a dime for mice and a quarter for rat.  Currently I have 1 inch chicken wire covering the entire run with the bottom two feet reinforced with 1/2 x 1/2 hardware cloth.  I am planning on updating it this spring.

Number 6: Research the breeds in order to suit your ultimate goal, whether it is egg production, meat or/and looks.  I personally do it for egg production and entertainment (and manure too).  I think all hens look beautiful. When I went to pick the girls last year, I was debating on how many to start with.  I decided it would be between 3 and 5 and when we arrived at the store they had 4 different breeds so that made it easy, one of each! I guess once I got the girls, I researched their breeds,  their specs etc.  During the winter, only one of them laid eggs regularly (almost every day, I think she took one day off a week) but the other three were on "strike" as my grandmother would say.  The good news is the other three started to lay a couple of weeks ago so the production has improved tremendously.
For round two, I am a bit more prepared, I already took notes on the breeds I would like to add and I am hoping to add an Ameraucana as well to get those funny green/blue eggs.

Number 8: Place the nesting boxes below the lowest roost to ensure the girls sleep on the roost and not in the nesting box.  Currently I have two to three using the nesting boxes as a "bed". 

Here you have it.  The little things I learned through this wonderful experience.  Now I am getting ready to add a few more girls to the flock and I really can't wait to get these little chicks home.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Homemade bread...the easy way!

I have been making bread from time to time over the years.  Over the last few months, I became more serious about making all the bread we consume.  We have not bought a loaf of bread since!  Yes, it is that simple too switch.  Some of the rewards is that I know what ingredients I use and can make it to our taste.
The basic recipe has been found in an article in Mother Earth News, it is based on the book “Artisan bread in 5 minutes a day”. It is very simple and guarantees you great results.
Once the dough is done, it can be kept for days in the fridge.  The longer it stays and the more sourdough”y” it gets.   The batch I make is good for 4 small loaves or 2 large.  I like to divide it in 4 as it gives enough to be served for dinner and left over for breakfast or to use for sandwich bread too.
At times, I bake the 4 loaves and freeze them once cooled down, that way I always ensure to have  bread ready. 
Of course, the recipe can be tweaked any ways you want.  You can use whole wheat or rye flour, you can add sourdough, nuts, seeds, dried fruit…The possibilities are endless.
I like using my homemade sourdough starter in this recipe as it adds a nice flavor to it.  I also usually substitute one to one and a half cup of flour for whole wheat flour, it makes the bread hardy but not too hardy.  Whole wheat can be pretty intense.
So here it goes:
6.5 cups of flour
3 cups of water
1.5 tablespoon salt (kosher or sea salt)
1.5 tablespoon dry yeast
Optional: 1 to 1.5 cups of sourdough
If you have a kitchen aid mixer, use the bread hook and knead all ingredients together for a few minutes, during the process monitor and if the dough appears too dry add a bit of water or if it is too wet add a bit of flour (these adjustments happen when changing flour types).  The dough needs to feel wet but not stick to the bowl.
If no access to a bread machine or mixer, use your hands!  I personally love the feeling of kneading bread dough.
Once the dough is well kneaded, let it rest for about 5 hours at room temperature to give it a good rise.  Place a dish towel or plate over the bowl.
After that punch the dough, re-knead for a few minutes and let it rise again (a few hours) or place it in the fridge.
When ready to use, take a fourth of the dough, flatten it (with your hands) on a lightly floured surface and then fold it to form a ball.  Place on a baking sheet.  Let it rest while pre-heating the oven.  Pre-heat the oven to 410F with a dish containing water on the lower rack.  Once the oven is ready, lightly flour the surface of the ball and with a sharp knife make three to four incisions on the top (about ¼ inch deep).
Prior to placing in the oven, I like to splash some water around the oven to create a “steam oven”, this and the water already in the oven will help make the crust crispy.

Place the bread in the oven and bake for approx. 30-35 minutes.
Let it cool completely or at least for 30-45 min.  Enjoy right away or freeze.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pizza dough

Who does not like pizza?  Right? It seems that pizza is one of those dishes really cherish by everyone.  They are fun and easy to make and allow you to be creative. You can make them as a main dish or as an appetizer (served as a flat bread).
I have been making pizza for years and now it is almost a must on Sundays at my house! 
At first, I used to buy the dough and made the rest at home.  As usual, I figured I could make the dough myself. Some of the advantages on doing so are that it tastes much better and saves me a few bucks. A win-win situation.
The recipe I use is simple and has never let me down.  The batch is enough to make 3 pizza doughs of about 12" round each. Here is the recipe:

Pizza Dough
3 3/4 cups of unbleached bread or all purpose flour (can substitute one cup for whole wheat flour)
1 1/2 cup of lukewarm water (120F)
2 1/4 teaspoon dry yeast (1 packet)
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of sugar

Mix the yeast and the water together and wait 2-3 min until the yeast starts bubbling.
Add 1/4 cup of flour, olive oil, sugar and salt and mix it all together.
Add the rest of the flour and knead the dough for a few minutes (I use the bread hook on my mixer, but this can be done by hands too).
Let the dough rest at room temperature for 1-2 hours or until doubled. 
Punch the dough and divide it in three equal balls. 
At this point either freeze the dough in individual bags or let it rise a second time until doubled (another 1-2 hours). 
When I need to use a frozen dough, I simply take it out of the freezer in the morning, let it thaw and rise all day and it is ready on time for dinner.
The dough is ready to be used.  Roll it on a slightly floured surface to about 12" round.
Place on a greased pizza pan.
Add your favorite toppings and bake it in a preheated oven at 400F for about 20 min.
Et voila!















Thursday, January 19, 2012

Snowmageddon

Day 6 of the snowmageddon 2012! 

Well, how do you handle it when a snow storm hits your area. 
I have to admit that Seattlelites tend to be a bit wimpy when it comes to snow.  1 inch and the city shuts down. 
I have to say I was a bit sceptic at first and even made it to work on day 5. 
Day 6 is by far the worst.  We totalled about 4-5 inches of snow at our house but the worst has been all the ice making the streets a huge ice rink.
Temperatures have been low for Seattle (in the 20s, brrrrr).  So the next challenge has been to ensure everyone is kept warm, fed and hydrated.  Easy tasks for all of us in the house (hubby, daughter and cats) but for the girls (aka the chicken) it has been another challenge.  Being that it is my first winter with them, I want to make sure that their experience is as good as mine.
The biggest one has been to ensure that their water was available at all time.  I changed it twice a day (in morning and afternoon) and it seems to do the trick.  I have also added some plastic and garden fabric around the run to make a quick wind breaker.  That has also helped  keeping the girls happy.
I think they have handled themselves very well.  They are hardy breeds which has proven to be wonderful.  The thing I have noticed is that they do not specifically like to walk on the snow as I had to "rescue" one of them who had wandered around and found herself stranded!
The coop is also holding on well under the snow which is another bonus (yeah for me!).
Keep warm, be safe and enjoy the few days off (If you are in the area)!

Here are some pics of snowmageddon:

Brrr, it's cold! That's Sweeney.


Paulette also happens to be molting just now.


This is Gossie.  The best layer so far.

Rosie, more worried about her "shoes" than laying eggs...No egg from her so far.



The wind breaker!


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Kale Salad

Do you have that one vegetable that is "it" for you? 

I love everything vegetable but until about 2 years ago I had no idea about kale.  Sure, I had seen it at the store but was never quite sure what to do with it.
Until one day my husband "pushed" me in buying a bunch.  Now, what? 
I was introduced to a recipe that made "it" for me...Kale salad, it is so simple but yet so good.  I have never been much a fan of salad in general but this was different.  The texture of kale (being from the cabbage family) is more "robust" and heartier than lettuce.  Plus add all the benefit of kale et voila, perfect match!
I have been making this salad practically every week and have not yet grown tired of it.  It also keeps very well overnight and for some reasons is even better the next day.

Here is the way I make it.

Ingredients:
  • 1 bunch of kale (Curly green or red or both, lacinato...) 
  • 2- 3 Tbsp Minced Garlic
  • 1 tsp Red chili pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup Olive oil
  • 1/2 Lemon juice
  • Grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
  • Bread crumbs
All the measurements are approximate, I eye ball everything, you can adjust to your liking (I love garlic so there is never too much!).

In a small pan, heat the oil add garlic and red chili pepper flakes and cook for a few minutes (about 2-4 min. garlic should still be white).  Let cool down and add the lemon juice.
In a salad bowl mix the cheese and bread crumb with the kale, add the oil mixture, salt to taste and mix well.
Place it in a fridge, for about 20-30 minutes prior to serving. 


Bon appetit!


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Beauty secrets from the pantry

OK, so it is the beginning of the year and you have made all these resolutions, right?
Is pampering yourself one of them?  If not, it should!  It does not take much (time and money) to do so.

Just like with my food, I tried to use more natural products when it comes to "beauty".  I have not quite been able to remove all pre-made products but in some areas I have been able to convert very easily only using my own pantry.

My husband has asked me one day if I was able to make my own deodorant.  He suggested I use olive oil and tea bags under my arm pits.  For now, I think I will stick with regular deodorant, but this does not mean that I would not explore it in the future, although I don't think the oil and tea bags would be the right product to use and maybe not quite so discreet.

So far I have mostly focused on my hair and skin and here are a few of my "beauty secrets":


- for smooth skin, I pour milk in my bath and soak for about 15 min, if it was good enough for Cleopatra, I think it is good enough for me!
- for dry hair, I pour about a tablespoon of olive oil in the palm of my hands and rub it all over my hair and my scalp and let it sit while I bath.
  
   - for shiny hair, you can use white wine vinegar or fresh squeezed lemon juice, simply rinse you hair with it.
   
- for a facial mask, you can use 1 cup of plain yogurt, apply it all over your face and leave it on for 15-20 min, you can even add slices of cucumber or used tea bags to refresh your eyes.
Yogurt is also good if you have sunburn or a rash, it will help cool you down.

 

Here you have it.   What are your beauty secrets?