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!