Thursday, April 30, 2009

Lemon Week interrupted because..

....my second batch of chicks came in yesterday! I know you must be as excited and thrilled as I am about the new arrivals that I couldn't possibly make you wait one more day to see them. They are cute cute cute! *Never heard me say that before, have you. But really, with all these little guys I am about to burst with over cutefication. I now have 2 sweet hens, 14 adorable chicks, and am waiting for my last bird order - 6 baby quail which will arrive on Friday. I never do anything in moderation, do I?!

The three golden yellow chicks in this picture are Buff Orpingtons which are large, quiet dispositioned birds that have been a backyard flock favorite for many years. The three rust colored ones are Rhode Island Reds which is a well-known "old breed" that produces brown eggs and are good mothers. The brown chick and the black chick are both Araucanas which produce colored eggs in a variety of shades. Here they are all huddled under the heat lamp taking a nap.

And not to forget my first batch of chicks, I thought I'd identify them for you too. The two brown ones are more Araucanas in the below picture while the yellow orange one is a Golden Sex Link which is known for high egg production and excellent livability.

In this picture below on the left is my second Golden Sex Link and the chick on the right is a Light Brahma. The Brahma will grow up to be striking black and white and this breed is exceptionally quiet and easy to handle.

This little lady didn't cooperate during picture taking but I thought I'd add her in anyway. She is also a Light Brahma and you can see her black and white feathers starting to show through the down.


I've had my first batch for only a week and I can't believe how much bigger they are than my new chicks. No wonder they nap so much - they have a lot of growing to do!

James and Nolan have been working very hard on the Taj MaCoop for me, of which I will be sharing pictures and more information in the near future.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Lemon Jelly and Baby Chicks

What do these two have in common? Nothing much, but the chicks were sooo cute napping that I snapped a photo of them after taking the jelly picture. Today, I used up this bowl of lemons. I used the zest for a batch of limoncello (more on that tomorrow) and the juice to make lemon jelly.


I have never made lemon jelly before, but I really like it! I can't wait to try it on toast in the morning - maybe a bagel with cream cheese.


They are so cute when they power nap.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Shortbread Cookies with Lemon Curd

Now that I have a lot of lemon curd lying about, I need to come up with some ways to use it. Here are the very tasty and zippy results of one idea.


Shortbread Cookies with Lemon Curd

Ingredients:
2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
lemon curd

Directions:
1) stir butter and sugar together until smooth
2) Add salt and vanilla and stir
3) Add flour
4) Chill one hour
5) Roll into one inch balls on an ungreased cookie sheet and using the back of a measuring spoon (or your thumb) make an indent in the center of each cookie
6) Bake 8 - 10 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until cookies are lightly browned
7) Cool, and add a dollop of lemon curd

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Lemonade


Today we started the chicken coop! Our friend Nolan came over and helped and by lunchtime everyone was hungry and thirsty. So, I made a batch of fresh lemonade from my box of lemons. It really hit the spot in all its lemony quenchiness!

Lemonade:

1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 scant cup sugar
6 cups water

Stir all together and that's that!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Lemons and Lemon Curd

This week, in time honored tradition, I purchased my yearly box of lemons. Just looking at their bright cheeriness gives me an energy boost and I can feel my mind whirring over all the possibilities that come with these wonderful lemons.



The first thing is to make one of my favorites - lemon curd. Yummmm.... I made a batch which we have tested thoroughly. What we do to ensure quality!

Below is one of my favorite recipes for lemon curd. I like it because it is very simple, and it strains the egg while leaving the zest in.

Lemon Curd (makes approx 2 1/4 cups)

Ingredients:
3 lemons
1 cup sugar
1 stick butter, unsalted
2 large eggs
3 large egg yolks

Directions:
1) Wash lemons, zest and juice into medium saucepan
2) Add sugar and dissolve over medium-low heat
3) Add butter and melt
4) Beat eggs and yolks together and strain through a sieve into the saucepan
5) Stir mixture over medium heat until the temperature is about 168-170 degrees Fahrenheit and mixture thickens (this will take usually 5 - 8 minutes)
6) Pour into clean jars and and store in the fridge up to one week, or the freezer until ready to use. Alternately you can can them using your pressure canner. I have a weighted gauge pressure canner and using that to process half pint jars it takes 10 minutes at 11 pounds of pressure.

This is great on french toast, shortbread thumbprint cookies, over fresh fruit, in yogurt etc.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

They Came!




After much anticipation my first order of chicks came in today. They are too sweet for words. I keep finding "reasons" that we must get chicks - eggs, fertilizer, ground preparation - but in my heart of hearts I know the real truth. I keep getting them because they are soooo darn cute!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A day in the sun



The boys soaked up the sunshine Sunday afternoon along with Fluffy and Biscuit.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Grubbin Along

The boys and I spent this past week at the beach for spring break. Arthur came down with a cold Monday night, and it rained most of the week, so it was very low key. We watched a lot of movies, read books, did some crafts and were in general very lazy. I thought I'd have lots of pictures of our activities but I didn't get any of this sort.

However, there was some excitement that was picture worthy. My mom came and joined us at the end of the week and scheduled for the septic tanks to be drained. When the workers dug up the dirt around the tanks for access, these grubs were found in the soil.

Name that grub?

Mom was kind enough to bring one inside for a photo op, and I was able to control my gag reflex to take photos of the biggest grub I've ever seen. All seemed to be going well when the said grub started arching its back while Mom was holding it. This prompted a quick dropping of the grub onto the floor and some small screams.

Mom's humor came out here - while funny, it did activate my (to that point quiet) gag reflex.