Sunday, June 21, 2015

Our babies are growing up...

Golden Wyandotte, Dominique, Black Jersey Giant
Hard to believe that this is the same group, 6 weeks later!  It's easy to tell which is which now.

They've graduated from the cardboard box to Sunny's crate and now to the small outside coop.  The introduction to the existing flock has been pretty painless, so I think we'll try them overnight in the big coop tonight.  We still keep a close eye on them when they're out of the coop - fast as they are, a hawk would certainly be able to catch and kill them with little trouble.

If these were commercial chickens they'd be ready to start laying.  As it is, it will be another 4-5 months before we see our first egg.  No problem; the others are still going strong.

The whole flock

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Newest members of the egg production team

If there's anything I like better than getting a new batch of chicks, I surely don't know what it is.  These little babies are about a week old.  We have a Black Jersey Giant, a Golden-Laced Wyandotte, and a Dominique (I think they're in that order in the picture).  No names yet; those will come in time.

They'll stay inside their cardboard box in the studio for the next couple of weeks or so until they're big enough, and it's warm enough, for them to go outside, at least during the day.  They can go outside permanently at around 5 or 6 weeks.

I'm very happy to have another Dominique and Black Jersey Giant - they are such sweet, gentle chickens.  I don't know the Golden-Laced Wyandotte although our Houdini is a Silver-Laced Wyandotte.  She's a bit skittish so we'll see if this one has a similar personality.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Soup for breakfast? Absolutely!

I don't know what made me think of it - maybe it was the big butternut squash sitting on my counter right from my friend Reeny's garden - but it occurred to me that a thick creamy soup could be just the thing to start out a cold wintry day, in lieu of our usual fresh fruit.  With the early snowfall still on the ground, today seemed like a good day to test my theory on guests.  (Dominique was skeptical.)

I used my usual recipe from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, tossing in lots of dried sage and thyme.  I cooked it up the night before, then reheated it and mushed it with my immersion blender.  I served it in smallish bowls (I wasn't that confident, either) with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of tiny homemade croutons.
I'm not a food photographer so I don't know if this picture looks good or gross, but it was absolutely delicious.  Everyone but the 12-year-old said so (chocolate chip pancakes and hot chocolate for him!) and the empty bowls said that they weren't just being polite.  Once breakfast was over we got to taste it, too, and I have to say, it was great.  Although it's creamy and rich-tasting, apart from the sour cream it's just vegetables, water, and herbs.

With Dominique's retirement really and truly in sight, we're looking forward to more experimentation and with luck they'll all turn out as well as this one.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Dawn of a new era

Back in January, we introduced our housekeeper, Jessica.  Jessie was wonderful but unfortunately had to contend with difficult family issues that prevented her from continuing to work with us.  After an exhaustive search, we hired the smiling and ebullient Dawn Pruitt.  Mother of 6 children, she is lovely, personable, and hard working.  Although we were sad to say goodbye to Jessie, we have certainly found a wonderful replacement in Dawn.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Forgotten Skills with...Tomatoes!

Several years ago Dominique bought a book by an Irish cook and writer called Forgotten Skills.  As suggested by the title, it's about certain lost or at least wandering aimlessly cooking arts, like canning, bread making, and pickling.

We're a little bit intimidated by this book but a week or so ago I bought a bushel of tomatoes from the Amish farmer who supplies our herd share products.  Not knowing exactly what a bushel looked like, I almost left the farm with only one of these big boxes.  Fortunately (?), someone set me straight and I took them both home with me.

Now what?  Keep in mind, I don't even really like tomatoes that much, although a sliced heirloom with fresh mozzarella and basil is wonderfully cool, juicy and delicious for a summer lunch.  And we did serve up a few this way.

For the rest, I turned to Forgotten Skills and put them up in 2 ways.  First and easiest is halving or quartering them and slow-roasting them in the oven.  Her recipe calls for 100 degrees for 5-6 hours, but my oven felt only tepid at that temperature and I cranked it to 250.  We've been serving these roasted tomatoes as a side for breakfast and our guests seem to be loving them.

Another way to dispatch lots of tomatoes is to make tomato paste.  Tomato preparation is nearly identical to roasting:  clean, core, and quarter.  Before dumping them all into a big pot, you cut a few onions and give them a little warm up in some oil.  Then you let the whole thing cook for a very long time until it's as thick as you want it to be.  Forgotten Skills calls for a food mill to mush it up but we don't have one and I thought the immersion blender did a fine job.  Our paste isn't nearly as thick as that which you get in those tiny cans but it's so flavorful and has a wonderful texture.

I made a final batch of roasted tomatoes today and about halfway through the cooking I needed to bake a loaf of banana bread for an hour so I just turned up the heat and put it in with the tomatoes.  They look ever-so-slightly burnt around the edges and drier than the previous batch.  I have a feeling they're going to be even better and more flavorful.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Good times at Riverdog

I can't get over how lucky we are to have the Riverdog venue just outside of Oberlin!  Not only do we have the good fortune to be friends with the owners, Deborah and Terry :-) , but their concerts are without fail of the highest quality and a ton of fun.  Woody Pines and his band was no exception last night and got us on our feet for some great roots music.  It was the first really chilly night we've had in the coming fall season - although it wasn't too bad in the barn - and there's no better way to warm up than by dancing.

Of course we love seeing lots of our friends there, but it was also great to see new faces and especially the crowd of Oberlin College students that came.  I guess they were there to support their friends, Sweet Potato Spoon, who opened for Woody Pines, but I hope they'll come back for more concerts - their enthusiasm was infectious, to say the least!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Brave Dominique takes the ice bucket challenge

Nominated by our Welsh friend Simon Goldsworthy, Dominique was inspired to take the ice bucket challenge to raise awareness - and funds - for ALS research.  What better place to do it than at a rollicking concert at our friends' Deborah Banyas and Terry Speers' Riverdog Retreat

Sandwiched between the opening acts of Emily Keener and duo Andru Bemis and Tom Brosseau, Terry did the honors and dumped the first bucket of icy water over Dom's head in front of 200 witnesses who had come for the concert.  Admittedly the ice had rather melted, but as you can see, the water was plenty cold!  Janet had prepared a second bucket for good measure.  All in good fun and all for a good cause.

Dominique nominated his son Mathieu, his brothers-in-law Kirk Bierman and Dan Dickerson, and also our Oberlin friend Bill County to carry on the trend.