Author Archives: misterkrista

the backyard jungle

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Hatch Watch 2012

Yesterday our Brinsea Mini Advance incubator told us there are 3 days left and stopped turning the eggs. Yes, our incubator turns the eggs for us and counts down the 21 days during incubation. Our research has told us to keep the incubator on lockdown for the final 3 days. No more opening it and candling the eggs for a peek inside. We removed the turning tray and added paper towels and we are ready for some hatching to commence.

I’m a little bummed that I didn’t have time to turn this into a photo project and document their development the whole time. Here is a photo of candling on day five.

There is certainly something developing in there!

On day five we thought we only had two or three developing. Our flashlight wasn’t bright enough and they were still very small. Within a couple days we got a better flashlight and we could tell exactly what was going on. There were two clear duds of our seven hatching eggs. Not bad! We started to see five little chicken embryos moving around inside the eggs. That was the highlight of my day at the end of each day during this process. It seriously blew my mind the first time we saw them move.

There are tons of YouTube videos (like this one below) that show candling eggs at different stages of development:

In the last week, we have been able to tell that one of our five remaining eggs quit. With four of them the chicks inside are getting so big all you can make out is darkness that moves sometimes and an air bubble. The quitter is noticeably smaller and not moving. So we have high hopes for four baby chicks and fingers crossed for at least 50% girls!

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homemade mango lassi

We are smoothie junkies around here, so I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me sooner that we could make mango lassis at home. It also didn’t occur to me that they are healthier than they taste. Instead of yogurt and milk, I like to replace some of the dairy with light coconut milk.

mango lassi
Makes a 1-3/4 cup serving.

Per person blend:

1 mango, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup lowfat plain yogurt
2 tablespoons light coconut milk
1/4 – 1/2 cup cold water
1 teaspoon sugar or honey
a generous pinch of salt
a dash of cardamom

Optional: sprinkle with pistachios and drink through a colorful straw.

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Jar Lunch: Preserved Lemon Pasta with Morrocan Olives

The Jar Lunch: It’s like a bag lunch or a bento lunch, but the next big thing is lunch packed in a good ol’ mason jar. I have to microwave my lunch at work, so metal containers won’t work and heating up plastic has me worried. We often simply fill mason jars with leftovers, but sometimes it is fun to come up with a clever jar lunch and make a big batch. Lunch for the whole family is already packed.

This pasta was created for the sole purpose of trying to eat some of our preserved lemons. I would say both the lemons and the pasta were a success! I paired the preserved lemon with Moroccan olives, which are cured black olives.

Morrocan olives: cured black olives. If you don’t have these available, you can substitute Kalamata.

Preserved Lemon Pasta
Makes 8 generous servings

Ingredients:
1 (14.5 ounce) package whole grain pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dry white wine
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 egg yolks
1 cup reserved pasta cooking water, divided
1/2 cup halved and pitted Moroccan olives
1/2 cup diced preserved lemon (pulp and peel)
1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas
3/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
4 ounces pecorino, shredded

Directions:

Cook the pasta al dente, according to the package directions. Drain, reserving one cup of the starchy pasta cooking water.

Meanwhile, heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat and then add the olive oil. Once the oil has heated, add the onion. Sauté until translucent, 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional minute. Add the wine, turmeric, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cook until liquid has reduced by about half and appears slightly thickened.

In a small bowl whisk the egg yolks. Very slowly pour in 1/2 cup of reserved pasta cooking water while whisking constantly. There should be no lumps. Add the egg mixture to the sauce, and continue to cook over low heat until slightly thickened, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Toss the sauce with the noodles. Add as much additional reserved pasta cooking liquid as needed so the sauce easily coats the pasta. Add olives, preserved lemon, parsley, and pecorino and toss until well combined.

Enjoy!

Please add your photos to the Jar Lunch Flickr pool for this or any other jar lunches you make!

See our other Jar Lunches here.

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The Littles

It’s about time for an update on our flock integration! We have taken to calling our segregated flock “The Bigs” and “The Littles,” and it just stuck. While they aren’t best of friends yet, I am happy to report we have made major progress. Go Team Littles!


The Littles


The Bigs


The Littles again – are you seeing the theme here?

When we last left off, Katniss & Primrose were being bullied by Pepper and, more tragically, were really bad at being chickens. Perching and scratching and basic chicken life-skills seemed to be daunting to them. We were told our Lavender Orpington pullets had been free-ranged on 10 acres. In retrospect, what breeder of expensive chickens lets them run so free? I’m pretty certain they never spent a day outside until they met us, and I was convinced they were permanently stunted.

The little hidey-holes I built them (Pepper demonstrates above) proved to be the solution we needed. Instead of getting cornered in the run when being bullied, they miraculously became adept at jumping on top of the boxes where Pepper leaves them alone (mostly). They still spend a lot of time hanging out on top of those boxes, but little-tiny bit by little-tiny bit, Pepper is less interested in bullying them and they get braver.

After the Littles moved outside, Pepper spent the first few long days we were away at work in solitary confinement inside the coop. We would arrive home to a happy little flock of three. Lenora and The Littles would be together, eating and acting like regular chickens. And as soon as Pepper was freed, she would chase Katniss & Prim up onto their box. Sad, but soon they were more confident and Pepper no longer needed to be separated. Baby steps.

They have started hitting important milestones like going up the ladder and going down the ladder. I can’t tell you how much we love chickens we don’t have to put to bed or wake up in the morning. However, they have been putting themselves to bed in the nesting boxes, which has caused some confusion for all parties.


Pepper laid an egg in the hidey-hole because her favorite nesting box was occupied. Pepper has never laid an egg anywhere but the nesting boxes before.

Other new chicken-like behaviors: running, jumping, scratching, eating scratch from a human hand, and just today I found them dust-bathing. Now, if only they could start spending time as a foursome before our flock grows again.

I leave you with my favorite chicken shot from recent days:


Levi & Lenora

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Jar Lunch: Pesto Quinoa Salad with Smoked Mozzarella

The Jar Lunch: It’s like a bag lunch or a bento lunch, but the next big thing is lunch packed in a good ol’ mason jar. I have to microwave my lunch at work, so metal containers won’t work and heating up plastic has me worried. We often simply fill mason jars with leftovers, but sometimes it is fun to come up with a clever jar lunch and make a big batch. Lunch for the whole family is already packed.

I tried to keep it simple this week. Translation: we are still without an oven. Time has been scarce, so I even went for store-bought pesto, although homemade pesto would make this recipe all the more delicious. You could omit the smoked mozzarella to lighten this up a bit, but I’m pretty sure you deserve a little smoked mozzarella. Levi took one bite of this and said, “Is that smoked mozzarella!?!” at which point I knew this one was a keeper.

Pesto Quinoa Salad with Smoked Mozzarella
Makes ten 1-1/3 cup servings

Igredients:
5 cups cooked quinoa
1 bunch asparagus
1 cup pesto, homemade or store-bought
½ cup mayonnaise (light or regular)
1 (10 ounce) package grape tomatoes
1 (12 ounce) package frozen baby lima beans, thawed
1 (13.75 ounce) can quartered artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
8 ounces smoked fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes

Directions:
For quinoa cooking instructions, this method works great (and 1.5 recipes worth makes a bit more than 5 cups). You can make the quinoa the night before and chill overnight in the fridge. Otherwise, spread the quinoa on a baking sheet to allow it to cool faster.

Snap off the tough ends of the asparagus spears. Cut the spears into 1″ strips and steam for about 5 minutes. Rinse with cold water and spread on a baking sheet to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together the pesto and mayonnaise. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl, and toss until combined and evenly coated.

Please add your photos to the Jar Lunch Flickr pool for this or any other jar lunches you make!

See our other Jar Lunches here.

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Jar Lunch: Thai Peanut Tofu Spread

The Jar Lunch: It’s like a bag lunch or a bento lunch, but the next big thing is lunch packed in a good ol’ mason jar. I have to microwave my lunch at work, so metal containers won’t work and heating up plastic has me worried. We often simply fill mason jars with leftovers, but sometimes it is fun to come up with a clever jar lunch and make a big batch. Lunch for the whole family is already packed.

This is an old recipe of mine that somehow has never made it onto this blog. I love flavored tofu spreads. You can eat them on a bagel, in a wrap or on a sandwich. This recipe would even be good in a fresh spring roll with some lettuce and sprouts. Here we’ve packed it in jars with vegetables and whole wheat flat bread for dipping.

Thai Peanut Tofu Spread
Makes 5 cups (10-15 servings)

20 ounces high protein, extra firm tofu
1-1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and quartered
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon chili paste
1/3 cup tamari
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar*
1 cup shredded carrot
3/4 cup finely diced bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced (about ½ cup)
1/3 cup chopped peanuts or cashews

Directions:
Press the excess liquid out of the tofu. You can watch a quick video on that technique here. I use two cutting boards instead of plates, slice the tofu lengthwise into two thinner pieces, and wrap them in a kitchen towel to absorb the liquid. This step is important, as you want to get rid of the tofu liquid so it can absorb the liquid you are adding to the recipe.

In a food processor, pulse the ginger and garlic until finely minced. You may need to open the food processor and scrape down the sides and pulse again to get all of it minced. Add the peanut butter, coconut milk, chili paste, tamari, rice vinegar, and sugar. Mix in the food processor until thoroughly combined, about one minute.

Cut or tear the tofu into several smaller pieces and add to the peanut mixture. Pulse the food processor until the mixture is combined and the tofu is chopped into small pieces. Leave some texture, as pictured below:

Finally, put the peanut mixture in a medium bowl and fold in the remaining ingredients.

Though we love this stuff on bagels, we packed a jar lunch with about 1/2 cup of tofu spread in a half-pint jar along with a pint jar of carrots & cucumber and another half-pint with triangles of whole wheat flat bread.

Cucumber rounds are great for dipping.

It reminds me of little Levi in kindergarten getting “carrot cookies” from his teacher in the school garden. They were just slices of carrot. That would make these cucumber chips.

*You can substitute a different sweetener of choice, but don’t omit sweetener entirely as it will throw off the balance of flavors.

Please add your photos to the Jar Lunch Flickr pool for this or any other jar lunches you make!

See our other Jar Lunches here.

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21 days

Today’s Jar Lunch will be up this afternoon, but meanwhile I have an important announcement:

We have so much to tell you about this next week! If your question is, “Does this officially make you crazy chicken ladies?” the answer is “yep”.

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recipe testing

There has been some serious recipe testing and tweaking happening this week, and then THE OVEN BROKE. We’re talking complete short circuit. Somehow I am going to get a gas range out of this, but in the meantime we are seriously inconvenienced what with the FOOD BLOG, Levi needing to BAKE CUPCAKES for a school event this week, and the upcoming BAKE SALE. Luckily, I have friends who have ovens.

Oh yeah, the bake sale. Attention Olympians and other PNWesterners! There is a bake sale happening. Come eat our food! Click here to learn more about Bake Olympia: food bloggers bake to fight hunger.

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Jar Lunch: Sesame Noodle Salad with Ginger Tofu Cubes

The Jar Lunch: It’s like a bag lunch or a bento lunch, but the next big thing is lunch packed in a good ol’ mason jar. I have to microwave my lunch at work, so metal containers won’t work and heating up plastic has me worried. We often simply fill mason jars with leftovers, but sometimes it is fun to come up with a clever jar lunch and make a big batch. Lunch for the whole family is already packed.

I love sesame noodles a little too much. I make a double batch so big it barely fits in our biggest bowl. I don’t know why I don’t make this more often. We use whole grain noodles and lots of ginger baked tofu for protein. A cold noodle salad like this makes an easy jar lunch that you don’t even have to heat before you eat.

Sesame Noodle Salad with Ginger Tofu Cubes
Makes eight pint mason jar lunches

Ingredients:
1/2 pound whole grain spaghetti noodles
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 bunch green onions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
1/2 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced and cut into 1” lengths
2 cups thinly shredded napa cabbage
1 large carrot, grated
1/2 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced and cut into 1” lengths
1 (15 ounce) can sliced baby corn
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup cashews, toasted* and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
1 recipe ginger baked tofu (below)

Directions:
Cook the noodles al dente and drain. After draining, rinse with cold water until completely cooled and drain again. Whisk together the honey, tamari, sesame oil, and rice vinegar. In a large bowl, toss together all ingredients. It is best to let the salad marinate in the bowl overnight and toss the salad again. Then pack into eight pint-sized mason jars for lunches.

*To toast the cashews, spread on a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 350° F for about 10 minutes, checking on them frequently. When they are done they will be golden and fragrant.

Ginger Baked Tofu

Ingredients:
20 ounces high protein, extra firm tofu
1/3 cup honey
3 tablespoons tamari
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons minced ginger
2 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon red chili paste

Directions:
Press the excess liquid out of the tofu. You can watch a quick video on that technique here. I use two cutting boards instead of plates, slice the tofu lengthwise into two thinner pieces, and wrap them in a kitchen towel to absorb the liquid.

Once the tofu is pressed, cut it into ½” cubes. Combine all the other ingredients in a medium casserole dish and marinate the tofu in the dish for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Spread the cubes of tofu in a single layer. Put the casserole dish in the oven to bake for 45 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Turn the tofu with a spatula every 15 minutes.

Please add your photos to the Jar Lunch Flickr pool for this or any other jar lunches you make!

See our other Jar Lunches here.

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