Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Got chickens? Heres egg recipes!


Breakfast Mini Pies:

Ingredients

3/4 pound breakfast sausage
1/8 cup minced onion
1/8 cup minced green bell pepper
1 (12 ounce) can refrigerated biscuit dough
3 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
In a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat, combine sausage, onion and green pepper. Cook until sausage is evenly brown. Drain, crumble, and set aside.
Separate the dough into 10 individual biscuits. Flatten each biscuit out, then line the bottom and sides of 10 muffin cups. Evenly distribute sausage mixture between the cups. Mix together the eggs and milk, and divide between the cups. Sprinkle tops with shredded cheese.
Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, or until filling is set.


Zucchini Fritata:

1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup shredded zucchini
1 teaspoon cooking oil
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 cup cheddar cheese (sprinkled on top)

Directions

In an 8-in. ovenproof skillet over medium heat, saute onion and zucchini in oil for 2-3 minutes. Pour eggs over top; sprinkle with salt & swiss cheese.. Cook until almost set, 6-7 minutes. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 degrees F for 4-5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.



Breakfast Loaf:

6 eggs, beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 (1 pound) round French bread loaf
6 ounces thinly sliced deli ham, divided
3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
1/2 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium tomato, thinly sliced

Directions

In a small bowl, combine eggs, salt and pepper. Melt butter in a skillet; add eggs. Cook and stir until set; set aside. Cut the top fourth off loaf of bread. Carefully hollow out top and bottom, leaving a 1/2-in. shell. (Discard removed bread or save for another use.) Set top aside.
In bottom of bread, place a fourth of the ham. Layer with half of the Monterrey Jack and cheddar cheese, red pepper, scrambled eggs and tomato slices. Top with the remaining cheese and ham. Gently press the layers together. Replace bread top and wrap tightly in foil. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until heated through. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.


Scrambled Eggs:

Ingredients:
6 eggs
2 teaspoons milk
Finely Chopped meat (I use whatever I have bacon, ham, chicken)
1 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 a bell pepper
Salsa
Sour Cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Whip eggs with milk and pour into already heated pan, add bell peppers and cook until all firm and not liquidy, add meat and cheddar cheese, cook until all cheese is melted, stirring with spatula, and salt and pepper to taste, ladle onto plates, top with a spoonful of salsa and a spoonful our sour cream, enjoy

Fresh Blueberry Custard:

Ingredients:

22 graham crackers, rolled fine
1/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. butter
3 eggs, well beaten
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 c. white sugar
1 qt. fresh blueberries (or try 1 qt. fresh strawberries)
Whipping cream (for serving)

FOR FRESH BERRIES:

2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 c. water
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 c. sugar

Directions:

Blend the 1/3 cup sugar and 1/4 cup butter with the crushed graham cracker crumbs. Pat this mixture firmly in bottom of 13 x 9-inch baking pan.

Beat together until creamy the cream cheese with beaten eggs, 1/3 cup sugar and vanilla. Pour over crumb mixture and bake in 350 degree oven for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned on edges and center nearly set. Cool.

For fresh berry filling, sort out 2 cups of the poorest looking fruit, stem or clean them and crush with masher in small saucepan. Add cornstarch, water and sugar, and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until thick. Remove from heat. Add lemon juice. Cool only slightly before adding the rest of the cleaned berries. (If using strawberries, cut most of any larger ones into smaller slices.) Add the combined berry mixture carefully over cooled custard layer. Chill several hours before serving cold with sweetened whipped cream.

Pickled Eggs:

Ingredients:

3 parts vinegar
1 part water
3 bay leaves
salt (1 tsp. per dozen eggs)
eggs

Directions:
Bring vinegar, water and bay leaves and salt to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Pour over hard-cooked eggs in canning jars. Seal.

Refrigerate for at least 2 weeks before using.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

the joys of chickens

Chickens:

Chickens I mean what can i say? Lovable smart creatures each with a personality..

Shadow, Salt & pepper, and Red are the most lovable pets.. easier to take care of then a dog and just as friendly.. I mean you wouldn't think so but they are. Here i started gardening fruits, veggies, flowers.. i wanted to lean towards sustainability but something was missing.. entire food groups actually! So what can I do here in urban America sitting on a quarter acre? Well raise chickens! They are not overly loud unlike peafowl or geese.. they don't need water to splash in like ducks.. they don't take up huge amounts of room like cattle, goats, sheep, etc.. they seemed perfect!



So to the local library where i checked out the whole 2 books they had (next to the 50 or so books about dogs and 30 or so about cats) great stories not enough info. so to the bookshop i went where i bought the storey publisher guide to raising chickens. AMAZING purchase well worth the $15 paid.. i wanted this to be budget friendly as well so after reading the book i went online to different chicken breeders websites looking for certain traits in my chickens.. I wanted quite, friendly, cage friendly birds (cage friendly cause i didn't need birds that would freak out when i close them in the coop at night during the day they free range)

I found about 20 breeds.. wrote down my favorite and headed to the 2 local feed stores. I found my first one at a store about 2 miles from my house a golden laced wyandotte, my other 2 i got at a store a little farther away but within reason. there i got a buff orpington and amercuana. i took them home in there little box and placed them into a little brooder box i made for them. it was a 10 gallon aquarium with a piece of chicken wire on the top and heat light hung over top and the floor covered in ripped newspaper and paper towels. We had a thermometer inside as for there first week they need to be at 92 degrees then slowly declining which i could control by lowing or raising the heat lamp. Everything i made that out of was recycled or picked off of freecycle except the hanging heat lamp which i made with a extension cord($2), red heat lamp($8), and bulb converter ($1).. they lived happily in that brooder and came out to exercise 2 times a day by walking around the living room and being loved by us.. at about a month old they out grew their little box.. i had made a coop out of pallets and chicken wire.. problem was they were small enough to escape through the front door which was lattice and the next morning i came out to find them dead ripped about in my yard.. one was left but had its wing torn off and was clucking in pain.. i ended up cutting its head off to put it out of its misery.. i cried for hours that day and every time i think about it just like now i tear up.. i couldn't bear to tell my 2 year old daughter at that time her chickens had died so a couple days later i went out and got 3 more.. they didn't have all the same birds but somewhat.. we got a americuana, a silver laced wyandotte, and a jersey giant. same thing they went into brooder, then we borrowed a big steel dog cage from my dad placed it on a table in the porch and when they out grew the brooder they went into that until they were about 3 months old at which point in my fury of letting my first 3 birds die i had torn apart their old homebuilt coop.. on freecycle a guy was giving away his old coop after his daughter didn't lock up the chickens one night and something came out of the woods and killed his chickens.. score! we drove over in our SUV and fought to get the coop on top and secure (that was fun) and we slowly drove home.. placed concrete bricks down to raise it off the floor placed 2 pallets down covered in chicken wire as the floor and put the new coop on top! it was perfect.. it has 2 sides each roughly 4x4 and tilted roof lowest being about 4 ft highest about 5ft.. the next week i bought hay for the flooring set up a brick inside for their water to sit on nailed a feeder to the side and put in the new chickens! the next day i was afraid to go outside so Ronnie did.. they were safe and sound.. every morning they get let out to roam then every sunset they get put back in the coop to sleep.. at about 5 1/2 months old i needed a nest box installed.. i went to Walgreens asked for a milk crate they gave me one i brought it home nailed a 2 inch high piece of wood at the bottom covered the box in black fabric and screwed it in.. they use that box everyday and are now laying us about 1 egg a day each : )


even with my trials i would suggest to everyone to get these creatures. everyday shadow the jersey giant comes inside the house sits on my lap and lets me pet her while i watch TV.. my daughter picks them up carries them around and cuddles them.. this is a sight cause she just turned 3 and when she picks them up they go almost as long as she is tall.. they tolerate more then our cat does when it comes to my daughter.. they follow her around and every night she rounds them up puts them in the coop and locks up : )

chickens are truly amazing animals and pets!

Gardening in the hot hot sun

Ah the heat of Florida... low to mid 90's sun beaming down.. no shade in my yard yikes!

Its now already to late for us to plant much of anything.. of course their are some veggies that will be fine (okra, southern peas, egyptian spinach, malabar spinach, etc) but the tomatoes, melon, squash, and most other common plantables are now more till september.

I'm depressed I did not do near enough with my garden this year as I wanted to.. : / *sigh* come september I plan to be a busy bee..

Anyway today I watered all me plants buried a couple (water saver) containers and moved the chicken coop. It was against the porch blocking the view of the gardens and taking space in the only shady area of the chickens area. I moved it against one of the fences next to our wood stack and lemon tree.. hopefully this will not effect their laying



Also in the spirit of chicken keeping I did some math..
Here we go..

Roughly 3 eggs a day, about 30 days in a month.. that's 90 eggs a month

A bag of 50 pound chicken food costs me about $15 and lasts about 3 months.. that's $5 a month

90 eggs is 7.5 dozen.. $5÷7.5= .66

So roughly for every dozen eggs I get it costs me about 66 cents... the going rate for "farm fresh" eggs here seem to be between $4 and $4.75... that seems to be a huge profit.. I mean of course this $ does not account for the work and time going into the chickens.. but I enjoy raising my chickens : ) they are all named (salt &pepper, red, and shadow) and my daughter cuddles them not to mention shadow comes inside the house and sits on my lap while I pet her and watch TV

All in all raising chickens has been very rewarding for my family and I fully support everyone getting some in fact after watching ours these past 11 months are neighbor decided to get 3 of their own : )

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Garden Pathways

This morning as walked pulling weeds around the garden beds I reliezed I need pathways! I kept brushing into tall grass, pricky sandspur weeds, bugs, and holes.. it made the weed pulling even worse!

So I have decided enough is enough.. pathway time! But what to use?

Sand?... no our soil is already so sandy around here why would I ever want to add more of that junk

Gravel?... Nah costly and not pleasant looking to me

Bricks?.. can look very nice but is expensive and labor intensive

Straw?.. this is what I use in my raised garden walkway because it desomposes and is good to build soil but not right for the pathways I want now

Hmmmm...

I got it! Large flat stones! I don't know where to find them.. but I will find something...

Ill set them a couple inches apart and make a nice natural looking pathway around the raised beds.. bird bath.. compost pile.. I'm excited now : ) wooo hooo

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Adventures in learning and recycling items...

So yesterday I went outside in the awful florida heat. It was low 90's with the sun bearing down angerly ready to scourch any uncovered skin. The chickens where hiding under their raised coop out of the sun and in the cool dirt. The sun was gleaming off the recently watered garden looking like diamonds scattered all around. But...

...I had a mission to clean up my garden area and backyard.
Recently my fiances grandmother had a tree cut down so we went and got all the pieces to use as firewood next winter. But after unloading from the car we reliezed we didn't have a spot for it all so it was scattered in piles in the front and side of our house so I took a old pallet we had laying around left over from the coop and layed. It down in the corner. I will stack our tons of wood on top of that to keep it off the ground and out of the puddles we get in a hard rain a tarp will be thrown over top.



Next I drilled holes about 2 inches up from the bottom on my daughter old plastic turtle sandbox that she has grown out of. I moved this close to the house I will fill with compost and dirt to give her a little garden she can tend to and plant whatever she wants in. The lid of the turtle sandbox now gardenbox will be used to cover the it while not in use so the soil doesn't go bad in its "off time"

I also have a baby lemon tree which is in a blue 15 gallon water saver container and has about 5 fruit on it. I dug a large hole and sunk it into the ground with only the top 4 inches showing. This way it looks nice but also will help save on water use. My water saver container is that I have a large container and drill 5 large holes about 2 inches from the bottom. This allows water to still drain but only if it reaches that point. In a drought and with water restrictions like we have this is very useful cause the roots will stretch out to find the water in those bottom 2 inches if it really needs it.

My peach tree had a problem which after reading was so my fault. It was its first year giving us fruit and it had prob between 20 to 30 fruit after some mild thinning (anything that was touching).. I ended up with a bunch of golf ball sized fruit.. very yummy and very sweet just small. I read that I should have cut down to around 5 or so for such a small tree and they would have been bigger. Next year I will know to thin them heavily. But as a bite sized snack these are amazing plus they just fall away from the pit! All in all wonderful!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Summer Garden in FL

As a florida gardener I run into many diffirent problems then northern gardeners..

Mostly lack of water, intense heat, and pests.

In my garden I have grey zuccinni, cucumbers, corn, midget honeydew, and onions going.

I planted lots of tomatoes but within a couple days of planting the seedlings wilted to black on the soil.

my peach tree is loaded with baby fruit which from ripening dates has about another month before being full grown.

My blackberry busk has baby blackberries on it as well as many blooms.

My meyer lemon has 5 baby lemons on it and well as another set of blooms : )

All 3 of my chickens are laying a egg a day and tonight I plan to make a chicken and broccoli quiche.

My yard is flooded with little grasshoppers that eat everything they can get their chompers on.

The honeysuckle that was not going well erupted into a beautiful plant and is now blooming.

The heat has been in the upper 80's to low/mid 90's.. and zaps all mosture from my plants wiliting them during the day everyday... the ground cannot hold onto any water and we have to water just about everyday.

I had to put up a small fence to keep the chickens out of the gardens since they seem to have taken a liking to scratchin my plants up.

Hope everyone is doing well! : )

Peace and much love!