Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Those of us who garden don’t only get to have the freshest produce; sometimes we get to have the funniest produce. Oddly shaped fruits and veggies often never make it to market because they are not perfect, standard or won’t ship well. They usually taste just as good as their more perfect veggie relatives and provide so much more opportunity for dinnertime discussion. Next summer I’ve vowed to photo document all my symmetrically challenged veggies. I did remember one photo I took of a conjoined acorn squash. As you can see. it had one stem, but had two separate seed cavities. It went on to become a side dish that served four.

Another double I’ve eaten is double yoker eggs. They are super jumbo eggs that are sometimes produced when a hen starts laying and her body isn’t quite into the rhythm of the whole process. Two yokes end up in one egg. I’ve heard that a hen can also produce a yokeless egg, but I’ve never had one of those. What are cooking in the pan are two double yoker eggs; two eggs, four yokes.

Finally here is one of my dogs playing with my daughter’s puppy today. I have still not gotten a really good photo of them playing. The shutter lag on my digital just doesn’t work for active subjects. I point and shoot. Sometimes they are in the frame. Often they’ve moved out of the frame. These two dogs are not twins, but do have the same mother and father, so are brothers. My dog, Kahlil, on the right is 12 months old. Christine and Barry’s pup on the left is 3 ½ months old. They come from a family of working dogs you’ll find at When I told Christine to leave the pup here today, I’d forgotten I was having my book group for dinner. Of course it’s also pouring rain outside today. After lunch I think I will enforce naptime for the little puppy so I can prepare for guests in peace. By the way, all those teeth are just in good fun, brotherly roughhousing.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

On Watch

Loyal guardian of humans, hearth and hens.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Good Company, Good Food

Tonight I ate dinner at my friend Pat’s place. Earlier this morning she headed out on a quest to a butcher that advertised guinea hen. Neither of us has had the opportunity to try guinea hen yet. Her plan was to cook it tonight. Unfortunately they had no guinea hens today. She considered quail, but they were not dated, and were in cryovac, so it was impossible to determine their freshness. She finally settled on Cornish hens. The dinner she cooked was superb. My picture does not do it justice. There was only so much time I could fuss over the picture while I held up the dinner. It’s roast Cornish hen on a bed of creamy mashed potato with endive. It was fantastic. I turned down the offer to borrow the book that the recipe came from, but thinking it over I think I will borrow it next time I see her. It had so many different and interesting flavors, that I think I want to study the recipe.

Guinea hen will have to wait for another time. If you’re wondering what a guinea hen is, look below at the picture of my friend Olivia’s half grown pet guineas. Guineas are not just good for eating; they are excellent for natural insect control. They love to eat bugs and ticks including the deer tick which can spread Lyme disease, a nasty thing, now endemic in my area.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Re-tread Eggs

Eggshells can be thrown away or composted, but even better they can be re-cycled. Hens love to recycle eggshells. They pick at them and eat them. Shells provide calcium and a hen needs a lot of calcium to lay the half dozen that she can lay each week. The black hen in the lower left has just grabbed a shell that I tossed into the yard. She is about to run off to try and enjoy it by herself. Despite the fact there are other shells they will all run after her. They always seem to think the other one has something better.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Flightless Roast Chicken Recipe

For a while my friend Pat and I have each been trying to create the perfect roast chicken. We’ve seasoned. We’ve salted. We’ve brined. We’ve buttered. We’ve rubbed. We’ve set off smoke detectors and hung over ovens basting and turning in various attempts to create the perfect roast chicken like the ones Pat would buy during her year living in Italy. Well my friend Judy and I raised lots of broiler chickens this year and I have a freezer full of chickens to try roasting. Most of the experiments have been good. Perfection would probably require a home rotisserie. One particularly good one I made was the one pictured above. The recipe is as follows:
1. Get some day old chicks and feed them only natural food and allow them to range on lush Vermont pasture.
2. After butchering, freeze the chickens that you can’t eat fresh, within 12-24 hours. Two days before you want a ‘flightless roast chicken’, take a chicken from the freezer. Unwrap it and allow it to defrost uncovered in the refrigerator on a plate
3. On the evening of day 2, cut off the wings. Pat dry if any moisture or juice has accumulated on the chicken or plate.
4. On day 3, take the chicken out of the refrigerator and rub liberally with salt and butter.
5. Roast it starting at 450-500 F. Turn down to 350F. after 25-30 minutes or when the smoke detector starts beeping, whichever comes first. Remove from oven when it looks right. Rest (both you and the chicken) and then dig it.

Now maybe you are wondering why the wings are cut off on day two. I will explain exactly why. On day two, I came home from work. I really wanted chicken, but the chicken was not defrosted yet. The wings were defrosted though, so I cut them off, slathered BBQ sauce on them and broiled them for my supper. The next day it was finally defrosted and I roasted what was left. It looks kind of silly without wings, doesn’t it, but it was good.

Friday, November 25, 2005

The Chicken or the Egg

I think I’m the only one in my town of about 25,000 people who keeps chickens. I’m often asked if they lay eggs. Yes, my laying hens do lay eggs. I usually talk to people about my laying hens first. Around here, talking about the broiler (eating) chickens that I raised with my farmer friend Judy usually gets me strange looks. I’ve also learned the hard way not to discuss animals raised for food at the lunch table at work. This is kind of funny, and sad. We have become removed enough from our food sources that just mentioning that you raise your own chickens for eating or that a friend is raising a lamb for your freezer is not suitable lunch table discussion!

What seems to be safe to discuss is the eggs. In answer to the question, “Do my chickens lay eggs?” The answer is, “yes” but here is the part that shocks some people and is something they would rather not think about.. Eggs come out of hen’s butts! To those who get eggs from a supermarket, this thought can seem off-putting. To those of us who raise chickens, that’s just fine. Direct from hen is the freshest and most convenient source.
My chickens are allowed to range in my backyard. In addition to some chicken feed they eat bugs, grass, weeds, wild berries, fallen crab apples, vegetable peel, my dinner leftovers and whatever they find. In return they lay eggs that are better than store bought. The eggs are fresher, tastier, have more omega3s and have nicer looking yokes. I never need to go to the supermarket to get them. They just keep appearing day after day. What a marvelous thing!