Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Girls

I can never get enough of my girls and I finally got a couple of closer pics. They are a bit camera shy, so I gave them some spoiled milk and rice. They do like it, but not quite as much as homemade tomato soup! They had the pleasure of eating the soup when Dave couldn't finish his bowl. Here they are...



Hasn't Pickle grown!! She is in the forefront here. She is so cute and the Girls really so love her. Edith is the black chicken on the left. She is starting to show some shades of green sheen on her feathers. So pretty!

Jemima, left, Atta Girl, right
Daisy, they grey quacker and Pickle in the background

Here is Pickle showing up the girls in front of the camera. She was strutting her stuff.

I just peeked out to check on them and they are in my tomatoes. It is definitely a favorite spot for them. Yesterday I looked out and thought that I saw them all under a bush. I was trying to find Pickle when I realized that there was another bird outside with them. It was bigger than Pickle but smaller than The Girls. I stepped outside for a closer look. A young hawk was sitting outside with them!!!! It didn't seem to be bothering them. I am thinking that their conversation went something like this:
Hawk: Hey Ladies!
The Girls: Hey....
Hawk: There anything good to eat around here?
The Girls: Yeah, but look out for the rats. We killed one this week.
Hawk: Rats?!?! I am definitely at the right place!
The Girls: Just don't pay attention to us, there is plenty for everyone, except rats.

It flew off when I walked toward them. Or should I say that it glided away. Literally. It was beautiful. I have seen it since apparently hunting small rodents. I hope that it catches the chipmunks so that I don't have to! You are welcome here Hawk. Just don't get a taste for chicken!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Peach Preserves

About a month ago a at the Marietta Farmer's Market a grower was selling their peaches. They were gorgeous and delicious. Upon arriving home, I wished that I had bought more. The next week I showed up ready to buy a box full. I was sadly disappointed when they weren't there.

Needless to say, I was overjoyed when another peach grower showed up in the spot to fill in the gap. They realized that people wanted peaches and no other growers were around. Yay! I bought my box of peaches and hurried home, only to have the peach preserve making put off to take care of the figs.

Here is the box of peaches. I had to work fast! Those babies were softening up every day.

Makes my mouth water just looking at them. Tree ripe. Little fuzz. Yum...... drool, but not on the peaches.

I mean can they get even more tempting? Look at how pretty they are all cut up. This is about 12 peaches cut up and just put on the stove top.

Cooking down a batch of peaches on the right and the figs on the left. It was a long day people!


The joy! The bliss! Peach preserves ready to put on the shelf and open up come winter. It is so delicious! I was half tempted to buy more peaches but my shelves are full. And after four days of spending time over the stove I couldn't do anymore. My feet and knees wouldn't let me.

They turned out so nice and so easy. I used this recipe. I would change the number of peaches to ten. Other than that, it is wonderful. Also for something different, and it takes less peaches, try this recipe for ginger peach marmalade. I used a blender and it turned out great. I can't wait to eat this on a warm piece of bread! Let me know if you try making either one. They are both delightful and very easy. I will use the recipes for years to come. I am sure of it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fig Preserves

I spent most of the last week and a whole weekend making preserves. I will start you off with figs first. A lot of people don't like figs. I love them! The sweet taste and that texture are one of a kind.

My aunt ant uncle have a two HUGE fig trees in their yard. Unfortunately my aunt suffer from diverticulitis and can't eat figs because of their hard small seeds. So my dad and I went over to pick them. It would be my job to process and can them. Once we started picking I knew that I was in for it! We ended up with at least 2 gallons of figs! Glorious wonderful figs! Oh woe is me..... figs have to be dealt with quickly. They are fragile little things. I followed my aunts instructions.

First my dad and I cut all of the figs in half, placing them in a large pot one layer at a time. Each layer was sprinkled with sugar, then the next layer added until you finish up with all of the figs. I took them home and let them sit over night. Then I had this:

The figs made thier own juice with the sugar. Can you tell how many figs we had? I couldn't count them.

Here they have been cooking for most of the day. I added a bit more sugar and a few dashes of lemon juice. I let them cook all day, stirring periodically.

Finally I put them in jars. It took forever! Looks like we'll be eating a lot of peanut butter and fig sandwiches this summer! Long ago I watched my mom and dad make preserves, Now i make my own. One of the things that they have passed down in the process is heat sealing. If your jam or vinegar for pickles is hot enough you turn your jars upside down for five minutes after screwing on the lids.

Here are my figs hanging around upside down. Yes, all of those are filled with figs! Then you turn them right side up. As it cools, it seals the jar. It makes a wonderful popping sound. 98% of the time this works. I still check my jars before storing them. My cabinets are full of figs!! It should be a tasty winter treat. I think that I will have to try my hand at fig newtons sometime too. I will keep you posted on that adventure! Stay tuned....

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Babies

Everyone has been wanting to see the new girls. They were babies to us when you put them beside our girls. Here they are. Pickle is on the left and Lemon is on the right.

This is just before we put them into their new home.



Dave really does love the chickens. Can't you see it?

Our girls were not sure what to do with the little ones. They shunned them and pecked them, but not hard. I can't blame the girls. In one day we took away the six boys, who were hard to catch, and added two little ones. They seemed to tolerate each other after a day or so.

Sadly, we lost Lemon last Saturday. I think that she was sick when got her. The stress of the move plus picking up some illness did it for her. We loved you Lemon!!

That day the girls adopted Pickle. Edith literally rounded Pickle up into the group. Atta Girl slept with her for a couple of nights before she started sleeping on the top roost with everyone else. They share their treats with her. They love Pickle and so do we. We are so glad and proud of them.

Pickle has grown in the last two weeks. I treated all of the girls with some medication just in case what Lemon had they all had. The combo of the meds, a good home and some good food seem to be working wonders on her. And apparently I just grow huge chickens. I need to get another picture of all the girls together. They are so fun! once the mosquitoes are gone I will be out there all of the time just watching them. Want to join me?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Busy

Sorry no big blog. I have so many things to blog about, but I am lacking the time. The chickens, tomatoes, peaches and figs have taken all of my time. You will get to read and see these very soon. Well, as soon as I have the time to blog.

Oh yeah, the one big thing that is taking up my time is work. That thing called a full-time job. The students are back and in full swing. I think that it will be a great year.

Right now I am going to hit the hay. A day spent over the stove has taken it's toll. It is time for bed my friends. I am going to bed with visions of preach preserves dancing in my head!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Coop, Here It Is!

I tried to find my pictures of the progression of the coop and couldn't find them. So, here is a video I took trying to catch the boys crowing. Of course they didn't. And I am not sure how clear the video is. I will take some more pictures soon. Anyway, Coop, Here It Is!

video

Thanks Dave for building our chickens an awesome home. They love it. And I love you!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Cock-a-doodle-doo?

I woke up this morning and opened the back door as I usually do. I like to feel what cool of the morning there is in The South! Today, as soon as I opened the door I heard a high pitched "cock-a-doodle", followed by a low pitched "cocka#*!". The boys are hitting puberty and they are finding their voices. I got outside far enough to see that Xena has become Zorro and is very proud of it! I tried to capture some audio but of course they stopped their crowing.

This morning I frantically tried to find them homes. Have I mentioned that we aren't lawfully owning chickens? Well, now I have. I'll bribe you with eggs to keep quiet about it. The crowing could draw unwanted attention to us. I have succeeded in finding homes for three of them. Hunca Munca, Hank and Elroy will be traveling tomorrow to meet their new owner, Josh. He has a good deal of land out in Lawrenceville where he breeds and raises chickens. He has 8 Cuckoo Maran hens just waiting for the likes of Hunca Munca and Hank! I am not sure who Elroy will be paired up with, but I am sure that he will find himself some lovely ladies.

Now I have to find homes for Trace, Zorro and Hyacinth. I mean Henry. Hopefully they will find one in Woodstock. Fingers crossed and prayers said.

The good news- Josh is bringing me two pullets! I am so excited. Oh, a pullet is a female chicken who is not quite mature. Once mature she is called a hen. My boys right now would be called cockerels not roosters. I can't wait to meet these new girls and pick out names for them. They are close to the age of my chickens and their breed should make them good layers. Hooray!

Here are a few pictures of everyone together enjoying a treat of leftover rice. They devoured it!



What a nice family portrait. We'll miss you boys! I really will. It will be all that I can do not to bawl my eyes out over them. It will make it a lot easier that they are going to a good home where they can make lots of babies! Maybe one day I will get one of their babies! That would be really neat. It is also easing my pain to get two girls in the trade. The coop won't seem quite so empty. I will post pictures of our adventures and hopefully capture some farewell shots.

The chicken saga continues! Stay tuned...

p.s. Josh is taking all of the boys after viewing these photos of them! I am so glad that they will all go to the same home. What a blessing!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Tomatoes

The garden is starting to provide it's bounty. The Juliette tomatoes are coming in really fast. They are a yummy tomato kind of like a cross between a Roma and a grape tomato. My mom gave me a bunch to do something with as she was trying to figure out what to do with the large amount that she still had. I didn't want to take the time to blanch and peel them, chop them, cook them and make sauce. So I tried dehydrating them. They were suppose to end up like sun dried tomatoes.

Here is one tray ready to place on the dehydrator. I cut the tomatoes in half, leaving a bit of skin still attached and opened them like a book.

Here are a couple of trays stacked together. I think that the tomatoes look just lovely, but there was no way that I could eat them all at one time. Into the dehydrator you go!

Now we wait............... then rotate the trays. I also started to pick off the ones that were already dried so that they didn't become too crispy.

And here they come.........



Beautiful! And tasty. I plan to use them just as I would sun dried tomatoes. I might put some of these in olive oil with some spices. That makes them quick and easy to use in pasta or on pizza. I might also try putting them just like they are into sauces and stews.


I might even crumble them onto salads like bacon bits. I ended up making them slightly crispy. You don't want them too chewy or they might contain moisture that can cause them to grow mold. I am storing mine in the freezer and refrigerator just to be on the safe side.

I found this way of storing tomatoes very delicious and very easy. If you have a bountiful harvest I highly recommend drying some. You want to make sure that you use a variety of tomato that isn't very juicy, but is meaty. I think that you will enjoy them if you try them. As I start using them in recipes, I will let you know what I think. I want to come up with some creative ways to use them.

For now, I am off to slice up more and load up the dehydrator so that we can enjoy a bit of summer later on in the year.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pumpkin Bread


While cleaning out the freezer I came across some pumpkin that I had cooked and frozen last fall. I needed the space, so the pumpkin came out of hiding. I searched high and low for recipes to make and here is what I ended up with. The first is from a site that is extremely messy to read, but has good recipes. Here is the link. It is called no egg pumpkin bread and if you scroll down the page it is at the bottom. It is delicious! I made two big loaves and stuck one in the freezer. Oh, and for the sugar I used scant cups and substituted one cup of regular sugar with one cup of brown sugar. I may have used more spices too, only because I love a spicy bread.


Here is the second recipe that I made. It is from Cooking Light. This recipe makes a super moist bread. There were twelve muffins when I baked them and the recipe says that it makes 18. I made one pan of muffins and two mini loaves. I guess they were yummy since there are only six muffins in this photo!

I can't tell you which recipe tastes better. They are both good! The first one is very simple with very few ingredients. The second uses more ingredients, but isn't complicated at all. So now the challenge- which one do you like best? Try them out and let me know. At least put the recipes away until fall arrives and a cool autumn morning calls for pumpkin bread. I hope that you like them!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Back To It

Today is my last day of summer break. (Big, deep sigh inserted here) The summer has flown by so fast. I knew that it would. I have been trying to cram so many things into this last week. I have been fairly successful.

Here's a little list of what I got done this last week:
Organized and cleaned out the pantry
Organized my storage containers
Cleaned out and cleaned the fridge
Cleaned out cleaned the freezer
Cleaned out my closet
Experienced Your Dekalb Farmer's Market
Used up some pumpkin from the freezer
Shopped for new clothes for work

I also spent some time with friends, had technology training for two days and saw Harry Potter on Imax. I think it was a productive week. I still have some things to get done today. Mostly loads and loads of laundry. The good thing about doing laundry is that I can sit down and sip some tea in between loads. Maybe I'll even work on my Bible study in between loads. I also have to cream and freeze some more corn. It is only in season for so long, you know. I am going to get to it. Enjoy your Sunday!

 
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