Tuesday, April 28, 2009

More chicks!

Our son had really wanted a specific breed of chicken for the fair this year. The breed is Polish, and as adults they look like they are wearing hair metal wigs.

The feed mill where I purchased our other chicks didn't have any available. We decided that we would try to hatch some eggs in an incubator. I bought 6 eggs from ebay, had them delivered. All 6 eggs arrived intact. For the 3 week incubation period, we carefully turned them 3 times a day, and made sure that the temperature and humidity stayed correct. All 6 eggs were duds. Absolutely nothing developed in them at all.
Back to the drawing board. Most hatcheries only sell batches of 25 chicks. We did NOT want 25 more chicks. I found a hatchery that would sell us just 4. $12 worth of chicks costs $46 with shipping.
This morning the phone rang at 6:30 am. The post office telling us that the chicks had arrived. I went to pick them up after the kids went to school. As soon as I walked into the building I could hear them peeping. All 4 were healthy and happy. They ship them in a box with straw type material and a heat pack to keep them warm.
At first the older chicks were afraid of the babies when I put them together, but they seem to be getting over it. The others are 2 weeks old now, and have doubled in size. Fluff is being replaced by feathers.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Grape Jelly Turkey Meatballs

Some version of this recipe can be found in almost every church/local organization cookbook from the late 60s and early 70s. Unlike many of the icky sounding recipes in some of those books, these actually taste a lot better than they sound.
I make them for parties all the time, because it's something that everyone (especially kids) seems to eat, and there are rarely leftovers. Most people probably have no idea that the recipe contains grape jelly. You can also use ground beef, but I don't eat/cook red meat so I use turkey.

3 lbs ground turkey
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
2 tsp garlic powder
32 oz jar grape jelly
2 12 oz jars chili sauce

Combine turkey, bread crumbs and garlic powder. From into 1" meatballs and place on nonstick baking trays. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the jelly and chili sauce in a crockpot (or a large pot on the stove). When meatballs are cooked, add them to the sauce mixture and simmer on low for at least 20 minutes.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Chick Day!

Our 9 year old son raises "fancy" chickens for 4H, to show at the fair in August. We have 7 older chickens from last year, and we just added 7 babies on Tuesday. We special ordered several different breeds from a feed mill about an hour away, and picked them up on Tuesday. Fancy chickens are breeds that are considered more or less "ornamental". Not used for meat or known for producing lots of eggs, though they do lay some eggs. Pets basically.
All of ours are bantam breeds, which are about half the size of most other chickens. This year we got one Araucana, 3 Buff Brahmas, 2 Mille Fleurs, and one blue Silkie. We also have 6 Polish breed chicken (they look like they are wearing Tina Turner wigs as adults) eggs in an incubator which should hatch, or not, in afew days.
Baby chicks are cute, but it is quite a lot of work to care for them. They tend to be quite messy, especially once they get a little older and have sawdust in their cage. Which is a baby swimming pool in our laundry room. They can't go out to the barn until they are fully feathered, which will be about 6 weeks. I'm hoping that in 2 weeks or so we'll be able to put them in the garage with a heat lamp.
I put a marshmallow peep in with them to show how small they are. Not much bigger than a marshmallow peep with legs! I also learned that real chicks are afraid of marshmallow chicks.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Lemon Bars

This recipe comes from Martha Stewart's "Baking" book. Many great recipes in that book, although sometimes things can be a little overly complicated. I melt chocolate in the microwave with no problem, where Martha would call for a double boiler. I highly recommend the book though, haven't found a dud recipe in it yet. This is the best lemon bar recipe I've ever had, although the crust is a little involved. You can mix it by hand with a pastry blender, but it would take forever. A food processor is really a must. You can use the lime called for in the recipe, or substitute with more lemon juice/zest.
I won a blue ribbon for these at the county fair (they don't care about the recipe, just the final result). These are real artery cloggers, so I don't make them very often!

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 8 large eggs
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  1. To make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, wheat germ, confectioners' sugar, and salt. Add butter, and cut in using a pastry cutter, two knives, or your fingers, until the largest pieces of butter are the size of peas.
  2. Press evenly into a 12 1/2-by-17 1/2-inch rimmed baking sheet. Bake until golden, 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack until completely cool.
  3. To make the filling: In a medium bowl, whisk together, eggs, sugar, and flour. Add lemon and lime juice, lemon and lime zest, and salt. Whisk to combine. Pour over cooled crust.
  4. Bake until center is set, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack until completely cool. Cut into 2-inch squares. Will keep, in an airtight container at room temperature, for up to 2 days.

Carrot Cake Cheesecake

I've had carrot cake cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory, and wanted to try to make it myself. I found a copycat recipe online at CD Kitchen, so I didn't have to come up with my own from scratch. This is a bit of a lengthy recipe to prepare, and I made afew minor changes such as adding more spices. I used reduced fat cream cheese, even though the original recipe said not to, and it turned out fine. I frosted the cooled cake, and let it chill in the refrigerator overnight prior to cutting and serving. Below is the recipe with my changes.

16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon flour
3 eggs

***Carrot Cake:***
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
8 1/2 ounces can crushed pineapple, packed in juice, drained well, reserve juice
1 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

***Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting:***
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon reserved pineapple juice

In large bowl of electric mixer, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Beat in flour, eggs and vanilla extract until smooth. Set aside. Meanwhile prepare Carrot Cake.

Carrot Cake:

In large bowl, combine oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla extract; mix well. Stir in dry ingredients; mixing well. Stir in drained pineapple, carrots, coconut and walnuts.

Spread 1/2 carrot cake batter over bottom of greased 9- or 9 1/2" springform pan. Pour cream cheese batter over carrot cake batter . Top with large spoonfuls of remaining carrot cake batter. Do not marble with a knife. Bake in preheated 350ºF oven for approx 60 minutes or until cake is set and cooked through. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate. When cake is cold, prepare Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting.

Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting:

In a bowl of electric mixer, combine cream cheese, butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract and reserved pineapple juice. Beat until smooth and of spreading consistency. Frost top of cheesecake. Refrigerate 3 to 4 hours before serving.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Glitter Eggs

I love glitter. The more sparkly, the better. I decided to make some glitter easter eggs this year. I used Martha Stewart glitter, it's much more fine textured than the usual craft supply glitter, and it works better. Just hardboil the eggs, let them cool, brush one side with elmer's glue, sprinkle with glitter. Wait until that side dries thoroughly before handling the eggs and doing the other side.