A Chicken and Its Egg

Last Fall, we received several chicks in the mail. It happened to turn cold earlier then we had expected and only half of them survived the trip.

This Spring, the 15 pullets starting laying.  Our leghorns were the first to lay, then the Easter Eggers, followed by the Black Stars.  And surprisingly our Blue Andalusian is laying almost daily.  I put her in the order because I liked her coloring and thought the kids might want to show her for 4-H.  Her breed is not noted for being good layers, they are more of an ornamental chicken.

Last of all is our always reliable Cinnamon Queen.  This lady laid large brown eggs all through winter with rarely a day off!  Several of her companions made it to our soup pot and the Speckled Sussex’s will be joining them this weekend.  We had hoped they would start laying but have so far only received approximately an egg a day from the six of them.

It’s always exciting to walk out to the coop and see what colors of eggs will appear. I thought you might be curious as well.

EggsChicken & Egg

And you can’t forget to include our handsome rooster.  The kids named him Brewster. He is a Brown Leghorn.

Brewster the Rooster

Life Keeps Us All Busy

Oh, my word!  It’s been months since I’ve posted!  Sometimes life just happens. As a matter of fact, new life in our family.  At the end of January, Wilhelm joined our family. Taking care of a newborn and his four siblings has been a handful for me the last couple months.  Especially since Mr. Roots has been away with work since little Wilhelm was only 10 days old.  Unfortunately, that is the life of a military family.  I am very thankful he was at least able to be here for his birth.  There are many members of our military who have missed out on their loved ones arrivals.

I’ve created many To-Do lists.  Something I usually find very encouraging.  But when you see it day-to-day and are not able to cross off anything, it becomes quite discouraging.  So, none of those for now.  We are just doing what we can to get to the day-to-day tasks: dishes, laundry, house, homeschool, sports and 4-H.

I do enjoy airing out my house and doing a deep clean every spring and fall.  The calendar may say it is spring, but here in Alaska our 8-10 inches of snow and ice just melted away a few days ago.  We finally made it above freezing during the day for a whole week!  The kids, anxious for spring, decided to set-up the trampoline on the only piece of ground the snow and ice has melted on.  It happens to be the entrance to our shop. Hopefully by the time Mr. Roots gets home the snow will be melted enough to move it onto the yard.

With Spring usually comes the cute little animal babies.  We haven’t had much success with that this year on our little farm.  In February, we purchased a sow who was suppose to be bred and have piglets the last week of February.  But she did not. Ellie, the sow, came into heat shortly before her piglets were suppose to be born.  I did some research and AI’d (artificial insemination) her.  She should be due now June 26th. I’ll have more about  that later.

We also tried to breed the kids’ rabbits.  Spots, the doe, was due to kindle.  Didn’t happen.  We put the other doe, Fudge, in with the buck and she will be due to kindle on May 3rd.  Their are ways to palpate a rabbit to verify they are pregnant.  Will keep you posted on her.  I hope to have lots of pictures of cute little baby bunnies.

The kids got to pick out their 4-H pigs last weekend and bring them home.  Their pastures/lot is slowly becoming uprooted as they make themselves at home.

And our butcher chickens are due to arrive in a couple weeks.  We’ve got a temporary structure/pen we are going to put up for them that we are excited about and hope to show you the process!

Life on a farm is always busy and never boring!

 

Into the Pot!

In September and the first part of October, we acquired our flock of laying hens. They are quite the hodgepodge of breeds.  Or you could call them a nice barnyard mix. 🙂  We have an Easter Egger, Silkie, Barred Rock, Barnyard mix, 3 Cinnamon Queens, 2 Welsumers, and 6 Speckled Sussex. We prefer to raise White Leghorns because they are such prolific layers.  Before our move to the Kenai Peninsula, we had four.  Each of which laid an egg a day, even though the winter!

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White Leghorns
speckled-sussex
Speckled Sussex

During the spring and early summer months, we usually raise around 25 butcher chickens. In the past, we have chosen to raise Red Rangers for butcher.  They finish out in 12 weeks weighing around 6-8 lbs. The boys raised several for fair this year.  We are looking at experimenting with a variety of meat birds this coming year.

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Red Ranger

Some people prefer to raise chickens which are multi-purpose.  For our family, we have found it is more profitable for us to have two flocks: one for eggs and one for butcher.

Our egg production had dropped, so over the weekend, we retired four of our laying hens.  It’s typical for egg production to taper off in the winter months.  There has been multiple studies done which show after a hen is 3 years old, their productivity decreases significantly.

Chickens Egg Laying Reducing Over Time
Graph from http://www.happychickencooop.com

The kids and I spent several weeks running back and forth between the coop to try to catch the hens on the nest to see who was laying. When we did, we would take a zip tie, strap it loosely around their leg, and cut off the extra tie so it would not catch or hang up on anything.  I had the brilliant idea that we should stick a game cam in the coop, then we could catch the chickens coming on and off the nests.  I think this will be a new investment for spring when our young pullets start to lay: going to have to do a little research and find out what brand will work the best.

The older the chicken, the tougher the meat.

We make fairly quick and easy work of butchering the chickens.  The kids do the catching, Mr. Roots is in charge of decapitating the birds, and I skin and remove the insides.  Skinning is quick and easy.  No messing with all those feathers!  This summer, the boys were able to experience plucking birds they raised for 4-H and they did not enjoy it.  The eldest is looking into how to build a chicken plucker for next year.

The butcher chickens were packaged in shrink wrap bags I purchased online from http://www.poultryshrinkbags.blogspot.com.  They worked great! You dip them in near boiling water and they shrink up nice and tight around the chicken.  Looks very professional. For our older hens, I tossed them right into the stew pot. Cooked off all the meat and made broth. Then packaged the shredded meat into freezer zip lock bags in potions for making soup or meals.  Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup is one of my kids’ favorite meals.

Done with that chore till next summer when it comes around again!

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Gram’s Potato Salad

There are several recipes I have picked up from my mother that I have not yet found one that can rival it.  Her potato salad is one of them.  Today, I took the time to measure out how much I put in for the ingredients.  I’m the toss it in type.  I rarely measure.  And this one I’ve learned by watching, there is not recipe.  It’s mostly based on the cook’s taste.  So remember as you go, you may want to add a little more or less to your liking.dsc_0066Toss the potatoes and eggs in a pot and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Test by poking with a fork to make sure they are done. My potatoes are medium sized and took about 20 minutes to get tender.dsc_0069Drain, peel, and dice to bite size pieces and toss in a bowl.  How do you like my purple potatoes?  I love the color they give.  We grew these in our garden this year.dsc_0070Add diced cucumber.dsc_0077Relish, mustard, pepper, onion powder, garlic salt, and celery salt.  Stir together well!dsc_0080Yum!  Doesn’t it look great!  Tastes good too.  🙂

Gram’s Potato Salad

Makes 6-8 Servings

  • 6 potatoes
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup diced cucumber
  • 3/4 cup sweet relish
  • 2 TBsp Mustard
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt
  • Paprika (optional, you can sprinkle over the top if you like as a garnish)

Boil potatoes and eggs over medium heat in a saucepan.  Cook until tender, approximately 20 minutes.  Drain, peel, and dice potatoes and eggs to bite size pieces.  Mine are about 1/2 inch cubed.

Peel and dice cucumber.  Add to potatoes and egg.

Add remaining ingredients to potatoes, egg and cucumber.  Stir well.

Cover and chill in fridge until ready to serve.

French Toast

Makes 12 pieces of toast.

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 12 slices of bread
  • butter
  • syrup

Beat eggs and milk with a wire whisk or fork in a large low dish.  I like using my glass pie pans.

Heat griddle or skillet over low to medium heat (275-325*F).  Grease griddle with butter if necessary.

Dip bread into egg mixture on both sides.  Place on griddle. Cook about 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown.

Smoother with butter and syrup! 🙂  Enjoy!

I have a stuffed french toast version that I LOVE!  It was made for my husband and I for breakfast the morning after we got married!  I’ll post it soon, but just to give you a taste, it includes cream cheese and boysenberries!  My kids like to call them poison berries. LOL!

Cheesy Bread Sticks & Pizza Crust

I’ve tried multiple recipes on my family and this is the one for the best Cheesy Bread Sticks and for making our pizza crust.  It is a copy cat recipe for Pizza Hut’s Cheese Bread Stick’s, but again, I’ve made some modifications!  🙂

Cheesy Bread Sticks & Pizza Crust

Makes 1- 11×15 inch crust or pan of Cheesy Bread Sticks.

Dough

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 TBsp yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Topping

  • 3 cups Mozzarella cheese Shredded
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 TBsp garlic salt
  • 1 TBsp onion powder
  • Desired Pizza Toppings and Marinara Sauce

Directions:

Turn your oven on to the ‘Keep Warm’ setting.  For my oven this can be anywhere between 145 to 170 degrees F.  I set it at 170.

Grease an 11 by 15 inch baking sheet with 1/2 of the melted butter.

In a mixing bowl and using the dough blade, add all the dry ingredients for the Dough and stir.  You can also do this by hand in a mixing bowl if you prefer.

Heat the milk in the microwave until very warm (around 120*F).  Slowly add milk to dry ingredients until mixed thoroughly.  Dough will be sticky.

Turn onto a clean, well floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Form or roll the dough into a rectangle that fits in your baking pan.  Place the dough on the pan, and brush with the remaining melted butter.

For Cheesy Bread:

Sprinkle with garlic salt and onion powder.  Now the 3 cups of Mozzarella cheese.  And finally the Parmesan cheese.

For Pizza:

Spread your favorite pizza marinara sauce over the dough and 2 cups of shredded Mozzarella Cheese.  Add your favorite toppings!  We like cooked ground hamburger, pepperoni, ham, olives, mushrooms, and yellow peppers.  Then add the remaining Mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese.

Put Dough with toppings into warm oven and let rise for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and Preheat oven to 400*F.

Bake for 15 minutes.  Or a little more/less depending on how crisp you like your crust.

 

Sandwich Birthday Cake

Today my eldest son turns 12!  One of the traditions I’ve carried on from my mother when I was a kid is making unique cakes for our birthday.  My mother is very good at decorating cakes and taught me well.  She made my siblings and I’s wedding cakes and was even commissioned by a few family friends to make theirs.

My son’s favorite place to eat out is Subway.  Thus this year, he wanted a cake that looked like a Subway sandwich.  I struggled a bit with this one. Not because the design was difficult, but the cake was very moist and didn’t want to stay together.  Sometimes the cakes take me a couple days prep to make them and others, like this one, are put together in an hour.

So first, I baked two cake mixes in a 11×13 inch rectangular baking pan. I put parchment paper on the bottom of the pan to make removal of the cake from the pan much easier.

Once the cake was cooled, I cut it in half lengthwise.  Then on one of the halves, I cut the top edges at 45 degrees to make it appear more like the top of the foot-long sandwiches.

Usually, I do a quick crumb layer (a thin layer of frosting) on the cake to hold all the crumbs in and make a base for decorating.  But this cake kept falling apart, so I just put on my large Basketweave Cake Icer Tip #789.  This made the job much simpler.  Dipping my icing spatula in hot water, I smoothed out my seams.

tip-789
Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

After the sides of the bottom were frosted, I used a couple different basket weave tips to make the lettuce, meat, and cheese.  My son likes his sandwiches pretty plain and didn’t want all the goodies on his cake either.  🙂  Since you can only see the sandwich fixings from the sides, I only decorated the top edges of the cake.

Next, the top was set on and then frosted with the large Basketweave Cake Icer Tip also.  Does it look like a sandwich?

sandwich-cake

I’ve included a few of my favorites from over the years for you to enjoy!  I’ve made a couple with fondant figures, but I really don’t like the taste of fondant, so  I try to avoid it.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains Affiliate links.

Waffles

We eat waffles every Wednesday in our house.  My kids enjoy the routine of knowing what’s for breakfast.

The original recipe is from Betty Crocker.  I’ve made changes to suit me.

Breakfast Waffles

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 TBsp sugar
  • 1 TBsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla (optional)

Heat waffle iron.

Beat eggs in large bowl with whisk until fluffy.  Beat in remaining ingredients just until smooth.

Pour 1/4 cup batter onto center of hot waffle iron.  Close lid of waffle iron.

Bake about 3 minutes or until steaming stops.  Carefully remove waffle.

Makes about 8 waffles in a 4-inch square waffle maker.

Really like your waffles?  Try them for dessert topped with ice cream!  I’ll be posting a great chocolate waffle recipe soon!

 

 

Pancakes

These pancakes are a staple to my families breakfast menu.  We have them weekly!  I try to add a little variety by adding chocolate chips or making them different sizes.  I’ve even tried my hands at shapes and letters for the different holidays/seasons.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!  The original recipe is from Betty Crocker, but I have tweaked it a bit.

Pancakes

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 TBsp sugar
  • 2 TBsp oil
  • 1 TBsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Beat egg in medium bowl with whisk until fluffy.  Beat in remaining ingredients just until smooth.  For thinner pancakes, stir in additional 1 to 2 tablespoons milk.

Heat griddle or skillet over low to medium heat or to about 325 degrees F.  Grease griddle with butter if necessary.

For each pancake, pour 1/4 cup batter onto hot griddle. Cook pancake until bubbly on top, puffed and dry around edges.  Turn and cook other side until golden brown.

Makes about 8 4-inch pancakes.

 

November Meal Plan

For those of you who like to meal plan, here is what my November meals will look like.

My family likes big breakfasts and don’t like to experiment much on new recipes.  So you will find eventually that a lot of our meals are similar.  But, for now, I’m going to try a bunch of new recipes which I have pinned on Pinterest.

Also, when my husband is away for work, we tend to make simpler meals and the kids’ favorites.

A shopping list and links to the recipes are below. I usually try to plan my meals a couple months out, so when I head to the big city, I can stock up on all the ingredients I need.

november-2016-meal-plan

Here is a PDF version if you wish to download and print: november-2016-meal-plan

If you find your leftovers are piling up in the fridge, don’t be afraid to cross off a day here or there to eat those leftovers.  My family tends to eat them up mostly for lunch, so we have very few.  Plus, I don’t like leftovers, so I don’t make much extra.

Shopping List:
Week Nov 1-5: Week Nov 6-12:
40 eggs 50 eggs
8 cups Milk 13 cups Milk
8 Hot Dogs 19 cups flour
2 bxs Mac & Cheese 3 cups sugar
8 Hot Dog Buns ~ 16 cups oil
1 head Lettuce 3 TBsp baking powder
2 bags Chocolate Chips 5 tsp salt
13 cups Flour 12 slices bread
3/4 cups Oil 3 cups butter
~ 2 TBsp Baking powder syrup
~ 2 cups Sugar 3 cups brown sugar
6 Yogurts 2 cups Powdered sugar
1 loaf Bread  1 lb sausage
1/2 lb Bacon 1 lb bacon
1 lb Sausage cereal
Canned/Fresh Pears Oatmeal
1pkg Spaghetti Noodles 6 yogurt
2 cups Rice pears/fruit
2 cups Peas 2 lbs Ground beef
3 cups shredded Mozzarella Cheese 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 lbs Chicken pieces
1 cup Parmesan Cheese Chips/corn tortillas
~ 2 1/2 cups Butter Tortillas
1 TBsp Garlic Salt 3 cups shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 TBsp Onion Powder 1 head lettuce
Pizza Fixings 2 tomatoes
Cereal olives
Oatmeal Salsa
Syrup 3- 4 lb Pork Roast
1 TBsp Himalayan Pink Salt 2 cups Rice
1 TBsp Liquid Smoke 2 cups Broccoli
3-4 lb Pork Roast Noodles
1 lb ground beef 4 1/2 lbs Halibut
3 tsp Salt 2 cups Panko
1 TBsp Yeast 3 TBsp Garlic Salt
2 tsp Vanilla 3 TBsp Onion Powder
1 pkg or 1/4 cup Spaghetti Seasoning Salt
1 6oz can tomato paste 36 Tator Tots
1 Chocolate Cake Mix 1/2 cup Diced Ham
1 tsp Baking Soda 1/2 cup Diced Peppers
1 1/2 cups carrots
1 1/2 cups corn
2 cloves garlic
8 green onions
2 cans Cream of Mushroom
4 cans Cream of Potato Soup
1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper
3-8 oz Cream Cheese
Salt
4 pkgs or 4 TBsp Yeast
3 TBsp Cinnamon
1/2 cup Cornmeal
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/4 cup Sour Cream
1 cup cottage Cheese
16 oz wide egg noodles
Pepper
1 pkg or 1/4 cup Taco Seasoning
2 tsp Vanilla
Applesauce
1 Onion
2- 8 oz Tomato Sauce
Paprika
Celery Salt
Ground Ginger
Dried Thyme
Oregano
2 Cups Apple Pie Filling
Cream of Tarter
2 cups Green Beans
6 Yukon Gold or Russet Potatoes
1/2 cup Sweet Relish
2 TBsp Mustard
1 Cucumber
2 cups Miracle Whip

Recipes:

Pizza & Cheesy Bread Sticks

Kuala Pork

Halibut Chowder

Dutch Pancakes

Chocolate Chip Muffins

Waffles

Pancakes

French Toast

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Brownie Cookies

Omelet Breakfast Bites

Halibut Chowder

Rolls

Fried Chicken

Cinnamon Rolls

Beefy Noodle Casserole

Halibut Strips

Snickerdoodles

Apple Pie Bars

Gram’s Potato Salad