Wednesday, July 27, 2011


yeah just come on in here
the TUF chickens have been doing phenomenally well despite the heat lately.  they are all together now in the coop/run, and have been for nearly a month!  feathers are coming in, personalities are emerging, roost rulers are disputed and politics abound.  at the moment, it would appear that ninja is the law of the yard.

floofy top down
ninja guards the food and water bottle as best she can from the chick invaders, but has been letting up a little lately as the chicks get bigger.  occasionally, she will still land a well-placed peck.  pearl, on the other hand, has taken it upon herself to gently show the young'uns all the ins and outs of chickendom.  she is the good cop if ninja's the bad cop; she is the nurturer to ninja's disciplinarian.

as a muppet

pearl and ninja are the original chickens in our TUFsperiment, and they have been dear silkie teachers of chicken keeping.  twitter and tumblr are the aforementioned young'uns, and they are growing at an unbelieveable rate.  we got them on june 20th, and already i freak out when i look at their baby pictures.  they are getting absolutely enormous!

 twitter's feathers are coming in just as a french cuckoo marans chicken's should...gray/blue with soft black lacing.  her feather pantaloons are promising to be voluminous!
she is the braver and more practical of the two baby ladies, exploring her environment with a critical but curious eye. she quietly investigates until a great wing-flapping sprint is necessary (usually away from a food item, and usually at the behest of ninja).
fuzzy head

tumblr's beautiful partridge feathers have filled out her wings and chest rather nicely, but her head seems to be trailing in the defluffification process.  nevertheless, she is growing a proud and elegant air, with something of an attitude to match.

peck peck
she has rather audacious eyeliner, and her feet are turning the slate gray that suggests her eggs will be a lovely shade of blue or green.  she is the showy chick; she fronts hard!  she ran off a huge black grackle the other day, apparently countering the frantically whispered advice of twitter.

against ninja, however, she flees quickly.  while twitter may retreat a few feet and try again for whatever choice tidbit is under contest, tumblr will flap dramatically and bolt back to the coop.  the existentialist and revolutionary are growing into the pragmatist and drama queen.

what's this then
mmmmmmm tomato
they are all living happy chicken lives together for the most part; initial tensions are beginning to give way to a peaceable existence. at night the chicks still seem to enjoy some pets and cuddles, and the larger ladies will crouch and stomp appreciatively in response to gentle backstrokes.  tumblr has fully recovered from her injury, and both adolescent chicks seem robust.  though less than aesthetically pleasing now, they are developing into beautiful chickens, half as big again as the silkies!

the eggs still come on a near-daily basis, even after a minor hiccup with pearl having gone broody for a moment--more information on broodiness and other chickenissues at the backyard chicken site, if you're interested.  all in all they are an absolute joy.  the little ladies will loom large by december, and we should be seeing the first light blue/green and dark chocolate eggs by then (color, not flavor, sadly!).  more on the chickens, our other menagerie members, and other sTUFf soon!  stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bread: A RecipEssay

i truly enjoy making bread.  it is a multifaceted experience--practical, sensual, logical, tactile, scientific, spontaneous.  the process is one of the most ancient of human undertakings, largely unchanged for millenia.  it connects us to our most primitive cultural and genetic roots, our most original mothers.

the activity of yeast and its starring role in bread production could have been one of our earliest scientific observations, perhaps coinciding with the mastery of agriculture.  in indoeuropean and semitic languages, bread is often a synecdoche representing food in general; many eastern languages use rice in the same idiom. it is often one of the oldest words in any language.  its presence or absence has defined historical eras and religious beliefs.   and you can make it in your VERY OWN KITCHEN, and it can make you very popular.  it is a delicious cornerstone of pantemporary human experience.

i have made quite a few different kinds of bread over the years (it was a procrastination hobby in college), but this is my favorite recipe.  it is, by no means, especially healthy.  however, bread you make yourself out of ingredients you have collected is always better for you than grocery store processed white bread.  i use unbleached flour and eggs from my chickens, but this is not whole wheat chewy hard healthy-seeming bread with bits in it (although i love that kind too).   this bread has a tender crumb and keeps well, because it has a fair amount of fat (dairy) in it.  it has a sourdough-esque tang from the Secret Ingredient, and the crust is crusty but yielding.  so far i've made it into rolls, a loaf, and a braid, and they've all worked beautifully.  i think this is definitely my forever bread recipe.

 it all begins with yeast.  i use the only kind of yeast i've ever seen or bought, fleischmann's, the kind in the little yellow pouch.  just get the regular active kind, not the super extra plus kind or anything that promises faster rises.  clip a corner off the pouch and pour that yeast into a big glass bowl (or whatever you're going to use to mix everything up).

pour about 3 tablespoons of warm tapwater over the yeast.  you want the water to be pretty warm, but not so hot you pull your finger away.  that's a good rule of....finger?  anyway, swirl the yeast and water together a bit. bubbles will start to rise as the yeast dissolves.  breathe in that earthy, ancient aroma and give thanks for microscopic organisms.

next, fill a 2-cup measuring cup with 1 cup of water.  drop 3 tablespoons of butter in the water, and pop it in the microwave (or  melt it on the stove).  heat until the butter starts to melt in the water, then take it out and swirl the cup around until you've got some warm butterwater.

now it's time for the Secret Ingredient!  get out some YOGURT.  i have been using Nancy's Organic Whole Milk Plain Yogurt, but you could use any ol' kind of yogurt. in fact, the idea of using different flavors of yogurt is kind of exciting, but i haven't tried that yet.  (i double dog dare all y'all to.) anyway, get out some yogurt.  and glop'n'stir enough of it into the butterwater that you have about 2 cups of liquid.  that. is. the stuff.

next: add your yogurtbutterwater (in fake german: yøgenbütterwasser!) to your original yeastwater. mix it all up.  it will be quite soupy and pale and tepid.  now, the following ingredients can be added in larger or smaller amounts, depending on your desires and goals:
--2-3 tablespoons sugar (or not, or more, if you're looking for supersweet rolls or something)
--1-1.5 teaspoon salt (recommended)
--1 small glug olive oil (if making a large loaf/braid)
--1 small egg, beaten lightly (recommended for braid/rolls)

stir all this up together.  incidentally, i think using a regular ol' fork is the best utensil for stirring bread dough up.  which becomes very important at this point, for now we will be adding flour!

gradually add about 2 cups of flour to your mix in the bowl. by 'gradually' i mean, dump some flour in, stir it up, dump some more in, stir it up, repeat.  don't be obsessive about any aspect of this process; this is a meditation, a creation moment--it should only be fun!  the dough should be getting less soupy, but you aren't ready to grab it yet.  

now, while keeping vague track of how much total flour you're using, start adding and mixing more until it starts getting quite stiff and you're tired of using the fork.  this will be around 3-3.5 cups of flour.  at that point, it's time to take the rings off, put the fork down, and get down to that most sensuous of culinary rituals: the kneading of the bread.

i recommend doing it right there in the bowl.  you could flour the countertop and turn it out on there, but i hate cleaning flour off countertops. grab a handful of flour and start scraping the edges of the dough toward the middle of the bowl.  collect it into a ball, grabbing bits of flour to aid in the scraping and gathering process.  start to gently press and pat the flour into the ball.  at this point, the dough is soft and your fingers are beginning to get sticky with dough.  keep grabbing and adding and massaging that flour in, a bit at a time, pausing now and then to vigorously rub your hands together to get all the doughbits off.  work it gently together until you can pick the whole thing up as a mass.

now the time for tenderness is over.  roughly squash that dough into the bottom of the bowl, sieze it up, and throw it back in!  fold it over on itself and punch it down. pick it up.  hurl it into the bowl, add a bit more flour, and keep hurling and squashing.  this is a great time to remember your frustrations and knead them out of you into your dough and let them bake off into the universe.  add, hurl, and squash until the dough is moist and elastic, and no longer sticky.  at this point your fingers should be staying pretty clean.  the dough has miraculously gone from soupy soup to a coherent ball with its own tensile strength. and now it's time to rise!

i like one bowl bread, so this is my method: get a piece of saran wrap that would loosely fit over the top of your mixing bowl.  carefully lay it on the counter.  brush it lightly with olive oil, or give it a split second cooking spray spray.  plop your beautiful dough ball right on top of it, and let it sit there while you wash out your mixing-about-to-be-rising bowl.  make sure to get all the gunk out of it.

 dry your rising bowl thoroughly and brush it lightly with olive oil or give it a split second cooking spray spray. pick up your doughball and put it in the oiled bowl, making sure it has a light coating of oil itself (from the saran wrap and bowl is usually sufficient).  now put the saran wrap, oil side down, loosely over the top of the bowl.  put the bowl in a warmish place (the dormant microwave works for me), where the yeast can have some privacy.  it is their living process that causes the miracle of bread. 

(yes, it is because the yeast eat sugars and fart carbon dioxide that bread rises.  but  that's totally amazing!  would that our farts were so productive!)

okay, now go do something else for an hour.  read. exercise. piddle.  when you come back, you will see the great miracle!  Your Bread Is Risen!

and it shall rise again. but now you will shape it.  first, sadly, you must punch it down.  it deflates from its fluffy glory with a big dent in the middle.

scrape it back into a ball and give it some more kneads.  not for too long, and not so strenuously as before; just to bring it back together, squish out air bubbles and make it all smooth.  

at this point, you have some options. 12 rolls? 1 'normal' loaf? 1 large braided loaf? this is where it becomes a choose-your-own adventure!

ROLLS: oil or lightly spray a baking sheet.  pick up your doughball and divide it into 12 approximately equal pieces.  form each little ball into a plump, longish oval (oblong?). line them up next to each other about 1/2 inch apart.  the idea here is to let them rise into each other and bake snuggled up, so that you can RIP THEM APART at dinner BWAHAHAHAAA.  anyway, once they're shaped and lined up, let them rise until they've doubled in size, 30 minutes to 1 hour.  you can also put it in the fridge to rise slowly (2-3 hours) and save for later.

LOAF: if you use the full-on 2 cups of liquid and 3.5 cups flour as suggested above, you will get a REALLY BIG LOAF. like, one that threatens to spill out of the loaf pan you've prepared before it's even finished rising, to the point where you frantically throw it in the fridge to retard its ballooning and build an emergency support structure out of foil.  lesson: if you're planning to use a loaf pan, don't use the egg, reduce the water/butter/yogurt proportions until they total about 1 1/2-1 3/4 cups of fluid, and you won't use as much flour.  and your loaf should behave predictably.

anyway, lightly oil or spray a loaf pan!  now, grab your doughball, and manipulate it with both hands until it's kind of flat and feasibly foldable.  fold an outer edge toward the middle, and fold the other outer edge on top.  sort of a combination of folding and rolling here....hard to describe, but obvious if you're there.  that will make a seam, and this is the loaf bottom.  pinch and squish both loaf ends toward the center of the bottom seam so that the ends are rounded, and plop the whole thing seam side down in the loaf pan.  put it someplace warm and let it rise until it has doubled in size, 30 minutes to 1 hour.  you can also put it in the fridge to rise slowly (2-3 hours) and save for later.


BRAID: my favorite!  in this case i do recommend using the full amount of liquid and dry ingredients, egg and all.  you want a nice big floofy loaf.
lightly oil/spray a baking sheet.  divide your doughballs into 3 equalish pieces.  form them into their own independent balls and let them sit for about 10 minutes.

then, grab each ball and gently stretch them into three nice long snakes.  'stretch' is a weird word for this.  it's more like you're guiding gravity to pull them into the snakes, letting them kind of loosely fall through your hands.  like those weird water tube toys in curiosity stores?  anyway.  guess what you do next!

you braid it!  start in the middle, and gently pull the bottom snake over the middle snake, allowing it to become the new middle snake.  pull the top snake over the new middle snake, allowing IT to become the new middle snake, etc. when you get to the ends, pinch them together and tuck 'em under.  on the other side, do the opposite...pull the outer snakes UNDER the middle snake.  and you get a lovely braided loaf!  put it someplace warm to rise until it's almost double in size, about 30 minutes-1 hour.  
you can also put it in the fridge to rise slowly (2-3 hours) and save for later.


...are finally ready to bake!  for all the previous methods of shaping, the next part is the same.  preheat the oven to 375.  marvel at the second rising of the yeast.  to be extra fancy, this is the time to apply some kind of wash to the bread, which is optional but adds a tiny bit more flavor and pretty bakery color.  sometimes i like to brush the bread with melted butter or milk, or even buttermilk from the butter i made the other day! a grind of course seasalt is nice at this point as well.

put your opus in the oven for 35-45 minutes (less for rolls, more for braid or oversize loaf).  you barely have to keep an eye on can tell it's done by the smell.  and also by tapping the loaf (carefully!) on the underside--bread has this odd way of sounding hollow when it's done.

NOW THIS NEXT PART IS VERY IMPORTANT.  resist the urge to devour it straight out of the oven.  we have a cultural myth that fresh-baked bread just barely snatched from the heat  is the highest way to enjoy it.  NOT TRUE!  bread is better after it sits for at least 30 minutes and has gotten to the temperature where it's still kind of warm, but is not radiating heat.  so WAIT. (when the bread is no longer radiating any heat at all, that's a good time to store it in wax paper or a paper bag or even a plastic bag.  the latter will soften the crust, and it is a plastic bag, but it will keep the bread fresh longer.)

after you have kept a respectful distance and let it cool a bit, slice it with a serrated knife.  have some preserves or butter handy, or honey, even better.  or none of these.  share it with someone and sink your teeth in at the same time.  make sandwiches.  dip it in stuff.  eat it with cheese and wine.  impress your friends with your baking prowess.

and more importantly,  rejoice in this most literal of ancestor worship practices.  you beautiful human!  you have made bread!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Grocery Store Adventure Part Deux--Double TUF

i know i said that the next post would be the bread post, but i recently had another important Grocery Store Adventure that i have to discuss first before i forget.  this one was a combo GSA--i went to a new grocery store this time knowing the following things: a) we would be making a trip to the downtown farmer's market the following weekend; b) between the grocery and the farmer's market, i needed to make an Epic Shopping Trip, replenishing all aspects of our usual stockpile.

usually, this would mean going to the big box, grabbing whatever i need without even thinking about it, then shuddering while swiping a chunk of my checking account away at the register on decidedly non-TUF stuff.

today's adventure would take place at Wheatsville Co-op, a longtime austin institution of local and ethical/organic grocery shopping.  like my first GSA to the natural grocery by vitamin cottage, this would be meticulous: calculator out, everything accounted for, sticking close to a prescribed budget.  i was interested in spending no more than half of the most i'd ever spent on a big box grocery run, taking into account both our low larder level and our planned trip to the farmer's market.

wheatsville has really done a great job with the inside of their store!  i hadn't been there in years, and it used to be a little scruffy-lookin', but these days it looks great.  they have a wide variety of produce, much of it locally produced, and many different all-natural and organic products to choose from on the aisles. they also boast a fish/butcher counter, a deli, a fancy cheese section, and an extensive bulk section.  it definitely has that expensive natural grocery store smell, and i shrunk a little as i walked was i going to get a hefty haul at a good value from here?

BUT.....i did.  i went right up to my budget, but i got EXACTLY the produce, frozen vegetables, dry goods, dairy and seafood that i wanted--too many to bore you with a list!  now, i didn't get the free stuff and rather attentive treatment that i enjoyed at the natural grocer--wheatsville ain't new in town, and they don't have to scramble to impress all the curly-clectic austinites that pass through there.  but i did bring all my own re-usable bags this time (another TUF first!), and they gave me a nickel back per bag, which i was then able to donate to their charity of the month.  all with friendly, chatty service!  i will definitely be going back to wheatsville!  (and shhhhhh, i totally liked it better than the natural grocer, even though those guys were REALLY NICE.)

now for the second part of the Epic Shopping Trip, enacted at the downtown farmer's market.  if you haven't been to your local farmer's market, please do go just for fun sometime.  saturdays here in the ATX, all the people and kids and dogs are out with the fruits and vegetables and tacos and vendors, and it smells great and looks vibrant and that cantaloupe rosemary lemonade is so delicious....

and you get to take home amazing food!  we have been getting all of our non-seafood meat and poultry from the farmer's market, which is expensive, but worth it.  and why buy cheap factory beef from the big box when you can get...

--ethically-raised bison (ground and steaks)
--free-range organic chicken (whole)
--grassfed lamb (chops)
--ethically-raised pork (chops, ribs)

...all from less than 150 miles away, and so flavorful you can taste the wildflowers that animal ate. as far as produce, we also got: peppers, chilies, rainbow chard, rainbow carrots, garlic, pickles, raw sauerkraut (SO GOOD), a snow leopard melon, and some zucchini.

final financial assessment: farmer's market meat+produce+wheatsville co-op food run = (a bit) less cashola than the most i've ever spent at the big box on an equally Epic Shopping Trip.  and we have full meals for weeks!  another Grocery Store Adventure affirming the original purpose of this TUFsperiment.  whoopeee!

now for real this time: THE BREAD IS COMING. stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Cookers Cooking

it's fun to share a kitchen with someone who also likes to cook, and who has fantastic culinary sense all his own.  dan recently cut up a raw chicken into the traditional parts the other day, bravely embarking on a knifespeariment neither of us had ever attempted!  it was not as intuitive to do as one may imagine, and yes, there may have been some hacking and yanking involved at various points.  but he did it (i cheered!), and we ended up able to use a tasty farmer's market chicken in two different delicious meals.  i couldn't believe it never occurred to me before, but it is WAY economical to cut whole chickens up yourself than to buy the pre-packaged/separated parts from the big box.  great for stretching one's ethical chicken dollars!

the night of the chicken-cutting, we decided to grill the thighs/legs (haunches?) and breasts, leaving the wings and carcass (such an appetizing word) for soup-making.  we marinated the parts for grilling in a delicious mix consisting of:
olive oil
dash of sesame oil
glug of white wine
1/2 lime
sea salt
parsley/tarragon/rosemary (dried)
2 cloves superchopped fresh garlic

and let it all mingle 'n chill in the fridge while we prepared the vegetable: farmer's market rainbow chard!  

now i love me some rainbow chard, and i am undaunted if/when it gets wilty-looking, as in the case of our chard for this particular evening.  i cut the very ends off of the stems under running water and then plopped the whole chard bunch in a glass of water in the fridge, like a vase of flowers. it perked up within the hour, and was 100% delicious!

i chopped it roughly and sauteed it quickly in some butter over medium-high heat with fresh onions, several cloves of garlic (we. love. it!), a tiny glug of white wine, and some seasalt.  dan taught me this quick green-wilting trick:  once everything is hot and buttery, clear a little space in the middle of the pan and slip an ice cube in there.  cover the pan, leave the heat high, and let it get all steamy for a few minutes.  then uncover, turn up the heat and stir everything around again so that any liquid reduces into a puddle of delish to go with your greens. YUM. YUM.

so then dan grilled the marinated chicken parts (about 30-35 minutes total over medium heat) until juices ran clear and joints were loose in sockets, and we ate 'em with the chard and some straight up box macaroni and cheese.  i know, not super TUF, but sometimes you just can't replace ancient comforts.

the next meal we made with this lovely chicken was soup of the noodle persuasion, and it was just REALLY REALLY GOOD.  perhaps it seems a bit counter-intuitive to make soup in the summertime, but if you have the ingredients and the gumption, what the hell! and dan is good at soup.  there was hardly anything to it, either: he boiled those chicken wings and carcass (ew) in water to generously cover for about an hour, and skimmed that scum stuff off every once in awhile.  then i helped him take out the bones and pick all the meat off 'em (a visceral, but amusing, process!), putting the bones back in the pot and the meat in the fridge for later.  THEN he added coin-cut carrots, several small rough-chopped onions, many garlic cloves (whole this time!), and spices--seasalt, celery seed, coriander seed (WOW), parsley, oregano, ground mustard--you know, the spice cabinet.  and let that gently simmer on low for another couple hours.  we then decided to let it cool off in the fridge and have it for dinner later..... which point i re-heated it with some smashed-up spaghetti noodles and simmered until they were soft.  oh yeah, and i made KILLER AWESOME YEAST ROLLS to go with it, using my new favorite bread recipe.  it's actually so great i'm going to devote the next post to it.  geeah i love bread.

by the way, this process made a BUNCH of chicken soup, and we are bad left-over eaters.  but i kid you not, we ate every last drop of this soup over the next few days.  you know it was good when.


grilling is, of course, the best way to cook in the can grill a huge variety of vegetables and meats, it doesn't heat up your house (unless you are crazy like me and BAKE something while grilling is happening outside!), and you end up smelling really good when you come in.  so the other day we had this half-an organic purple cabbage sitting in the fridge from a previous grocery store adventure, and dan said, how about we grill it?  and i said, _grill_ purple cabbage? and he said, why no?  and i said, right on!  because i LOVE grillsperiments.

so we cut the half in half, and marinated the quarters together in the fridge with a glug of white wine (always!), olive oil, seasalt, tarragon and paprika.  look..BRAAAAINS!

sorry.  before grilling, dan rubbed a bit of butter on each one, and wrapped them individually in some foil, dumping the marinade in there as well.  we put them on the grill for about 40 minutes (well before the lamb chops!), and they could've gone for even a bit longer.  but let me tell you what...that was the best cabbage idea i had ever heard!  i have never described cabbage as luscious, but.  that was some luscious cabbage.  next time i will have a significant quantity of goat cheese to schmear on there, but it was perfect just by itself.

those are some organic new potatoes plain ol' boiled, and some delicious texas farmer's market lamb chops.  all due respect to my colorado peeps, but i'm sorry, texas grassfed lamb is just thicker and richer than ya'll's hard workin', low-oxygen mountain lamb that i had previously grilled!

one last note about the grilled cabbage: LOOK AT THAT COLOR.  it's practically pornographic.  i think we should all resolve to eat more purple things.

more soon!  especially about bread!  stay tuned!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Tumblr is Fixed!

i am pleased to report that tumblr has been reunited with twitter back in the chick half of our coop, and she is walking like a champ.  she has also reverted to her revolutionary ways, sprinting away from hands with nefarious plans, kicking hay everywhere and romping with twitter.  here they are partaking in a celebratory yogurt together and then enjoying a nap.  see how much twitter missed her sister chick!

i was afraid that tumblr would forget all the snuggles we shared during her convalescence, especially once she was tearing around the (SUPER chick-proofed) coop again.  but last night, as i was closing the coop for bedtime, she walked right up to my hand and demanded cheek scratches. twitter, generally skittish, did the same.  it was as though tumblr had explained to twitter that the giants, though fairly terrifying and revolting, are pretty okay sometimes.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

TUF Chicks and Other TUF Stuff

we've been experiencing some Totally Urban Farm growth and expansion lately.  sometimes growth and change can be a bit harrowing, and it can make you feel less cute and fluffy and more awkward and scruffy lookin'.  (twitter demostrates this rather well at left there.)  but it's all worth it, because you learn new stuff and get more experience, and continue on the path to mature chickendom. or urban farmerdom.  or whatever path you find yourself on. and though there will always be periods of growth and learning, the awkward doesn't last forever.  we promise, twitter.

the chicks have been growing so fast, and at 4 weeks old seemed ready to meet the big girls and start living in the coop.  we set up a piece of pegboard as a temporary partition, so that the silkie ladies could meet their new coop-mates via sight and smell for awhile before having actual physical contact.  also, the young 'us have to stay on their chick food for another few weeks or so before graduating to big chicken layer food, so we're keeping it all separate for now.  we set them up in the coop on july 3rd with no obvious complaints from the big girls.

twitter and tumblr immediately started running around, checking out their new digs...though not dissimilar from their cardboard box environment, this definitely was bigger and smelled way more interesting!

existentialist twitter eyed the surroundings critically, ensuring she was aware of the food and water situation before beginning to cautiously beak around.  tumblr, par contrast, began to flutter-run and peep recklessly, getting the lay of the land on wild exploratory missions.  all observed behaviors were within normal limits, and we left them to start their chicken maturity lessons, checking up on them over the course of the day.

however, the next morning (independence day, and ninja's birthday!) we discovered a near-disaster...tumblr had taken some kind of tumble, and was flopping around pitifully as though she couldn't walk!  twitter was fine, but clearly concerned about the plight of her sister. i collected the compromised chick and whisked her into the house for some time in the improvised hospital box (actually a sierra nevada 12pk, perfect size!).

that first day, she really had me worried.  i know nothing about chicken medicine, but it really seemed like the little darling was in pain.  she wanted to eat and drink, which was a good sign, but otherwise seemed droopy and sad. she couldn't stand up, and just generally looked pathetic.  i let her rest and occasionally tried to help her stand up, and frantically asked for advice on the (extremely friendly and wonderful!) Back Yard Chicken Forum.   i watched and waited.  my poor little wounded revolutionary!

the next day (yesterday) she had noticeably improved.  she was distributing weight more evenly on either leg, and she looked like she felt a lot better.  she also figured out that she was all by herself in a beer box, and that the huge face/hand (so revolting and terrifying before) was now the only option for company and comfort.  having ascertained these two facts, she began to request that the huge face/hand be present at all times except for brief napping periods, and that the huge face/hand immediately report to its station after the napping for company/comfort/eating moral support/treat distribution/finger snuggling/cheek scratching etc.  her method of requesting the presence of the huge face/hand:


(i think there is an easter-related brightly colored marshmallow candy reference that goes here, but it escapes me at the moment)

at any rate, i felt terrible that i had missed Ninja the black silkie's july 4th birthday due to the wounded revolutionary, so since tumblr was feeling better, i had to make it up to ninja.  and we had a cantaloupe/yogurt themed birthday party in the run!

ninja celebrated her 1 year old birthday...our friend michelle (whose chicken momma i am, or maybe she is mine?) watched her hatch one year ago this past monday.  and now she's a beautiful silkie with a stellar egg-laying career.  good on ya, Ninja, and here's to many more!  thanks for all the eggs!

even twitter got to get in on the action, even though she's not old enough to party in the run yet...she got to try some yogurt for the first time.  it seems totally bizarre to me that chickens would go nutzo for yogurt, but they do. go fig. 
poor twitter has found herself within limited sight and unlimited smell of the other two chickens, but she is, in essence, alone.  and chicks HATE to be alone.  i think this has given her a chance to do some soul searching around her existentialist philosophy, and has decided that the huge face/hand is worth caring provides treats and comfort, and so why shouldn't it be worshiped? (nietzsche would be proud!) she now approaches the coop window every time we come out, excited to see and interact with the huge hand/face.  her expression of existential adulation:

i think pearl and ninja are like, GEEZ, it's just the giant, borrrrrring.  they cluck at her youthful zeal.

anyway, things have been going good here at the TUF.  today tumblr continues to improve and demand attention, i am confident that in a few days she'll be lit-rall-y back on her feet again.  other news, in brief:

--we need another grocery store adventure soon

--i made freakishly good carrot cupcakes from a magazine that turned out to be exactly my recipe for zucchini muffins, in which i replaced the zucchini with finely shredded carrots (about 6) and iced 'em with supersimple cream cheese frosting (half of this recipe.) this exercise also reminded me that, though the word 'muffin' somehow sounds healthier than 'cupcake,' really same diff. (sorry.)

thank you for reading, Gentle Readers!  more soon.....stay tuned!