Sunday, February 12, 2012

TUFiatus Ending II: Chickenry

january was a hiatus for everyone here at the TUF, including our five lovely chicken ladies and one pretty/loud rooster.  well, i guess the rooster never goes on hiatus, if you know what i mean.  but the laying ladies took a couple weeks off in january, which i discovered has more to do with the amount of daylight available than anything else.  who knew?  chickens lay best when there are 14 hours of sunlight in which to scratch around.  so as the sun comes back, so do the eggs.  and lately we've been back to our pre-january 2 and 3 eggs a day rate, but i am still waiting on the theoretically predicted but as-yet unmanifested 5 egg day.  that, my friends, will be....well, it'll be a 5 egg day!

the egg in the middle up there is twitter's first viable egg...the tiny gray chick is all grown up!  as she came into laying age, she had a couple "miss-eggs--" two were broken to bits before i could collect them, and one intact one had a distinct beak-shaped hole in it. i can only imagine the surprise a chickendividual might feel when one day one's body produces and then pushes out an ENORMOUS hard-shelled ovoid object. i would probably peck it too.

anyway, they are beautifully dark chocolate brown, and of course delicious!

something a bit odd happened, though; twitter laid about 3 beautiful eggs, then this extremely strange egg, and now has stopped laying anything for a couple weeks. i'm thinking she may still be getting over the shock of having these strange objects emanate from her being.  too bad there's no way to have an honest conversation with chickens re: the ins and outs of poultry puberty.

...which brings me to tumblr, our other feathered pubescent.  at 7 months he has come into his own as a testosterone-laden, crowing, wing-dancing, hen-tackling cockerel.  he is the most dinosaurish thing i've ever seen; weird- and awesome- and creepy-looking!

his comb has really started to stand up, and he struts amongst the girls with such self-importance.  he also REALLY likes to hear himself crow.  often at the most random of times.

in fact, during an overnight thunderstorm recently, he crowed ALL NIGHT. 1 am, RR-RR-RRRRRRR. 3 am, RR-RR-RRRRRRRRRRRRR. to the point where i was imagining being the neighbors and changing his name to "soup."  the next day, we brought eggs to the 3 sets of nearest neighbors and took an informal survey of rooster annoyance.  it's unclear whether the egg bribe influenced their responses, but they all either said they didn't notice (!?) or that it wasn't bad enough to detract from their quality of life.  we left the door open for honest rooster complaints, but so far none have come up.  for the moment, tumblr stays tumblr in all his colorful, noisy glory.
a word on eggs: i have not noticed any difference in the taste or appearance of the eggs that have been laid since tumblr started getting eggy with the ladies.  i can only assume some of them have been fertilized, but there hasn't been any strangeness/grossness associated with this fact.  and as long as he stays this side of fatally annoying, i would like to dabble in chicken genetics perhaps....especially around growing fancy colored eggs!  ambitious? yes, and not for the near future.  but i am having a boutique egg farm fantasy....
at any rate, these are the newest developments from the TUFlock. we're glad to be getting eggs again, and i look forward to spring, where i believe an egg bonanza may be had! 14 hours of sunlight, 5 laying hens, here we come! chicks? gardens? a new coop? so many possibilities await in 2012!
wait, that's not a chicken!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

TUFiatus Ending I: Cookery

i realized the other day that i COMPLETELY SKIPPED JANUARY.  i just missed it!  zip, bam, january good bye.  so i guess it's accurate to say that we have been on hiatus a bit here at the TUF, working on schedules and jobs and life and growth.  there's much to catch up on from the kitchen and the yard! so here is part one of the two part "End of TUFiatus."

happy 2012, year of the water dragon, by the way. late but sincere!

the original goals of the Totally Urban Farm still stand, though cooking has become a less frequent activity since eating together is less common of late.  we tend to fend for ourselves during the week due to our different schedules, and when we do have our weekly common nights off, it often results in some dinner adventure out on the town! i may have to do a run down of these local dinner adventures in a near-future post. but, we have been making an effort to shop and cook more at home, as such excursions get a bit rich on many levels. and of course cooking together is a rare delight anymore!

the deliciousity pictured above is a butternut squash home-made turkey-helper concoction.  a pound of lean ground turkey was browned, then combined with penne pasta, chicken broth, seasonings, and the diced flesh of a medium sized butternut squash.  all this, brought to a boil, covered, and left to simmer for 30-45 minutes, rendered a delicious pasta dish.  but then it got ridiculous.

as demonstrated in a previous discussion of the butternut squash, dan has traditionally viewed the gourd as decorative rather than edible.  having discovered the butternut goodness, however, he resolves this decoration vs. real vegetable problem by doing stuff like this:

squashman, as he came to be known, hung out while everything was simmering. he then was stuffed and surrounded with his own flesh, now transformed into turkey penne tastiness.  wooden skewers helped to keep his head on during the (about 30 minute) baking process.  in retrospect, it would have been good to have given squashman a pre-bake, as he himself was still a bit overly firm when the casserole was heated through.  but i tell you what....with a green salad on the side and a sprinkle of goat cheez over all, squashman was MOST delicious.
i've been trying to cook more just for myself lately, since when left to my own devices i tend to be a snacker and grazer in the evening, which is really not the best way to go.  i have been exercising quite regularly, and have been enjoying the benefits of that.  let's hear it for wii fitness games!  EA sports active! if you have a wii and won't exercise unless it is SO convenient that you have absolutely no excuse not to, get that game.  it's fabulous. but i digress.
naturally, i am drawn to dinnery egg dishes, as we have quite a few eggs from the dear ladies in the back yard. they are delicious and quick!  this was my first attempt at a single-egg omelette; i received a tiny perfect-sized cast iron skillet for xmas in a "skillet chocolate chip cookie" kit, and i am determined to make the tiniest, most delicate silkie-egg omelettes with it.  this one ended up being mostly just scrambled egg.  but with goatcheez (my favorite) and a spinach/mozzerella/cherry tomato/balsamic vinaigrette little salad, it was a perfect and nearly instant evening repast.
another night, i tried two small over-easy eggs over quinoa and black beans, made spicy with salsa!  with a salad once again alongside, it was super delish and rather healthy. and quinoa is quickly becoming my favorite grain.

finally, sometimes you have to have pancakes for dinner, as dan and i did one night recently.  nearly instant comfort food.  i like to make them small and should have to glue them to the plate with syrup and butter, lest they fly off! dan likes to arrange his artfully, with a cascade of syrup:
and that's pretty much it from the TUFkitchen recently!  stay tuned for TUFiatus Ending II: Chickenry.  as always, thank you for reading, Dear Reader.