Top 10 Reasons to Raise Backyard Chickens!

Backyard Chickens

Raising chickens in your backyard is incredibly rewarding.  Not just for the eggs but it’s awesome to see something you’ve cared for produce food for you!

Top 10 Reasons to Raise Chickens (and Ducks too!):

  1. You know what’s in your food.  The only thing better than buying organic and hormone free anything is to grow or raise it yourself.  Chickens are one of those things, whether for meat or eggs, that you can feasibly do with very little room.
  2. Self-sustainability.  What do you make when you’ve been too busy to get to the store and the fridge is empty?  Eggs.  You can simply tromp out to your coop every day and pick a nutritious start to any meal.
  3. Exercise.  If you’ve never cleaned a chicken coop, let me tell you it can be work!  Hauling grain bags once a week.  Cleaning out the coop.  Bending to get into the nests, hauling water to the coop if it’s not hooked up… there’s lots of things to get you moving.  It’s not constant hard work, but there’s always something to do!
  4. Generosity.  Family and friends frequently receive a dozen eggs from us when we visit.  We can share with them the fruits of our labour and bring them something they can use!
  5. Making money.  We sell the eggs we don’t eat and it helps pay for the feed.  Obviously if you wanted to go bigger scale the money would be greater which would lead to actual profit.
  6. They don’t need a lot of space.  As I mentioned above, raising chickens can be done with relatively little space.  You can have a mini barnyard with chickens on a city-sized lot.
  7. Easy to care for.  Chickens may not cuddle with you quite the same as a dog or cat (although ours love to be petted), they are very easy to care for.  Food, water, heat in the winter, access to the outdoors and a place to roost off the ground and they are pretty happy.
  8. It’s fun.  I actually think it’s fun to tromp out to the barn and gather eggs (although I must confess, I send My Guy out in the winter!) and count to see how many we’ve got every day.
  9. It’s a conversation piece.  When people ask where I live and if I have pets, I talk about chickens.  It fascinates people and give me a chance to teach them about where their food comes from!
  10. Purpose.  There are some gloomy, dark and dreary weekends when I want to just crawl back under the covers and wait for the sunshine.  But the chickens must eat and the eggs must be gathered.  On the days when I’d love to do absolutely nothing, the chickens are a reason to slip on the boots and at least cross the backyard to gather eggs.  Often times it’s the push I need to do another something around the house.

Make Your Own Butter – It’s Easy!

Make your own butter

Home made butter is so simple it’s barely even a recipe!  There’s two ingredients – cream and salt.  That’s it.  In under 15 minutes you can have fresh butter.

Pour the whole cream (no, you can’t substitute!) into a bowl for your mixer or hand mixer.  Then start whipping on high.  You’re going to make whipped cream first and when it’s all light and fluffy, keep going!  At this point I sprinkled my kosher salt.  If table salt is what you have, then that will do just fine.  I prefer kosher or sea salt because it’s less salty, but use what you have.

Around the 6 or 7 minute mark your fluffy whipped cloud is going to deflate (this is good!).  And around the 9 or 10 minute mark you’ll suddenly see and hear the separation of buttermilk from the creamy butter bits.  At this point you’re probably getting splashed pretty good but the buttermilk.  Turn your mixer off and grab some cheesecloth if you have it.  Pour the bowl’s content in and gather up the edges.  You want to squeeze all the buttermilk out.  This is what makes the butter go rancid.  So make sure to give it a good squeeze!

Eh voila!  You’ve just made butter!

Two cups of cream make about 1 cup of butter.  You can take the buttermilk and use it to make muffins if you’re feeling extra industrious.  Personally, I made bread that originated on Backyard Chickens forum by gumpsgirl.

 

 

Make Your Own Butter - It's Easy!
Author: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Make your own butter in just a few easy steps. It's delicious!
Ingredients
  • Full fat whipping cream
  • Salt
  • Mixer
  • Cheesecloth
Instructions
  1. Pour the whole cream (no, you can't substitute!) into a bowl for your mixer or hand mixer. Then start whipping on high. You're going to make whipped cream first and when it's all light and fluffy, keep going! At this point I sprinkled my kosher salt. If table salt is what you have, then that will do just fine. I prefer kosher or sea salt because it's less salty, but use what you have.
  2. Around the 6 or 7 minute mark your fluffy whipped cloud is going to deflate (this is good!). And around the 9 or 10 minute mark you'll suddenly see and hear the separation of buttermilk from the creamy butter bits. At this point you're probably getting splashed pretty good but the buttermilk. Turn your mixer off and grab some cheesecloth if you have it. Pour the bowl's content in and gather up the edges. You want to squeeze all the buttermilk out. This is what makes the butter go rancid. So make sure to give it a good squeeze!
  3. Eh voila! You've just made butter!

Spring Recipe Round-Up

Image from vectorgoods.com

Image from vectorgoods.com

Since Spring has not only officially sprung, it’s also actually happening outside!  I thought I’d share with you some recipes inspiring me and making my mouth water!  These are some of the cutest and yummiest recipes I’ve found this week!  And with the weekend upon us, now’s the perfect time to head over to their sites and play in the kitchen!

Flower Pot Cookies by The Gunny Sack

 

Green Apple Limeade by Pink Pistachio

 

Bright & Sprightly Pasta For Spring by Edible Insight

 

Ricotta and Pea Crostini by Williams-Sonoma

 

Peeps Sunflower Cake by The Frugal Girls

 

East Egg Fudge by Wine and Glue

 

Robin’s Egg Nests by Mama Miss

 

 

Where to Shop in November!

This month I have TWO craft shows coming up.  These are great opportunities to buy some unique Christmas/Holiday presents for that special someone or yourself!

HandMade Market is happening November 22nd to 24th at Fielding Estate Wineries in Beamsville. (Click the poster for driving directions!)

 

 

Then the following weekend I’m off to Hamilton’s Convention Centre for Made by Hand!  This is the first time the show is being held in Hamilton.  Come out and support! (Click the poster for driving directions!)

Screenshot 2013-11-10 08.42.10

Frightful Foods: Halloween Food Roundup

Frightful Food Halloween Food Roundup

On Halloween night when you’re handing out candy to all the neighbourhood kids, resist the temptation to dip into the candy in the bucket and whip up some frightful food to nosh on!  Check these ideas out!  Click on the pictures for the recipes and how-to’s!

Martha Stewart is curing epidermis!

 

Cured Epidermis

 

Or how about some scary butterfingers eyeballs?

 

 

Halloween Butterfinger Eyes

 

For the grownups, there’s always a Black Magic Cocktail to go with the scary movies on for the evening!

Black Magic Cocktails

 

 

If you’re feeling a bit more health conscious, halloween fruit kabobs are always fun!

Frightful Halloween fruit kebabs

 

And who doesn’t love some eyeballs floating in their tomato soup?!

Eye-Popping Soup

 

Frightful foods can come in many forms and be made out of anything!  What are some of your favourite ideas?

 

 

 

How To: Make Your Own Apple Cider

How to Make Your Own Apple Cider My Guy and I are always into making anything we can.  Most of the time it’s the adventure of it that catches our attention and not so much the health benefits.  Although, because we do tend to make a lot of stuff we’re not taking in as many preservatives.  We moved into our new house and discovered an apple tree in the yard.  There were so many tall weeds that we completely overlooked this tree’s existence!  The apples were small and pesticide free so they were pretty blemished.  Not the nicest for eating.  But they sure made great cider!

The Process

Step 1: We picked as many apples as we thought we could handle.

Apples for cider

Step 2: We pulled out the food processor and got to work!  We cut the ones too large to fit through the mouth of the processor.  Thankfully, most of them fit quite nicely!

Chopped apples ready for the food processor

Step 3: Once the bowl was filled, we used cheesecloth to strain the solids out.  We were doing a ton of apples so we squeezed the cider out and we were left with apple pulp.  We discarded the pulp and set about mashing up the next round of apples!

Using cheesecloth to strain the cider

Step 4: You’ll need to refrigerate your cider, I recommend jugs or mason jars with lids.  At this point, it’s unpasteurized and won’t keep for more than a few days.  On the bright side, now is the perfect time to enjoy a big glass of cold apple cider or heat it up with a stick or two of cinnamon!

Things I Learned

Use a variety of apples – My Guy and I used the apples off our tree which was awesome because they were too tiny to do much else with!  But it made for a weaker tasting cider.  I would recommend using a variety of apples and the riper they are (overripe is great!) the better.  Grocery stores and supermarkets will often have a clearance table of produce nearing the end of it’s life.  You can pick up all kinds of apples at a big discount.

Do not stick anything in the food processor – Check out this picture.  Do I need to say more?

My Guy and the Exploding Apple Mash

It takes a ton of apples – way more than you think.  This is not really a cheap method of getting cider unless you are using some free ones!  But it sure is fun to make and drink something you made!

Consider sweetening it up – I would use honey and not much.  Again, it will depend on the apples you use but you MAY need to consider adding some honey to up the sweetness

Fall Made by Hand Show – THIS Saturday!

Join me and 150 other vendors THIS Saturday, October 19th at the International Centre (Unit 6) from 11am to 5pm.  I would love to see you!

Click the poster for more details and directions! Fall MadebyHand Flyer - October 19th 2013

Halloween Craft Round Up!

Halloween Header

I’ve pulled some of the cutest, scariest, easiest and more Halloweeny crafts I could find around the web!  Check ‘em out!  Just click on the images to be taken to the original poster’s tutorials!

How cute and easy are these guys to do?  Easy for kids to do but looks great for a grown up’s decor as well.

Can you imagine how much kids would LOVE this stuff?  I think I love this stuff and I’m too old to be called a kid (no matter how I act)!

This felt ruffled pumpkin would be adorable on a table, to take to the office or do a few to put in your living room.  Halloween without so much blood and gore!

I’ve always been one for salty and sweet together (although the popcorn is apparently air popped!) but this would be great to do with kids and watching a scary movie, or make for your Sweetie while you snuggle up for a good scare.  Super fun!  Plus, a tutorial on how to make popcorn in your microwave without buying microwave popcorn.  Love it!

This craft is super simple but super cute for the little ones.  They would be proud to create something Halloweeny and you get an adorable craft to show them!

Long Weekend in Niagara-On-The-Lake

Yesterday My Guy and I spent the afternoon in Niagara-On-The-Lake (NOTL).  First up was Jet Boating on the Niagara River.  It was a FUN and WET trip!  We went up the rapids and of course, got soaked!

portraits!-08 DCIM100GOPRO

Then we stopped at Oast House and Silversmiths, two local breweries in NOTL and Virgil (just outside NOTL).  And then we head back to Stone Road Grille or The Rest.  The meal was delicious! I had the Duck Confit and would tell anyone that it was one of the best places to eat!

IMG_0416

After that, we went home and I promptly fell asleep on the couch while watching a movie!  It was a great day with My Guy!

New House!

IMG_0001 My Guy and I have bought a new house!  I’m pretty excited about it and eager to get going.  Of course it won’t happen until the end of August and there’s lots of packing to do in the meantime.  But patience has never been a strong point of mine.  Instead I’m impatiently tapping my toes until we can get in and I can start organizing the new kitchen and bedrooms.  It’s one floor with a finished basement.  We’ve got more than enough room for our stuff, plus My Guy has kids that will have room to come and stay and space of their own.  There’s a small barn with enough room for chickens, ducks and maybe a cow (we’re still in discussion about this one!).

 

IMG_0049 Country Girl Cooks is about to get a new home in the country and I couldn’t be more excited!  I’m trying not to pre-decorate in my head, but of course I know full well that once I’m in it will change all again.  My Guy has already decided on his projects.  He intends to cut the grass, which is actually looking like a hay field (the grass is well over my knees) before tackling the driveway.  The list is a mile long and yet… this is all nice to have stuff.  I think one of the best things about this house is that it actually needs no fixing.  We get to putter, play and turn it into our home rather than just making it into a house then a home.

Stay tuned, the next month is going to be full of packing… then the real fun will begin!

 

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