Category Archives: chicken

Raising Chickens

It’s been a few years since we first brought chickens home. It’s been an adventure. I have funny stories, I have sad stories, I have unexplainable stories. I love having chickens. I wouldn’t change that for anything, but having chickens is hard and easy at the same time.

The big coop with vines added for sun protection and bushes for dog protection.

The big coop with vines added for sun protection and bushes for dog protection.

Inside with various stages of boxes, waterers, and feeders. It's a learning process.

Inside with various stages of boxes, waterers, and feeders. It’s a learning process.

This year I had the baby fluff itch and bought 10 new hatchlings in the spring. As odds would have it 5 turned out to be roosters, of the 5 hens only three made it to adulthood because our dogs got ahold of them. We decided this go round we would keep one rooster for potential breeding purposes. So a few months back when the crowing got to be too much and the roos were big enough (sort of) we slaughtered them and froze them for food. A lot of people ask if it’s difficult for us. My response is always that I know the chickens have had a good life and they’re slaughtered humanely. It’s a lot easier to kill a chicken than you’d think. The best advice I have for you if you decided to eat your chickens, is to never view them as pets. They are livestock. Over the years I had some chickens that I’ve become attached to and I was very upset when they died (illness or predator attack). But, the rooster and most of the hens are livestock to me. When it’s their time it’s their time.

Well back to this year of chicken. The rooster we kept, Doplh, was not very bright, and hen pecked, but we liked him in all his goofiness. He was kept because he had an excellent 80’s rock mullet of feathers and a comb over. This weekend he was acting strange, and died. I found him lying down and separated him from the ladies just in case he was sick. We really have no idea why he died, but have a theory about his crop being full. I disposed of him before I learned of this potential cause so I have no way of inspecting.  So we are back down to just the ladies.

We also received 4 baby chicks from a friend a few weeks back. One of them died, and we were worried it was coccidoisis, however, it never spread to the other chickens so I’m unsure why. We only learned of the potential of cocci after they had been introduced to the main flock. The friend who gave them to me also lost a few of her babies, and we both observed bloody stools. Typically if there is a risk of it you want to quarantine quickly, but since all the remaining flock appears to be healthy we’ve left them together.

Unfortunately the baby drama doesn’t end there. One of my broody hens, Jack, attacked one of the babies and nearly killed her. So Jack and the baby have been in quarantine for the last week. Jack has received a lot of submissive training because she decided to start attacking me too. After a week she seemed to calm down quite a bit and has been slowly reintroduced back to the flock. During her time in lock down she started picking out her feathers, so I worried she was stressing too much and actually moved her jail (dog kennel) inside the big coop.

Jack in lock down

Jack in lock down

Now she seems okay, but we’re watching her aggression. The baby she attacked is a survivor, so we named her Gloria Clucker. She has healed well but is still recovering. I’ve moved her out of quarantine in the garage and back into the coop. She is not yet ready to be part of the big flock yet but hated being alone so she is in the dog kennel that Jack used to be in.

I told T recently that after all this craziness, we’re not getting any new chickens for awhile! We are currently at 10 large hens, and 3 babies. Below are the pictures of all the ladies with a quick introduction to their personalities. Not pictured are Dusty Chickenfield and Snowflake, they’re part of my March babies, and are super fast! They’re small game chickens and not very personable closer to wild birds than the friendly livestock nature of my others.

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Bridgette on top- partially blind, incredibly spastic, achieved pet status by being so very strange, no eggs yet born in March, possible rooster? Pollox on bottom

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T-bone and the two babies- T-bone is my smallest full grown hen, she’s a silkie about 1.5 years old, and she’s adopted the two easter egger chicks as her own.

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Jack out of lock down, minus some feathers- she’s incredibly broody, recently aggressive towards people and chickens, in training to hopefully fix her of that.

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Bandit- smaller black and grey hen. one of the head ladies, decent layer, friendly Big Red- she and bandit are in charge and often found together, Red comes running every time she sees me because she knows I bring the kitchen scraps. Red is one of my oldest ladies.

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Monday- shy, large egg layer, stays to herself mostly.

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Castor – Pollox’s sister, likes to catch lizards, more dominant and less broody than her sister, very noisy hen.

She's a survivor!

Gloria Clucker- She’s a survivor! She is a buff orpington, pretty tame, and recovering very well.

Finally the terrible eat beasts! Despite every enhancement we make to the coop to dog proof it, they find a way to get a couple a year. To be honest sometimes it’s our fault for not double checking the count and finding the chicken before letting them out.

We eat mommy's chickens!

Dagney and Roark- We eat mommy’s chickens!

It’s a long one but so much is happening on the chicken side, I had to update. Keep an eye out for the next one.

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Spinach stuffed Chicken Breasts

If you are a fan of my creamed spinach, you will LOVE this dish! My friend Rebecca is just starting her paleo journey and came up with this. I tweaked it a little for my own preferences, but I’m so thankful she gave me the idea for this. It was super tasty.

Spinach Stuffed Chicken

4 pterodactyl breasts (or enormous chicken breasts)

6 pieces of bacon diced

1 package of spinach (the frozen brick is 80 cents at my grocery store)

1 yellow onion diced

5 cloves of garlic minced

1/4 cup and 1 table spoon of coconut milk

1tbsp red pepper

A few dashes of the following: Cajun seasoning, salt, pepper, and garlic powder

1tsp xanthan gum (omit this if you prefer)

Cook up the bacon bits in a pan on medium high until crispy.

Remove bacon and keep the fat in the pan. Add the onions to the pan and sauté until they start to soften. About 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add the spinach and red pepper and toss the pan a few times until evenly distributed. Remove from heat and add to the bacon bits. Mix and set aside to cool.

While your spinach cools, slice your chicken (pterodactyl) breasts in half making sure to keep one side still attached. If you are feeling particularity skillful try to only cut from the top so you have what is essentially a chicken breast mitten. When the stuffing is cooled enough to handle, stuff the breasts with the spinach mixture.

Place them in a well oiled baking dish. Pour the 1/4 cup of coconut milk on top of the breasts then season them with your remaining seasonings.

Bake covered in an oven at 400 for approximately 45 minutes. Check with a thermometer that the internal temperature is 180.

When done pour out the pan drippings into a stock pot, turn temperature to medium high. Add the remaining coconut milk and xanthan gum. Whisk until the mixture begins to thicken.

We ate ours with roasted brussel sprouts. I love brussel sprouts and noticed they were super cheap at the store in frozen dinner sized packs so I bought a few. Apparently I thought this was a good deal last week too. We now have a LOT of frozen brussel sprouts. T told me not to buy any more for awhile. Ooops.

This meal is so amazing! Try it today.


Delicious and Easy

Sunday we had some friends over for dinner. Below is what I made. Tandoori chicken using this marinade. Roasted butternut squash in leftover bacon fat. “Creamed” spinach made with coconut milk.

I’ve mentioned this marinade before. It’s super easy and tasty. A few tablespoons in a zip top bag with your protein is all the prep you need to do. I let the chicken marinate most of the day then I grilled the chicken outside.

Notice the gloves here?

My skin has a very strange reaction to raw butternut squash when it’s unpeeled. I can eat it fine, I just can’t handle it while raw. I either get T to do the prep work or I wear gloves to avoid it. We made bacon for breakfast and had delicious bacon fat left over.

I scooped some of the fat out then tossed the squash in the remaining fat reusing the exact same pan. (This works for all kinds of vegetables. Try it on broccoli and carrots)

Why make your life harder and wash all those dishes? It roasted at 350 until golden brown. About 30 minutes.

This spinach has to be one of my all time favorite things I’ve ever come up with. It’s so good! Check here for the original recipe.

This was a totally paleo meal that had very little prep time and was very tasty. If you’re still struggling to make meals make sense; take this approach and roast different veggies and grill meat with different marinades. It really is that simple.


Tuesday’s Meals of the Day

For lunch I ate a mess of different things. It was a clean out the fridge sort of meal. I had the chicken and cabbage from last night’s dinner. A Stuffed bell pepper primal and not paleo because of the addition of cheese. One meatball with tomato sauce homemade from the garden. Actually all the vegetables in this meal are home grown!

I snacked on some raw zucchini. Rawr!

Dinner was Tandoori chicken with sweet potatoes (canned and gifted from my lovely friend Sarah) and zucchini. If you are noticing a zucchini trend it’s because we have tons of it the size of small babies coming from our garden. The tandoori was a paste I bought at the store. It doesn’t contain any sugar so I can recommend it to my paleo pals. I used a few spoonfuls to marinate the chicken overnight then added coconut milk and let it slow cook while did Helen in the rain.

Paleo tip #2 – use what’s in season. It’s cheaper, it’s fresher, and better for you. My general rule is that if you are paying much more than $1 a pound, it’s not in season. This of course doesn’t apply to certain veggies. I can never find asparagus or artichokes that cheap. If you can’t find it fresh go frozen. They freeze it in peak freshness so it’s pretty close to being fresh. Canned is okay if you watch the salt content.


A Week of Meals

I have several friends that are new to paleo eating. In honor of them I will be posting my meals for each day. I usually eat twice a day with tons of water in the middle.

This was breakfast:

I had leftover zucchini noodles from meatballs last night so I thought they’d make a good breakfast. I served that with two eggs, some tomatoes from the garden and bacon. I made extra bacon and had a few slices as a snack in between.

This was dinner:

The unfortunate theme of dinner was “oops I burned it!” The cabbage and the chicken are both a little toasty. I had grilled chicken, braised cabbage, and raw zucchini slices. Again all the vegetables are from the garden.

I also had a few raw unsalted cashews, and a glass of kombucha (fermented tea) but that would make for a boring picture so I didn’t take it.

I hope that by posting my daily meals I can help inspire a few of you to try paleo too. It’s really not that hard. One of the biggest suggestions I have right now is to stop trying to find substitutes for your favorite grain food. Don’t look for a paleo bread or muffin. Instead think about making meat and veggies the star. Up there for I mentioned that I use leftover zucchini noodles. I just take a whole zucchini and peel it with a juiliane peeler.


Lola

This is my new organic pest control. Her name is Lola. Can you tell how excited I am?

These are her stomping grounds. I’m hoping she will eat all the caterpillars eating my greens. I’m also hoping that we get some eggs when she gets comfortable. This garden is already making a ton of vegetables. Hooray for homegrown!


Kibbeh part 2

In Wednesday’s post I said I made a variation of this recipe for dinner. If you are interested here is the variation. I’ve made this a few times with tweaks to the seasoning and filling. Essentially it is a meat paste with seasoning, green filling with nuts, and a nut flour crust. The preparation is time consuming so it is not a good week night meal. However, it freezes well so make a bunch and freeze in batches for when you want them. I served this with a coconut milk mint raita. Raita is an Indian sauce used to cool down spicy foods. With a little whipping in a food processor and some xanthan gum the coconut milk thickened up just like yogurt. I added fresh mint for flavor.

I put about 2 lbs of pork loin and 1 lb of chicken thighs into a food processor and blended until it made a paste. I know it sounds gross but when you’re done it won’t be. I added garlic powder, coriander, onion powder, ground ginger, salt, and black pepper. I didn’t measure the seasonings but if I had to guess I’d say about 1tbs of everything then adjust from there. I made a test patty to make sure the meat wasn’t dry or without flavor. With pork loin if there is not enough fat the meat will be dry which is why I added the chicken. You can also add bacon fat or trim fat off another cut of meat. Refrigerate the meat paste for a few hours. This allows the flavors to mingle and the meat to rest.

While that chilled, I sautéed a minced onion with ~4 cloves of minced garlic in some olive oil. When the smell became less pungent and the onions started looking clear I added a frozen block of spinach. I’ve found that cooked spinach is better than fresh because the fresh loses so much volume when in the oven. Cook until the spinach is no longer frozen, then pass a knife thorough the spinach a few times to break any larger leaves apart. Set this to the side in a bowl. Using the same pan, heat some olive oil and brown about a cup of pine nuts. Keep an eye on them because they go from tan to black very fast. When the pine nuts are browned add them to your spinach.

To stuff your kibbeh take a small chunk of meat roll it in a ball then flatten it out to a pancake size patty. In the middle add some spinach mixture being careful to keep it from the sides of your pancake. I keep a bowl of water nearby to rinse my hands in between spinach applications. Fold up like a taco and pinch the sides of the pancake smoothing and rolling out any seams. The seams will open up in cooking if you don’t take care to do this step. When you’re done your meat will look like a foot ball.  You can play around with the size of these but my favorite is about the size of my palm. Continue until all your meat is used up.

In a food processor or blender blend almonds and unsweetened coconut shavings until it resembles a fine meal. If you have coconut/almond flour you can use that too. I like the slightly crunchier texture of making it myself. Set up a bowl with whisked eggs and another with some of your almond coconut mixture. Dip a ball in egg, then roll in the nuts, place on an oiled cookie sheet, and repeat. When all your balls are coated with nuts bake in the oven at 350 for an hour. Give these a try and play around with the ingredients. I make them different every time and they are always very tasty.