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HOMEMADE LIVING: HOME DAIRY

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: KEEPING BEES

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: CANNING & PRESERVING

 

HOMEMADE LIVING: KEEPING CHICKENS


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Monthly Archives: January 2010

Ice Age


The frozen precipitation from the snowpaclypse that occurred 4 weeks ago tomorrow is still on the ground out here. FOUR WEEKS! I find it pretty and poetic and light-reflecting and all of that, but, well, I’m pretty ready for it to move on. My winter garden is still blanketed under, the chickens want their yard back, and I’d like to not worry about breaking my neck on the icy path to the coop each morning. 

Not whining, just sayin’…

Homeland Security





My husband has never been much of one for doing things halfway. If I want eggs for breakfast, I get a potato/tortilla/peperjack cheese frittata of transcendent flavor and texture. If I need him to hang a picture, he busts out the leveler, changes the hook in the back, and squares it off expertly. Birthday and holiday gifts involve a great deal of thought and attention, for myself and those around him. It’s no surprise then that when we decided to shore up the coop after losing Uno, he would rock it like no other. 

Over the course of several days, he has erected a laser-like kaleidoscope of colored rope over the top of the run. The idea is that a predator bird would have to be some sort of aviary gymnast to deftly maneuver through such an obstacle course (a la ‘The Night Fox’ in Ocean’s 12-I really, really love that song). It’s not completely finished, as I’ve yet to fulfill my part, hanging up lots of cd’s from the colored ropes to even further confuse our aerial friends (Yes, “friends,” not foes. I’ve decided not to harbor any ill will towards the hawk/owl/what-have-you; it was cold and hungry and my chickens were out past sunset and it went for it, as is it’s nature). However, preliminary reports from the remaining flock (we’re 4 strong now) are good, with lots of confident pecking, striding, preening, and clucking observed. 

Our own Fort Knox, done up poultry-style. Thanks for bringing it, G. You’re a keeper. 

Close Encounters

The dogs have decided to wrestle right beside me, so I’m writing this post from a rather precarious location…and, much better. Move along, buddies, move along. 

We’ve set up a wintertime feeding hub for the birds, located just outside the kitchen windows. Glenn grabbed this shot of a Red Bellied Woodpecker (who I’ve dubbed “Thor” because, you know, he brings the hammer and all that) while we were noshing on buttermilk & currant bread french toast (seasoned with cardamom, ginger, and nutmeg-Glenn knows how to bring the flavor) and sipping fresh squeezed o.j.. 

It’s been bird central ever since we installed and filled the feeders. I can’t get enough of it. We live in this forest packed full of life and end up so estranged from it. With the addition of the bird feeders, the hummingbird feeders later in the year, the scented plants and bushes I’ve added around the property, the vegetable garden, the bees and the chickens, we’ve finally begun experiencing more direct encounters with our winged/feathered/furry/slithering/multi-cellular neighbors. I plan to continue to get to know them all much, much better. 

My post on “Winter Preparedness” (or “In Your Face, Jack Frost!”) is up over on my “Small Measures with Ashley” column on Design Sponge. Here’s hoping we all move out of this frigid foray soon. Have a lovely weekend. 

Catching Up




Yesterday was all about catching up. Since the family visit, and then with Uno’s passing (Glenn is working like a predator ninja fortifying the aerial part of the run-photos forthcoming), I’ve been a bit behind the 8-ball. I’m getting back on track, though, with plenty of writing, editing, and copyediting to attend to, not to mention a host of baking projects. 

I spent the better part of yesterday in my sweet new L.L. Bean flannel jammies (thanks, Devan!), stirring, churning, boiling, and otherwise making a mess of the kitchen. Output included the above spiced pear bundt cake (the recipe for which can be found in this book and fluffy, ethereal marshmallows (totally worth the mess-look here for instructions). Still trying to figure out what I’ll render all the fruit brought by my father’s wife, Gail, into. She, along with my sister Theo, gathered up boatloads of citrus in Florida before their visit last week, festooning me with a medley of kumquats, meyer lemons, grapefruit, tangerines, and navel oranges. It’s impossible to have too much citrus. Fresh juice, marmalade, orangettes, and other pluckery delights will soon be ours! 
Cleo and Kali took my kitchen alchemy in stride, never veering too far from their strategic position adjacent to the wood stove. Stay warm, all. It’s wicked cold. 

Small Measure Can-Do Contest, Round 7

It’s the beginning of a new month, not to mention a new year, which means that it’s already time again for another Small Measure Giveaway! For those of you new to the contest, or to this blog, I’m staging a giveaway each month from now until the release of my book, Homemade Living: Canning & Preserving with Ashley English. Each month one lucky person will win an artfully crafted canned item featured in the book and made by yours truly. 

From my pantry to yours, this month I’ll be giving away a jar of Kumquat 5-spice Marmalade. I know I keep saying that each item I giveaway is one of my favorites. I’ve mentioned my love of Cardamom Apple Butter and Spiced Pear Chutney. This item, though, truly takes the cake. Because I’ve run out of superlatives, we’ll just say that it is “highly covetable.” My editor, who also is one of my closest, dearest friends, gobbled up her jar in about one day. It’s spoon-worthy. Great on toast, of course, but resplendent on cheesecake, ice cream, and cupcakes, too. I’m sure it would also compliment a sandwich of cold cuts just as well as it would snuggle in expertly with some blue cheese. Kumquats are available now in many grocery stores (in the northern hemisphere, that is), as they, like most citrus fruits, truly come into their own this time of year. 

To enter: Simply leave a comment to THIS specific post by telling me your favorite way of cooking or serving or simply eating kumquats. Your comment MUST link to your particular blog or web site (and therefore to your contact information) or include your e-mail address. Otherwise, I won’t be able to get in touch with you if you win! Any entries that do not include some way of getting in touch will be disqualified. 

Deadline: Comments must be received by midnight EST January 18th, 2010. Odds of winning will depend on the number of eligible entries received. 

Other rules:
1. You must have a mailing address in the United States of America (sorry international folks!).
2. Only one entry comment per person. 

How it works: Each comment will be assigned a sequential number. The winning number will be selected from a random number generator, so there’ll be no favorites, simply a game of chance. 

Keep coming back each month to see what new tasty item is up for grabs!