10 Mistakes You’re Making with Raw Chicken

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Many home cooks may not realize the simple, but potentially dangerous mistakes they’re making with raw chicken. If not handled correctly, you may set yourself and your family up for some seriously sad tummy troubles.

These are 10 potential mistakes even experienced home cooks make with raw chicken.

Storing chicken improperly

The tiny drawing of a turkey on your refrigerator shelf may seem like a helpful hint for picking where you should store your cellophane-wrapped packages of poultry. That’s not always the best indicator.

Chicken juices tend to leak and drip from packages, which means if it’s stored on a shelf above ready-to-eat foods like fruits and vegetables, you could contaminate a great deal of the food in your fridge.

Solution: Place chicken packages on a plate or in a casserole dish, and store them on the bottom shelf or in the bottom drawer of your fridge. The plate will capture any juices that leak, protecting everything else you have stored.

Thawing incorrectly

We don’t mean to go all food safety police here, but this is one of the most dangerous and most common mistakes you can make with your raw chicken. At room temperature, the bacteria in these birds can quickly multiply.  Salmonella is especially prolific at these warmer temps. If you leave the chicken out too long such as you might when you’re thawing it for tonight’s dinner you could set up camp for bacteria that will result in foodborne illness (i.e. food poisoning).

Solution: Don’t put the frozen chicken on the counter or in the sink to thaw. While the center of the chicken is ice cold, the outer portions will be too warm to stop bacterial growth. Instead, thaw the chicken in your fridge up to two days ahead of when you plan to cook with it. That will give the chicken’s thickest parts plenty of time to de-ice while keeping the outside portions chilled and more importantly, safe.

Not letting chicken warm up a bit

After the last raw chicken mistake, this may seem counterintuitive, but hear us out: You don’t want to leave the chicken out too long (remember, food poisoning), but you also don’t want to cook it straight from the fridge.

Leaving the chicken out at room temperature for 15 minutes will make the chicken cook more evenly, helping you avoid a brown outside with a raw, undercooked inside.

Solution: When you’re gathering all of the ingredients for dinner, go ahead and take the chicken (in the plate or dish where it’s stored) out of the fridge. Let it sit for no more than 15 minutes.

Rinsing chicken before you cook it

If you give your birds a bath before you bake them, it’s time to stop. Raw chicken doesn’t need to be and should not be rinsed before cooking. You may think you’re rinsing away bacteria—salmonella is a big concern with chicken—but you may actually just be spreading it. In fact, research suggests you may splash bacteria as far as three feet from your sink when you rinse poultry.

Solution: Skip the bath. Cook chicken directly from the package, and you’ll cut down on possible contamination around your kitchen.

Not drying your chicken

Didn’t we just tell you not to wash chicken? We did. But you should definitely dry your chicken before you cook it.

That’s because fluids from processing and packaging chicken are often washed in a saline solution to keep it looking moist when on the shelf can make your chicken soggy when you put it right into the pan. A dry bird gets more beautiful browning and a wonderfully crisp sear.

Solution: Before you put the chicken in the pan or on the grill, give it a quick dab with paper towels. Better yet, let the chicken air-dry in the refrigerator for a few hours. To do this, you’ll place the chicken on a tray or platter and leave it, uncovered, in your fridge. The air will wick away moisture from the skin of the chicken, leaving it nice and dry for crisp searing. (Dry brining is a popular technique for getting really crispy turkey skin at Thanksgiving.)

Marinating your chicken the wrong way

Marinating is a great technique for adding flavor with minimal effort. You need only combine your chicken pieces with your homemade marinade and let it rest for several hours before it’s time to cook it.

However, you’re making a big mistake if you leave your chicken on the counter to marinate while you prepare all the other components for your meal. You could set yourself up for a foodborne illness.

Solution: Once you have your marinade, pour it into a zip-top bag or container that closes. (A lidded container is fine as long as the lid won’t fly off.) Then, add your chicken. Toss gently to coat the chicken in the marinade, and immediately put it back into the fridge. Toss or flip the chicken a few more times to get all pieces of chicken evenly coated.

When you’re finished with the marinade, throw the bag right into the trash or empty it from the container down the sink. Marinade that has come into contact with raw chicken is not reusable, even if you boil it. It’s just too risky. Instead, save some of your marinade before you combine it with the chicken, and use it for a last-second brushing before serving.

The raw chicken comes into contact with other foods

If space is at a premium in your petite kitchen, you may be tempted to reuse surfaces (i.e. cutting boards) to keep from dirtying up extra dishes. Don’t do it.

Chop raw chicken on a separate prep board from other ingredients you might be slicing or mincing for your meal. If you chop kale on the same board you sliced chicken, you could cross-contaminate the leafy greens with juices from the bird. That’s possible even if you wipe the board down with a sanitizing towel. Bacteria are just too difficult to eliminate without a high-temperature wash, like that of a dishwasher.

Reusing kitchen tools without washing

If you use the same tongs to flip raw chicken as you do to toss the side salad you’ve prepared, you may be cross contaminating your raw ingredients with the bacteria from your raw chicken. This increases your risk for foodborne illnesses and food poisoning.

Solution: You need to set aside all utensils that come into contact with raw meat, and don’t use them for other foods. Then, you should wash them thoroughly after each use so as to prevent the spread of poultry juices.

Not washing your hands after handling raw chicken

Your hands are the most useful tool you have in your kitchen. They’re also the most likely to spread bacteria.

Indeed, you may easily cross-contaminate your entire kitchen if you use your dirty hands to handle chicken, turn on a sink, grab a fork from the drawer, and open the refrigerator. Each surface you come into contact with may now harbor potentially deadly bacteria.

Solution: Take extra care to notice what and where you touch after handling raw chicken. Better yet, “save” one hand for non-chicken related tasks. As soon as you’ve flipped the chicken or put it in the bag for marinating, use your non-chicken hand to turn on the faucet at the sink and pump some soap. Wash your hands thoroughly, and dry with a clean towel. Don’t use a towel you’ve used to wipe down surfaces around your kitchen, or you could pick up any bacteria the towel is hiding.

Ripping skin off the meat with your hands

If you’ve tried tugging chicken skin off breasts, thighs, or drumsticks before cooking them, you know how slippery those pieces can be. One stuck-on piece of sinew and your main course may be sent flying into the floor.

It’s also smart to leave the skin on cuts like thighs and drumsticks because the fat can infuse the meat with flavor during the cooking process. You can just remove the skin before serving.

Solution: Give your grippers a rest and use a paring knife instead. The short knives are easy to grip and quickly cut away at the tough tissue. They can also be easier to handle, which reduces the risk of losing any precious meat during the trimming process.

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10 Mistakes You’re Making with Raw Chicken

How To Cook Chicken Like a Pro 

This is an article from Hello Fresh about how to cook chicken.  I thought it had some good ideas, so am sharing it here. 

 

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Chicken is an extremely versatile and popular type of protein, and Americans consume about 92 pounds of it a year. But despite its popularity, people still struggle with basic cooking techniques. Whether you prefer boneless skinless breasts, bone-in skin-on parts, or even the whole bird, the challenge is the same. How do you cook it evenly, lock in flavor, and keep it juicy and moist? And if you’re a skin lover how do you get the skin perfectly crisp?

No two parts of the bird are the same, and I’m sure you’ve found yourself overwhelmed in the meat aisle at your grocery store wondering which part is best. But don’t panic! We’re breaking it down and dishing out all the tips and tricks to help you cook chicken like a pro.

Whole Chicken

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Few dishes are as quintessentially comforting as a whole roasted chicken. The aroma alone screams Sunday supper! And while you only need a few simple ingredients like salt, pepper, and perhaps some fresh garlic and herbs, the trick to a perfectly roasted chicken is all in the technique. Additionally, buying and roasting a whole chicken is really affordable, and leftovers make a perfect second meal. Of course, you can default to a rotisserie chicken, but mastering the art of roasting a whole chicken is a lot easier than you may think.

Tip #1: Dry = Crispy

Start with a 4-5 pound broiling or frying chicken. Dry the chicken well (inside and out) with paper towels. For best results, open it from the package in the morning or even the night before and leave it on a rack in a roasting pan uncovered in the fridge.

Tip #2: Salt is essential

Season generously all over (inside and out) with salt and pepper. A good rule of thumb is about 1 Tablespoon salt for an average 4-5 pound bird, and I prefer a Kosher-style salt, like Diamond. Plus the salt acts as a brine and will keep the chicken very moist.

Tip #3: Season beyond salt

If you are seasoning it with more than salt and pepper, combine your spice mixture (I love the simplicity of freshly minced garlic and a mix of herbs like rosemary, sage, and thyme) in a bowl, then rub all over. Again, don’t forget about the inside of the bird! Feel free to season in advance to boost flavor.

Tip#4: Don’t forget the cavity

To add some extra moisture and flavor, cut a lemon, onion, or even an apple in chunks and place in the cavity along with a sprig or two of herbs/bay leaves. As the chicken roasts, these aromatics will release moisture and flavor — just remember to remove before carving.

Tip #5: Truss and tuck

Truss (tie) the legs and tuck the wings. Not only does this make for a prettier presentation, but it also helps keep the breasts from drying out while cooking.

Tip #6To baste or not to baste?

There are some people who love to dot their chicken with butter or brush it with oil before cooking, and then baste while it’s roasting. However, if you like the skin crispy, I’d advise against this since brushing and basting tends to reduce the crispiness factor.  Every time you open the oven, the temperature drops, so it’s best to keep the chicken at an even temperature and let the oven do the work.

Tip #6: Slow and steady

I’m a fan of 350º F all the way unless you’re in a hurry. On average, you’ll want to cook your chicken about 15 -20 minutes per pound to keep the white meat moist and ensure the dark meat is cooked through.

Tip #7: Roasting pan, sheet pan, and more

A traditional roasting pan that you line with a rack is sufficient since it will keep the bird elevated and allow the bottom to crisp. However, a shallow sheet pan will also allow the sides to crisp up more. I’m also a fan of roasting the chicken in a large cast iron skillet, which retains heat very well.

Tip #8: Check for doneness

Don’t poke your chicken too often while it’s cooking. Instead, set your timer for the estimated time, then insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh (avoiding the bone). If it registers 165º F, it’s good to go. If you don’t have a thermometer, insert a sharp knife into the thickest part of the thigh (also avoiding the bone), and if the juices run clear, the chicken is ready.

Tip #9: Be patient and let it rest

Don’t rush to carve that chicken right after you’ve taken it out of the oven. Not only is it too hot to handle, but letting it rest for about 15 minutes will allow the juices time to redistribute.

Chicken Breasts

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Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are perhaps one of the hardest working proteins around.  They’re high in protein, low in fat, and cook relatively quickly. But perhaps the best part about this cut of chicken is its versatility since chicken breasts can be marinated, grilled, pan seared, sautéed, roasted, sliced and diced for simple stir-fries, threaded onto kabobs, or even shallow fried as cutlets when stuffed or pounded.

Despite their popularity, chicken breasts can be challenging to cook — especially when there is a significant difference between the thick and thin part. And unfortunately, it’s easy for this cut to become tough and rubbery when overcooked. But with these basic tips, you’ll be well on your way to moist and delicious chicken breasts in no time.

Tip #1: Smaller is best

Look for smaller size breasts, if possible, 6-7 oz is best. If you end up with ones that are extra large (between 8-12 oz), cut them in half horizontally for more even cooking, pound them out for cutlets, or slice and dice ‘em into small chunks for stir-fries.

Tip #2: Pat dry

Always make sure you pat the chicken with paper towels and season well with salt and pepper. If you’ve marinated chicken, make sure the marinade is shaken off and chicken is dry. Most marinades have salt so you can skip salting if you’re starting with a marinated chicken breast.

Tip #3: Don’t overcrowd

Start with a wide frying/sauté pan that helps keep splattering to a minimum (nonstick is okay but not essential). If you crowd the pan, the breasts won’t brown as nicely and leave enough room for turning. Consider if you’re going to be adding other ingredients like veggies or pasta.

Tip #3: Choose cooking fats wisely

Heat about two teaspoons of oil (regular olive oil is fine, but extra-virgin is not the best choice here due to its low smoke point). I like adding a knob (tablespoon) of butter at the end, which adds a nice flavor and color. In most cases, medium-high heat is best and will create a good sear. However, if it’s getting dark too quickly, you’ll want to adjust your heat slightly.

Tip #4: Leave it alone

If you want a nice sear, try not to move the chicken for about 5-7 minutes once in the pan. If the chicken is sticking, it’s probably not ready and won’t be golden brown.  Try to avoid over-flipping. Turn it once and don’t touch again for an additional 5-7 minutes. Again, the goal is golden brown color on each side.

Tip #5: Be patient and let it rest

Let the chicken rest for a few minutes before slicing or serving to allow for carry-over cooking and time for juices to redistribute. You’ll want to look for an internal temperature of 165°F, but if you don’t have a thermometer, pay attention to the following: Has the chicken shrunk while cooking? Is it somewhat firm to the touch? If you don’t have a thermometer, make a small cut into the thickest part and check that the juices run clear and flesh is no longer pink.

Bone-In Chicken Parts/Boneless Chicken Thighs

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Chicken legs, thighs, and wings are known as dark meat. These parts are naturally fattier than chicken breast, but also get fat and flavor from the skin. Some people prefer the dark meat because it tends to be more flavorful, but it will take a little longer to cook.

Bone-in, skin-on pieces (even breasts) are best for longer braises, deep-frying, and roasting. They are great marinated and grilled, and certainly less expensive than boneless.

Boneless chicken thighs have a lot of flavor and are just as versatile as the breast. They’re perfect for dicing in stir-fries or quick tacos and take to marinades very well. They can be pan seared and then transferred to the oven to finish cooking, roasted the entire way through, grilled, or lightly breaded and shallow fried. They work well in dishes like chicken chili’s, pot pies, and braises. Just like all poultry, you’ll want to get the internal temp to 165ºF.

Tip #1: Pat dry

Just like the whole chicken and breast, you want to pat the dark meat pieces dry with paper towel. This helps to avoid splatter and increase crisp.

Tip #2: Render the fat

Melting and clarifying animal fat (aka rendering) helps to tenderize the connective tissues. Roasting at high heat or slow braising are the best techniques for this. It’s best to sear in a hot pan first to render excess fat and add flavor. Next, transfer to an oven or add sauce/wine/veggies to the pan and let simmer while chicken cooks.

Eat and enjoy!

How To Cook Chicken Like a Pro 

How to buy the best Chicken

AR-170539913There are so many “chicken” choices at the local grocery store, how do you decide which is the safest and tastiest to buy?

We know the best chickens are the ones that have the freedom to run around fields, eating worms and bugs and all the good stuff. They taste better, have more developed muscles, and a generally higher quality of life. If you can buy a top-notch whole chicken from your farmers market, specialty butcher, or trusted grocer, that’s amazing. But they can get expensive, and sometimes you just want a chicken for dinner without all the work of hunting down the perfect bird.

And that’s why knowing what the words on the chicken packaging mean—and which ones don’t mean anything is important. It’s the difference between a tasty whole roast chicken and a ho-hum one. Here’s what everything on that grocery store poultry package means:

Organic

That familiar USDA Organic logo means that the chicken you’re looking at was fed organic feed and at least had access to the outdoors. That’s cool! As a general rule, we like to keep chemicals out of our food as much as possible, so we seek out organic chicken whenever possible. That’s the way nature wanted you to enjoy chicken. Probably.

Antibiotic-Free and Hormone-Free

Hormone-free chicken doesn’t really mean anything—the USDA actually prohibits the use of added hormones in poultry, so it’s all supposed to be hormone-free. Antibiotics, on the other hand, are allowed, so that antibiotic-free designation means that you’re not going to end up eating any weird chicken medication when you eat that chicken. If you see the USDA Organic label on an antibiotic free bird, you know it’s an honest claim. Which is a good thing, we think. You’re not a chicken! No chicken medication for you!

Cage-Free

What do you think about when you hear the words cage-free? Chickens with great health insurance and paid maternity leave, running through sunny, sprawling fields? Probably.  Cage-free doesn’t actually mean anything. Most meat chickens (unlike egg chickens) don’t really live in cages, even in big factory farming operations where they’re all cooped up in some scary windowless warehouse. That’s still “cage-free”! This is a throw-away term.

Free-Range

Freedom ain’t free. Or guaranteed, if you’re a chicken. Free-range doesn’t necessarily mean that your chicken was raised in a pasture (only that it had access to one). So this term could mean very good things for chicken…or kind of not that much at all. Again, it comes down to your trust in the person selling you the chicken.

 

Air-Chilled

You should always buy air-chilled chicken. The process of air-chilling a chicken means that, after it was slaughtered and de-feathered and all that, it was cooled by hanging in open air, not by being submerged in cold water. The water-chilling process causes the chicken to take on added water weight, which ultimately dilutes the flavor of the meat—less than ideal. Air-chilled birds are going to have a lot more flavor, so that’s kind of a non-negotiable.

Kosher or Halal

Regardless of your religious beliefs, you’ve probably eaten kosher or halal meat, and when it comes to chicken, kosher and halal birds are pretty easy to come by. Kosher and halal chickens are raised, slaughtered, butchered, packaged, and prepared in accordance to Jewish and Islamic (respectively) culinary laws. If you aren’t at a specifically kosher or halal butcher shop, the distinction will be clearly labeled on the package. What’s important to remember here is that the words kosher and halal are not necessarily an indication of quality on their own. Some might be better than your average bird, some might be just whatever, so it’s still a good idea to read the other words on the package.

Natural

Natural can mean whatever you want it to mean. There aren’t any regulations on using the word, so it doesn’t really tell you anything. The chicken was raised in nature? Natural. The chicken was raised on a diet of organic, handmade pasta? Natural. The chicken was born with a gift for basketball? A natural. This means everything and nothing at the same time.

The Bottom Line

In the best case scenario, you’re going to walk away from the grocery store with an organic, antibiotic-free, air-chilled, free-range chicken. But if your grocery store isn’t packing that kind of heat, at the very least, you should buy air-chilled chicken. That’s an absolute must for us in the wide world of chicken. Oh, and your whole chicken should clock in at between three and four pounds. That size gives you the best chance of success for a tender, flavorful, manageable bird. And that’s what life’s all about, right?

How to buy the best Chicken

Instant Chicken ~ Instant Pot

IMG_1790.jpgIt is a very snowy day here and I started thinking about what I could cook for dinner.  I always have back-up supplies in my garage freezer, so I went out to browse and see what might be good a snowy night.  I realized I had way too much chicken so grabbed a package, thinking I should have thawed this out way earlier.

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Hummm.  Instant Pot might do the trick.  I had homemade tortillas left over from the other day and a few interesting ingredients that could make chicken tacos.  Here is a photo of my friendly Instant Pot.

Doing a little online research I found an article about thawing and cooking chicken in an Instant Pot in about ten minutes.  So today I am the “Ten Minute Cook”.  Boy that has a lot of appeal!

The exact time you might use for your Instant Pot would depend on the size and weight of the chicken breasts. Just be sure when you open the pot the chicken is at least a safe 165 degrees. I figure a little higher is better than a little lower.

If you are in a hurry add a little water or chicken broth.  Today I had beef broth and no matter what people say, if it sits about it, you can’t really taste that much difference.  If you are a purest, well that is your problem.

I cut off the ends of some garlic and threw in some taco seasoning and little salt and pepper.

IMG_7158I set the Instant Pot for ten minutes on manual.  When time is up, let it release naturally if not in a hurry.  A quick release if fine for this too.  Not bad for ten minutes or so work.

There you have it, a yummy and quick dinner for working people.  Add a little sauce or throw it in a taco with other taco stuff and have a wonderful dinner.

Instant Chicken ~ Instant Pot

Chicken or Duck? Which egg for what?

chickenduck-main-1000Turns out, there are pros and cons to the duck egg/chicken egg debate. A lot of it has to do with how you want to cook them. Duck eggs actually have less water and more albumen than chicken eggs. This makes them amazing for baking and pastry work, since that magic combo will make cakes fluffier and egg breads even more delicious than your standard chicken egg. They are richer than chicken eggs, with twice the fat. This means custards made with duck eggs are creamier and they would be glorious for scrambled eggs, omelets, quiches, and the like. A sabayon made with duck eggs is supposedly even more ethereal. And some pastry chefs swear that meringues made with duck eggs get better volume and are more stable.

But that lack of water makes other types of cooking, where the whites and yolks retain their independent nature, problematic. Any type of fried egg, hard- or soft-boiled, or poached, the whites can get very rubbery.

From a nutrition standpoint, they are also different. A large chicken egg is about 50 grams, and a duck egg about 70. But despite only a 20-gram difference in weight, a duck egg is twice the calories, twice the fat, and three times the cholesterol of a chicken egg, albeit the good kind of cholesterol.

As with chicken eggs, if you are being careful about your diet you can make scrambles and omelets with one whole egg and an added white or two for bulk. Duck eggs have more Omega-3s, and stay fresher longer due to a thicker shell. They are also much more expensive, often as much as $1-$2 per egg, depending on your source. The flavor and how different it is or isn’t from a chicken egg is entirely dependent on the diet of the duck, so if you want to use duck eggs in a cooking application where the flavor is egg-forward, you might want to do a test scramble of one egg to see if they are more intense than you might prefer.

If you have a good source for duck eggs near you, they are worth seeking out, especially for desserts. Whether the juice is worth the squeeze, price-wise, for your regular breakfast is very much up to you. But you can bet that now that I know all the benefits of duck-egg baking there is a duck-themed dinner party in my future.

The only minus point that duck eggs have is the considerably higher cholesterol content, compared to chicken eggs. 100 gm of duck eggs will contain 884 mg of cholesterol, compared to 425 mg in chicken eggs.

Another thing to note, is that many people who are allergic to chicken eggs can tolerate duck eggs. But be sure to talk to your doctor before giving that a try.

As an added bonus? Eggs are loaded with antioxidants, which some research suggests could even reduce the risk for cancer. So in general, there are plenty of good reasons to be poaching, scrambling, boiling, and sunny-side-upping.

Chicken or Duck? Which egg for what?

And the chickens went to new yard….

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Gertrude (the white rude one), Henrietta (in the middle) and Hennie all joined other chickens in a bigger yard in a family with children.  Having chickens was quite the experience.

As they got older and bigger, as I opened the back door, they would coming running to greet me.  I think it was because I was the one that fed them.  They would eat grapes out of my hand with very quick and almost scary delivery. They missed once in a while and that was always a bit startling.  They followed me around the yard, sometimes feeling a tad too close.

They started producing eggs at about six months and every day there would be three eggs of varying color and size.  It was interesting what they loved to eat and didn’t love to eat.  They love sardines and shrimp and would leave some bread uneaten. Tomatoes and grapes were the favorites, although they did eat the last of the zucchini from my garden.  It will be a miracle if some of my peonies come up in the spring, as those along with some of my herbs were other favorite meals.

They always stayed in the fenced yard, never attempted escape and fertilized my lawn, so much so, I had a separate pair of shoes for the back area. They loved to sit and poop on the outdoor tables and chairs.  Actually, they loved to poop everywhere.  They dug in all my flower beds, spreading the bark and dirt all over the patios and walk-ways daily and pooped there too.

My gardener came yesterday to take them to their new home.  He has a larger area for them to run free.  The chickens had never gone under the deck till yesterday.  Miguel crawled under the deck to get Henrietta, while Hennie squeezed easily through the fence to enter my neighbor’s yard.  They squawked a whole lot, till they were lovingly held by their new owners.  They calmed down and left in the back of his trailer, in their  coop on the way to their new home.

I do miss their funny noises, fresh eggs, but not the poop.  Chickens are very poopy animals and my back yard was starting to smell very fertilized.  Bye chickies.  We enjoyed having you and have you go.

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And the chickens went to new yard….

SUNDAY NIGHT OR WHAT TO DO WITH LEFTOVERS

It’s Sunday night and weekend passed way too quickly.  The backyard had a lot of plants to cut back for winter and chickens are very funny, but very messy.  Time to clean up their mess before the rains come.

The Korean Beef Short Ribs became, as I told my husband, the meat eater: “Meat over Rice” and that was all he ate, as that was all i cooked.  I took some Butternut Squash soup out of the freezer and cut up the rolled pork loin with broccoli rabe adding it to the soup.  Put a little fresh Regianno Parmesano and you have a pretty tasty dinner and not wasted food.

The chickens got the left over Pea Salad and they were happy too.  It is a nice relaxing evening here at “Kingsley Manor”. Off to binge watch Poldark.

Beside dinner, I baked another Paul Hollywood’s Pain de Savoie for my husband’s office pot luck, designed an invitation for my granddaughter’s birthday party, wrote an article for a local magazine and caught up on my online class.  Grandma was pretty busy today.

SUNDAY NIGHT OR WHAT TO DO WITH LEFTOVERS

Do you have “Daily Chores”?

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Luckily the change the diaper stage is long gone, but it seems I start my day basically the same every day.  I have a dear friend that I think starts her day the right way.  She makes a cup of delicious coffee, takes it back to bed and reads for an hour.

I wake up to Frostyman the Cat, sometimes AKA as Asshole Cat, knocking at the bedroom door about 6 AM saying: “Feed Me!  Feed Me!”  Rather than lay there and listen to him, I normally got down and make him happy.  I did not say make me happy, I said make the cat happy.  Then at last I get my coffee.  I attempted letting him sleep in the bedroom like a lot of normal cats do, but he thinks 5 AM is attack the feet if they move on top of the comforter. One, it is not pleasant and two, it is really hard on the well-being of the comforter.

Since I recently started teaching a college class in interior design online, my office hours are 7:30 AM till 9;00 AM.  During that time I read and grade assignments and interact with students on one computer and read my email and Facebook on a second computer. In that time or before, I always run the dishwasher and put away dishes, do one or two loads of laundry and vacuum the floor.  Daily clean up comes with a long-haired cat that is a little messy.  I do laundry every day, because I truly hate doing laundry. My logic in every day laundry is that I do it every day, there isn’t very much with just the two of us and it is over and done with very quickly. When my granddaughter is here in the summer, there is a lot more laundry, but her clothes and little and cute!  Makes a big difference to me somehow.

If I don’t have a blog, I sit down and try to come up with something interesting with my second cup of coffee.  This one decaf or the blog might be too long fired by caffeine. Still my Pj’s I am always a little worried that someone might come to the door, but since I cute Pj’s I am not totally worried.

Shower-time is next so I can check on the chickens, let them out if I am not leaving right away and see if they have added any new eggs.  I often take them a treat too. I figure I should be dressed to clean the outside litter box.  We have a lovely little house that we built on the side steps, that connects to the laundry room with a little door, so there is no litter in the house.  Not a perfect solution, as the cat brings litter in the house on his tail and feet every time, thus the vacuum every day feature of my morning.

With the clean clothes put away, the dishes put away, the chickens happy and the litter box clean I get on with my day.  As you know from a previous post where the weekly trash to the street is my duty, don’t fall under it on the way to the street.  It is not good for your ego or your health.

So do you have the same chores everyday or do you vary by the weekday.  I did most of the same stuff when I working, but added chickens this summer as I am home a lot more time.

Happy Choring!

Do you have “Daily Chores”?

Chickens Make Happy

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Meet Henrietta, Hennie and Gertrude new family members this summer. We got set up for them with the visit of my six year-old granddaughter for the summer. Thought she might enjoy watching them grow over the summer.  As it turns out, I like it more.  They are characters with individual personalities.

Henrietta is the black one on the left and she is second in command, followed by Hennie. Gertrude, the white Bantam is the leader of the pack.  She is the first one to try any food, the first one to venture out the door and will meander furthest from the coop.  My neighbor’s seven year-old granddaughter came over and was watching the chickens one day.  She looked at me and said I know why you named the white Gertrude, she is SO rude.

When we first got the chickens I kept getting the black chicken (Henrietta) and the brown chicken (Hennie) confused.  My six year-old granddaughter looked at me very seriously and said:  “It’s easy grandma, Hennie is brown like me”.  I have not confused them since.

When I am working in the garden, I let them out in the sunshine, but have to be careful as we have several Eagles in the area.

I was told that chickens are natural trash disposals and so far that seems true.  I did a little research about what not to feed them, but I find it fun that salad and fruit no longer goes to waster. We grow wine grapes in the back yard so I generally let them have some in the early evening when I am having a glass of wine.  That is their five-o-clock cocktail.

Carrot greens are no longer wasted and they seem to love herbs.  When Claire was here and would not eat bread crusts, they were quickly devoured. The favorite so far seems to be corn on the cob.  They come running when they see me with that.

In this life and at this time when it is hard to find something to smile about, my chickens make me smile.

Chickens Make Happy

Chicken Strikes Again

Love the concept of one dish dinners, especially when it actually tastes great.  This recipe was in Bon Appetit’s One Dish Dinner book.  It did not take long to prepare, and the combination of fennel and leeks was sweet and wonderful.  A bit of butter never hurt.  My orzo was not tender with the 2.5 cups of chicken stock, so of course I just added more wine.  A win win.

My husband was hungry, so I served him Butternut Squash with a little sour cream, topped with dill from my garden.  (forgot to take a photo)  The recipe is below.

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Thought I wold share a photo from my garden.  Guess cooking and gardening are my favorite things to do when I am not painting or with my beautiful granddaughter.

Chicken Strikes Again