Monday, October 1, 2007

Meet the Working Girls

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Meet the Working Girls

Okay, so we’ve been busy lately and we haven’t had any exciting new restaurant reviews. So, we thought we would introduce you to the working girls and the fine sandwiches they helped Katie create the other day.

The working girls are our chickens, Pinky and Laverne. The fancy Polish guy is their new rooster friend Lenny. The new Lenny replaces the old Lenny, who died recently protecting his ladies from what we believe was a daytime coyote attack. We’ve heard from other chicken owners that this has been a real problem this year due to the drought. We always lock the chickens up safely at night. A day attack by coyotes is rather rare.

The new guy is named Lenny in hopes that we won’t have to explain the nastiness to two of our nephews, who love visiting the chickens.

Lenny and the ladies live in a metal and plastic coop called an Eglu, which we got from an English company called Omlet

It’s pretty easy to clean and keeps the chickens quite safe. You can lock them in the plastic part if it’s cold. Otherwise we leave them in the run at night. It’s sturdy and we’ve never had a problem with predators when they’re inside the Eglu. It’s kind of embarrassing having a yuppie chicken coop in Joelton, where plenty of people have good old fashion coops. Many people use the Eglus in normal suburban backyards. While we don’t like the idea of keeping the chickens locked up in the run all day, it does allow people to have chickens in urban areas, if the zoning allows it. If you do this don’t get a rooster, they will annoy the heck out of your neighbors. The main reason to have a rooster seems to be for protection or reproduction.

Usually the girls get free range of the back acres, which they enjoy. They have been locked up lately until we can fence a smaller pasture that is well away from Coyote territory.

We get seven or eight eggs a week on average. Laverne, The Rhode Island Red, is the better layer of the two. Fresh eggs were a real surprise for us. The taste is unlike anything you can find in the store. It’s much richer and more intense. It takes a little getting used to, but once you do it’s tough to go back. You can taste the difference in almost every dish. It’s an easy way to make good food great, especially things like homemade mayonnaise.

The egg shells are thicker with Laverne and Pinky’s eggs and that makes peeling after boiling a bit of a chore. Here’s Katie with her recipe for the Egg Salad Sandwiches we had the other night:

Veggie Eater:
Actually, it’s the freshness of the eggs that makes them more difficult to peel. Eggs dehydrate over time, which allows the egg to pull away from the shell. Since we have eggs all of the time, we eat eggs all of the time, and we never have old eggs. So our eggs aren’t real pretty when peeled and are better as egg salad than as deviled eggs.

When you have fresh eggs available all of the time, you get quite adventurous with your various egg recipes. Saturday’s version was this:

6 hard boiled eggs (I’ve found the best method is to place eggs in cold water, bring to boil, boil 10 minutes, rinse in cold water; this prevents the yolks from getting that icky green color around the edge of the yolk)

1 tablespoon pickled hot pepper rings (we make our own and have them on hand)

1-2 tablespoons sweet hot mustard (my mother works at Balducci’s in Connecticut and brought me Hay Day Country Market, which is fabulous)

1 tablespoon chopped chives

Mayo to desired creaminess

Lots of freshly ground salt and pepper

Mix until you deem it right. Feel free to add and subtract on portions as desired.

I just want to add that the chicken thing was my mother’s dream; she kept sending me articles from Martha, Bon Appetit and Gourmet about chickens and eggs; we finally relented and I don’t think I’ll ever be without chickens again; they have amazing personalities and can be quite friendly; nothing like drinking wine in the back yard and watching them scratch about. And the best thing of all, I have a safe egg supply and can make all sorts of things that call for raw or barely cooked eggs (mayo, egg nog, eggs over easy, etc).

Meat Eater: Okay, let’s not talk about the cost of all this for us, with our fancy Eglu. However, if you do your own coop it could be quite cost effective. Laying hens cost about $10. Our fancy Polish cock was a Tennessee State Fair purchase for just $15. Just make sure you really like eggs. We get so many we often give them away to friends.


joisymike said...

"Scratching about"

No ticks
No slugs
No weeds
A most resourceful creature.

You've got me motivated. I am assuming you geot your hens with the kit? Otherwise, where can you buy hens? The Co-Op?

Vol State said...

The best part is they are rather fun, social and a lot more intelligent than we expected. Laverne is probably brighter than our dogs. She likes to follow us around the pastures. You can get adult chickens from the Omlet folks. They ship them from a big supplier in Iowa. The coop usually just sells chicks...and watch out because it's really tough to tell the difference between hens and roosters when they are young. We picked up a hen and rooster from a local farmer.

Lannae said...

That is awesome that you have chick chicks! Your basket of eggs are so pretty, and I bet yummy too! Did you have hens before coming to mid-TN, or is this a new venture?

Eric and Katie said...

This is a Tennessee thing. We kind of moved here to get more land, close to a cool city. A couple of horses and a donkey were our first ventures. We started the chicken thing about a year ago. We are considering an Alpaca. We thought about dairy goats to make our own goat cheese, but we got scared off from the work of milking morning and night. We'll probably do it someday. We love goat cheese.

saraclark said...

Add a little salt to your egg water as you boil and it will help with the peeling, not a lot but some.

Also, look into some Auracana chickens-they are tougher, smaller and will look like a banty, but most of all they lay colored eggs, blue, pink or green. They are smarter than more domesticated chicken varieties(helps with coyotes and hawks).

My dad incubates a new batch of chicks every year for Easter.