As you may have noticed, I have been away from my blog for some time. It’s not that I have forgotten about it, but I have just been so busy these last few weeks. The warmer weather has set in and I have been outside more.  A lot of things have happened since I was last here, which I will share with you today. And you may have guessed from the title, it’s all about chickens.

In an effort to be proactive in my health, I am always trying to find new ways to have a healthier diet. The be honest, I am not that fond of going out to eat. What I mean by that is, I refer to cook at home often and use a dinner out as a special occasion. The other benefits of cooking at home is you save money, it can go further and you know exactly what is in it.

Now when I do go grocery shopping, I like to buy organic if I can, but in all honesty it can get pretty expensive, so I try to focus on my fresh meats and my produce. I am trying to move as far away as possible from processed foods.  But here is the kink in my chain……

I have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) Anyone familiar with this knows it can be debilitating at time. It is mainly influenced by stress levels and food. No one is sure what causes it, but the help lessen the effects, I have to follow a certain diet. No dairy, no red meat, etc. Well within the last few years they have come out with a specific diet called the FODMAP elimination diet and about 75% of IBS sufferers who follow this diet find relief. So last week I read about it and this week I have started following it. I will tell you more about that later though.

So back to being frugal and chickens……I decided I wanted chickens and Geoff was not opposed, so off we went in search of babies.  After a trip to the feed and seed and the co-op, we returned home with 10 baby chicks, five different kind in pairs of two.

So I have two Australorps- Ethel and Ester, Two Production Red- Lucy and Opie, Two Easter Eggers- Grey and Lilly (TigerLilly), Two Barred Rocks- Doody and Aunt Bee and two Black Jersey Giants- that I call “The Twins.” Right now they are much bigger than the above picture and were bought straight-run which means the sex of the chicks were unknown. After consulting my Uncle Jerry, I believe I have been lucky enough to secure 9 hens and 1 roo. That almost never happens.  The only ones I am not 100% certain of are the twins. They are still a little young.

Our youngest chick-a Black Jersey Giant

*The Jersey Giants now have practically none of the fluff and are mostly feathered.

The reason for the chicks is for future egg production. I would much rather have a free range chicken from my own yard that regular store bought  eggs. Plus they are quite interesting to watch and have some really cute personalities.  But again, it’s mainly for the eggs. Then breeds I have on average produce anywhere from 150-250 eggs per year per hen. Obviously I will have extras.  Hopefully I will be able to sell some of the free-range eggs. Usually hens are 6 months old or older before they begin laying, so hopefully by the end of the year I’ll be getting fresh eggs. Yum!

In the mean time, we have had to build housing for these babies. During the first two weeks I have them in a playpen (see the first picture) with a heated lamp. But I tell you, it is not practical keep baby chicks in the house when you live in a cottage as small as mine, so we had to come up with a better idea. My retired father made a plan and he and my boyfriend Geoff constructed a slightly larger transition coop/brooder. It was about 8ft long and 2 ft tall.

Chicken coop/brooder.

We kept this house under a covered shed, which is where the guys are working. I liked it because I could walk  from the house across the sidewalk to the shed and feed and water them every morning. Plus I could sit in my chair and have a little chicken chat (don’t laugh until you have chickens of your own. You’ll do it too). When you observe them, you see the personalities and then their names come to you. Doody was named first and then Ethel. Ethel is my favorite as she has always been outgoing and curious.  B ut of course chickens grow and even this lovely brooder was getting too small to be in 24 hours a day, so a pen must be built.

Daddy and Geoff working on the chicken pen. It's set back behind my cottage and behind where my vegetable garden is going.

This is just a start. I hope to eventually have more chickens and a bigger pen. I may even raise some chickens for fresh poultry. My Uncle Robert will have to come show me how to kill and dress them though and I promise not to be as traumatized as I was as a little girl visiting his farm.

Dad is a bit of a perfectionist and not being able to make this pen perfect shows on his face.

This is my mom, Barbra, looking on as the guys work on the pen.

So if you’ve been wondering where I’ve been that’s part of it. But the fun part of me is when I go inside and cook. I love different fllavors and I love to cook. There is no way I am giving in to bland food while trying to follow the FODMAP diet. So I am going to share with you a great recipe and why a whole chicken is a better buy when you are shopping at the grocery store.

I love good flavor and I love variety.  I am a fan of lot’s of international flavors including Chinese, Japanses, Italian, Indian, Thai, French…….you name it and I’ll try it. Plus I like food that packs a lot of flavor and is easy to prepare. So it intrigued me when I found the following recipe on The Humble Foodie.

CHICKEN SATAY

1-1.5 pounds boneless chicken breast (I used about 5 chicken breast strips)

1//2 of a medium yellow onion (I did not use onion as it is not allowed on FODMAP. If your can tolerate onion, please add them in!)

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon cumin

1 1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 1//2 teaspoon chili powder ( I did not  have this on hand so I used the same amount of  a black and red pepper blend)

1 Tablespoon hot curry powder ( I did not want to use this so I substituted ground ginger powder)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 Tablespoon 100% pure maple syrup

In a  bowl mix together all of the spices. Since I did not use onions, I added a little water to form a paste. I also added in some choppped chives. (If you are using the onions, pules them in a food processor and add them to the bowl with the spices). Cut your pieces of chicken into  1/2 inch thick pieces. Add them to the paste mixture. Toss to coat and cover to refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to overnight.

Chicken pieces tossed with the spice mixture and ready to go into the refrigerator.To prepare to bake, soak about eight 10" skewers in water. I have metal skewers so I used one of those. Preheat your oven to 350F. Remove chicken from marinade and thread onto the skewers.

 

 

Chicken threaded onto a metal skewer. The skewer is laid across a seasoned Pampered Chef cookie sheet.Place the threaded skewer on a seasoned Pampered Chef cookie sheet or similar and bake on one side for 12- minutes. Then flip the skewer and cook on the other side for 10 minutes. While this is going on, you can begin to prepare your peanut sauce.

PEANUT DIPPING SAUCE:

2/3 Cup of regular or crunchy peanut butter

1//4 Cup low sodium soy sauce

2 Tablespoons of sesame seed oil

1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1-1.25 Cups of water

Place all ingredients into a saucepan and cook on low (between simmer and 2 on my stove) until desired consistency is reached.

When the chicken was done, I steamed some white rice and plated the food with the sauce. I also added in some steamed green beans.

I like to mix a little of the sauce with my rice.

I love to cook, but my kitchen can be a challenge sometimes.  If you’ve seen my other posts, you probably already know that my cottage is round. That makes the inside a little different.  My kitchen is like a triangle with the outside facing wall curved.  The space is very limited. But I love my kitchen. It is not fancy. I don’t have granite counter tops or maple or cherry cabinets. There is no stainless steel refrigerator, etc. But my kitchen is cozy and does everything it needs to do. I make the most of my space. I have a wall oven, a stove, a place for all my spices, a GE Toaster/Convection oven, a Nuwave Oven, two waffle irons, two crock pots, a veggie and rice steamer, a food processor and many other gadgets that most people have in their kitchen and probably more than a lot of others. That’s because I love to cook and like to have all the gadgets. But all of these things have to have a place to go. So here are some pictures of my kitchen……

This is my stovetop where I cook a lot of my dishes. Notice my blue enameled cast iron pot. I got this marked down to $15.00 from $59.98. I use a lot of cast iron as it is durable, it lasts forever and I can take food from stovetop to oven.

There is my oven and some of the cabinets just to the left of my stove. You can also see I have a rack where I store things like rice, etc. Above the oven is my microwave.

I have run out of time but I promise to be back soon for the second half of this post.  I want to tell you how you can buy one whole chicken and make three or more meals from it.  I’ll also share more about my little cottage and all it’s characters.  Until next time……thank you for stopping by.

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