Back home and starting to get settled into regular chores and a few moving ahead projects. Despite coming home to sub zero temps, 1/4 inch ice, and swirling snow, just two days later it is starting to melt and at 33 degrees F (headed to 44F just before dark), it’s not too bad outside.
While i was gone, my silly Welsummer hens began laying – thank goodness – they are about 7 months old and until this past week had laid not one single egg! Apparently, they had not read the book that they are a breed which starts laying at 5-6 months. Granted, i am willing to give them a pass because i did accept them after June 8 (because of Nathan and Heather’s wedding and knowing we would be gone, i didn’t want baby chicks around), so that put them going into the shorter days which is typically when hens start laying fewer eggs. And these gals are truly pastured hens and never on a high powered ration. But when 6 months rolled around, i’m thinking they ought to be laying something! I checked them and most had developed the visible and measurable signs of being mature enough – yet no eggs.
Here’s the lovely dozen eggs i found this morning! In the photo, the lighter colored one is from a purchased dozen of eggs from the store which say they are on pasture. Here’s the interesting part, that store bought egg is considered a large egg yet is very similar in size and weight of these first eggs laid by my hens. In other words, my hens didn’t start with pullet sized eggs, they started in with mediums and larges! And beautiful shell color.
Remember that the color of the shell has nothing to do with the quality of the egg nor does it tell you anything about how the hen was raised. The color of the yolk can be darkened by the ration fed to a caged hen (marigold and/or corn). Anyway, my hen’s eggs were all frozen, so these first ones will have to be thrown away since they could be contaminated because of cracking. But maybe we’ll get some today to collect.
Stay warm and have fun!
Welsummer pullets hard at work keeping spiders and crickets from getting into the house last fall (2019).
An excellent non meat recipe. But meat can easily be layered on and consider other vegetables. Pictured here, I used sliced zucchini from my garden and added ground chicken breast from pastured poultry raised by my friends at Pigeon Creek Farm.
Cheese and Rice Casserole (Riso e Formaggio)
2 cups water
1 cup uncooked regular rice (or barley or couscous or any combination thereof)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon red pepper sauce (optional
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 medium onion (I used green onions)
1 medium green pepper, chopped (optional)
2 cups shredded mozzarella or Cheddar cheese (8 ounces)
4 eggs, slightly beaten
2 ½ cups milk
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Heat water, rice, salt, mustard, red pepper sauce, and pepper to boiling, stirring once or twice; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. (Do not lift cover or stir.) Remove from heat. Fluff rice lightly with fork; cover and let steam 5 to 10 minutes.
Layer half the rice mixture in bottom of greased 11 x 7 x 1 ½ inch baking dish. Top with 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (and 1 cup vegetable if desired); repeat. Whisk together 4 eggs and 2 ½ cups of milk then pour over rice mixture. Sprinkle with ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese. (Casserole can be covered and refrigerated up to 24 hours at this point.) Cook uncovered in 350°F oven until set; 45 to 50 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes. Cut into squares.
This time of year, the killdeer are laying eggs and setting on them. Officially a shorebird (plover), but often found in short pastures and especially along gravel drives on dry ground. The wary mommas will lead predators away from the nest by running, then acting as if she is injured.
Sorry that there are no photos, but have received requests for this recipe, so am publishing ahead of those. Next time i prepare this delicious recipe, i’ll take and add photos to this entry.
Egg Noodles w/Sausage & Kale*
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb lamb or beef sausage
½ lb kale, tough stems and center ribs discarded and leaves coarsely chopped (or spinach)
½ lb dried egg noodles
2/3 cup water
½ cup Parmesan cheese
Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook sausage, breaking up any lumps with a spoon, until browned, 5 to 7 minutes.
Meanwhile, blanch kale (or spinach) in a 6-quart pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, 5 minutes. Remove kale with a large slotted spoon, drain over pan, and add to cooked sausage in skillet. Sauté, stirring frequently and scraping up any brown bits from bottom of skillet. Return cooking water in pot to boil and cook egg noodles in boiling water, uncovered, until al dente. Add noodles to skillet with a slotted spoon and ½ cup reserved cooking water if necessary, tossing until combined. Stir in cheese and thin with additional cooking water in desired. Serves 6.
Tips: Retain some of the noodle cooking water and add to any leftovers for easier warming up. As always, use eggs (for making noodles) from pastured hens and sausage from grass-finished animals for best nutrition and flavour. Grow your own or buy the greens from your neighbour. I make beef sausage a few days ahead and freeze; time allows the spices; salt, sage, black pepper, to meld with the ground beef.
2 cups unbleached white or whole wheat flour
3 egg yolks
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 to 1/2 cup water
Make a well in center of flour. Add egg yolks, egg, and salt; mix thoroughly . Mix in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough is stiff but easy to roll. Divide dough into 4 equal parts. Roll dough, one part at a time, into paper-tin rectangle on well-floured cloth-covered board. Cut into narrow strips with a knife or noodle cutter. Shake out strips and place on towel until stiff and dry, about 2 hours. Break dry strips into smaller pieces. Cook in 3 quarts boiling salted water (1 tablespoon salt) until tender, 12 to 15 minutes; drain. About 6 cups noodles. Storage: after drying, noodles can be covered and stored no longer than 1 month.
Use these noodles for the Egg Noodles w/Sausage & Kale Recipe.