Saturday, December 1, 2012

Lazy Lady Eclairs

I don't' know where I found it. Pinterest, one of the many blog hops I follow. I don't know.

The point is, someone posted a recipe for "Easy Eclairs". 
Hold the phone. I LOVE eclairs and I can make them at home easy? - Yes!.

I gave the recipe a try & half way into the darn thing I stopped.

Easy my @&%fillintheblank!
She wanted you to make the dough from scratch, make the chocolate icing from scratch, and whip the cream. The ONLY thing "easy" about it was she used boxed instant pudding in the recipe. WHAT?
I milled it over for a little bit and thought - I can make this easy! WATCH ME!

I tried 3 different styles of doing the pastry.

Fail # 1 - letting it puff and doing the traditional fill and top with icing - I did not like biting into it and the filling going everywhere but in my mouth.

# 2 - placing the dough on inverted muffin tin to make little cups - although this was a cool idea, it still was somewhat messy eating and it was more time consuming.

#3 - flat squares - WIN - makes it FAST to prepare and EASY to eat.

These are not traditional eclairs for you "food snobs" out there. BUT, they are yummy, easy, quick and will give you an eclair "fix".

Time to make: 15-30 minutes.
Makes 24 3inch squares



ingredients (imagine the milk there too)


1 package of vanilla instant pudding mix (the big 5 oz box)
2 cups cold milk
1 container frozen creamy whipped topping (8oz)
1 container chocolate icing (1lb.)
1 box puff pastry (2 sheets)- thawed


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
While Oven is heating, mix the pudding mix with milk and put in fridge. Take out the frozen topping and place it on the counter to get it warmed up.
Cut each sheet into 3rds along the fold and then cut each 3rd into 4ths (see photo) to make12 sections.
cut into 12 squares
Place the sections evenly spaced onto a cookie sheet (stretch the sections if you want to make even looking squares but that would just be more work).
Bake the pastry till puffed and almost lightly golden (this took my oven about 8 minutes).
puffed & starting to get golden

Immediately use a spatula and flatten the puffs. You don't have to go all ninja on them - just a light firm squish to flatten the tops (see the pic of the finished product to get and idea). Here is where if you want them a little more crispy - you can put them back in the oven for about 1-3 minutes after you smoosh them to give them a bit more toasty crispiness.

While those are cooling off a bit, mix the pudding and about 2/3-3/4 of the container of whipped cream topping.

Smear about a tablespoon full of frosting on the top of each pastry.
Top with about a tablespoon of pudding mixture.


You can adjust the level of chocolate to cream ratio according to your taste.

If you want the cream thicker, reduce the milk. 

Yeah... you may have leftover cream and frosting but you will find something to use it for ;-)

There you have it!
5 ingredients

Cut those squares in half for a quick easy party nom!

The Chicken Chick

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Chicken Ceasar Wraps

This quick, healthy meal in a wrap is a standby at our house. 

You can make it a little easier and quicker than the recipe here.
I will note the options in the recipe for you.

This will make about 4-6 wraps. Takes about 30 minutes.

You can jazz it up by using mixed greens or marinate your chicken over-nite in Italian dressing. The options are up to you.


1 boneless skinless chicken breast (or breaded frozen strips, breasts or patties)
1 cup fine crouton crumbs (I used a food processor) (not needed if using already breaded chicken) But you might want some whole for the inside fixuns's
2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
1 cup fresh diced tomato
1 cup slice onion
1 egg (scrambled for breading the chicken)
6 large flour tortilla wraps
Parmesan Romano cheese
Caesar Salad dressing



Pound chicken to 1/2 thick even thickness. Dip in scrambled egg and coat with crumbs. 
(This can be skipped if you have pre-breaded and cooked meat - just follow the cooking directions on the package).
Heat oil in skillet if you do not have a non-stick skillet.
Cook over medium heat till done (165 degrees in center) about 6 minutes on each side.
Set aside to rest about 5-10 minutes.
Cook the onions in the skillet till soft.
Cut the chicken into strips or cubes.
Assemble the wrap according to your taste.
Lettuce, tomato, cheese, onion and chicken with a drizzle of dressing on top.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Red and the Hawk

I am such a terrible chicken mama!
I give them everything they need but have been putting off a predator proof run. I even have a tractor they use in the nice weather and hardly let them  "free range" at all anymore unless I am right there with them.
They are fenced in and I put them away all locked up in the safe coop at night (that thing is a fortress).
But, lately have been contemplating building them an outdoor predator proof enclosure. I guess it's time to get busy with the plans.

The huge tree protects the run from swooping hawks so why did she get attacked?

My Beautiful Red the morning before the attack.

Cause she "flew the coop" quite literally. I think she is the only one light enough to get airborne anymore. They all have the right side wing clipped but this doesn't stop this Rhode Island Red. She knows she can get up enough to get the claws on the top wire of the fence or a fencepost and hurl herself the rest of the way over. Typically she only does this dare devil trick only when I am in the veggie garden (just a 4 feet from the run) and deer fenced. Which is why I think she doesn't do it any other time because she can't get in if I don't leave the gate open (as is what I do if I am in there).

You know Oscar?
So, I leave to attend an assembly at my girls' school and am gone for no more than 2 hours. Oscar is hanging out today. I come back and Oscar can't wait for me to come out the back door. I get my coop clothes on and go out to put the hens to bed and lock them up for the night and 2 are in the coop but no Red. I go to look in the run and call her. She comes out from hiding behind the coop and around the outside of the run looking very happy to see me and tired. She walks up to me and Oscar and squats for me. I pick her up and put her in the coop. While locking everything up and giving the coop the nightly check, I noticed she had considerable feathers missing from her backside and she was growling more than usual. I checked her out and found the puncture. My head steamed and immediately thought the dog bit her.
What? This dog wouldn't hurt a fly but, you never know for sure - dogs are dogs and he is not a bred livestock dog.

I wrapped her up and checked her out on the porch in the fading light and discovered the lacerations. The blood on her foot and the wounds I could find got sprayed some wound spray. I decided if she wasn't roosting tonite I would bring her in. She roosted so, I covered her bare spot with the few feathers she had left and let them all sleep. She hates to be separated from her flock - it stresses her out too much.

This morning I got her into the garage to take a better (and warmer) look at her.
I greatly apologize for the awful focus - my auto focus is undergoing tech support and it is terribly difficult to manually focus and keep a chicken from walking off the exam table by yourself. These photos are the morning after and the wounds are already healing beautifully.

The puncture (that was sprayed in the photo) looks to be similar to a blunt scissor cut with a somewhat "v" shape to it (you can kinda see it in the photo with the "bottom of the "v"" pointing toward the right like this >.

I also found the site of attack.
Last year I found a pile of yellow and black feathers in the same vicinity. It seems to be a good spot for an aerial attack. Just a few days ago a small eagle or hawk was flying around this area only 10 feet up from the rooftop (house is just to the right).  The coop is just up the stairs.

 My theory is she was scratching around in the dirt on the ledge (their favorite spot when free ranging).
The bird swooped and missed causing the topside puncture and laceration. Red fell, jumped or was flung down onto the cement. The bird hopped down for another attack. Red somehow gets on her back either be force, accident or on purpose and is cornered (receiving the puncture to her underside with a talon or beak).
Red fights of the attacker with all her attitude (hence the bloody foot). Possibly this is where Oscar may come in hearing the commotion or seeing it and Red scrambles up the rock or steps toward the safety of the coop. But, she cant get back in and hides right next to it under the eves and the heavy metal grate leaning against it. Oscar keeps watch until I get home.

At least that is what it looks like with my hopes it was not the dog.

Because of the the pattern of the wounds, the place and location of the feathers and the way she acted towards the dog with indifference and the way she obsessively scouted the skies... leads me to believe it was a bird of prey. Most likely a small one to not be able to carry her off or leave bigger wounds. Maybe Oscar was there to help scare off the predator. Maybe Red has more fight in her than we give her credit. Anyway if happened, she is one lucky duck hen! And I am one grateful keeper who's next build is a proper enclosed run.

I am not at all against free ranging (my free ranging friends) but I am also against my birds getting tortured and eaten alive.

She is now in the coop with the other 2 hens and she refused to go out the pop door when I offered.
She is eating and drinking and scratching and making sure her dominance as top hen is still asserted.


She laid a beautiful egg @ 2pm today - lets me know at least the egg didn't break internally in the attack :-)
She is a trooper. and my best layer.

Update Nov 29th

The girls were all taking a bath together in the sun today. Guess thats a good sign that Red felt comfortable enough to bathe. Too bad a chicken bath is in dirt or in our case a sandbox. So, I just let her finish and  then took her in to clean her up. Of course the wounds had debris all up in them.
I got some warm water and a syringe and flushed them out gently and used Q-tips to help brush the stuff out.
Then I sprayed with vetericyn gel and sent her on her way.

You can see from the 1st photos that the swelling has gone down around the big gash.

She does NOT like being sprayed and is still tender but I guess she is used to me fooling around with her especially after the bumble-foot episode.
She takes it pretty well if I let her tuck under my arm rather than a towel over her head.

She still is pretty nervous when I take her out of the coop. She looks around like her life depends on it ('cause it kinda literally does) and she shakes and makes a whining sound.

UPDATE December 3rd

I looked at her Sunday and let the wounds alone for a day.
Here are photos from Monday afternoon almost 1 week exactly from the attack.

The bruising is almost completely gone. The wounds do have some sand in them but, I am not going to fuss too much over it especially since the healing is coming along nicely. I made sure to flush and clean when they were still young but now it looks ok to let the body do its' work. Chickens have amazing healing power.

You can see that the scabbing is forming and starting to lift, taking the debris with it and revealing new tender skin under the anterior portion of the laceration. The puncture still looks a bit deep. and I may have to end up cleaning that one out and packing it with antibiotic cream. I have read some old keepers use raw honey but I don't want the birds to find out it tastes good  - you could imagine where that would go.

In the photo above, you can see the tummy is 99.9% healed already! WOW.
And, below the scab has peeled of and left shiny smooth new skin.

UPDATE Dec 5th

I may have to breed this tough girl... bumblefoot heal, hawk survivor, molt and still popping out 6 eggs a week in the deep dark  of the Pacific Northwest.
I put some wound gel on her today. Since all is good with the 2day checks I will wait till Saturday or later for the next check and photo shoot.

Today I could really see the feathers starting to pin-in. That is what all those spiky-looking things are on her back skin. The puncture is still pretty deep but I can see new tissue starting to fill it up. Large laceration is half the length is was.

NOTE: I did not use bandages or saddles and I have no roos to worry about. She preened the existing feathers to cover up the wound herself. I also put the feathers back over after I treated.

UPDATE December 10

2 weeks later. All better.
Excuse the photos - my dslr is at the hospital - I can tell a huge difference in the quality of the pics.
using the ole point-n-shoot.

hdr this for contrast

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Super Simple Apple Pie!

"Easy as pie!" I think this expression comes from apple pie. No pie is more easy and fool-proof to make!


4 -6 medium sized Apples - any kind will work.
        But, if you want to know... I used 2 Fuji and 2 honey-crisp because it's what I had!
        How much?  - Enough to mound the slices up in your pie pan. Mine were 2-4 inches diameter.
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1-2 tbsp ground cinnamon
        Optional - nutmeg and other spices to taste - I did not use them because I wanted  SIMPLE pie.
1 stick butter (1/2 cup) cold and cut into slices. OR you can melt it. Whatever.

2 - Pie crust - you can make your own or purchase
1 egg scrambled - optional for a pretty glaze top
1 tbsp sugar optional for sparkly glazed top.

Crust - I wing it and make by feel. For this one I used about 2-3 cups flour cut into about 1/2 cup soft butter and 1 tbsp sugar and 1 tsp salt. Added enough water to make it into dough and rolled it out.



Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Peel and slice them apples and remove cores. (save the peel and cores for your chickens or making apple cider vinegar :-) Or at least compost them.

Put them in a BIG mixing bowl with the sugar, flour, spices and coat them all nice and even.

Prepare your crust and place one in the pie pan.
Pour all them apples in the crust - they will be nice and high!
Butter goes on top of that nice and even.
Cover the mound with the other crust in your style of choice.

Optional - "paint" with the scrambled egg and sprinkle the sugar on top.

Bake till crust is nice and golden - about 20-30 minutes.
Serve warm with vanilla ice-cream!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Japanese Style Garden Evolution

A really long-term project.

The front half-moon garden will be a perfect spot for a "formal" Japanese Style garden.

This post is all about the evolution.

Check back (every few months or so - it will be a while) for updates.

Now Here is a Timeline.

This is the very beginning when we moved in in 2011.

View from the Front Door

The place was a mess! Cedar tree let wild. Dogwood hidden and half dead (didn't even know it was a dogwood til 2012. Camilla and Rhododendrons hidden in the ferns, blackberry and big leaf maple babys.

Summer 2012

Over the past year we have been cleaning it out.
This summer it was time to fell the little cedar tree.
Wow! I can actually see the dogwood and the cherry!


Snow covered stump with cherry, dogwod and rhodi.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Stupid Moles Must Die !

OK. I have tolerated the moles on our land thus far. They have 6 acres to play and about 4 of it is wild forest and they can have at it. After all, I love the wildlife and want to support it.

But, push comes to shove, and you have CROSSED THE LINE when it comes to completely pushing my plants out of the ground to make way for your grubby earthworm pie hole stuffing faces!

I did web research and watched videos on so many methods and decided to go with the Victor out of sight Mole trap/killer.
I wanted to try this because:
  1. I do not want to use poisons as the poisons themselves can be harmful to other things and could be absorbed by the plants and what if a cat or other creature (my chickens) decides to eat a poisoned mole. Not good.
  2. I did not want to use the castor oil because Castor oil, although natural is also is a poison.
  3. I chose the trap from reviews, seems easy to clean (ewe), and although is a kill trap (my last resort) there are too many moles  - control the population.
I also bought a spinner to try in the garden as a repellent. But, I also don't want a mini wind farm here.

Note: although you kill off the pest, you are leaving a "vacant sign" for new ones to come in and take it's place.
I do not normally advocate kill traps. I prefer to live and let live.
In this case they have gone from the forest and are starting to take over the garden and living areas near the house. After all, they have 4 acres of the property to live in peace. I suggest they use it. It seems as though they are getting over-populated here.

Here is my review on this product: (disclaimer - I am not being paid to do this review - its all on my own but, I do get a commission if you purchase the product through the links on the photos from google affiliate ads).

1 - it works
2 - its simple
3 - its extremely well built!

The set-up is tedious - you have to
1 - find the run
2- dig a careful clean hole
3-construct a bridge and channels just right
4-set the trap which is in itself like placing a landmine and you need super strength
5-you have to very carefully cover the thing

Yeah, I totally would recommend these and continue to use my own

instead of covering with the dirt and marking - I use a big clay pot with the bottom hole covered and place it over the hole. That way I know exactly where I buried the *@$^@( thing AND it blocks the light AND it make it easy to check (nothing like digging up a trap to have it SNAP on you - yikes!)

And... don't forget the take the *@&$(@*&%  safety off before you cover it!

Here is a good video of a set up

We have caught 3 moles this year.
We "recycle" the corpses by chucking them out (way out) into the forest for the crows, ravens, and other wildlife to enjoy.

Spinners - do absolutely NOTHING to deter moles!

 But, they sure are pretty :-)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Coop Remodel 2012

Sometime ago, I was going to do an update on the girls and give you a video coop tour and take pics but I didn't. If you are a follower, you know I was interrupted by a case of bumble-foot in my best laying hen and my EE.

Here we are almost a month later and I can give you a coop update.

The big remodel was inspired by the changes I had to make to be more resistant to infections.

My girls get got to run around the property and play in the forest. I am such an overprotective "mama" now. We cleaned up our property quite a bit! Over the course of a year, about a dumpster full with the dumpster we "rented" from the waste company and the truck-loads and loads of trash we have hauled since then. But, we have not scoured every last inch of the 6 acres. Especially the wooded areas where we have stumbled across lumber, glass, metal and other rubbish.

I cannot have control over the forest but I can do something about the coop and run.

I decided to convert the coop to a sand litter system after reading The Chicken Chick's Blog post on 5 tips for a cleaner coop with less effort . Sold.

The process:
Stripped the coop of litter and disinfected the walls and floors.
Found rough spots and hammered them down or sanded and prepped for installing vinyl/linoleum flooring.
Figured the self Stick tiles were best because 1 - no dealing with awkward bulk, 2- no adhesive to mess with, 3- tiles were cheaper.
Wrong - at least I think I am because the tiles were easy to install but don't stick very well and I ended up having to use silicone caulk like grout. And - they do not stick to walls. Had to caulk and staple. Maybe I will replace wall tiles later with high gloss paint.
new removable roost

construction site tiles in progress

low, deep, big box
Got tiles installed and grout almost dry then lowered and moved the roost and the nest-boxes.  I'm trying the idea of a big deep box. So far the girls seem to like it I think. If it seems to be a problem, I can add a divider of cloth or wood later.

door re-hung and raised
Added boards to keep the sand from flowing out the door.

Re-hung the door so it swings both ways for easier access.

Hung curtains on the nest-box for privacy.

curtain detail

Notice how I hung them under the roof as to not get bruises when in the coop and they wont be tempted to use as a ledge. Just a cheap $2 cafe rod and scrap fabric and yarn.

new, more robust vent cover
 Replaced the flimsy worn vent cover with a more sturdy one and added heavy duty metal mesh to keep out viscous varmints.

Was tempted on getting one of the heavy duty fancy registers but needed slats to face down to keep the rain out of the coop.

 Had to re-do the pop door lock on the fly. When I added the threshold, the door wouldn't bolt anymore. Installed a hook and eye to the inside. I have vigorously tested and no, a raccoon could not lift it from the outside - unless a chicken let it in.

curtains and front end view
My daughter's artwork says "Loving chickens gets you more eggs".  :-)

girls love it

The run is sprouting. Enjoy life while you can you sad little plants.

baby grass in run

The only one that has had the opportunity to lay in the new box is Nutmeg.
I have had to give them a carrier out in the tractor that the others have been using during the remodel.
Well today (thursday Oct 11th) I put red in the coop after her foot bandaging.
She tried to peek into the box to see between the strips of curtian and finally got the nerve and stuck her head in for a better look (after side-eying and bucking at it for 5 minutes).
She craned her neck in and got a good look inside.made a squeaking sound and jumped in!
She proceeded to make squeeky strange vocalizations almost like purring and arranged the fake eggs and nestled down on them and sat. The whole while purring and squeeking.
I put the other girls in space out my about 5 minutes or so and Red began to growl at them and got super broody acting. Well, she gave it up after about 1/2 hour and went on about her business. Wish I caught that on tape! I guess she approves of the new box.

The Chicken Chick