January 2011 Chickens in the Road Newsletter

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January 2011 Chickens in the Road Newsletter


*Feature: Where the Wild Birds Are

*Kitchen Extra: A Sandwich Vision

*My Favorite Thing Right Now: Bobby Sue

*Recent Highlights: Kindling in the Snow, A Happy Card, It’s Raining Goat Babies, and More

*Sneak Peek: Sweet Potato Vines

*Farm Bell Recipes: Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk

*Blast from the Past: What Nobody Tells You about Living in a 100-Year-Old Farmhouse Before You Move In

*Feature: Where the Wild Birds Are

The state bird of West Virginia is the cardinal, and with its cheerful pop of color in the snow, I can only wonder why every state that is fortunate enough to have its company in the winter doesn’t claim the same.

We frequently have our little red visitors at our bird feeders. They are showy in contrast to the more muted finches and wrens and other assorted birds whose names I don’t know. I don’t really have the camera for it, but I love to try to photograph the birds at the feeders. There are birds everywhere, all the time, throughout the year, but somehow birds are always fascinating. A little bit magical. They are more apt than most wild things to come up in the yard and let you see them, attracted by the feeders.

And yet they are, most distinctly, wild.

And perhaps that is part of their charming mystique. They will come into our world for just a few moments, but they are never part of it. They are just sojourners for seeds.

These two little birds were feeling jealous of the bright cardinal. They whispered trash-talk to each other about him. “Show off!”

Then one called the other one a son of a woodpecker for some reason and they stopped speaking to each other.

I try to capture their angel wings.

This one looks like Batman.

“There he goes again, showing off.”

Dueling angel wings.

Birds look weird from the front. Maybe because it’s hard to catch them looking at us. They like to pretend we don’t exist.

Deep thinker:

He’s thinking secret, magic stuff. Shhhh.

*Kitchen Extra: A Sandwich Vision

The other day, I was milking Beulah Petunia in the snow and I was struck by a sandwich vision. I know, I’m weird, but anyway! I got started as soon as I got back to the house. I made some mozzarella with my fresh milk while I started a bowl of dough for rolls. I had taken some steak and sliced eggplant out of the freezer earlier in the day, not sure what I was going to do with it. Now I knew. I had a purpose. A vision. I coated the eggplant slices with a seasoned flour mixture and fried them up while the bread baked and the steak broiled. I used the same pan to saute some onions, too.

To make the sandwiches, I cut the rolls in half lengthwise. I placed each half flat on a baking sheet and drizzled olive oil over the top and added some crushed basil. On one half, I piled some homecanned tomatoes (no fresh this time of year), sauteed onions, steak strips, and fried eggplant. On the other half, I placed slices of fresh mozzarella. I put it all in the oven to broil a couple minutes and get the cheese all melty.

Mozzarella in the making:

(See how to make mozzarella.)

Fried eggplant is really good all by itself just dipped in ketchup. I can’t resist it.


I don’t know where this vision came from, or why I’m so weird, but this sandwich was delicious! The only thing I thought I might add if I’d had it was a little sauce, like maybe some barbeque sauce. Let me know if you give it a try. I also think it would make a great vegetarian sandwich with just the fried eggplant and mozzarella!

*My Favorite Thing Right Now: Bobby Sue

Full name Bobby Sue Romano. Miss Bobby Sue Romano.

Romano is my February cheesemaking challenge post for New England Cheesemaking. I spent so much time admiring this two-pound romano that 52 finally said, “What’s its name?” I said, “Bobby…..” And then I decided it was a girl. “Sue. Bobby Sue!” I have no explanation.

I gotta stop naming my cheeses or it’s going to be really weird when I eat them.

See all my cheesemaking posts.

*Recent Highlights: Kindling in the Snow, A Happy Card, It’s Raining Goat Babies, and More

BABIES! It’s raining goat babies here! First, Nutmeg Has a Baby then Fanta Has Babies. Then there’s The One with No Mother. But wait, there’s a happy ending! Sprite is A Mother, After All. Find all my farm animal stories here.

See me give The Jack Report when I break into my first homemade monterey jack cheese. And in January, I tried my hand at gouda. It’s popcorn popping weather–how do you like yours? See the great discussion in Popping Popcorn, and bake up some old-fashioned Butter Sticks, too. Don’t miss a thing in my kitchen! Get all my recipes.

This one surprised me by being one of my most commented-on posts ever–do you need A Happy Card? Then take A Walk in Bare Trees with me and let the trees do the teaching. See all my country living stories.

I’ve got a couple of quick projects this month with A Scented Trivet and Toothpick Candles but I’m also working on my big Winter Project. You? Browse all my posts in crafts.

Inside, I’m fondling my Seed Catalogs (check out the great lists of favorite seed catalog companies recommended by readers in the comments on this post) while outside, all I’m growing is wood for the fire. Come with me and my crazy dogs to collect Kindling in the Snow. Be sure to see all my garden stories.

*Sneak Peak: Sweet Potato Vines

I’ve been trying to grow my own sweet potato vines for my spring/summer hanging baskets for a month now.

I’m not sure if this is an exercise in futility or patience. So far, the only thing that’s come of it is that one of the cats knocked a jar over to drink the water and broke the jar. I’ll let you know how it turns out. Or doesn’t turn out.

*Farm Bell Recipes: Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk

Whether I’m snowed in or just don’t feel like running to the store at the last minute, I love do-it-yourself substitutions like this homemade sweetened condensed milk recipe submitted to Farm Bell Recipes by tsmith. CindyP tested it out for us in a post on the Farm Bell Recipes blog here in a Hello Dollies recipe and several others. (Aside, see kellyb’s Hello Dollies recipe.) It works like a charm. I am so excited!

How to make Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk:

1/2 cup cold water
1 1/3 cups non-fat dry milk powder
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Stir milk into cold water. Microwave on high for 45 seconds to 1 minute, until steaming. Stir in sugar and vanilla. Refrigerate until cool before using. Equivalent to a 14-ounce can.

Get the handy print page on Farm Bell Recipes to save it to your recipe box: Sweetened Condensed Milk.

As if that’s not enough goodness already, tsmith also shared her Homemade Evaporated Milk substitute recipe. Thank you, tsmith!

There is a fantastic new post from community members every day on the Farm Bell Recipes blog. Don’t miss a single one. Read the Farm Bell blog here. Would you like to contribute a post to the community blog at Farm Bell Recipes? You can! See all the information here for submissions. We’d love to hear your voice!

January 2011 Farm Bell Recipes blog contributors:

Cathy Jones (catray44)
CindyP — Chippewa Creek ~ Our Life Simplified
Ewenique — Ewenique
Jessica Tibbets — A Day in Earnest
Kelly in TX — Sowell Farm
Kellyb — Yahoo’s Canning2
Kerrie — City Girl Farming
Larissa — The Henway
Michelle —My Life in Podunk
Patrice — Everyday Ruralty
Sheryl — Providence Acres

THANK YOU! Please give them a visit!

*Blast from the Past: What Nobody Tells You about Living in a 100-Year-Old Farmhouse Before You Move In

I lived there for two and a half years.

Mice, slanted floors, frozen pipes, and dead people who haven’t quite gone away. Read What Nobody Tells You about Living in a 100-Year-Old Farmhouse Before You Move In. Let it be told!


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What are you fixing for supper tonight? Browse the goodness at Farm Bell Recipes — your cooking community!

*I’m giving away a Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving once a week (sometimes more!) so don’t forget to watch the blog for The Ball Blue Book Project days.

And don’t forget! You can still get the 2011 Chickens in the Road Calendar, the Farm Babies edition!

You can buy it here: The 2011 Chickens in the Road Calendar.

Go to Chickens in the Road now.