Monthly Archives: May 2016

A Perfect Pickle

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Freshly washed eggs

The eggs just keep on coming. It must be Spring with an eggsess like this!

Enough with the eggs already! I know, but when you’re in the middle of an eggsplosion it’s hard not to be just a little eggsessive. No kidding!

Seriously though, I think most of us have at some time or another gotten very frustrated trying to peel a hard boiled egg or somehow or another have ended up with a surplus of eggs and not known quite what to do with them. This post is for you!

First off, how to ‘cook’ a perfect hard-boiled egg. No prizes here for guessing the cooking method ūüôā I used to think that the eggs should be lowered into boiling water but no, eggs¬†should be placed in pan and¬†completely covered with cold water which is then brought to a rolling boil. The pan, with a tightly fitting lid is then removed from the heat and left to sit. The time varies depending on the type and size of egg. Chicken eggs are left for twelve – thirteen¬†but duck eggs need a little longer in my experience.¬†The last batch of duck eggs I did were¬†left¬†to sit for fourteen minutes eggsactly¬†and while the majority were perfect, a couple could have used just a little longer. Next time I plan to leave them for fifteen minutes, but definitely no longer. When overcooked the yolks develop a grey/green rim around their outer edge, which is perfectly edible but just not very appealing, and also the whites will tend to become rubbery.

eggs in basket

These eggs are scrubbed and tickety-boo ready to go to market. (Check us out at Local Source)

Sammy slicer

This little guy is so cute he really doesn’t need to work but he’s just great at slicing eggs.

If I was never quite comfortable with the boiling¬†of eggs¬† (I could never get the timing right), I was certainly not in my happy place when it came to peeling them, until I learnt that fresh eggs are virtually impossible to peel ‘clean’. In a truly fresh egg the shell, membrane and white are melded together. It takes a week or two for the membrane to shrink and pull away from the shell creating an airspace, and making it much easier to peel the shell away.

If the eggs have been properly stored, that is, pointy end down, an small airspace will have formed at the top (more rounded) end of the egg. I find it best to crack this end open first¬†then¬†submerge the egg in a bowl of cold water¬†allowing the water to penetrate. Sometimes, and depending on the age of the egg, the shell might peel off in a circular rotation, much like the peel of an apple or it might be necessary to gently¬†tap the sides of the egg shell against the side of the sink to further crack the shell. It’s best not to roll the egg to crack the shell as this will separate the white from the yolk.

Pickling eggs is a very simple procedure. To make sure the jars are properly¬†sterilized first¬†wash in warm soapy water and then rinse in clear water. Place¬†jars upright¬†on a cookie sheet and place in a warm oven (225 degrees) for¬†twenty minutes. While the jars are sterilizing bring equal parts of water and white vinegar, (one or two cups of each depending on the amount of eggs being pickled)¬†and 1-2Tbs. of sugar and 1-2 Tbs. of pickling spices¬†to a boil.¬†Pack eggs in sterilized jars and cover with the hot liquid and seal. If for some reason the peeled eggs have been in the fridge don’t put them directly into hot jars as this¬†might cause the jars to crack. Pickled eggs will keep for¬†a couple of months¬†in the refrigerator. They are great in a packed lunch, sliced in a salad or served as an hors d’oeuvre. I have a handy dandy egg slicer, that looks kinda’ cute¬†and really does work. Have to love that!

The take away from this is that fresh eggs will not peel clean no matter how careful you are. Eggs from QuackaDoodle need to be kept in the fridge for a couple of weeks before they peel well.

Shows dense growth of rubarb with rooster in chicken tractor in the background

Deep in the magic Rhubarb Forest

This is not a problem. Chicken eggs will stay fresh for several weeks and duck eggs for even longer because of their thicker shells. And even then they’ll likely still be much fresher than any bought at the local supermarket!

Rhubarb is another thing that’s going nutso crazy at this time of year. Given all the rain we’ve had these past couple of weeks it’s a jungle out there. Yikes! What to do with it all apart from the obvious like stewing it (with ice cream it is amazing) and making it into muffins and pies and crumbles? One favourite we have around QuackaDoodle is rhubarb chutney.¬† This chutney is¬†especially good¬†with curry dishes and biryanis. It doesn’t take long to prepare and is so totally worth the effort.

Rhubarb Chutney Recipe (highly recommended!)

rhubarb

First pick of the year. Yum!

Heat together

1  1/2 c of cider vinegar

2 c brown sugar

1 t ground ginger

1 t cinnamon

1/2 t cayenne

1/2 t black pepper

1/2 t ground cloves

1 t salt

Stir until sugar is dissolved then add

6 c chopped rhubarb

2 c chopped onion

1/2 dried figs (chopped)

1/2 dried cranberries

I c chopped apple

1 c golden raisin

3 t minced garlic

1/4 crystalized ginger finely chopped

Simmer until thickened (about one hour) and spoon in to sterilized jars. Process (boil in a water bath) for fifteen minutes. And enjoy!

Special note for anyone in the Halifax area. QuackaDoodle duck eggs are for sale at Local Source Market on Agricola. Even if you’re not in the market for eggs this super store is well worth a visit if you’re a locavore who loves good food.

 

 

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Duck Eggs Rule!

Standard
Freshly washed eggs

The eggs just keep on coming. It must be Spring with an eggsess like this!

It’s Spring in Nova Scotia… I think! It’s really difficult to tell some days.¬†Only a couple¬†couple of days ago¬†it was snowing hard¬†enough to¬†totally obscure¬†one half¬†of¬†a brilliant blue sky, with¬†the threat of nighttime temperatures of¬† 6 degrees below.¬†This¬†was hard to take after a week or so of temperatures up in the teens. I think these erratic shifts are bothering me a lot more than any of the¬†denizens¬†here at¬†QuackaDoodle who¬†seem to be¬† undeterred and¬†are laying up a Spring storm of their own.

Sign for Duck pen

Just in case all the quacking doesn’t identify the space!

 

 

 

 

The girls¬†on the¬†Duckville production¬†line are insisting that I set the record straight. So here it is:¬†Duck eggs¬†rule. Really! From a nutritional stand point, Quackers¬†against Cluckers,¬†there’s just no contest; with more protein, more Omega 3 fatty acids, 3X the iron, over 5X vitamin B12 and so on. To be fair, ducks lay bigger eggs therefore more calories (130 versus 71)¬†and more cholesterol (619mg versus 211mg).

However, there are several health benefits to duck eggs that I believe far outweigh that one negative:

Usually people with an allergy to chicken eggs can eat duck eggs and apparently they are an alkaline protein source (as opposed to chicken eggs which are acidic).  This makes them a beneficial anti-cancer food as cancer cells tend not to thrive in an alkaline environment.

Athletes in training prefer duck eggs because of their additional power boost.

Their thicker shell means they keep fresher much longer (the eggs, not the athletes).

And they are any baker’s dream come true¬†¬†as the extra albumin makes for much lighter, fluffier pastries.

Last, but definitely not least is the taste; so much richer and creamier and reason enough to pick duck over chicken eggs anytime!

To self “There, if that doesn’t keep those little quackers happy, nothing will!”

Brussel sprouts in a pan

Brussel sprouts sauted in butter with a little ground pepper are Delicious!

I dug the last of my leeks today and salvaged a Brussel sprout stalk that didn’t get picked in the fall. The outer leaves were a bit raggedy and the sprouts were on the small side (probably why they were not harvested) but man did they ever taste delicious!¬†I used to boil Brussel sprouts but that was a big mistake. They are three times more tasty sauted in butter with some fresh ground pepper.¬†Seeing my neighbour’s children gobbling up Brussel sprouts as if they were candy was my Eureka moment regarding Brussels sprouts. That was when I knew I’d been cooking them the wrong way all these years.

I have lots of hardy greens (tat soi, pak choy, kale, chard, etc.) coming up already and surprisingly a whole patch of mache which survived the winter unscathed, along with some raspberry vinegar¬†‘lettuce’ which is actually sorrel. Their winter housing was shredded in a storm and they were unprotected for most of the winter. I thought they would have at least turned bitter but no, if anything the taste of the sorrel has softened slightly and the mache is just as crisp as ever. I’m impressed!

Kale growing

This kale overwinter to provide a most welcome first salad

Rasberry vinegar sorrel

This hardy raspberry vinegar ‘lettuce’ or sorrel was hardy enough to survive the winter unprotected

mache or corn salad

The sweet nutty flavour of mache or ‘corn salad’ is especially welcomed in the spring

My green house was also shredded in a¬†storm and this is creating quite a problem as I’m running out of sunny places to lay out all my early starts. And let’s face it, they’re not really ‘early’¬†¬†at this time of year. In the past my over-enthusiasm has resulted in some very ‘leggy’ transplants that¬†were started too early and outgrew the confines of their starter pots long before the last frost. Now I tend to err on the other side of perfect and leave things a bit late ūüė¶ By now,¬†it’s definitely time to have everything that’s needs starting indoors¬†seeded in their starter pots, I think, so guess what I’ll be doing for the rest of the day!

Tender greens

This selection of early greens started in clear plastic commercial salad boxes are ready to be transplanted outside

My book, Permaculture For the Rest of Us has been getting lots of positive attention. Below I have posted a link to an interview I did last week on Covenant Agrarian Resistance Radio. It’s two hours long, which in my book is a bit much to listen to all at once, but you might want to play it while preparing supper or seeding pots.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/christian-farm-and-homestead/2016/04/23/jenni-blackmore-permaculture-for-the-rest-of-us

Also, Kathryn Robles at kathryn@farmingmybackyard.com has been very generous in her review of my book. She also has a really informative site that is well worth visiting.

Also, and these just in, more sites (and reviews of Permaculture For The Rest of Us) that are really worth visiting:

http://www.lilsuburbanhomestead.com/permaculture-for-the-rest-of-us

http://www.countingmychickens.com/permaculture-rest-us-giveaway

http://finamoon.blogspot.com/2016/04/permaculture-for-rest-of-us-abundant.html

They are all give away a free copy of Permaculture For The Rest of Us!

Anyone living in the Halifax area might be interested to know that QuackaDoodle duck eggs are available at:

The Grainery¬†2385 Agricola Street. This¬† food co-op is open Tuesday through Saturday and is run on a volunteer basis by members. I love going there as I always feel like I’m dealing with kindred spirits.¬†http://www.thegrainery.ca