Thursday, March 24, 2011

Stephen's Chickens and an Egg Recipe

April 2nd is "Chick Day" at our house. That's when Stephen will go to the Feed Store and bring home six to ten new baby chicks to add to his small barnyard brood. We didn't get any babies last year. This year, he says that the 13 chickens he has are not getting any younger. And since those "old ladies" are getting up there in years, he says it's time to bring in some new little chicks.

When he brings the babies home, he sets up a special box that he built for them. Then he adjusts a heat lamp, and provides food and water so they will be well fed, warm, and ready to grow. And when they get old enough, they will start laying eggs.

Stephen's chickens lay an average of six to eight eggs per day, which means that when they're laying, he's got as many eggs as the Easter Bunny. The chickens come to him when he calls them. They know he's going to feed them and follow him anywhere he goes!

We have a hen house for them with a fenced-in outdoor area for keeping them safe. On most days, though, he opens up the coop and let's them wander around the farm for a while. No matter how far they wander, they always manage to put themselves to bed when the sun goes down. Then Stephen goes out and shuts the door to the hen house and locks them in all nice and safe from predators.

We have different types of chickens on the farm. Right now we've got buff orphingtons, bantam cochins with feathers on their feet, Rhode Island reds, and Plymouth Rocks (the ones that look like they're on a prison gang in their black and white feathers). I'm sure we've got other types as well, but I must admit that I don't keep up with them as much as Stephen does.

The eggs they lay are absolutely fabulous. Nice big eggs with brilliant yellow yolks that look just perfect when poached and sitting on the breakfast table. And speaking of breakfast, here's a fabulous breakfast casserole recipe. You make it ahead; then refrigerate until morning when you pop it into the oven for a yummy start to your day.

Breakfast Casserole

1 pound ground pork sausage
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
6 slices bread, toasted and cut into cubes
8 ounces mild cheddar cheese, shredded

Night Before: Crumble the sausage in a medium skillet. Cook over medium heat until evenly browned; then drain. In a medium sized bowl, mix together mustard powder, salt, eggs and milk. Add the sausage, bread cubes, and cheese. Stir to coat evenly. Pour into a greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Cover, and chill in the refrigerator for 8 hours, or overnight.

Next Morning: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cover casserole dish and bake 45-60 minutes. Uncover, reduced temperature to 325 degrees F and bake for an additional 30 minutes or until set.

Serves: 8 (377 calories per serving)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

National Quilting Day - March 19, 2011

Did you know that there was an entire day devoted solely to quilting?

National Quilting Day began with a resolution passed by members of the National Quilting Association at their 22nd Annual Show in Lincoln, Nebraska, in June 1991. The 3rd Saturday in March was officially designated as National Quilting Day. It all began in 1989, when the Kentucky Heritage Quilt Society organized "Quilter's Day Out" to celebrate the rich tradition of quilt making in Kentucky. The first National Quilting Day was observed in 1992.

For 2011, the theme is Build Your Own Log Cabin. They have a free quilt pattern available at their website. It is based on the log cabin block and is 64" square. Click here to get that free quilt pattern. This would make a great donation for your favorite cause--or make one for yourself to honor family and friends.

There are countless ways to celebrate National Quilting Day. Here are a few ideas: 1) Make it a service day and work on a quilt for your favorite cause; 2) Organize an exhibit at your local library or historical society; 3) Work on a quilt with a school, 4-H, scout troop or simply sew with a grandchild; 4) Sponsor a sewing day making lap quilts for seniors. Turn it into an oral history project capturing stories of the community; 5) Give a baby quilt to the first baby born on National Quilting Day each year.

I'm going to spend this day teaching classes at Grandma's Attic. I'm teaching the Clothesline Club exploring 1930s-era quilting at 10:00 am, followed by Quilt Red where we will explore embroidery and heart health at 11:00. Then I'm planning to work on a couple of quilt projects I've been dreaming up to present to you all in April. How will you spend the day? I hope it will be filled with quilts, quilting and good thoughts.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

African Adventures with Tammy

Tammy just sent me another small note from South Africa, along with a few pictures. This one of Anne (on the left) and Tammy (on the right) definitely shows that they're having a great time. I'm thinking that the weather and the good company are very restorative for Tammy's health and that's a good thing. Both of them look great! Here's Tammy's note:

"Anne and I have been on many adventures in the last weeks with little computer access to share in a timely manner. I do miss my friends back home, but I am happy to say I have much to share with you. I have seen so many animals and beautiful countrysides. The people are so kind and friendly, you all would be impressed to see how people treat each other despite what little they may have. I have learned to humble down some. Talk to you soon!"

Here's a face only a mother could love! The Warthog, also called "African Lens-Pig," is a wild member of the pig family in Africa. Those wart-like protrusions on the head serve as a defense when males are fighting.

Like camels, warthogs are able to conserve moisture inside their bodies to stay cool. They are tough, sturdy animals with large heads and two sets of tusks. The upper tusks form a semicircle. The lower ones have a sharp cutting edge. When they run, they carry their tail upright so that it looks like a little flag. Believe it or not, even though they look tough, they would rather flee than fight.

Warthogs are grazers of grass and plants. They are approximately 30 inches tall at the shoulder, weigh between 120 and 150 pounds, and can live up to 15 years in the wild.

When I think of Africa, I always think of elephants. Those majestic animals are the largest land animals on earth and have a life span of up to 70 years. Their ears sort of look like the continent of Africa itself and can radiate heat to help them cool down.

An elephant's trunk contains approximately 100,000 different muscles and can be used for smelling, breathing, trumpeting, drinking and grabbing things. Trunks also come in handy for taking a nice shower. African elephants use their tusks to dig for food and water. Males also use them for battle. Because their tusks are made of ivory, they attract poachers, even though this is completely illegal. As a result, some African elephant populations are endangered.

Elephants are herbivores and can eat up to 300 pounds of food a day. How's that for a big food budget? They roam great distances foraging for food with female elephants living in herds. The females give birth to one calf every two to four years and, if you can imagine it, are pregnant for 22 months. (And you thought nine was tough!) At birth, a baby elephant is approximately three feet tall and weighs about 200 pounds. In contrast, fully grown elephants are 8-13 feet tall measured at the shoulder and can weigh anywhere from 5,000 to 14,000 pounds.

Seeing Tammy's photos of warthogs and elephants reminds me that the 11th annual Quilter's Safari shop hop is just around the corner. From April 22 to May 1, you can be on your own wild adventure checking out Mid-Willamette Valley quilt shops and hunting down all those fabulous fabric deals! Click here for more details.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

South African Adventures with Tammy and Anne

As many of you may know, our class coordinator, Tammy Keith, and her friend Anne are currently visiting South Africa. Here's Tammy's latest letter:

"We are here at Lorna's farm at Noordhoek. Its on Chapmans Peak Rd, and Chapman's Peak Drive is very close as a cross road. We are doing very well and are having a great time. I finally feel relaxed and the heat is starting to make a difference. As before, everyone we meet is gracious beyond belief. We have met many new people who are instant friends. Two days ago, we had a very nice lunch at a quilter's house and two other quilting friends came to meet us and share their projects with us. This all came about because of a woman we met at Louisa's home. She wanted to share us with her friends. I find this country amazing. This has been a wonderful trip so far!"

After spending the night in Plettenberg Bay, Tammy and Anne are on to Grahamstown, South Africa, between Elizabethtown and East London.