My blog has moved!

You will be automatically redirected to the new address. If that does not occur, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Chickens and Tchotchkes

When I brought home three baby chicks a few years ago, I had one rule for everyone around me: No chicken tchotchkes!

I may have become the chicken-girl, but I didn't want my home becoming a depository for chicken-related knickknacks. For the most part, everyone has been good. They've passed up the chicken salt and pepper shakers, chicken plates, chicken pitchers, chicken figurines and other chicken objects d'art.

This Christmas however, I received a chicken-themed gift that I love: A handmade chicken tea cozy. As a tea-drinker, my morning cuppa is very dear to me and this cozy brings a smile to my face every morning.

Made by fabric artist Aimee McAdams, who also raises chickens in the Twin Cities, it snugly fits my new tea pot and is lined with a polka-dot lining calling out rise and shine and other corny sayings. I just love it.

Aimee's website shows all of her creations and she's willing to custom make something for you. Send her a note at . May your chickens and tea stay toasty warm this chilly winter.

While I'm on the subject of fabric artists, I must share the beautiful chicken pincushion a dear friend handmade for my last birthday. She specifically chose the fabric to coordinate with my three chicks. The golden side features Roxanne my Buff Orpington and the other side represents Lulu and Cleo, the two Easter Egg chicks. It sits on the window of my office.

Even though it's a pincushion, I can't bring myself to put a pin into it-- who could pierce this cute chicken, especially when it represents my three special chicks? The main reason I'm keeping pins away however, is the Reverend Pat Robertson. That man knows all. I'd hate to be accused of practicing chicken voodoo, because we all know what that leads to. (Which reminds me, I've now added a link directly to the American Red Cross Haitian Relief Fund. The Haitians will continue to need help for a long time, please donate.)

I'm happy to say a few chicken items have found a home here since the girls arrived, but they're handmade and from the heart. Our house is still a chicken tschotschke free zone!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Vietnamese Sandwiches

I love leftovers. Because I cook a lot, my fridge and freezer often are filled with a nice assortment of leftovers, which I usually don't mind. Sometimes, however, leftovers pose a problem. Such was the case last week when I couldn't stop nibbling the leftovers of a wonderful chicken liver pâté I had made. A couple of tastes are fine, but night after night of buttery pâté is enough to totally blow anyone's January resolutions. The problem was I just couldn't throw it away.

You see the reason I developed the pâté was to use everything the chicken has to offer. Not only the meat, but also the parts that are normally tossed aside such as the liver. It's important to utilize the whole bird.

I wanted to use the rest of the pâté as part of a meal, but the first thing that came to mind, Beef Wellington, was way too rich for after-holiday fare. Then I remembered that liver pâté is part of the traditional Vietnamese sandwich called bahn mi.

Bahn Mi

As with most things Vietnamese, this sandwich is light, fresh and satisfying. Assembled in a crisp baguette-style roll (the best ones are from the Asian markets or Vietnamese bakeries), layers of roast pork and pâté are topped with crisp cucumbers, carrots and cilantro keeping it light and crunchy.

Almost a full salad within the sandwich.

Flavored with spicy Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce, fish sauce and soy sauce, it offers a taste sensation more complex than any traditional American sandwich.

Sriracha - The Rooster Sauce
(Follow the link for the behind the scenes story of this American Asian-style hot sauce.)

Even if you don't have liver pâté in your fridge, give this sandwich a try. Its spicy fresh taste may be just the thing to liven the upcoming football weekend frenzies.

Bahn Mi
Vietnamese Hero Sandwiches
Print This Recipe

2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha chili sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon water
2 hero buns, split
1/4 cup liver pâté or liverwurst, optional
1/3 cup thinly sliced cucumbers
1/2 cup thinly sliced roast pork
1/4 cup julienne carrots
6 sprigs fresh cilantro

Stir together the mayonnaise and the chili sauce. In a separate bowl, stir together the fish sauce, soy sauce and water.

Smear the mayonnaise over the top half of each bun. Spread the liver pâté over the bottom half of each bun. Layer the cucumbers over the pâté, top with the pork, then the carrots and finish with the cilantro.

Drizzle the fish sauce mixture over the sandwich before serving.

Serves 2

Sunday, January 10, 2010

New Digs

The three chicks are excited. I'm finally going to start writing about them again. They love being the center of attention. They felt rather left out this fall when life got too busy for me to continue this blog. Not that I really forgot about them. In fact, one of the things that kept me so busy was I was on deadline to finish my new cookbook Chicken and Eggs for Chronicle Publishing, a book that will include stories about the girls plus recipes inspired by them. More about the book in subsequent posts. In addition to writing, cooking and editing recipes for the book, I did a cross country tour teaching baking classes in ten cities plus my regular work for the Cooking Club magazine. So, it was a hold-your-breath-and-try-to-get-it-all-done few months, and something had to give.

In spite of their complaining, the girls fared well during this time. Marty, the former "Chickens? No way!" guy took care of them. Although he probably wouldn't admit it, he now fusses over the chicks almost as much as I do. The big news is that the chicks moved into a new coop right before the holidays. Marty oversaw the construction of the coop while I was away plus built a weatherproof run for them.

The Prebuilt Walls Went up Quickly

Almost Done

The New Pleasure Palace

Inside the New Run

The 6x6' space is super-insulated from top to bottom, has infrared heaters, electricity, three huge windows and lots of space. The floor and 3/4 of the way up the walls are lined with FRP material, fiberglass-reinforced plastic, also called glassboard, the type of material used in bathrooms and shower stalls, making it waterproof and extremely easy to clean (my biggest concern after being spoiled by the Eglu). I have removable plastic bins under the roosting bars for easy daily removal of droppings and the chicks have enough room to actually move around and stretch their wings.

Girls with Temporary Roost
(This spring they'll get a more permanent roost.)

The girls are in heaven. Want proof? They laid 15 eggs last week! That's right, in January when the weather was a frigid -15ºF at night and 0ºF for a daytime high! Plus, they haven't had to spend a night inside the house with us yet (maybe that should read that we haven't had to spend a night inside the house with them). We're all thrilled.

Results from the New Coop

Their smaller Eglu coop, which I still love, will continue to be used. We plan to take it to our lake cabin and use it as their summer home so they can accompany us to the lake when we go for several days. Crazy? Hey, we take our cats with us so why not the chickens too? Of course, now that they've moved up to the Pleasure Palace,who knows if they'll be willing to rough it at the lake.


Related Posts with Thumbnails