March 30, 2009

Mother Hen

Okay, so there is no way around it now...I am the owner of a flock! Saturday we brought home six, count 'em, six baby chicks, to add to our four young hens, making this a bonafide flock! They are so small and fuzzy and really cute, but I MUST have lost my mind to agree to this. We more than doubled our numbers. As to be expected, I am their primary caretaker. Of course my husband said he would take care of them, as did the kids, but really, who else is going to wipe a chick's bottom when it has poop all over it? Yes, you really have to do this for them or they can get sick and die.

It all started when we were helping our local chicken meetup group (don't laugh, there is a group for everything) have a big publicity event to raise awareness for backyard poultry. We did get great press coverage for the event, in fact the kids and I were on the news that night. Unfortunately, we had more chicks than chick takers. My husband signed us up right away to take some chicks off their hands.
We took them home and made a bed out of shavings in a cardboard box and then a plastic tub with a screen on top. They have a heat lamp and heating pad because they need 95 degree weather in my laundry room. They are so soft and they peep just like you imagine.

I worried about one of the Americana's (they are the brown striped ones in the photo) at first, but she just needed to be taught how to drink out of the water dispenser, which I solved by dunking her beak into the water. She figured it out after that and I became a Mother Hen in the true sense of the words. I'm in...all the way now, my heart has been given to these tiny peeping balls of down. They love me too. They peep VERY loudly when I came in the laundry room and they are thrilled to be held by me. I am a Mother of Multiples.

March 25, 2009

Teddy Bear Cookies

These are very cute for a baby shower or birthday party. I love making little hearts on them and the tiny touch of icing inside their ears and even little claw marks on the feet really make them come alive. Notice the icing flooded off the cookie onto the wax paper?  No big deal when you pick it up, just break that part off and no one will even notice.

The key to getting a nice shiny finish is using corn syrup in the icing.

Sugar Cookie Decorator Icing
4 c powdered sugar
2 Tbsp meringue powder
2 tsp milk
2 tsp light corn syrup
1/4 tsp vanille extract (or any other flavor you like)
paste food coloring

Combine all but powdered sugar in a mixing bowl. Beat slowly until smooth. Slowly add the sugar until you have a smooth consistency. Have patience and do not raise mixer speed above low or you'll end up with blooming like these green bears where the icing has blotches. You can add paste food coloring at this time if you want colored icing. This consistency is perfect for outlining your cookies. You will need to thin it a bit for flooding the interior of the cookie. This will dry to firm in about an hour and then you can store in a plastic container with wax or parchment paper in between layers.

March 14, 2009

St Patty's Day Fun

Need a fun idea for St Patrick's Day? This cake was one of the easiest I've ever made. A sheet cake frosted green, lucky charms clovers in the left hand corner, Skittles ("taste the rainbow") for the arc, a hollowed out mini cupcake for the pot and chocolate coins for the gold. The hardest part was not eating all of the Skittles!

We also celebrated Saint Patrick's Day with a leprechaun catcher. The kids raided the recycling box and came up with the plan of using a cereal box. Then they made a trap door from another box. Some hard earned money was added to the back to intice the little fellow into the trap. The kids said the leprechaun would think the pipe cleaner was a light switch and pull the door down to close the trap! It's incredible to me what kids can do with the a little trash and their imagination!

March 11, 2009

Breakfast Found - Eggs from the Backyard

This is where we find the eggs, inside the nesting boxes. It's obvious the Girls take their time making the nests from the swirled pattern of the pinestraw. Sometimes I forget they are actually birds, duh!

I usually ask one of the kids to go check for eggs. They really love doing this, although I'm not sure why a fancy dog carrier purse is required for the job.
One of the most common questions we get about the chickens has to do with roosters. So here's the answer, no you don't need a rooster to get eggs. Hens lay eggs no matter what. If you have a rooster around, you will get some fertilized eggs and maybe some baby chicks. Personally I have nooo desire to have a rooster, because there is enough noise in our house at the crack of dawn for me!

March 8, 2009

Burn Stuff - the Best

Okay, sometimes I cause myself harm in the kitchen.  You know, cut the end of your finger off and what-not.  Course as moms, "it's just a flesh wound" and we move on.  Well for me, burns are a whole nother story.  I can't just get over a burn because everytime I put my hand in warm water (about 100 times a day) it hurts.  Or one of the kids grabs me to get my attention - yowie! Then I discovered Burn Stuff. This stuff is amazing, really. I'm not a huge medicine person but this stuff is worth it. Immediately, the burn feels better, although as you can tell from the photo it isn't pretty. The paste dries out after a while, but then you just put a little more one. I really did a number on myself pulling these cupcakes out of the oven, but in two days, the burn didn't hurt and it was 2nd degree. It's a hard product to find, but so worth it and you only need a little.Inside the box are 8 little packets of the ointment, so the rest stay fresh until you need them. I HIGHLY recommend having some of this on hand in case you need it.

March 6, 2009

Caramel Apple Cupcakes & Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes

I figured no one else would want birthday cake on Sausage Boy's first birthday after he was done with it, so I made cupcakes for everyone else. I made chocolate cupcakes and created a peanut butter frosting for them.  Then I made apple cupcakes and piped a caramel frosting on top. They were incredible!
The chocolate peanut butter cupcakes recipe was from Epicurious.  Course you could use a box mix for the chocolate cupcake and then just make the frosting.
The apple cupcake were my own creation.  I started with a vanilla cake mix and added 2 c of peeled and diced apples before baking. They were so moist! I'm sure you could use applesauce too. The caramel frosting is a time consuming recipe but REALLY REALLY delicious. Perfect for a special occasion.

Caramel Frosting
1 lb light brown sugar
1 c heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 c butter
In a medium, heavy saucepan, bring the sugar and cream to a rolling boil. Boil one minute. Add soda, and boil one more minute. Remove from heat. Add butter, but do not stir yet. Let the mixture cool (really you could make it the night before and put it in the fridge). The mix must be cool as this is the key to getting frosting and not caramel glaze. Beat well...forever. Okay, not forever, but close to it. I think it took me about 6 minutes, so if you have a stand mixer, that would be the way to go.

March 1, 2009

First Birthday Cake

Okay folks, I know I'm going to offend some of you out there, but I just have to say it. Make your baby's first birthday cake! First, it doesn't have to be fancy because come on, the kid is just going to wreck it. Second, it doesn't even have to taste really good, because the kid doesn't know any difference! Make the can do it.
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