Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Chicken Coop Under Construction

Here's the coop under construction. I'm making it out of pallets and recycled wood. I hope to house 3 happy, productive hens. It sits at the back of the yard.

So you see not all of the zucchini have ended up as bread. Meet Grave Digger or The Widow Maker, I haven't settled on a name yet. It's almost 2 feet long...so far.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

HELP! I'm drowning in zucchini!

Every year it's the same thing, the plants start out small and then they take over. And the zucchini are the worst. They hide under their own enormous umbrella leaves. Don't blink, don't look away even for a minute...they will be double in size when you look back.

I have one in the backyard right now that has totally gotten away from me so we're just going to see how big it gets. It's as big as a thigh now. I'm calling it WIDOWMAKER. I intend to set the record.

But for the zucchini that don't get to epic proportions what can you do? Well you can give them to your neighbors. My neighbors are nice people, but these days they draw the drapes and turn off the porch light when they see me coming.

Zucchini bread? Yeah, that's another god way to get rid of it. But how about something you can pull out of your freezer in the dead of winter? Something that will make you feel like you are out in the garden on a warm day harvesting nature's bounty. Something that will warm you from head to toe?

Inspired by Viana La Place's Cucina Rustica I whipped up a batch of summer vegetable stew. I sauted onions, zucchini, eggplant, green beans, garlic, tomatoes, basil and oregano, salt and pepper. I let the mixture cook together for a little while, then cooled it and divided it up in freezer bags.

I envision pulling it out of the freezer and serving it with crusty bread, a piece of cheese, and a glass of wine. Or as a pasta sauce, or stirred into risotto right before serving, or as a topping for bruschetta, or as the base for a rustic soup, or with Italian sausages, or for slow cooking chicken in, or...

I love having versatile, delicious, healthy foods on hand. Now is the time to put some goodies like this in your freezer or in canning jars.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Housing Chickens (and their friends) in Style

So this past weekend I toured some of the finest in poultry accomodation in the Portland Metro area.

Without exception the coop owners were a gracious, gregarious bunch. Most of them had a whole sustainable, green gardening scene going on in their backyards.

Here are some of the highlights.

This Japanese / Craftsman coop was ingeniously constructed and the hens seemed to love it.

Lovely hens.

And not just hens, but ducks too. Runner ducks and French geese.

All hard working employees of this remarkable mini-farm. They all help control kitchen leftovers and slugs. And they all contibute fresh, delicious eggs.