Farm to Fork, Silly Chickens

Goats and Chèvre

Laura Chenel brought goat cheese making to California in the 1980’s. Until then, the soft, tangy, cheese had been largely unavailable in the US.
The first time I tasted the creamy rounds of warm goat cheese, sautéed in bread crumbs, and served on a bed of greens, at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, was a revelation.

Ever since, I’ve wanted to learn to make goat cheese.

So… I think I need goats!

When I do, I think they need a playground like this one Thatcher Long built for his goats, don’t you?

#cooptofork #urbanfarm #farmtofork #fresheggs #chickens #eggs #coop #farmlife #goats #chèvre #goatcheese #coopdreams #coopgoals

Chez Panisse Baked Chèvre photo by Jonny Valiant

Family, Horses

Hobbit Horses!

Growing up among horses, and teaching riding, I saw my share of scary horse accidents. I always taught horse safety, but accepted some risk as par for the course. Until the time came for me to put my own babies on the back of an animal. While I will always love regular sized horses, and riding, suddenly the idea of putting the life of my tiny child in the hands, or hooves, of a thousand pound animal, known to be skittish, with rock hard hooves swinging at the bottom of a six foot fall, seemed preposterous.

Enter mini-horses! These guys are as gentle and sweet as a family dog. And they’re small enough that a two year old can lead them on her own with confidence, and learn to pick hooves or curry with basically no risk of injury. A fall is no higher than off a tricycle. It never occurred to me to own mini-horses. Like most of the animals in our barn, it was sort of by accident, they basically found us. I’m so glad they did!

#cooptofork #urbanfarm #farmtofork #minihorse #hobbithorse #horses #fresheggs #chickens #eggs #coop #farmlife #prettycoop #coopdreams #coopgoals


German Pancakes

This German Pancake recipe has been in my family since I was little. The show-stopping pancakes make breakfast feel like a special occasion. But they are so easy to make! They are supposed to be misshapen, and will deflate a bit when you take them out of the oven. There are no mistakes, each one is unique, and supposed to look that way!

The light puffy pancakes use lots of coop-fresh eggs, and are quite healthy, but taste indulgent. We top ours with powdered sugar and squeeze a slice of lemon on top. Right now we are using sweet, fragrant, Meyer lemons, which are in season, and available at local farmer’s markets. The recipe makes one pancake. My family usually eats two or three!

German Pancake Recipe:

Pre-heat oven very hot to 425.

In a blender combine:

3 eggs

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup milk

1/2 tsp salt

Blend on high, then add:

2 tbs melted butter

Blend again

Pour into a greased pie plate.

Bake at 425 for five minutes, then turn oven down to 350. Bake for about 15 minutes until puffy and golden brown.

You can double or triple the recipe in the blender.

Happy weekend!

Family, Garden

Peonies for Gamy

I adored my grandmother, Marjorie. She was strong, and smart, and independent. She taught me to love piano and politics, how to bake a pie, and garden. Our Daisy is named after her. (Daisy is a nickname, as Marjorie comes from the French word for Daisy.)

My grandmother loved Sarah Bernhardt Peonies. I was thrilled to find some in a catalogue to add to my garden. That lush, frilly, decadent, bloom is what they looked like in my grandmother’s garden. So beautiful!! I got bare roots, which is… the other photo. I have no idea what to do with them. Do you just stick them in the ground like a bulb? I need all your advice please!

Chickens, Keeping Chickens

Dating Eggs

With four kids, our eggs usually get eaten within a day. But there is nothing worse than cracking open a rotten egg which has spent too long at the bottom of the bowl! In France dates are stamped on eggs – not the date they expire, the date they are laid. “One Day Eggs” (laid yesterday) are most prized. I’ve borrowed this system, writing the date laid on the top of each egg. Sometimes I include the month, but we usually go through the eggs fast enough that I don’t need to, especially in the winter. I pack them in cartons by date, and the kids know to use the oldest eggs first. Daisy, of course, always asks for the blue Helena eggs. For a while I was adding “Laid by Beatrice” or “Laid by Olivia”, in pretty handwriting on the eggs. When we only had four chickens it was easier because they each laid a different color egg. But also, my 13 year old daughter complained that made it “too personal”, and refused to eat eggs with names on them. So we’re back to just the date. I haven’t cracked open a rotten egg yet! What do you do to sort your eggs?


Away from the Farm

So this is the part of the day where I get to scrape the mud off, forget about being a mom, or a hayseed, and feel like a city girl for at least a few minutes. I used to hate working out. Now I see it as a luxury. (Amazing how having four kids will change your perspective!) We take such good care of all our little peeps, human and animal. We gotta remember to take care of ourselves too!

Chickens, Keeping Chickens

Got Muddy Eggs?

Eggs are laid with a shiny coating, kind of like a dried layer of egg white, called “bloom”, which keeps them fresh on your counter for weeks, as long as you don’t wash them. In other parts of the world, eggs aren’t washed before they are sold, so can be safely stored at room temperature. But if the bloom gets wet, it dissolves, and no longer protects the egg.

In the US, eggs sold in stores are washed, so they need to be refrigerated. During dry Sacramento summers, our eggs are usually pretty clean. Sometimes our eggs sit on the counter for a couple days before I sort and refrigerate them. (If they don’t get cooked and eaten by the teenagers before then.) This winter, we desperately need rain, and I’m grateful it is finally here, but it also means muddy, mucky eggs. The rule in our house is always wash the eggs right before use. But I don’t love leaving so much yucky dirt on them until then.

I’ve tried wiping the dirt off with a dry cloth or paper towel, scrubbing with a dish brush, or a tooth brush. Nothing has really worked. If the eggs are too gross, I’ll wash them. But I’d like to scrub most of the dirt off without getting the eggs wet and losing the bloom.

Today I tried a stainless steel sponge scrubber, and guess what? It worked! It scrubbed away almost all of the dried mud, but it left the shiny bloom intact. The sponges sell in grocery stores or on Amazon for about $3. I finished off stubborn any spots with a short wire grill brush, also about $3.

You can see the results in the photos below – shiny eggs with no more muck.


Our Hobbit Horses (Mini Horses)

These are our “hobbit-horses”, Bilbo and Frodo. Technically they’re mini-horses, but my “Lord of the Rings” loving boy named them. I’d never owned a little horse before. But our urban farm would be a bit cramped for full-sized horses. Bilbo and Frodo have turned out to be the safest way to teach horsemanship to the kids. They are tiny, harmless, adorable versions of big horses. (I taught horseback riding long enough to know the dangers of horses, no matter how much I love them). The hobbit-horses are as gentle and loving as a family dog. I have trusted them with Daisy since she was two. I don’t think we could ever give them up now.

#minihorse #hobbithorse #chickens #horses #pasture #urbanfarm #farmtofork

Family, Farm to Fork, Things I Like

My Favorite Chicken Mug

A lovely rainy afternoon. Reading “Tumtum and Nutmeg” to the girls, coffee in my favorite mug, (I absolutely covet all the Jacques Pepin chicken dishes – look how silly the chickens are!) And fresh baked oatmeal chocolate chip cookies – crispy, chewy, warm, and SO delicious. Made, entirely on her own, by ten year old Elizabee, from her beloved Auntie Nada’s recipe. ❤️❤️❤️

#jacquespepin #chickens #giens #oiseaudeparadis #coffee #surlatable