Monday, November 7, 2011

Frida Lays an Egg

Formerly the shy one, Frida has been acting really strange lately. Even the other four chickens think she has been possessed by an alien being. Then last night Shaun found this in their nesting box.

Perfect! Our first egg.

Shaun has raised three of these chickens since they were 1 day old (Zelda, Frenchie, and Abigail). Frida is one of two chickens we got partially grown from Dare 2 Dream Farms in Lompoc. We were warned that we might not see any eggs until the days begin to get longer. Apparently Frida didn't get the memo.

Breakfast this morning was an exciting event.

We gathered for the egg opening.

It was everything we'd hoped.

Good color, thick shell, standing yolk.

These chickens spend their days in Shaun's side yard where they wander around eating bugs and the plants Shaun grows for them. They have intimidated the local cats into becoming vegetarians and managed to elude the raccoons a few nights ago who discovered before we did that the chickens weren't safely bedded down in the coop for the night.

Yes, Frida's egg was delicious!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Martian Bread

On a visit to Martian Ranch and Vineyard to learn more about their farming methods, I tasted the syrah grapes still hanging on the vine, sweet, ripe, and ready to pick. Winemaker Michael Roth let me bring a cluster home to make a wild yeast starter.

Wild yeast cells cling to the waxy coating on the outside of the grapes at this time of year. These particular grapes are grown in Los Alamos, so this yeast is a variety that grows in that orchard on that variety of grape. Yeast on the nearby Mouvedre grapes might produce a starter with different characteristics.

At home I rinsed the grapes lightly and put them into a thin mixture of flour and water. I covered the container with plastic wrap and let it sit until the yeast began to bubble up in the flour mixture. This took less than 24 hours.

I strained the starter, purple with grape juice, and added more flour and water. I repeated that process until my starter was bubbling up within a couple of hours after being fed.

Last night I mixed up a batch of bread to rest overnight and then baked my bread in the morning.

Here's my first loaf.

I'll be making more of this!