Friday, August 20, 2010

First Egg!

Well, it finally happened…we got our first egg from the chickens!


Laurie went out to feed the chickens yesterday morning, and to her surprise, a nice brown egg was sitting in the roost box.  Amazing!


The likely culprit is Cinnamon, our Cinnamon Queen.  At 5 months, she’s the oldest.


The egg on the left is Cinnamon’s.  The egg on the right is an Organic Valley large organic egg from the store.  As you can see, they are very similar in size and color.

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I weighed the eggs using Laurie’s food scale.  They are both 58 grams.  Cinnamon’s eggs are almost identical to the ones in the store that cost $5 a carton!


Once the others start laying, we’ll probably have about 20-25 eggs a week.  No word on whether the other girls are jealous.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

New Orleans Cuisine

This past weekend my brother and I took a road trip to New Orleans.  It was the first time in the Big Easy for both of us.  We wanted to see as much music as possible and eat as much good food as we could.  Here are the highlights:

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My first beer (of many):  Abita Amber, which interestingly is a lager, from Molly's at the Market in the French Quarter.

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Seafood Gumbo from Coop's Place in the French Quarter.  We were told this was some of the best gumbo in town.  It was certainly one of the spicier dishes we had.

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Ahhhh, the Hurricanes.  Can’t say I remember too much of them.  I’m pretty sure my brother puked his back up!

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Coffee and beignets from Cafe Du Monde.  And yes, they are every bit as good as advertised.  Perfect Bourbon Street hangover cure.

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After a long day of walking and biking around in the 1000000% humidity, I was dying for lunch.  I happened to stumble upon 13 Monaghan where I demolished this veggie po’ boy.  The cream cheese sauce made it one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had.

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Rebirth Brass Band playing a free show on Frenchmen Street at the Satchmo Festival.  Unbelievable!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Chicken Update

It’s been about 3 1/2 months since we got our original four chicks.  Sadly we lost two, but happily we gained three more.  Here’s a quick pictorial update.

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Spanky (white) and Honey were two of our original chicks.  They’ve gotten so much bigger!  It took them awhile to get used to the new chickens, but now they are all friends.  Spanky is still my favorite.

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Of the three new ones, Cinnamon (reddish-brown) is the biggest and oldest.  She’s probably about 4-5 months old.  The other two, the Wyandotte (front right) and the Ameraucana hybrid (front left), are starting to fill out and look like real chickens.  They are around two months old.

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We’ve recently allowed them to explore the backyard for short periods of time while we are home.  For some reason they LOVE a small portion of the yard by the fence in the back.

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They aren’t laying eggs yet, but they are starting to roost a little bit both in their coop and in the backyard.  Hopefully we’ll get some eggs in a couple of months.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Indian Food

Last night Laurie and I had a craving for Indian food.  Rather than spend $40 for dinner for two though, we decided to create our own feast.  We found a great non-meat recipe at Gluten-Free Bay.  The main ingredients were potato, cauliflower, peas and spices.

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Getting the spices exactly right is the key to making great Indian food.  Once you have all the ingredients, you just simmer all the ingredients together until they combine flavors and aromas.

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The hardest part about Indian food is making the perfect rice and naan.  We could have made our own, but there’s no way we could replicate the taste and texture that you find in restauants.  So I cheated and picked both up from our favorite Indian restaurant Sarovar :)

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Indian food is great because there are so many meat-free options.  We chose this one simply because we had almost all of the ingredients in our fridge.  This recipe is definitely a keeper.

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For a total of $10, we had an awesome meal that was as good, if not better, than any Indian food we’ve ever had.  We also have plenty of leftovers for dinner tonight!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Like Riding a Bike

Austin is one of the more bike-friendly towns in the country.  People bike to concerts, festivals, restaurants and bars.  They even have organized “social” rides around Austin on Thursday nights.  This is great…if you own a bike.  Fortunately I do.  Unfortunately Laurie didn’t. 

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All summer long we scoured the internet for a great bike deal.  We looked at Jamis, Trek, Giant, and a couple of others.  None of them, however, seemed to be the right bike.

Then, while walking back to our car from 4th of July fireworks, Laurie saw a lady riding a Kona.  “I want that bike!” she exclaimed.  Amazingly on July 5, she found the very same bike for sale on Craigslist.  It was meant to be.

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She got a lightly-used, 2009 Kona Dew.  It’s 45 cm, and it’s awesome!  The person who owned it before either took very good care of it or never really used it.

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Last night we went for a 45-minute ride around the neighborhood.  The weather was perfect.  Tonight we’re supposed to ride down to the restaurant Shady Grove for their “Unplugged at the Grove” concert series.  It’s raining now, so fingers crossed.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


When we got our new chickens a few weeks ago, we bought them from a chicken lady who has over 300 chickens of her own.  With so many chickens, she had a ton of eggs.  Luckily for us we got 3 dozen for free.

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I just wanted to post a few pictures to show everyone how many different variety of eggs there are.  As you can see there are white, brown, beige, and even blue eggs.

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The blue eggs are my favorite.  Our old Ameraucana, Peanut (RIP), would have laid blue eggs if she were still around.  Our new hybrid Ameraucana/Black French Copper Maran should give us an olive-colored egg.

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It’s amazing how many different shapes, colors, and sizes the eggs are.  It’ll also be interesting to see if there is any difference in taste or texture.  I’ll be sure to post pictures when our chickens start laying.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Brewing Beer with Mini Mash

I’ve already posted on how to brew beer the easy way using malt extract brewing.  Now it’s time to take it one step further and discuss brewing with mini mash.

Rather than relying solely on malt extract for flavor and color, mini mash uses both extract AND grains in the production of the wort.  This process gives the beer a more natural and earthy taste and color.  Extract brewing and mini-mash brewing are very similar except for the addition of the grains.  Here are initial steps for mini mash using the Pale Face Pale Ale I brewed yesterday:

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Step 1:  Add about 2 1/2 gallons of water to your stockpot and heat to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Step 2:  Put your grains into the grain bag.

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Step 3:  Place the grain bag in the hot water.  Be careful not to let any of the grains spill out of the bag.

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Step 4:  Monitor the temperature and maintain around 155 degrees Fahrenheit.  Let the grains soak for about 45 minutes.  You will notice the water turning a darker color.  This is good!

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Step 5:  After 45 minutes, pull the grain bag out of the pot.  Place a strainer over the pot and put the grain bag in the strainer.  Slowly pour a few cups of hot water over the grain bag.  Allow all water to drip into the pot.

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Step 6:  Remove the grain bag and strainer.  Turn stove top on medium high.  Add in malt extract.  Be sure to stir the pot immediately after you add the extract.  It contains a lot of sugar and can burn easily.

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You now have the beginnings of a mini-mash wort.  Simply follow the rest of the steps for extract brewing (adding hops, chilling the wort, adding the yeast), and put it in the primary fermenter for a week.