Friday, May 30, 2014
Monday, May 19, 2014
Peafowl eggs make a rare, delicious and hearty breakfast.
A family friend retired from her management job here in our area, a few years back, and bought some property on the West side of Michigan.
As a Master Gardener and animal enthusiast, it was only a matter of time before she started to raise and grow food.
Because we have entertained the idea of raising chickens and maybe a few other things ourselves, we have watched carefully, to glean as much information as we could from the things she is doing.
Knowing my fascination with the possibilities of poultry, on a recent visit she brought us, not only a dozen farm fresh eggs, but a peafowl egg as well. I had never tasted peahen eggs and was very excited.
Peafowl eggs are a rare treat, because, unlike chickens, which can lay an egg every day for most of the year, peahens will only lay eggs during a small time window in the spring,and only one egg every other day, so while an average laying hen will produce between 200 and 250 eggs per year, a peahen may produce at most 20 eggs a year, under ideal conditions.
So I was flattered and honored that she was willing to share one of her first eggs of the season with me.
Peahen eggs are considerably larger than chicken eggs. In baking it is recommended that you use one peahen egg to replace 2 chicken eggs.
Another very obvious difference was the thickness of the shell. It took several good solid thwacks ( technical term) on the side of the bowl to get it to break open, while one moderate thwack is enough for a chicken egg.
Once cracked the color and consistency was very similar to the chicken eggs from her farm, (Which of course tend to have have darker yolks than grocery store eggs.)
I opted to fry both the peahen egg and a chicken egg, so I could taste them side by side for comparison.
The peahen egg took quite a bit longer to cook, and had a tendency to stick to the pan a bit more. I suspect there is a chemical difference, quite possibly a higher protein level, or lower fat content, that caused this, but not being a chemist or scientist, I couldn’t say for sure.
The end result was a fried egg, over medium, that was roughly twice the size of the other egg I cooked for comparison.
The taste was very similar. The white of the peahen egg seemed to have a little less flavor than the chicken egg. The yolk seemed to have significantly richer flavor, and almost a sweetness to it. My brain immediately turned to baking. A recipe that calls for egg yolk, for a cheesecake, or even a hollandaise sauce, would logically be much better with peahen eggs, while a meringue or other recipe that just uses the white, would probably not be noticeably different.
It was a fun experiment, a very nice breakfast, and a learning experience.
Thank you Glenda, for sharing a bit of your farm with us!
Saturday, May 3, 2014
When it comes to planting, my focus is generally herbs. They are my passion, and my comfort zone. I know herbs.
But every once in a while, it is fun to step outside the box. Although Herbs are our business, Diann and I are both Advanced Master Gardeners, and we do like to plant other things as well. But for years every inch of ground we had available to us had to be carefully hoarded and allocated, to grow the herbs we needed to make our products, and we only got to squeeze in a bit of flowers here and there. Luckily with the new opportunity available to us with the farm this year, we now get to use some of our own space for other things. So we decided to make ourselves a flower bed.
But just because we are planting something else, there is no reason to go out and spend a ton of money. Diann has been carefully teaching me for years the science of being frugal.
So, I set our to build a flower bed, knowing I was going to do it on a budget. Generally, my projected budget for projects like this is usually zero, then if I have to go over budget by a little we evaluate and adapt as needed.
Then some bricks that my father in law had removed when he built a new walkway at his house. Out of Pocket Cost $0
I traded some work and some of my time for some of the left over soil at the end of planting season at the nursery. Out of Pocket Cost $0 And the cat even helped me load it.
for a peony, and added some lillies that were given to us last fall. Out of Pocket Cost $0
I scattered some wildflower seeds that came free with a seed order, and some marigold seeds that we got from a friend.
Now we will keep our eyes open for plants on Craigslist, plant exchanges, and places we can barter for plants, and see if we can fill it with color by the time summer gets here.
Thursday, May 1, 2014
We have been gardening on a tight budget for years. Gardening can get expense but, we have learned over these years there are ways to cut costs dramatically.
Here is our Top Ten Thrifty Gardening Tips!
1.) Look for and visit local Plant Swaps
This was one of the first things we did when we decided to install a perennial flower bed. Now our flower bed is so full that we need to thin it out and will take many of the thinned out flowers to our local plant swap to share with others. Garden lovers are very generous people and love to share!
2.) Save your own seeds.
There are some good tutorials out there for saving your own seeds. Check them out and try it out this year. Remember to save your seeds properly so you can use them next season.
3.) Swap Seeds
Once again, gardeners love to share with each other!
4.) Use Newspaper for weed control.
This is not 100% perfect but, it really does help control the weeds. And the newspaper breaks down eventually.
Compost all year long for great soil the following season. You don’t have to have a huge compost area. You can do something as small as a large storage container or trash can.
6.) Watch for free gardening materials
This is a picture of a recent haul of free wood. It was listed on Craigslist. We have found a lot of freebies via Craigslist or Freecycle. Check both places daily. Also, check out trash day. yes, do a little curbside free shopping. One year we found a bunch of like new potting containers that someone threw out.
7.) Let friends and family know you want to start gardening
Just put the word out. Tell friends, family, co-workers, church members that you are in need of this or that.
Facebook is a great place to ask friends or family if they have something you may be needing for gardening.
8.) Reduce water usage.
Collect rain water. You can use a trash can or any other large container. Use “gray” water from your home. Example: the water from boiling potatoes or pasta.
9.) Learn how to take cuttings
Once again, gardeners are generous and when asked, love to share cuttings. Ask your neighbors or friends for cuttings. Take cuttings from your own plants and create more of them.
10.) Think outside the box
Look for different uses for everyday items. If you want to do some containers for plants, look around your home and see what could work before heading out and buying pots. Also check out Pinterest and other sources online for great thrifty alternatives and ideas.
I hope this helped get you thinking about gardening and how to do it inexpensively.
Do you have any thrifty gardening tips to share?