Thursday, June 7, 2012

Summertime Reminders

Hello to all of you Urban Chicken enthusiasts!

As summer is now in full-swing I wanted to remind everyone that our little girls need some additional TLC to stay happy, healthy, and active. I've written a couple of previous blog posts describing many of the great things you can do during the summer to help your girls. Here are a couple of them.

Summer Watering Tips & Cooling Tips

Chickens Love Water

So as the summer heats rises remember to give your little backyard girls some extra TLC.

Friday, April 13, 2012

New Look Completed

* Look Around *
We've put on a new coat of paint, something more modern/contemporary. It's a simpler design that doesn't rely heavily on images like the old design did which was problematic to load on some computers and some mobile devices. I'm happy to say the site is now fully mobile browser (aka SmartPhone) ready. If you have an Android Phone I can confirm you should be good to go. If you have an iPhone I can't confirm however. I don't own Apple products.

So all of the same content is here and a new Search function has been added. Since my site is integrated with Google you'll find that it's easy to use. A large number of my articles already appear in Google searches already. =)

Thanks for your ongoing support and I hope that you continue to enjoy the blog.
- Tony

Monday, April 9, 2012

New Look Soon

Well, it's time to dust off my feathers a little bit and put a new coat of paint onto the blog. I've had this design up and running for several years now and I've always been happy about it. I was just notified today that my blog has been awarded for contributing to the chicken community and I'm very grateful for it.

Contributing to the Urban Chicken community and everything else has given me great pleasure and provided me many opportunities I would have never had otherwise. On behalf of my #1 Hen, myself, and all my girls we thank you!

I'll begin work on the new look this week and before you know it BLAM! Thanks to everyone and a special thanks to the kind people over at Chicken Breeds List for the award. I'll proudly post my badge very soon with the new blog design.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Steamed Eggs

One of the few minor hurdles to having backyard chickens is the plight of hard-boiling fresh eggs and the often complete inability to properly shell them. Hard-boiled eggs are wonderful and have many uses. Alas, I'm not creating a post today to go over those uses... I'm creating one today to explain how you can avoid a shell disaster with fresh eggs.

Steam Them

Yes, you read that right. While the concept of steaming eggs isn't something you often hear about the end results may have you wondering why you've never heard of this before much less why you've never done this before.

The Method:
  1. Wash your fresh eggs in warm water to clean them. If you're a knowledgeable sort you know that fresh eggs don't have to be refrigerated and can last for up to a month right there on your counter so long as you don't wash off the natural egg bloom that's providing a protective coating to the egg. Washed eggs need to be refrigerated and can still last up to a month when they come from your backyard.
  2. Setup your steamer basket in your pot or whatever steaming contraption you may have. I use one like this.
  3. Make sure your water level doesn't sit above the bottom of your steamer. You want the water below the steamer basket.
  4. Place your eggs in the steamer basket arranged in a layer so that they are side by side. If you have to stack a few on top that's fine but don't overfill your basket so that they're all packed inside with no room for the steam to work it's magic.
  5. Place the lid on your pot and turn on the heat to your stove top that will get you a mild boil. Obviously all stove tops are different so just watch for the settings that generates a reliable steam, not a violent boil with steam.
  6. Set the timer for 10 minutes and let the steam work. After the 10 minute mark carefully open up your lid and using tongs or any other device you may have roll your eggs over. Do this for all of the eggs in your steamer basket. We want to make sure every egg is getting rotated so that the side that was previously facing down is now facing up.
  7. Check your water level and add more if needed to keep a reliable steam going.
  8. Put the lid back on the pot and set the timer for 10 more minutes. 
  9. Once your timer has gone off you'll want to take the steamed eggs and shock them in an ice water bath. Essentially just fill a large bowl with water, or even use your steaming pot, and fill it with ice and water. You want this to be pretty darn cold. You'll want them left in the ice water bath for another 10 minutes.
  10. Done!  

Wow, 30 whole minutes (give or take) to steam cook eggs. Seems like quite the process but in reality once you do this yourself it's actually very simple and pretty no-brainer. Once you've done this a few times you won't even think about the process anymore much less the time it takes.

So... why steam instead of boil again?

Steamed eggs have the same health benefits of boiled eggs, no change there. What you do get however is a slightly different creamier texture to the egg. It's hard to describe until you've had one. The main benefit however is that you can steam a fresh egg and then shell that egg entirely without massive damage to the egg white. I recently did a full dozen VERY fresh eggs and the shells almost squeezed off the egg figuratively speaking. In real world terms, the shells pop'd off like no one's business and looked and tasted fantastic!

So give this a try and tell me what you think. I believe you'll like it a lot.