Archive | June, 2010

Another Bird Gone Broody!

14 Jun

As you may recall, a few months ago our Chinese Silkie hen, Natasha Nogudnik, went broody. After many and varied attempts to snap her out of it, we gave up and gave her to Farmer Ron, who has a rooster. Last week one of our Polish hens, Carmen Miranda, started showing signs of broodiness…i.e. spending an inordinate amount of time in the nest box and squawking when we tried to remove her.

After two days of that we took her out, examined her and found she had pulled out a lot of feathers from her breast, a sure sign of a major hormonal shift. Alas, she had gone broody, too. Unwilling to part with another of our fancy fowl, we decided to find her some fertile eggs to hatch and raise.

Friday morning’s mission took us to all of the little farms we’ve ever seen in our neighborhood that post “Fresh Eggs for Sale” signs. We came up empty-handed, but we met a number of other “poultry fanciers”, including the Smiths, a retired couple that lives a few miles from us. Mr. Smith told us an enchanting story.

Last spring one of his neighbors was repairing a fence and inadvertently disturbed a wild turkey nest with 12 eggs. He called the Smiths and asked if perhaps their hens could hatch and raise the birds. “We said we’d give it a shot,” Mr. Smith agreed. “We put those eggs under two banty hens (mind you, bantams are mini-chickens) and they could barely cover them. But they all hatched on Mother’s Day.”

A wide range of egg sizes, from goose to quail. Click image to enlarge

On that morning, Mrs. Smith noted what was happening and set herself up with a chair in the hen yard. Mr. Smith brought out a patio table and served her Mother’s Day Brunch while they watched the hatchlings emerge.  He grinned as he described how, once the turkey chicks were able to walk around trailing their “mamas”, they were already as big as the banty hens. End of story…once the turkeys had fledged (feathered out)) they released them to a nearby hay field.

Unfortunately, the Smiths no longer keep roosters, so the only eggs they could sell us would be infertile. However, they gave us an idea! Our friend Rick was due to arrive at our house in the afternoon to exchange 4 goose eggs for a dozen hen’s eggs. We know he has a gander, so his eggs would be fertile and we could put them under Carmen. If a banty hen can hatch turkey eggs, Carmen could certainly hatch goose eggs. We chuckled as we envisioned our little Polish hen being trailed by goslings, but when we arrived we found a message from Rick saying he couldn’t make it over until next week.

Adoptive hen with newly-hatched goslings...who's confused?

Now what? As I sat at my computer, researching online sources of fertile eggs, I glanced at a notepad that our neighbor, Karlene, had given me. She has chickens! But does she have a rooster? A phone call, a 3-minute round trip, and I was home with a dozen fertile eggs that her hens have already been sitting on.

We opened the nest box, removed Carmen, placed the eggs in the nest and her on top of them. She setled in right away, and Eddie closed up the coop and run, making CoopaCabana an official “broody coop” until she hatches her chicks. They probably won’t look like her, but she will love them just the same and will be able to fulfill her maternal instinct.

Thank you, Henry Ramos!

2 Jun

What do you do when you have so many fresh, home grown eggs, and you are tired of frying, scrambling, poaching and baking with them? I’ve got it…you make egg cocktails! One of my favorite egg-based drinks is the Ramos Gin Fizz; a frothy, thirst-assauging beverage perfected by Henry C. Ramos in New Orleans.  

The combination of lemon and lime juice, heavy cream, egg white, sugar and orange blossom water give it a unique taste and consistency. The ingredients are simple, but the labor involved — if you want a classic Ramos Gin Fizz — can be a bit of a pain.  To create the Fizz’s characteristic foam the drink should be shaken, not blended, until it reaches a certain body.

Ramos’ original cocktail needed to be shaken like crazy for twelve full minutes in order for all the ingredients to be properly blended.  Since the blender didn’t exist in 1888, he employed a fleet of “shaker boys” to mix up the popular Fizzes. As they tired they passed the shaker to another man on the line. 

The favorite morning-after drink of then Louisiana governor, Huey Long, the cocktail made its way out of New Orleans and into New York City when The Kingfish brought bartender Sam Guarino to the New Yorker Hotel to teach the Yankee bartenders how to make his beloved Fizz.

There are many different recipes online for this drink, but here’s the recipe we used last weekend.

Combine in a cocktail shaker:

  • 2 ounces gin
  • 1 ounce heavy cream
  • 1 egg white
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 teaspoons bar sugar
  • 2 to 3 drops orange flower water

Shake all ingredients for several minutes until the mix reaches a “ropy” texture. Add plenty of cracked ice and shake vigorously for a minimum of two minutes. Strain into a chilled Collins glass, and add chilled club soda while stirring, until foam reaches the top of the glass. Garnish with a lemon twist or orange wedge.

* Some recipes also call for 1 or 2 drops of vanilla extract per drink. And, for those who prefer not to eat raw egg white, you can use powdered egg white.

To watch a very instructive video of  master bartender Chris McMillan mixing up a classic Ramos Gin Fizz click here, and then go shake it up!