My 2013 Funny Chicken Stories

After a Snow Fall

As 2013  draws to a close, the media will  be releasing their top 10 year in review headlines.  For the most part, these stories are generally filled with tragedy, whether it be human or environmental.  Well….., here at  City Boy Hens, I ‘d rather  close the year off with a few laughs rather than dwelling on the more difficult times in 2013.

So…I’ve gone back into my archives and pulled out a few “chestnuts”  from earlier this year.  I hope they will make you smile.  Better still, I hope they will make you laugh.  Happy New Year to all!  I hope that 2014 will be kind to each of you and that the next 12 months will be filled with lots of great experiences and tons of fun!

City Boy Trapper:

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Don’t You Take Your Chickens On Vacation?

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Bigger Is NOT Always Better!

Rosie's first day at City Boy Hens

The Dreaded Egg Song!

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Driving Miss Swifer: That Damn Hen Is Causin’ Trouble AGAIN!

Are We Almost There?

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Merry Christmas

019Well…..it’s definitely turned into a Merry Christmas at City Boy Hens.  We had our electricity restored late last night after almost 72 hours without power. I am soooooo grateful for the wood stove.  It helped keep Old Man Winter at bay as the outdoor temperatures stayed well below freezing (more on that in a future post).

Anyways…..the power outage prevented me from sending out a Seasonal greeting to all of you until now.  So….here goes….I wish you all a Happy Christmas and a 2014 that is filled with tons of fun!  Thanks for “following” my blog.  I’ve enjoyed the time that I have spent on it in the last 11 months.

So…with that said……the “long Winter’s nap” is looking pretty good right about now!  I hope you enjoy your Christmas Day!038 - Copy

From The Farm Blog Hop

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I am quite aware that today is Friday and I already posted yesterday about making Panettone. Although I DO enjoy kickin’ back a few spiked egg noggs at this time of year, I can assure you that I have not partaken of this festive elixir on this frigid Friday morning. Soooooooooooo……why a second post within 24 hours?
Well, I am pleased to announce that the folks From the Farm Blog Hop have picked me to be a guest host for this week’s hop. From what I’ve heard, I’m not only the first guy to be given this honor, but also the first Canadian. I’ll take that as a big chicken feather in this City Boy’s toque, eh!
I hope you’ll take a look at the hop, add a post or two, or just  cruise around to see some of the great things that some fellow bloggers are makin’ or doin’.

Keep scrolling to join this week’s party!
Congratulations! Please feel free to grab our button and display it proudly on your blog!
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From The Farm Blog Hop

Now, on to this week’s party:
1. Link up to three of your best gardening or homesteading tips, farm-themed posts, recipes, homemaking and simple/frugal living tips, decorating ideas, DIY projects, craft ideas, thrifty makeovers or repurposed items, healthy, sustainable living tips and giveaways.
2. Link back to my blog, or put the link party button anywhere on your blog or post to share the love.
3. Make sure to check out some of the other links before leaving.

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We can’t wait to see what you share with us!

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How To Make Panettone

036 - CopyMaking Panettone  has been on my “bucket list” for the last few years.  It is a rich Italian bread that is made with eggs, candied citrus peel, and butter and typically eaten at Christmas.  Dutiful-son always seems to devour the store-bought panettone, so this year I thought I’d’ make this delicious Italian Christmas bread for him.

Now before you scroll down and “exit” because this bread looks too difficult…..just hear me out.  Listen……..you can make this bread.  Don’t get intimidated because the dough has to rise a few times.  As well, don’t call it quits because the bread  seems like an  “all day affair”.  It really isn’t.  It’s just that the dough needs to rise a few times and that takes a few hours each time.  You don’t have to do anything during these “rise” times so go put your feet up and have a cup of tea or coffee and read a book.  Better still, go for a walk,  call a friend or whatever.  The point that I’m trying to make is that you don’t need to be intimidated by these “specialty breads” because they need “rise time”.  They just require “pockets” of attention throughout your day.  They do not require your day!  So……………………lets get started!

Ingredients:

Sponge:

1/4 cup warm water

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 -1/4  teaspoon active dry yeast ( 1 package)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Dough:

3/4 cup butter, room temperature

1/3 cup sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

4 large egg yolks, room temperature

1/2 cup warm milk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

Fruit:

2/3 cup raisins

2 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur

1/4 cup candied lemon peel

1/4 cup candied orange peel

zest of 1 orange

zest of 1 lemon

Directions:

Sponge:

If you’re not familiar with making a sponge….DON’T PANIC.  It’s really EASY!   All you’re going to do is combine the warm water, sugar, salt, and yeast in a small bowl.  Stir it up and leave it for around 10 minutes in order to let the yeast dissolve.  Next, stir in the flour.  It will end up feeling pretty sticky and looking like the picture below.004

Now, cover the bowl with some plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in size (around 2 hours).  I use my oven for the warm place.  I find turning it on for a minute or two and continuing to keep the oven light on creates enough warmth for the rise.  Okay….now you have 2 hours to wait.  Go get that cup of tea/coffee and take a rest with a good book.  See ya’ in a few hours!

After 2 hours the sponge should look like this:005

Dough:

Mix together sugar and butter in a large bowl.  Now add your eggs and egg yolks.  Beat the dough until it is thoroughly mixed.  Add sponge, warm milk, and vanilla.  Stir until well mixed.  Add the flour (1 cup at a time) until well mixed and a soft dough is formed.

Now begin to knead your dough on a lightly floured surface or in your stand mixer.  If you are kneading by hand, it should be around 8 minutes.  Make sure to add a bit more flour if the dough is too sticky.  If you are using a stand mixer, make sure it is at the “kneading setting” and you are using a dough hook.  6 minutes  on this setting worked well for me.  Either way, you want to continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Place the dough in a greased bowl.  I used a bit of melted butter and used my hands to coat the bowl.  Flip the dough in the bowl in order to ensure that the other side also gets greased.  Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rest in a warm place until it has doubled in size (around 2 hours).  *  Now it’s time for you to have another rest, warm beverage, good book, leisurely walk or…………..”Hey Beloved Wife……. Are the kids out? Do you still have that Santa’s helper costume that I got you last year???????”014

2 hours later, the dough should have doubled in size and look like the picture below.019

Fruit:

While the dough is rising, take a few minutes to get your raisins plumped up in the Amaretto.  I combined the raisins and the Amaretto in a small covered sauce pan on low heat for a few minutes and then set it aside.  Once cooled, combine the raisins, citrus peel and zest.017

Once the dough has doubled in size, turn it out on to a lightly floured surface and “punch” it down.  You want to get the air out of the dough.  Next, pat the dough out and add the fruit to the middle.  Begin gently kneading until the fruit is evenly distributed throughout the dough ( a few minutes).  Form the dough into a ball and place it into a Panettone mold or greased pan. 021 Cover once again and let it rise in a warm spot until doubled in size (around 2 hours).  After 2 hours, it should look like the following picture.023

Bake:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Brush the top of the Panettone with melted butter.  If you are using a Panettone mold, make sure to place it on a cookie sheet that is lined with parchment paper.  Place the Panettone in the oven and set the timer for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. and continue to bake for 40 more minutes.  If the top begins to brown too quickly during the bake,  then place a piece of aluminum foil over the top of the bread for the duration of the bake.  At 50 minutes, remove the Panettone from the oven and “test” that it is done by inserting a long wooden skewer (the kind you’ll use for shish kabobs) into the center of the cake.  If it comes out clean, you are done.  If not, put it back in the oven for another few more minutes and “test” again.

Place Panettone on a wire cooling rack. If you are using a pan, let it rest on the rack for 10 minutes before removing the Panettone.033

I really hope you give this bread a try.  Don’t be intimidated by the time that it takes.  Remember, most of that time, the bread will be rising and you could be reading, resting, enjoying a warm beverage, taking a walk or……..  “What’s that Beloved Wife……..No I’m not puttin’ on the Bad Santa costume AGAIN!”

Gingerbread Chickens

013                        “Run, run as fast as you can. You can’t catch me…… I’m the Gingerbread Man!”……………  “Wanna’ bet” said the Gingerbread CHICKENS.010
Ok….it might be a bit of a stretch, but maybe it’s time to change things up a bit and Mr. Gingerbread Man could show some good cheer and share some of the festive spotlight with…..the CHICKEN. After all, what contributions has the Gingerbread Man made to our palates besides…a cookie and the odd cake or loaf? Last time I checked, it wasn’t bacon & gingerbread or gingerbread Benedict or…..well…you get the picture.

So last weekend, Non-Egg Eating Daughter and myself decided to make some Christmas gingerbread cookies. I’m quite aware that the “cookie making window” may be closing for us as I try to compete with One Direction, trips to the mall,  iPads and Tumblr. Maybe she’s just humoring her Old Man, but I’ll take what I can get. We’ve been Christmas baking together for a number of years and I’m glad that she’s doing it once again.

This is an easy cookie recipe and fun to make with kids. Non-Egg Eating Daughter helps with making the dough and then she takes complete control of the “cookie cutting” and decorating roles. I hope you give it a try and maybe make some less traditional gingerbread cookies besides the gingerbread man.

Makes approximately 30 cookies.

Ingredients:

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 tablespoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter melted & cooled

1/2 cup molasses

1/2 cup brown sugar packed

1/4 cup water

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Sift together flour, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and salt.  Set aside.027

In another bowl, mix together butter, molasses, brown sugar, water, egg and vanilla until smooth. 028             Stir in dry ingredients – one-third at a time until completely combined.  Roll dough into a tight ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours.  *If time is tight and outside temperature is conducive, divide your dough into thirds and place your bowl of dough outside for a faster chill.002

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Ferinheight.  On a lightly floured  surface, roll a portion of the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness.  Leave the rest in the fridge or outside.  Cut into desired shapes and space cookies 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.005

Bake for 10-12 minutes and remove from baking sheet to cool on racks.

Decorate with icing  (1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar with a few drops of water).

“Well…..thanks again Non-Egg Eating Daughter.  It wouldn’t be Christmas for me if we didn’t get the chance to bake together!  Now…go clean up your room  before your Mom freaks out again!”

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Christmas Biscotti

016 - Copy“OK……….there’s gingerbread men, sugar cookies, snickerdoodles and a host of other Christmas cookies, but where the heck are the biscotti??????????????????????  Well……I’m glad to report that Christmas Biscotti has made its introduction at City Boy Hens.  I came up with the recipe by adapting my original biscotti recipe Click Here and some inspiration from my Christmas Fruit Cake recipe Click Here.  These cookies are easy to make and look very festive.  But, best of all, they are not loaded with sugar and butter which seem to be a common thread in a lot of other Christmas cookies.

*For the purpose of this post, I have made two separate biscotti recipes.  This will allow you to sample 2 different loaves in one try.  If you are partial to one recipe, than double the ingredients in bowl #1 or #2 (see below).

Directions:

Beat 1/3 cup of room temperature butter for 30 seconds.

Combine 2/3 of a cup of sugar, 2 teaspoons of baking powder & 1/2 a teaspoon of salt with the butter.

Beat in 2 farm fresh eggs.007

Stir in 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1/3 at a time until completely mixed.  Form into a ball and divide in half.009

In two separate bowls combine the “Christmas” ingredients:

Bowl #1

1/2 cup chopped candied cherries   001 - Copy

3/4 cup dried currants

1/2 cup chopped almonds

zest of 1 navel orange

1/2 teaspoon of almond extract

Bowl #2

1/2 cup of chopped dried cranberries003 - Copy

1/2 cup of chopped pistachios

zest of 1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon of lemon extract

Remove one half of the dough from your mixing bowl and set aside.  Add the “Christmas” ingredients from bowl #1 to your dough.  Need until all ingredients are completely combined and evenly distributed in the dough.  Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface.  Using the palms of your hands, press and shape the dough until it is around 10 ” long and 5″ wide.  Gently lift  up the dough and place it on one side of a cookie sheet.

Repeat this process for bowl #2.011 - CopyBake at 375 Ferinheight for 20-25 minutes or until loaves are golden brown.  Remove from oven and cool on rack.012 Using a serrated knife, cut the biscotti into 3/4″ strips and transfer back on to a cookie sheet and bake at 325 F for another 8 minutes/ side.015 - CopySo….there you have it……..Christmas Biscotti.  Move over gingerbread men and sugar cookies.  There’s a new cookie moving into the festive spotlight.  I hope you give it a try! Buon Natale!016 - Copy