Monday, December 20, 2010

uh oh... nutso snacky snacks

true story..

i'm out watering the veggie gardens between relocation of leafy bits trips to the compost pile when it strikes me...

nuts!  for no apparent reason nuts!
- spiced nuts, sweet nuts, honey nuts, maple nuts -
i've got all the goods - family is coming - easy yummy snacks.  why not?

as things often go in the hippychick universe, given the time is available, action immediate happens!  so i put the hose down, turned off the water, wheeled the barrow to the back and charged inside for a bit of nutty kitchen experimentation.

- this is what i came up with -

honey cayenne cashews and pepitas
  • heat oven to 350˚
  • roast cashews for 5 mintues
  • after 5 minutes shake them up a bit and roast for another 5 minutes
while cashews are roasting mix together 
  • 1tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • a few dashes of salt
  • cayenne to your own tolerance / preference
  • heat mixture to a slow simmer then turn heat to medium-low
  • mix cashews into mix, stirring continually until liquid mixture cooks down to nearly dry
  • pour nuts on to a baking sheet to cool
  • once cool store in an airtight container
  • eat your nuts within a week or freeze for longer storage

maple walnuts with brown sugar
follow the above listed process with the following changes
  • exchange walnuts for cashews
  • exchange real maple syrup for honey
  • omit the use of salt
  • add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla to mixture
  • once you turn out nuts to cool, sprinkle with brown sugar

peanuts spiced with herbes de provence

follow the above listed process with the following changes
  • exchange peanuts for cashews
  • use only butter no sweetener
  • add the herbes de provence
  • once you turn out nuts to cool, if you prefer sprinkle with additional herbs and/or parmesan cheese

honey ginger peanuts with black sesame seeds

follow the above listed process with the following changes
  • add 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped ginger
    • you may substitute ground ginger if fresh is not available
  • add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla to mixture
  • add 1 tablespoon of black sesame seeds
my nutty nuts are now cooling.  i made plenty.  there is enough for family snacks and for local sharing.  i better share soon as my quality control personal testing is becoming a bit of habit - bad hippychick, bad - make them go away, quickly!


mandarins preserved - oh my!

for weeks we here at the hippychick homestead have been enjoying the sweetness of a wealth of california mandarins.

oooh mama, they've been good but as of late the lovely mandarin stash began to show signs of the dry and shrivels.  we frowned not as these babies were perfect for many uses.  for us, we choose to preserve the orange lovelies in a simple herbed sugar syrup.

here's how you do it...
  • cook up a simple syrup
    • 1 part sugar to 1 part water
    • just enough to fill your jars for me that was 4 cups each sugar to water
    • note you can use the leftover for other goodies
      • mix with seltzer or your favorite adult beverage
      • add to a homemade sauce for a bit of sweetness
      • mix it into cookies, muffins, cakes, cobblers
      • make some homemade sodas
      • blah, blah, blah
  • i added in a good meaty zingy bit of herbal tea  to the simple syrup for flavor and spice
    • cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, hibiscus flower, red rooibos and lemon rind
  • i sliced the mandarins four times around to allow the syrup to penetrate
  • put everything together in a large soup pan and let it simmer for twenty minutes or so
  • then i canned it up and processed for 20 minutes
the hibiscus flower infused it's ruby color into the mix creating a lovely compliment to the bright and lively orange of the mandarins.  now, as with most good things, we must wait.  in truth, we really don't have to but i imagine with a bit of time soaking in the sweet juices the fruits will prove that much more of a delight upon the tongue.

i may be giving seasonal red grapefruits and local meyer lemons a similar treatment in the near future.  ooh the pairings one could make with such goods...

and if you're not into preserving the drying beauties, pull out your whole cloves, dress the mandarins all around and allow them to dry completely for a lovely smelling bit of home decor.  i've strung up a few and hung them on my holiday trees.  the aroma is seductive.

you could
  • stick them with cloves and slow simmer in apple cider or a favorite juice.  
  • cook with them.  mandarins are great additions to cooked meals.
  • eat the fruits up saving the peel for later culinary use.  
    • to save the peel, dry it, chop into bitty pieces and store in an airtight glass jar.


give this a shot!

Monday, December 13, 2010

homegrown handcrafted gifty gifts

hippychick is knitting...
hippychick would love to show you what she is knitting alas the impending hollyday gifting keeps her from sharing so.  

are you crafting goods for folks?  
homemade means so very much.  

it need not be big homemade, it need not be expensive homemade.  all it needs is you, your heart and a bit of time.  for many time is the hardest bit to find.  see if you can come up with a something you can create while watching t.v. or in the minutes just before your beddy nitenites or maybe something that could be crafted while on a lunchy break.

cookies are homemade and most folk love cookies.
well known fact - really it's best if you test a few to make sure the quality is where you wish it to be.
if you run short of time, make a friend or a loved one some yummy cookies.

your next mission then?
find out what kind of cookies your friendly folk enjoy. 

i hope to enjoy a few cookies with this coookiemonster real soon.
 cheers peeples!

- post script -
*share your crafty bits, please! i'd love to see your handywork*

black beauty i love you so...

my beautiful black mission olives are coming along
it's interesting how the color has faded for many of the olives to a greenish/pinkish tone.  i wonder if they will darken to their original violet-black as the brining process continues.
the aroma from the pots is wonderful - bright, salty, fresh

my dear hippychick

Saturday, December 11, 2010

hippychick's peachymater secret - even to herself - sauce

peachymater sauce in process
oh my! oh my! i think this is going to be one of those golden batches of goodness.  

i'm at it again making a sauce bbq, katchup, whatever you wish to call it, a thick tasty savory not too sweet sauce.  sauce has been my 2o1o thing and let me tell you, as ms.hippychick says, it's a good good goodie goodie thing.  

today's batch is made from a texas tomato, texas peach base with lots of other goodie goods - local flavor if you will. whatever you call it, i suggest you give it a try. you can save some big bucks if you make your own sauces.  it's not that pricey.  you can use roma maters which are often cheaper than most.  if you can get yourself farm fresh maters, you're golden.  the ingredients vary from person to person to day to day.  use what's fresh. use what's local. use what you like.

the good news about your own secret sauce is that you'll know exactly what's in it.  you can experiment and flavor to you own liking.  sauce is a great gift to give and to share with friends and it takes less than a day to make so if you are the kind of folk that likes to share homemade, sauce might be just the thing for you!

- here's an idea - 
get your buddies to make their own sauce then throw a neighborly frienderly sauceypants party.  invite your homebrew buddies and do a mix and match beer to sauce event.  i know i know who needs a reason to enjoy a good homebrew or a good sauce for that matter? 
who cares!
if you get a funky look, try it for the sell.

anyway, this batch has been at slow simmer for less than an hour and already in this short bit of time, ooh la la.  i can tell it's going to be one of those hello! i think i love you batches.  

- warning about the hippychick saucypants recipe -

i measure nothing myself so all below listed measurements are approximate and everything else is felt by my hippychickerly passion for the sauce.  so all you've got to do is find your inner saucy passion and go for it!
- good luck -

in this batch of hippychick's peachy mater secret even to herself sauce
  • fresh maters
    • about 10 lbs
  • hippychick's sun dried maters
    • about 2 cups
  • sliced peaches
    • about 3 lbs 
    • *apples are a great option too!
  • hippychick's sun dried peaches
    • about 2 cups
  • garlic
    • two heads mooshed with a knife
  • hippychick's honeybee's honey
    • 2 cups
  • worcestershire sauce
  • apple cider vinegar
    • 1 cup
  • balsamic vinegar
    • 1/2 cup
  • juniper berry
  • salt de mer
  • black pepper
  • gumbo file
  • ground coriander
  • ground celery seed
  • fennel
  • cumin
  • ground mustard seed
  • low sodium soy sauce
  • brown sugar
    • 1 cup
  • bay leaf
  • cayenne pepper
  • smoked ancho pepper
  • clove
  • nutmeg
  • cardamom
  • onions*  i was out this round but i usually add two large yellow onions chopped to the mix
  • bourbon - i'll be flavoring up the sauce with a bit of this lovely lovely once thickness has been reached - saving the best for last i am, i am.
how to:
  • cut the maters and the slice the peaches
  • toss them in a big big pot
  • add the rest of the ingredients listed about to your preference
  • slowly bring the mix to a slow simmer stirring frequently so bits don't stick to the pot
  • allow the sauce to simmer for hours and hours and often three plus hours until the sauce reaches the consistancy of katchup or a bit looser if you like your sauce that way.  
once it reaches it's proper thickness or thinness depending upon who you are...
  • throw it in a blender and/or food processor if you like things smooth
  • mash it with a potato masher if you prefer your sauce a bit lumpy - like me!
  • bottle up your sauce and enjoy
  • if you wish to save your sauce for later eating, either freeze or process in canner and/or pressure cooker following instructions given by the manufacturer.
  • *note - do not water bath process in the case that you cut the sugar and/or the vinegar.  you will not have a sauce acidic enough to process in a water bath.  you will need to process in a pressure cooker as you would for non-acidic goods. 
photos will be posted in the a.m. - she's a brewing privately at present

try it!  enjoy!

why chickens moult...

hippychick's 2o1o egg production is in continuous flux.  at one point, the girls were going gangbusters.  granted, my idea of 'going gangbusters' is a collection of two dozen plus eggs a day. the collection for a good four or five months has dropped down to one dozen or a dozen plus eggs a day.

important factors in regard to the hippychick flock
  • i raise a varied population of rare and heritage breeds
    • not all breeds are good layers, nor do all lay each day
  • a number of my girls are now two and three years of age
    • as the girls age, egg production slows
  • one flock was challenged by the dry pox early autumn
    • this stress on their immune system will also slow laying
  • moult, moult and moult
    • several of the girls were in a seemingly constant state of moult
    • moulting is the process of dropping and replacing primary feathers
    • feathers are made of protein, eggs are made of protein so laying slows and/or ceases for a hen while she is in moult
the interesting thing is that a whole slew of local poultry folk are experiencing the same massive slow down.  i decided to look into the various reasons for a chicken to move into moult and found the following Queensland Government article to be the most clear and helpful explanation of the process.

Home > Animals > Poultry > Care & husbandry > Moulting

Moulting - how, when and why chickens moult

During autumn, many household poultry keepers, particularly people keeping poultry for the first time, are puzzled because egg production markedly declines or ceases despite their laying birds appearing healthy. This seasonal decline in egg production occurs when birds go into a condition known as the 'moult'.
Moulting is the process of shedding and renewing feathers. During the moult, the reproductive physiology of the bird has a complete rest from laying and the bird builds up its body reserves of nutrients.
The provision of new feathers or a coat (a feature inherent in most animals) is a natural process, designed by nature to maintain a bird's ability to escape enemies by flight and better protect against cold winter conditions.
Under usual conditions, adult birds moult once a year. Some may moult twice in one year and, rarely, once in two years.

The pullet

The chick goes through one complete and three partial moults during its growth to point of lay. Generally, complete moulting occurs from 1-6 weeks of ag, and partial moulting at 7-9 weeks, 12-16 weeks and 20-22 weeks. During this final moult, the stiff tail feathers grow.

The laying hen

Mature birds normally undergo one complete moult a year, usually in autumn. However, this can depend on the time of the year that the bird started laying. Natural moulting usually begins sometime during March or April and should be completed by July when egg production recommences. The three main factors that bring about moulting are:
  • physical exhaustion and fatigue
  • completion of the laying cycle (as birds lay eggs for a certain period of time)
  • reduction of the day length, resulting in reduced feeding time and consequent loss of body weight.
Eleven months of continuous production is expected from pullets hatched in season. So if a flock of pullets commences laying in March at six months of age, they should continue laying until the following February, although an occasional bird may moult after laying for a few weeks. However, these few birds should begin laying again after June 22 (the shortest day of the year) and continue in production until the following autumn. Pullets coming into lay in June should lay until the following April, giving 11 months of continuous egg production without the aid of artificial light. Pullets coming into lay in spring (August) should lay well into April (nine months); however, unless artificial lighting is provided, most of them will moult during May and June.

Moulting and nutrition

If a bird stops laying and moulting, this means its physical condition is deteriorating and, therefore, cannot support egg production, continued nourishment of their feathers or body maintenance. Feathers contain protein and are more easily grown when laying ceases because of the difficulty in assimilating sufficient protein for both egg and feather production. During the moult, the fowl still needs a considerable amount of good quality food to replace feathers and build up condition.

Good layers and moulting

The time at which a laying hen ceases production and goes into moult is a reliable guide as to whether or not the hen is a good egg producer. Poor producing hens moult early (November-December), and take a long time to complete the process and resume laying i.e. they 'hang' in the moult and are out of production for six to seven months. Poor producers seldom cast more than a few feathers at a time and rarely show bare patches.
High-producing hens moult late and for a short period (no more than 12 weeks), and come back into production very quickly. Rapid moulting is seen not only in the wing feathers of good producers, but also in the loss of body feathers generally. Because of this, it is common to see a late and rapid moulting hen practically devoid of feathers and showing many bare patches over its body.

The moulting process

Moulting - order of feather loss
Figure 1. The moulting process
Moulting takes place in a particular order. Feathers are confined to definite tracts or areas of the body surface, with bare patches of skin between. The first plumage is lost from the head and neck, then from the saddle, breast and abdomen (body), then from the wings and finally from the tail.
When the first feathers drop from the neck and body, good layers often keep laying. However, when the wing feathers begin to drop, laying usually ceases.
The main wing feathers comprise 4 tiny finger feathers on the extreme tip of the wing, 10 large primary or 'flight' feathers, a small axial feather and 14 secondary feathers, which are smaller and softer than the primaries.
When the wing moults, primary feathers are shed first from the axial outwards to the end of the wing. Then the secondaries are shed, though not in such a set order as the primaries. The number one primary feather is the first to drop, followed by a number two and then in order to number 10. While the primaries are shed, the secondaries begin to drop.
The axial feather drops at the same time as the secondary next to it. A new quill starts to grow as soon as the old feather is out, and takes approximately six to seven weeks to grow. The moult is complete when all primary flight feathers on the wing have been replaced. The feathers of the moulted bird are larger, fuller, softer, cleaner, brighter and glossier than the previous feathers, which were small, hard, dry, frayed and tattered.

The difference between a rapid and slow moulter is not a difference in the growth rate of the individual feather, but the fact that the rapid moulter renews a large number of feathers at the same time. With this knowledge, the rate of moulting can be ascertained by examining the number of flight feathers on the wing being replaced simultaneously. If a hen is found to have grown some of her primaries before starting to moult her secondaries, it may be assumed that she laid well into the moult and was therefore a good layer.
Sometimes, high producing hens do not moult all their primary feathers but carry them on for another year. Generally, a layer moults when production ceases; although, if the bird has an inherited tendency for high production, moulting will probably precede cessation of production, and conversely if she is a poor producer. Modern laying breeds should moult in late autumn because they have been bred specifically for egg production, i.e. to lay at a higher rate and for a longer period of time.

A laying bird that lays regularly usually retains old feathers. If a hen ceases production for any reason other than mild sickness or broodiness, it loses its feathers.
If a hen ceases production during spring or summer, it may moult one or two primaries and then stop moulting, and come into lay again. This is known as a vacation moult. When the hen starts its full moult later in autumn, it drops the next feather in sequence and moults in order of the remaining primaries.
A bird may sometimes experience a neck or partial moult without any loss of production. However, if the moulting extends beyond the neck moult stage, the hen ceases production.
The presence of 'pin' feathers (new emerging feathers) usually indicates a short or partial moult.
Some birds moult continuously and can be easily detected in the flock by the spotless condition of their new feathers. These birds are poor producers and should be culled.

Stress factors and moulting

Natural moults can occur any time of the year if birds are subjected to stress. A bird becomes stressed when the environment or management presents a challenge to which the bird cannot respond without suffering a harmful effect. If a hen is subjected to a mild stress condition in late spring when in full production, she will suffer a drop in egg production; whereas, if a hen is subjected to the same stress condition in autumn, it will cease laying and moult.
Common stress factors that can induce moulting include disease, temperature extremes, poor nutrition, predators and poor management. These are discussed in more detail in a separate article (see Further reading below).

Production and moulting

After moulting, birds in their second year of egg production will produce 10-30 per cent less than in their first year of lay, as the lay rate is lower and the birds cease to lay earlier in the following autumn. Birds that have moulted twice and are laying for their third year produce only 70-80 per cent of their second year's eggs (about 60 per cent of their first year's production).

Moulting cockerels

Cockerels also moult and, while in this condition, are nearly always infertile because they have lost weight and their reproductive physiology is in a resting phase. Care must be taken to ensure that cockerels do not lose more than 25 per cent of their body weight while moulting, as this can lead to sterility.

Advantages and disadvantages

The four main advantages of keeping hens during the moult and the following year are that:
  • it is cheaper to carry a bird through a moult than buy replacement pullets
  • fewer replacement pullets may be needed and buying can often be deferred, which means saving money, time and transport
  • moulted birds are hardier and not as prone to disease
  • only high-producing, efficient birds will be retained if strict culling is undertaken during the first year.
The main disadvantage of keeping the hens is that, although moulted birds eat less feed than pullets, they lay less eggs. Overall, their conversion of feed into eggs - and feed cost per dozen eggs - is higher.
Other disadvantages are that:
  • during the moult, they continue to eat but remain unproductive
  • they are not as tender to eat if they are slaughtered for the table after two years of laying
  • too few birds may be retained to provide sufficient eggs the following year.

Year-round laying and moulting

Year-round egg production can be achieved through the purchase of pullets in autumn at point-of-lay. This provides sufficient eggs while the older birds are moulting. When the pullets' rate of lay declines in the summer, the additional eggs from the moulted birds should sustain an adequate supply. The following autumn, the older birds can be slaughtered for the table, the best pullets can be allowed to moult, and another lot of pullets on point-of-lay can be purchased. This allows for 20 per cent pullet wastage due to deaths and culling. Only 70 per cent of the normal pullet requirements need to be purchased and, at the same time, a relatively constant year-round supply of eggs is guaranteed.


This article is derived from the Western Australian Department of Agriculture Farmnote 3/79, January 1979, and is used with permission.

Further reading

Author: M R Ellis, Agriculture Western Australia; reviewed by our officers
Page maintained by Alison Spencer 
Last updated 06 July 2010

© The State of Queensland, Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation 1995-2010.
Copyright protects this material. Except as permitted by the Copyright Act, reproduction by any means (photocopying, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise), making available online, electronic transmission or other publication of this material is prohibited without the prior written permission of The Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Queensland. Enquiries should be addressed to (Queensland residents phone 13 25 23; non-Queensland residents phone 61 7 3404 6999).

Friday, December 10, 2010

ain't no such thing as time off around here

there are days when the initial anticipation of busy is trumped by a full day of busier and busier.  we've had a couple three four of those days in a row here at the hippychick universe.

no big surprise, we have no trouble keeping ourselves busy around these parts.  if we are not working at our formal jobbie jobs, we are gardening, tending chickens, bunnies, kitties, maybe even ourselves.  we might be making foods, fixing bits up, helping neighbors and friends, you name it, we keep busy.

yesterday proved a busier kind of day.  there was the caring for neighbors pups and kitties, there was the trip south and up to austin to help out my man, there was the hippychick's bit of breathing fresh air trip way far northwest, then there was a trip way south again and then back home, i was all over.  between each trip, i checked on puppies - out the door, in the door and off to nappyland.

the weather was good so i was able to get in some gardening.  i pulled and replanted a good number of violet  and green kohlrabi starts from my starter bed to a new give them a bit more elbow room bed.  i did the same with bright lights chard, several lettuces burgundy and green romaine, coriander, cauliflower and broccoli.   then i gave the newly planted starts a good watering in and mulched the babies.  everybody is cozy.

then a dinner visit with neighbors.  then back home to some cleaning up.  then woosh crash at last sleepyland.  the man worked even later than i poor thing.  and as soon as we hit the sack the morning alarm sounded - our two roosters announcing the day.  coffee, cleaning up a few kisses and we're off again.  a new day and no shortage of tasks on the docket.

i, packing eggs for an 11am market delivery, feeding hungry egg laying chickeny girls, delivering the daily carrot to bun bun and printing labels for the kombucha i'll be bottling at the market kitchen.  i'll also be checking the progress of my latest batch of hippychick's goodie good old style slow ferment raw krauts.  i love the smell of kraut. stop me now as i could easily digress to the beauty of kraut.

there is hay and feed to pick up from the feed store.  there is garage cleaning that needs doing.  there is painting and digging and oh the dusty dirty list goes on.  the laundry is laundering.  the dishes are washed and drying.  it's only yet myself that could yet use a good scrubbing this day. i ponder, scrub now or scrub later?  i guess i ought to scrub now in consideration of other folk in the universe, especially the market folk who i'll be meeting with firstly today.

once the market chores are complete, it's back to the homestead for chores.  it will be a good day.  the sun is shining.  the air is cool and fresh and the creatures are out and about chirping and cooing happy sounds.

so off we go and soon i'll be back again.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

keeps me going the whole day long

there is nothing wrong in starting the day out with homemade buttered noodles. 

 for one, you have the whole darn day to burn the noodles off.  for two, they taste yummy good and keep you from craving other baddy bad bads.  for three, they satisfy and fill the belly with organic goodness. for four, i can eat what i darn like for breakfast and so can you!

- come on you know you want some -

Monday, December 6, 2010

golden pasta brightens the hippychick day

i rolled out a bit of pasta this morning.  it had been a long while since i had been able to afford the time to do so.  what a pleasure it is to feel the texture of the dough between my fingers, to enjoy the light shining through the window casting it's golden glow upon the pasta ribbons and to breath in fresh smell of that which is truly homemade.

 bit by bit i rolled and cut and carefully draped them upon my clothes/pasta drying rack.  hey why not?  the rack works for both dandily!

the pasta's color was near orange thanks to the combination of my girls' beautiful eggs and semolina flour. the dough proved elastic but firm after a night's rest in the fridge.

i used whole wheat flour to keep the dough from sticking to knives, the pasta maker and from fellow bits of pasta.  a light dusting did the trick.  
i then allow the pasta to dry about half way.  i need it dry enough to keep from adhering to other bits of pasta when i prep it for storage.  if i let it dry too long the bit of pasta that wraps over the drying rack will often break and send pasta plummeting to the floor which is always a tragedy.  

the pasta is now safely resting and drying further in a very large wooden bowl.  it will set quietly until fully dry.  once dry it will live happily in a glass jar until hunger strikes. 
ooh how i love my pasta, i love my pasta i do. 

simple food, simple preparation
and oh so good for you
don't eat too much now!
too much of a good thing is too much of a good thing

Sunday, December 5, 2010

a bit of blather after a long silence

jammy toast nummie nummies
 first off, the hippychick breakyfast report - homemade wholewheat honey bread toast topped with gifted raspberry jam and hippychick's very own home harvested honey - delightful!

in other news, this morning began with a bit of chatter between mr. man and i while lounging about in our jammies much much longer than our usual jumping out of bed in the wee early of the morn to ready for the day.  it the first time in a long time for such leisurely acts betwixt us two.  i liked it!  i like it a lot.

he is now off performing heroic daily bits.  his first act will include the challenging of a lawn with mower.  i have no doubt he shall tame the wild oft yard, soften it slowly until it reveals it's beautiful self for all to admire.  his other acts include tasks of equal valor and will prove quite gratifying when complete.  

my day turns a bit left to mr. man's right.  my day begins with olives.  two of my three fermentation pots readied and set for cure mode yesterday.  the third is now curing and the waiting clock begins.  below i share how easy it is to cure your own beautiful olives.  i use a no lye - brine only method. so get yourself some fresh black missions and cure cure cure!
check out page six and page seven of the following pdf - this is the document i am working from.

hippychick's no lye olive cure
  • i began with the cleaning and preparation of my 20 litre / 5.28 gallon fermentation pots.  i have three. 
    • wash the pots out with hot water, gave them a rinse with water and a second rinse with a bit of white vinegar.  allow the pots to air dry.
      • i do not use any kind of soap and/or bleach type products when cleaning my fermentation pots. 
  • to prepare the olives for the brine bath, i rolled the olives about a bit in order to soften them up - not too much - just itty bits - as this helps the salty brine penetrate the fruit.  
    • you do not have to work too hard with mission olives as they begin in a riper state by nature than green olives do when prepping for cure.
  • i then placed all of the olives into the fermentation pots.  
    • approximately 27 lbs of olives now reside in each pot.
  • my brine mixture is simple.
    • 1cup of pickling salt to each gallon of water.   
    • pour the brine mixture over the top then woosh all around in order to make sure that all of the curing salt is dissolved.
  • i then pour a bit of water in the pot's cover well then placed the cover the top for an airtight seal 
  • change the brine after a week.  increase the salt to 1.5 cups of pickling salt to each gallon of water.  
  • change the brine monthly using the 1.5 cups to one gallon brine mixture
  • now we must wait three weeks, three months, six months or more in order for the brine to cure the purple beauties. you may harvest when the flavor suits you. then it will be time for jarring up in more brine or in olive oil or dehydrating for storage.
in all, i have eighty pounds of black missions in process of curing - that should do for a year's eating and sharing i think, i hope.  
 where did i find the olives?  

check out the chaffin family farm site - good folks, good olives and good mandarins too.  i know as i've been eating a good number of them daily.  if you are local to their farm you can travel directly to the farm for pick up probably saving yourself a good few bucks for shipping. 
outside of that, i spent most of yesterday cleaning up the house in anticipation of family visitors for the hollydays.  i would like to say that i took a big chunk out of the cleaning list but i would only be skirting the truth as the cleaning is never finished.
i did manage to cheerfully erect each of the my three silver mylar trees up about the place.  the stockings have been hung though i am short a few as the family has grown.  it will be fun to craft the new stockings from bits and pieces of gathered goods from my wee bitty sewing stash of small bits of cloth, beloved but old worn clothing and comfy knitted bits.  the lights for trees and home are lighting all about, white lights, pink lights, multi-colored lights - it's quite nice up the stairs, down the stairs, out and all about.  

i sit now in the audience of the largest tree.
it's a simple tree mounted upon a washing bin and weighted down with bricks in hopes of discouraging the very possible combination of gravity and kitty collaboration. 

we are now up to three kitties in the hippychick universe
aside from the entertaining many more neighborhood kitty visitors in and about the yardy-farmy place.

  •  termite 
    • a.k.a. - mr. t 
    • a.k.a - teabags
    • a.k.a - bags
  • opera kitty
    • a.k.a. the steve mcqueen of kitties
    • a.k.a sweetboy
    • a.k.a. boyboy
  • bella 
    • a.k.a. pants
    • a.k.a. path of destruction
    • a.k.a. pants of destruction
 they are all quite lovely.  opera is primarily and outside fellow.  he does enjoy a soft chair and warm environment when the chill sets in but for the most part he likes to live under the open sky where he and stars collide. 

termite has been with me now for 14years.  he's my manboy and he was not too keen on the addition of his little fancy pants poofy faced sister bella.  termite will never admit it but it's quite clear he's had a slight change of heart.  he's been caught playing and chasing ms. bella in addition to napping closer and closer and closer to her furry self.  on top of that, he's playing more frequently and finding new old ways making trouble.  i'd say he's pretty darn happy.

bella jumped right into life in the hippychick universe in seconds flat.  she was a wee wee thing once upon a time who fiercely protected here small bit of dinner from others.  she now controls the place with a fresh sense of confidence and worries not where her next meal might come from.  she knows that if she demands a meal, she gets a meal.  and if it does not work out so on the first try, she only need to shred paper knock books off shelves and or romp on the big people to succeed.  smart lil' creature she is.  bella loves allllll the boys but throws them all aside for a glance of the steve mcqueen of kitties , opera.  his sterling blue eyes melt her. she's got good taste.

so with paws, fingers, wabbity and chickeny feets crossed - we hope oh how we hope the hollyday trees continue to stand tall, to defy gravity and bear the weight of wee kitty curiosity.
that's it for now - i have got to get myself out in the garden.  we are expecting a hard freeze tonight and i'd like to water all beds well and feed planty creatures with nourishing seaweed before the temperatures drop.  

until tomorrow... ciao!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

the olive curing has begun!

i'm soon to bolt out of the house to catch this morning's chelsea-everton match
expect more communications later this day

until then, i wish to share with you
this morning's most exciting news

the olive curing has begun!

no lye!
stay tuned for the post game olive chat

til then, go blues!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

hippychick readies for the return!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * 
hello folks who have more than faith filled, more than patient and kind in consideration of my most recent lack of posts.  why no posts?  i present no excuses.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * 
so enough of the quiet for the hippychick front - onward we go!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *  

when will the posts re-begin?  
saturday, december  4, 2o1o
    • what will hippychick be writing about
      • who knows for sure?
        • definitely about farmlife
        • surely a mention or ten about chickenycreatures, wabbits and coolio kitties
        • chatter in regard to the putted up foods presently lurking in the pantry
        • gardeny updates and a story about the fleet feeted lettucy eating cat-o-pillars
        • blather about projects looming, bits needing fixing including some that have needed fixing for a long long looooooooooong time
        • brags about wee z (who is z? - stay tuned and see!)
        • cool rambles on topics that trip the tip of me brain
      • p.s.  all topics up for revision as life happens and inspiration shifts and skips regularly
    already i'm excited - just in the tapping of keys for this short - don't touch that dial bit

    hello hello hellooooooooo
    and i'll see you soon
    all my best

    hippychick enjoys a groupon every now and again

    check out groupon in your area

    - try locally owned goods -
    - support local business -
    - get out and have yourself some fun -
    * just get out *

    Friday, September 3, 2010

    introducing hippychick's living n-t-tea!

    hippychick's living n-t-tea
    a.k.a. booch tea

    is now available at 
    people's pharmacy
    located at
    3801 south lamar
    austin texas

    hippychick has brewed up three great probiotic tastes to explore

    ginger booch - a bright lemony bite!
    kombooch booch - for those who prefer their goods untouched
    red roo booch - red rooibos fresh with a smooth earthy finish

    each and every small batch is hand crafted, tested, bottled and labeled by hippychick her self
    *labels designed by hippychick too in the case you were wondering*

    head on down to south lamar and give us a taste!
    and and and
    keep your eye out for fresh new seasonal flavors
    they are a comin' - just you wait

    share the love
    hippychick's living n-t-tea

    "how's that for a bit of self promotion?"
    hippychick's gardens is a hand to hand sustainable adventure

    would you like to carry hippychick's living n-t-tea at your local to bastrop and austin area business?
    we strive to support and promote local folk, local business and local thinking.  
    give us a hollar at

    Sunday, August 29, 2010

    mo' honey

    yup, i harvested more honey.  this time from the front hive, also known as hive number two.  how much?  55 pounds even.  as every good market seller should, i made sure to test the product.  

    all i've got to say is, "may i have some more please"?
    now to bottle, label and transport to market.
    no not all of it, a good bit stays home.  i'm not that crazy!

    honey totals for 2010 (so far...)
    hive one - 87lbs
    hive two - 95lbs
    most excellent

    i placed (re-placed depending on how you look at it) two supers full with frames with fresh wax foundation on hive number one.  my bees do not like the plastic frames.  they want the real thing so i give it to them.  i don't blame them.
    note to all beekeepers - give your bees what they want.  the rewards are worth the investment.   
    they are busy flying and working quite steadily like happy bee creatures do.  in fact they had filled all supers and frames before i arrived in for this latest harvest.  with no available frames, the bees had gone forward, built their own comb structure and filled the top feeder with capped honey.  i harvested just at space was waning.  i left the top feeder honey comb as it was.  it will provide food for the bees so they might feed themselves and/or new brood with the goods.   looks like i'll have to check in on them more often.  healthy bees are productive, speedy bees.

    the back hive, hive number one, is in need of frames so i've got to spend some time today cleaning out those frames i just harvested from, load them in supers and place them on the hive.  we've had real dry weather as of late but the activity has not slowed.  i hope that by the end of the day all will be dandy in hippychick bee-landy.

    Wednesday, August 18, 2010

    honey honey hippychick honey

    - the real deal - 
    all natural raw and unprocessed honey from organically raised honey bees

    anticipating the bottling

    spilled honey in refection 
    - simply beautiful -

    mild tingly sweet alive - hippychick's dreamy kraut

    all i can say is wow!  and a big big thank you

    never did this hippychick dream that the process of introducing the great, wondrous and yummy universe of living raw sauerkraut to folk at the bastrop producers market could be so much fun.

    i wondered and worried that the goods might not be appreciated for the great good that they are.  cabbages somehow live in the bad rap universe for some - i was on a mission to turn that around.

    the good news is...

    the good folk of the market have informed me that there is no need to worry - folks are eating the stuffs up including myself. i have started a new habit of enjoying kraut for early morning breaking fast.  yup hippychick eats kraut for breakfast - what can i say.

    i like the zing!  and it tastes darn good!  what more do you want?

    granted the group i'm working with are folk who care about their food, food sources, their own health and local economies.  how the kraut would fly in a larger community has yet to be tested.  nonetheless...

    i spent a bit of time at the bastrop producers market saturday last sharing samples with the good folk of the market.   i was there, for the purposes of my own product research.  the sauerkrauts had been on the shelf for a few weeks and i was curious to learn how folks felt about the product and how/if i could improve and/or modify the product to better please folk.  turns out, so far anyway,  that folk enjoy each of the products just the way they are.  now that is really good news

    here's how the day went.  i set out the goods.

     - raw easy being green kraut - 
    organic green cabbage, organic green peppers, organic sea salt, coriander seed and celery seed.
    - raw ultra-violet jumping juniper kraut - 
    organic red cabbage, organic onions, organic sea salt, fresh ginger, caraway seed, coriander seed and juniper berries.
    - raw cabbage 'n' carrot kraut - 
    organic green cabbage, organic carrots, organic sea salt, caraway seed, coriander seed and celery seed.
    at start, many folks looked me in the eye apologetically and said
    "i am not really a sauerkraut person"
    i was not discouraged.  i was there to listen.
    i gave them a taste and imagine my pleasure when the next words heard were

    "wow!  this is sauerkraut - ooh that's good!"  

    or the

    "can i try that cool looking ultra-violet ginger kraut next?" 

    or the

    "wow this tingles on my tongue, ooh feels good!" 

    and my favorite
    "you're going to keep this coming at the market i hope" 

    well the answer is

    yes indeed! i will keep the hippychick kraut coming.  

    it is my pleasure to share with you my healthy, raw, organic living product.
    let's keep this enjoyable eating experience going!

    so come on by the bastrop producers market for
    hippychick's living fermented goodie goods!

    tuesday through friday 11am to 7pm
    saturday 9am to 6pm
    sunday 1pm to 6pm
    monday rest day

    977 Hwy 71
    bastrop, texas 
    between FM20 and Hwy2

    Monday, August 2, 2010

    makin' lemonaide from hot hot lemons

    ooh mama it is feeling like texas.
    today will be day two of triple digit heat.  

    so far the creatures have been doing well.  a good great number of the chickenychicas are moulting.  bunbun is placed in the shade and comforted by his very own whirling fan while the kitty creatures and myself seek shelter in the shaded parts of the homestead place.  

    i am busy on project this morn in hopes of moving the project on to the next phase later this afternoon.  moving the project on would make time for honey extraction of the frames from hive one and honey pulling from hive two but all in good time.  first things first.  

    i had an interesting live active culture bread experience here just the other day.  i set out a jar partially filled with an organic flour and water mix.  no yeast was added just the flour and water.  i let the mix set for a few days, feeding a bit more flour and water each day until naturally formed culture bubbles were witnessed.  the bubbles were present day three, a sure sign that natural yeasts and bacteria were captured and in process of turning the flour and water into a lovely sourdough starter.  or so i thought.  

    as the days passed, the starter began to smell cheesy-ish but looked fine.  there was no mold growth, nothing looked odd in color, everything seemed good.  i thought hmmpfh,  that must be what bastroptown yeast smells like.  five days in, i decided to make bread as it was bubbling real good and the homestead bread stores were down.  

    again, while rising, i sensed the cheese-ish smell.  cheddar cheese i thought or rather cheddar like.  interesting.  and sure enough once baked and sliced there was a deep cheese flavor to the loaf.  deep enough to fool anyone who might not know it was a cheese-less organic loaf.  so i got to wondering which got me to searching for what might be going on.  i was sure it was something that magically occurred in the fermentation process.  i was not sure what the magic was until i came upon the following. 
    Salt rising (or salt risen) bread is bread in which the main rising agent is a bacterium Clostridium perfringens , which leavens the bread along with lactobacillus and other wild microbes, as opposed to mainly yeast or baking soda. It is thought that the salt used in the starter is used to suppress yeast growth and provide an environment more conducive to the C. perfringens bacterium, allowing the flavors from the bacterial metabolic products to predominate over the more typical yeast and lactobacillus flavors; in situations where reduced salt might be necessary, similar yeast suppression results can be achieved by adding a Campden tablet to the starter mixture. Another assumption regarding the name is chunks of rock salt were heated and used to provide a warm, stable temperature in which to incubate a "starter" overnight for the C.perfringens to grow.

    Salt rising bread is made from wheat flour, with a starter consisting of a liquid (water or milk), either corn, potatoes, or wheat, and some other minor ingredients. The starter distinguishes itself from a sourdough starter by working best with an incubation period of 6-16 hours at temperatures ranging from 38-45° C (98-113° F); a sourdough starter will usually work best at or below room temperature. The resulting bread is of a dense crumb and favorable cheese-like flavor. The exact origin of this bread is unknown, but evidence suggests that it was well known throughout Scotland and Ireland during the mid- to late-1600s. Currently, the tradition is kept alive by relatively few individuals and bakeries that tend to be clustered in the mid to eastern United States. 
    i believe the lack of a.c. in our hot hot temps helped to create a most excellent growing environment for the microbes and yeasts to grow. interesting fact though is that i used no salt nor campden tablet. the process happened all on it's own.

    i put to jar another experiment just yesterday. this round is a mix of organic buckwheat flour, organic bread flour (wheat) and water. already it's bubbling. i wonder if it too will produce the cheese effect. all we can do is watch and wait. one thing for sure is that the temperatures are cooperating. i wonder what the yeasts and microbes will do next?

    moral of this cheesy bread story...

    it may feel hot for you.
    it may feel the perfect temperature for others.

    so when it's hot and your hankering for something cheesy put a mix of flour, water and time together and see if you too are able 
    to make cheesy lemonaide from some hot hot lemons. or rather yeasts and microbes if you dare.

    Sunday, August 1, 2010

    ooh this could be cool... 2o1o honey harvest two!

    future fullterbys feeding on a gone to seed parsnip plant

    an interesting day so far...

    a profitable day so far...

    a sweet sweet day so far...

    i had been a bit concerned for the out back honeybee hive the past few days.  i was not seeing the same great numbers of bees setting off for flight as i had in previous weeks and it got me to wondering.

    • did i have too many supers on the hive?  
    • were the supers full/empty/in bad shape?  
    • did i miss a swarm?  
    • is my queen in good shape?  
    • is my queen home? 
    • have the wax moths struck again?
    • is there another problem i'm not guessing at in the works?
    • could it possibly be harvest time?  oh please oh please fingers crossed
    well there is no better way in finding out than to take a good look inside i thought so this very morning, i got to it.

    i put on my new "bees cannot climb right in this veil" bee veil and jacket.  i put on a pair of thick jeans. i put on my rubber boots and gloves and i was on my way.  i got the smoker smoking.  i gathered my tools.  i set up a large swath of heavy weight plastic and a single empty super for the placement of hive parts while working.

    the hive was sealed tight.  these bees were serious about keeping things airtight and secure from the elements and from unwanted visitors which might include me, the homestead beekeeper.  upon my first view in, i knew the deal.  happily, it was time for this season's second honey harvest.  amazing what a bit of healthy "keep the blooms blooming" rain will do for your colonies. outside of the frames being full of honey, the colony looked great.  they were all busy and possibly keeping tight inside in order to keep cool. 

    super by super i pulled full frames out while transferring yet uncapped honey frames and brood frames (brood are future baby bees tended by nurse bees) into supers that would be returned to the hive structure.  there were several moments when i got a bit too close to the queen and the guard bees got right to business.  i took a few hits to the thigh which in light of my recent stings put me at caution.  i rubbed out the stingers and kept working.  calm and slow, calm and slow.

    side note - for those who know about or do not know about my recent bee sting events
    i had my recently prescribed epi-pen in the house and at the ready with mr. man also at the ready to help me out in case i got fearful or woozy but lucky for all of us, none of the pesky symptoms showed face.  i was ready at any time to step aside and administer the pen's goods if necessary as survival is an action i very much believe in.  the good news is that even with four stings - three to the front of my thigh and one in the rear - all is well. 
    fyi - jeans are not thick enough to keep oneself from being stung.  next time, more layers, thicker layers, damned be the heat!  protection matters.
    back to the honey collection report.  the key is to stay calm at all times.  the bees know when you are stressed and they will act up.  if you remain calm and move with a slow steady pace, you have a pretty good chance that the bees too will remain calm.  long story short - i pulled honey, the bees played mostly nice and all is well.

    the bees are in great health. woohooo! the population is not for want as i feared, in fact, the population is booming as evidenced by the brood frames in hive which means that our queen is strong.  knowing my bees are strong healthy bees cheers me to no end.  something you might not know about my bees is that i, as keeper, use no chemicals or medications on my bees.  i purchased my two colonies from an aviary that practices organic chemical free beekeeping, has always practiced organic chemical free beekeeping and preaches the importance of doing so for the long term health of honeybees and for long term survival of the honeybee.  i will continue to raise my bees as such with joy and care and that's that.

    back to the harvest.  the harvest is good.  the harvest is heavy.  i have not uncapped and extracted the load quite yet but i imagine this mid-summer harvest will prove at least as strong as the spring harvest's happy 50lbs.  and this is just one hive.  i'll not go into the front hive for a few days as projects outside of the farming universe need finishing first.

    that said, the full mid-summer honey report is yet to come.

    the timing of this harvest is perfect as the honey stores remaining at the bastrop producers market are quite slim.  sales are good, real good and this harvest will certainly fill our little slice of shelf space without a stitch.

    one detail i have noticed is that my honeybees very much dislike the black plastic frames.  they avoid them like the plague and turn to them sometimes not at all and sometimes as last ditch effort.  but for the most part, they ignore them.  so i as keeper, want them gone.  this means building more frames and fitting them with natural beeswax.  i've got the parts to do so.  it's now up to me to make the time and get it done.  i think, for now anyway, i'll have enough frames to keep the bees busy with the frames i'll return once extracted.  the frames will return with either fresh wax foundation or as spun frames ready for bee cleanup.

    the cleanup frames (those extracted but not fitted with fresh foundation) provide the bees with a natural food source and a base foundation that they will "clean up" and build upon for future honey stores.  the fresh frames will be those that might have experienced a bit too much stress in the extractor and prove in need of new and better supported structure.  honey is heavy.  you don't want your frames falling apart in the hive or upon removal from the hive as either situation could prove most messy and troublesome for both the bees and the keeper.

    until i extract, i won't really know the condition of the currently pulled frames.  for now the honey frames lay quietly in two large plastic totes with covers.  i hope i hope i hope, to extract in the morrow.

    until then folks - happy day to ya!