Archive for February, 2011

When Athe gives you milk…

Sad though it is, I haven’t been able to resist making use of the milk price war currently being waged in Australian supermarkets.  Making use of litres of milk at a go is no easy task.  However, India has provided the answer in the form of paneer.

Paneer is a acid-set cheese made by boiling and then acidifying (adding lemon juice to) milk.  It’s no harder than that.  The resulting curds are strained and pressed (though you can wash them in fresh water too).

I used a few internet recipes, to make mine.

A big saucepanm, strainer lined with tea towel, 1l milk, lemon juice.

First, I gathered the saucepan, strainer lined with tea-towel, milk and lemon juice.

 

Heating milk always looks the same

Then, I brought the milk to the boil while stirring constantly, pausing only  to take a photo.

 

Normally, this would be bad!

Then, I gradually added the lemon juice until it curdled, while stirring gently.

 

I strained the curds through the strainer, and placed a pyrex dish full of water on it to press out excess water and give it a firm consistency.

 

150g from just over a litre of milk, and the juice of just under one lemon

The yield from just over 1L milk and a lemon was 150g.  This cost $1.50

 

It was unwilling to fry up nicely, crumbling a bit in the pan, but even in the cheapo butter chicken sauce it was very tasty.

 

The most exciting part for me is the by-product.  I was nervous to feed the protein rich whey to the chooks because everything I read tells me citrus is bad for them.  However, it makes the most amazing dough.  Even the waste heat is used because you can use the whey as it’s cooling down from the boil.  I gradually beat bread flour into approx 400mL whey, adding seeds, oil, salt, sugar and yeast at the thick batter stage.

 

The dough was amazing – glossy and almost non-stick – and the texture of the bread was really moist and elastic.  Don’t let the shape trick you; it rose really well but I have to make flattish bread because I do it on the stove and under the grill because the oven’s broken.

This made two decent loaves but one got eaten quite quickly!

Hopefully, the milk war won’t leave us with higher prices in the long term, because I hope to be doing this again and again.

(Edited to fix formatting)

Chickens with impacted crop and respiratory infections

I’ve been a bit quiet recently – so much has been happening.  First Craig got a bit of an impacted crop for a few days, most likely pigging out on our slightly long grass (must mow more often….).  Olive oil down his beak a few times and a crop massage did the trick and he was okay again.

Then a few nights later I woke up at 2.30am to hear a really weird periodic noise.  On (husband’s) investigation it turned out to be Henrietta outside in the coop, wheezing and gasping for breath so loudly that it had woken me up inside the house. We had a single dose of liquid antibiotics left over from when we first got Paprika, which we made up and put down Henrietta’s beak, and kept her inside locked in our cat carrier for the remainder of the night (don’t worry, it’s huge – fits both our cats with room to spare).

The following morning I called the vet to get some more antibiotics, and the vet suggested tablets because they would be easier, and also that I would probably need to dose the whole flock.  Despite our early isolation of Henrietta, sure enough Craig followed by Pepper and Adelaide started showing symptoms, so with nowhere big enough to isolate the majority of the flock, everybody got one pill twice a day for the next week.

Having not really done this kind of thing before except on my very placid and compliant cats, it took quite a while to get the knack of catching a bird, calming and restraining it with one hand, getting out the pill, holding the head steady, opening the beak, and putting the pill in.  This is not too bad with two people but I had to do it on my own most mornings after husband left for work.  The first day took over an hour to do everyone.  I had it down to about 25 minutes (aka an episode of Play School!) by the end of the week.

Thankfully they are all recovered now, bar the odd sneeze, which I am fervently hoping will not develop into anything else.

We still haven’t had eggs yet, which in a way is good because we wouldn’t have been able to eat them while the birds were on antibiotics anyway.  But hopefully soon… the sussexs are coming up 26 weeks now, so it must happen soon!

And then there were eleven…

And yet still none laying!

So our latest addition – we were given a 12 week old lavender Araucana boy by a lovely new friend we met through the Canberra Backyard Poultry Club.

Meet Craig, possibly the most friendly and chilled out chicken ever.  He loves being around people and happily will follow us around begging to be picked up.  He doesn’t even mind the toddler trying.  In fact, if I don’t pick him up, he occasionally just hops up himself and perches on my hip or thigh until I lift him to my shoulder!

Craig in the kitchen

Roosting on a chair (check out our yummy home made pizza dinner...mmm)

We had always planned on getting an Araucana to breed from to introduce the blue egg laying gene.  Araucana (girls at least) lay blue eggs, which is a dominant gene, so cross bred chicks fathered by Craig will all lay blue (or possibly green, if their mother lays brown eggs).  So I’m really looking forward to getting the breeding program started now!

We’ve moved Craig and Red into the big pen because there wasn’t really enough room in the little pen for five, and we didn’t want Craig to be the only newbie, so Red went back in too.  We’re also hoping that having Red and Craig together now while they are still young (neither are crowing yet) will mean they will get along better when they are older.

Red and Craig with girls in the background

It seems to be working so far, Red and Craig have teamed up and formed a bit of a bachelor club.  Since they are the smallest and newest in the pen, the others are all picking on them so they seem to have decided that they are better off sticking together.  Hopefully their bachelor friendship will last into adulthood, though we will probably need to separate them eventually.

Best buddies

This has got to be it though!  No more chickens (at least until we start breeding…)

%d bloggers like this: